All pau.

Do you ever get the feeling that something is wrong with you but you can't figure out what it is? You see the effects but no one will explain to you what the problem is? Almost like there is a "KICK ME" sign on your back that you can't see?

I'm tired and I'm frustrated and I'm hurt and I'm angry in more ways than I can (or should) articulate right now. I'm afraid I would be showing my @$$ if I were to open my mouth. So I'm going to be taking a break for a bit.

A friend of mine, when I talked to him earlier today, said he would pray for "discernment" for me. I told him that he'd better add laryngitis to the list as well because I'm afraid if I open my mouth, the things that would come out of it would be less than pleasant.

So I'm done. I'll be back...just not sure when. Most likely not until I can open my mouth and have something other than %*($&$#*(@&!#@*()$(#*@)_^)$@%&$*(#@&(* come out of it.

Until then, click on the Project Valour-IT box on the sidebar to your right and consider making a donation to help our wounded heroes out.


- hfs


Project ValOUR-IT


(this is a repost from two years ago)

MacGyver is a hands-on type of guy. Those of you who have met him can back me on this. Everything he does involves his hands. About six weeks ago (two years ago, now), he had shoulder surgery that effectively put one of his arms (and thus, his hand) out of commission. It's been a long six weeks for him - he's not used to not being able to use his hands. And for our family too. Our kids don't understand why Daddy can't wrestle with them or swing them up in the air or ride bikes with them.

I've done this in the past but I'm going to do it again.

I want you all to do me a favor this week. I want you to think about your hands. I would love for all of you to make a list of all of the things you do with your hands this weekend (keep in mind my mother-in-law reads this blog so let's keep it to a PG-13 rating...).

I dare you.

Post your list in the comments section.

Then, think about all of the things in that list that you could not do without your hands. Or your arms. Or your upper body.

You couldn't scratch an itch.

You couldn't button your fly.

You couldn't wipe your own rear end.

You couldn't wipe the tears away from your child's face or your loved one's cheek.

You couldn't dial the phone, type a letter, send an e-mail.

How would you stay connected to the outside world? How would you stay connected to your friends you left in the field?

Think about THAT for the the next few days...

Project Valour-IT - voice activated software and laptop computers (and Wii game systems and personal GPS units!) for our wounded soldiers. It's the least we can do.

Time to put your money where your mouth is. Click on the Project Valour-IT box on the sidebar to your right.

I have. Will you?


- hfs


Army life overload

I think I've had more Army life in the past week than I've had in the past 16 months! Between ball, 2 changes of command, an Officers' Call, a promotion party...it's been quite a week! But I'll take it and be grateful for all of it.

As I mentioned earlier, ball was good. The changes of command this week were good as well, though bittersweet in many ways. Saying goodbye to MacGyver's company commander (let's just call him CPT R) is tough. CPT R went to the small little military college up on the Hudson (West Point for those that don't know) with MacGyver's baby brother. So CPT R is like family and was from the moment we met him. I had been the FRG leader for all of about 2 months when CPT R took over as the company commander and I liked him from the start. True to West Point standard, he borders on OCD (or CDO for those of us that don't like the fact that the letters aren't in alphabetical order). Which is comforting to me because that tells me that none of the soldiers or their family members will fall through any cracks.

My mother was born and raised in the South and therefore raised me well so one of the first things we did was invite CPT R over for dinner. It was the right thing to do but, surprisingly, no one else extended the courtesy. Go figure. He came, he ate, he drank, he regaled us with crazy stories of his time with other units that may or may not have relaxed grooming standards. It was a great evening. And I was really looking forward to working with him and taking care of the families and the soldiers during he upcoming deployment.

However, that didn't happen. Instead, I was privileged to bear witness to his true character the first night that things started to fall apart. When I came home that first evening, it was to find CPT R sitting in my front yard, waiting for me. He was there to make sure I was ok, to reassure me that MacGyver was ok, to see what I needed, and to remind me that he was not only just a phone call away but literally just up the road and could be to my house in less than 5 minutes if I needed anything. No one asked him to do this. And he didn't have to be there.

But he was.

And that one, simple act of kindness sustained me in ways that I couldn't articulate if I tried. It brings me to tears just sitting here, typing this out.

Through the next few weeks, he called and visited me on a regular basis. He did the same for MacGyver. He was a lifeline for both of us in an incredibly dark period. And I'm not sure if either of us could have made it through all of that with out his kindness. He kept in touch as best he could during the deployment and met us with a big grin and a hug when he made it home safely.

MacGyver's very first company commander in Alaska was, and probably will remain, what he considered to be his best commander ever. She was amazing and her dedication to her solders and their families was the standard that I believe every company commander should be expected to uphold. However, CPT R's dedication rivals hers.

I am going to miss that man.

Now that the changes of command are complete, my hope is that MacGyver can make his way back over to the company and back into the cockpit in order to start progressing to fully operational status as both a pilot and an MTP. It's been about 2 years since he last flew so he's going to be a little rusty. But his nose is back in his books (yay for -10s, 5&9s, and the MTP manual, as well as all of the checklists that go along...it's like being back in flight school again!) and you can see the sparkle in his eye again.

I'm still having a bit of difficulty explaining to my friends (especially my civilian friends) that a deployment is a GOOD thing for him. But really, it is. A deployment would put some distance between him and the fallout from everything that has happened. A deployment would take him away from all of this and allow him to simply focus on flying. A deployment would give him the opportunity to fly his hiney off. It will be good for him professionally, personally, mentally, emotionally. And what is good for him is good for us. It will SUCK having him gone. I hate the idea of having to say goodbye to him again. But this is what he DOES. He's been given a second chance and I want him to be able to embrace that.

In the meantime, we wait to hear the final outcome. We start making our "Hawaiian Bucket List" of all of the things we want to do before we leave the island. And we thank God for all of it.

A friend of mine wrote to me yesterday and pointed out that she fit into a 4th group of people - those that have been supportive from afar. Her note made me smile and I wanted to say thanks (thanks!). In my mind, the people that are supportive from afar are in the same group as those that "stuck around". Even though the support isn't vocalized doesn't mean it's not just as important. Therefore my brain puts everyone in that category - you stuck around.

One of the biggest upsides to this blog, to my involvement with MilBlogs in general, to my involvement with the Officers' Spouses Clubs in the different locations we've been at is the connections I've made. I'm not "well-connected" by any means but I can usually get ahold of someone who knows someone or can pull a string somewhere or SOMETHING. But with everything that's been going on in my life this time around, there were no strings to be pulled. No connections to be worked. It was far too big for that. Tonight, during a Bible study that I'm a part of, we talked about how we react when our life is "Divinely Interrupted". And that's exactly what the past 17 months have been - a HUGE interruption. And, apparently, a Divine one. God apparently had a few lessons to teach me - probably the ones about NOT being in control, about humility, about not leaning on my own understanding but placing my faith in Him...all of those lessons that I've learned in my brain but apparently not in my heart.

I've not been in control of this for one millisecond. Nor have I even had the illusion of being so. Abraham Lincoln said,

"I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. "

And that is so true. I had no where else to go. No one could help me. All anyone could do was pray. All *I* could do was pray. So that's all I did. The strength that sustained me through all of this was not my own. If it had been, I'd still be in a puddle of my own tears in a corner somewhere.

And one of the best lessons I've learned through all of this is that I have true friends in my life. Whether I know they are there or not. Whether they are standing on my front porch on what was, arguably, the worst day of my life, or cheering silently through my sitemeter on my blog...they are there. And I am blessed. Thank you.


- hfs


Ball aka "You can never go home again"

All night long, it was like the Oingo Boingo song, On The Outside (which, by the way, if you watch the video in this link, I was at that concert), was playing in my head. It felt as though I was watching things from the outside. Which is understandable - they all just came through a deployment and we didn't. But it was tough seeing the bonds and knowing that we really weren't a part of that.

It was SO good to see everyone though. In some ways, nothing has changed. They are still the Hillclimbers and crazy as ever. The life of the party remains the same. And it was fun.

I was a good girl and I kept my thoughts to myself and my conversation civil. I will admit that it hurt to watch the FRG leaders be recognized and not be able to share in that. However I was able to reconnect with some good friends and I know our time here is winding down so we'll just ride this out with a smile on our faces. We've come through this storm (for the most part) and we're still together which, really, is all that matters in the end. And hopefully our next duty station will be not only a change of scenery but a fresh start.

And now, a few more pictures.

The Grog. In true Hillclimber fashion (and because we couldn't slingload in our contribution), our portion of The Grog was brought in via a 5-gallon fuel container.

Our babysitter took pictures of us before we left. I felt like I was going to Prom. Where's my corsage?

We clean up well, don't we?

No, not MacGyver. Just my good friend Freschness.

It was a bittersweet evening but good, nonetheless. They are a good group of guys and, as a lot of them get ready to PCS or wrap up their Army careers, it is hard to say goodbye to them. But the only constant is change so there you have it. Company change of command is Monday and Battalion and Brigade will follow. It will be our time to leave this rock eventually.


- hfs

Playing Cinderella

Just a teaser because it is late and I am beat...

More later. Sleep now.


- hfs



MacGyver and I were discussing some things as they relate to regulations within the Army, specifically as they pertain to funding. He was lamenting the ridiculous nature of all of the parameters that regulate how different monies are spent within the Army (appropriated funds vs. non-appropriated funds vs. MWR funds, etc.) I said I could sympathize because those same regulations also pertain to FRG monies and that was one of the biggest headaches in running a Family Readiness Group - the money.

As the conversation wound down, I made the comment that I was glad I'd never have to worry about it again, given the fact that I plan to have nothing to do with FRG leadership again. The past sixteen months have left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, sadly. MacGyver seemed a little surprised by that declaration.

A few days ago, he came home and informed me that the company FRG was getting a new FRG leader (the old FRG leader was PCSing) and mentioned that the new FRG leader would like to call and get my input on some things. Which is fine - I have no problem offering advice if it is asked for. This evening, after I had announced that I would not be participating in another FRG, he pointed out that "they really wanted you back". And, while there is some smug satisfaction to be had there (I'd be lying if I said there wasn't), the bitter taste in my mouth prevents me from doing much more than that.

When all of the mess with MacGyver's career started, I found that people fell into one of three groups:

* the group that immediately distanced themselves, as though I had some kind of contagious disease

* the group that professed their undying support and then vanished (or worse)

* the group that stuck around

Sadly, the first two groups were bigger than the third. As for the first group, I get it. I understand that the enormity of the situation (and the possible consequences) was a lot to handle. Trying living it. So I can't say I hold a lot of contempt for those that walked away. At least that was an honest reaction to a lousy situation. So I get that, even though it sucked to watch people that you thought were your friends turn their backs on you when you needed them the most.

However, I don't get the second group. It's bad enough to be left out in the cold. For a long time (and even now, to some extent...though probably more of my own doing than anyone else's) I felt as though I wasn't even a military spouse anymore. Guilty until proven innocent, of sorts. So not only left out in the cold but, to some extent, thrown under the bus as well.

Maybe that's a bit melodramatic. Maybe. I was definitely left to fall between the cracks. And that hurt. I was, and still AM, a military spouse. And it still hurts. I don't react well when I am hurt. Anger is my SOP when I get hurt so it seems there is a lot of anger under the surface.

And the irony of the situation is almost laughable. The entity that ditched me and my family when I needed it THE MOST is now in need of my help. Huh. Go figure. Does it make me a bad person to want to say "kiss off"? Because that's my gut reaction. Probably not the most mature reaction (nor the most Christian, I am sure) though. My hope is that my anger will fade and my heart will soften. But that's going to take some time.

For now, I have no desire to go anywhere near a Family Readiness Group or the Army. I've distanced myself as much as I can right now - partially because I thought it was going to be necessary and partially because I felt as though I didn't belong. I need time to lick my wounds, so to speak.

But the irony makes me chuckle.


- hfs



I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day, filling her in on the "Law and Order" episode that is my life and she commented that my life seems to turn on a dime these days. And she's right - if I look over the past 4 years or so of my life, there have been some crazy twists and turns. Deployments, extensions, homecomings, injuries, surgeries, complications, legal issues, miracles...it gives me whiplash just listing it all. My prayer these days (aside from the ongoing prayers) is that I am bored out of my skull with the mundaneness of my life for the next few years.

I mean, really...is that too much to ask?

Still no word on the administrative fallout of things. But that's ok. I don't want the people in charge of making the decisions to make snap decisions. Especially when MacGyver's career hangs (somewhat) in the balance. I would like to think that the "powers that be" are weighing everything appropriately. And, if the rest of this mess is any indication, it will be Christmas before we hear anything (I'm joking...kind of).

In the meantime, it looks like there is actually a PCS in our future. Our DEROS date has been pushed back and we have verbal plans from HRC (Human Resources Command...aka "Branch") as to our next duty station. However, we do not have orders yet (nor do we have an RFO..."Request for Orders") so I'm skeptical. But that doesn't stop me from looking at places to live on line. I've pulled the Big Girl Panties out and plan to put them on. Which means I plan to go ahead and live where we are stationed, even though MacGyver will likely deploy immediately after we arrive.

It will suck but we will be just fine. We'll have family and friends all within convenient driving (not flying!) distance and there are enough activities in the area to keep us busy until he gets back. And then some. It looks like this PCS will be QUITE the adventure - we plan to do a DITY move (Do IT Yourself aka Personally Procured Move) from Hawaii (yes, you read that correctly. We are certifiably insane.) AND we plan to fly from Hawaii into SoCal and then DRIVE from SoCal to our next duty station.

Like I said, we are insane. But the money is needed, it's quite an adventure that our children will remember forever (especially if their mother has a nervous breakdown and winds up in a padded cell somewhere). And we have some furniture at MacGyver's parents' place that needs to be picked up. So there are reasons beyond our insanity. And it makes for AWESOME blog fodder!

In the meantime, we wait some more. But the fear is gone from this wait (for the most part) so now it's bearable. Life is slowly returning to something that resembles "normal" which is incredibly odd, given the fact that I seriously doubted we'd ever experience "normal" again. I look back over the past 16 months and I am floored at where we were but more so at where we ARE. I didn't expect this. I didn't expect to find any hope in the situation. It's really quite surreal. But, then again, the entire experience has been so why should this part be any different?

I struggle with bitterness. Not so much toward my husband, the situation, or even the Army. Moreso toward the people that either turned their backs on us or who essentially threw us under the bus. I struggle with the urge to go up to each of those people and hold a mirror up to them and ask them what they see. But that's not healthy and it's not worth my time. Or so I keep telling myself. I've lost a lot of people I thought were my friends over the past 16 months and, while I do my best to comfort myself with the thought that they were never truly my friends in the first place, there is still a grieving process that has to take place. Or so I'm told. I'm sure this anger/bitterness is part of that process. Instead, I do my best to focus on the friends that stuck with me (or materialized out of the woodwork, me having never realized they were there in the first place) and how incredible they are. I am blessed beyond measure and my hope is that I can repay that kindness in one way or another at some point.

We have a ball coming up. Which makes me smile because the last ball we went to was somewhat bittersweet, given the fact that I thought it would be our last. However, it was not and now we get to go to another! This one is to celebrate the return of the battalion from Iraq. Last time around, MacGyver was the harem-master. This time, it's my turn to be outnumbered!

And yes, Pogue, I'll post pictures! I plan to be grinning from ear to ear.


- hfs



If you are a parent, I would encourage you to read THIS.

If you are a teacher or work in a school, I would encourage you to read it. Same goes for anyone who has anything to do with children/youth. It is an incredible piece on what it is like to be bullied.

Absolutely spot on.


- hfs


Still straddling

I never was any good at the limbo but, after 16 months of practice, I think I'm getting better.

Yep, still in limbo. Not sure if we're destined to remain a military family or not. And it's weird because some things are still on hold, pending the outcome of everything and some things are not. Our DEROS (Date Eligible for Return From Overseas) is supposedly toward the end of this year. As in, less than 90 days out. Needless to say, THAT isn't going to happen. Or, if it does, I might just lose what little is left of my mind. Trying to throw together an OCONUS to CONUS move (and a DITY move, at that!!!) with 2 children in under 90 days is almost impossible, especially given the fact that MacGyver doesn't even have a whiff of orders at this point. Actually, we don't have a solid clue where we're headed next.

On that note, there are some developments with regard to where we are headed next. However, both options floated to MacGyver by his Branch manager mean that he would get there and pretty much deploy immediately. And neither location is a place I've ever been before. So my first inclination is for the rest of us to move somewhere we WANT to be for the year that he is gone. And for that, I have ideas. The biggest downside to that would be the possibility that we'd then have to pay to move ourselves to his duty station once he returns from his deployment.

Or I could suck it up, put my big girl panties on and go live where we are stationed. However, a lot of this is "putting the cart before the horse" in a sense and I think we would be wise to wait to see if we are even going to have to worry about any of this while MacGyver's rebuttal package is looked over and "the powers that be" decide on the fate of his military career. That should be happening in the next week or so (I'm assuming...and we all know how well *that* works...).

In the meantime we wait, and pray. Some more.

limbo limbo LIMBO! limbo limbo LIMBO! limbo limbo LIMBO! limbo limbo LIMBO!

Too much? I thought so. I'll keep you posted.


- hfs


Jumped the gun...a little

OK - so it's not quite "over". The scariest part is over but, like I said earlier, there are some administrative consequences that have to be dealt with. And those started coming down this week. No rest for the wicked, it seems.

Apparently the prayers/good thoughts/small animal sacrifices are working so it would be great if you all could spare some more of those. In all seriousness, people in pay grades far above mine are going to be making decisions in the next two weeks or so that will affect (if not determine) the future of MacGyver's Army career and our future as a military family. Therefore, we could use all of the prayers/good thoughts/small animal sacrifices possible.

Ideally, all of this would be handled at the "local" level and MacGyver could continue to serve his country. However, I realize that might not be possible and, if that's the case, my hope and prayer is that however the Army sees fit to handle this situation would not prevent him from pursing his flight career in the civilian world, preferably in support of his country and the military.

I guess we'll see. Thank you...all twelve of you. You have no idea how much this outlet has helped me keep my sanity. Your comments and emails have helped sustain me even in the darkest moments of this mess. I have no way to repay anyone other than with my sincere gratitude. And a great recommendation for a civilian attorney that specializes in military law, should you ever need it.


- hfs


In shock...in a good way

Most of my readers (all 3 of you!) know that the past 16 or so months of my life have been...stressful, to say the least. The future of MacGyver's Army career has been literally up in the air. That came to an end (for the most part) today.

We received word that our limbo is over and MacGyver can continue on as a pilot in the United States Army. There are still some administrative consequences to be dealt with and that may, in the end, spell the end of our time as an Army family but, for the most part the hell that we've been living in for the past 16 months is OVER.


Over. We can breathe again. Though I'm not sure I have just yet. I'm still in shock. It hasn't really hit me yet. Though it's starting to. I'm giddy and a disaster but it's all good.

Most of you that know me know that I am a Christian though I'm not particularly a "Bible thumper" but I'll say this here and now - through ALL of this, this "faith-walk in a group hug" (as a friend of mine calls it) that my family and I have been going through, nothing has sustained us more than our belief that God is in control of all of this, no matter how it played out.

I'm a control freak (no, really. Stop laughing.) and there has never been a time in my life where I've truly been able to hand control over to anyone. Everyone talks about "giving control to God" but that's not how I'm wired. I've never been able to do that. And, for the first 6-9 months of this ordeal, I was unable to give up control to God and stop letting the worry and anxiety control my life. But I continued to pray that I would be able to do so along with praying that God would work this out. I prayed that we would be able to remain in the Army but, if that wasn't possible, that God would provide a way for us to survive. One day I woke up and realized that I wasn't consumed by the stress of the situation. I realized that, whatever the outcome, we would be ok. Our future might not look like what I had envisioned but we would be ok. I guess you'd call that a "peace". Not something I am used to.

And I still don't know how this will all play out but that's ok. WE will be ok. I have faith. God has been SO good to us throughout this entire mess. We have an incredible family. We are blessed to be a part of an incredible church. We are surrounded by amazing friends - in real life and of the imaginary sort. Which is why my friend said it's a "faith walk in a group hug".

Even on the most awful days, we were sustained. And really, when the poop hits the fan as it always does in life, isn't that what matters? Is that what makes the difference? We all face challenges. We all have "stuff". What is it that sustains you throughout it all? For us, it was our faith and the people that God placed around us. Neither MacGyver nor myself got through this on our own.

We are blessed.

I can breathe again.


- hfs


Memo to:

Memo to: drivers in Hawaii

This may not be the mainland but that ain't the slow lane.


Seriously, doing 45 mph in the fast lane is not only incredibly maddening, it's dangerous. That's what they make a "slow lane".

Good grief. Yet another thing I miss about the mainland.


- hfs


What does your car say about you?

Yahoo article

* Black: Aggressive personality, rebel
* Silver: Cool, calm, may be a loner
* Green: Reactive
* Yellow: Idealistic
* Blue: Introspective, reflective, and cautious
* Red: Someone who is full of energy and pizzazz
* White: Status seekers, gregarious
* Cream: Contained and controlled

Interesting. It doesn't mention my car specifically but she would fall in between the sedans and sports car categories.

She's red. BRIGHT red.

She has a V6 under the hood with a 5-speed transmission and really hits her rhythm right around 4,000 rpm. MacGyver completely debadged her so unless you know what you're looking at, you have no idea that she's more than just your run of the mill VW sedan. Until I smoke you off the line or in the fast lane while still in 3rd gear. With 'oomph' to spare.

Can you tell I love driving her?

The personality description associated with the color of my car seems to be appropriate as well (most days!). However, the description related to the color silver - which 3 of the past 4 cars I've owned have been - doesn't match me unless I'm in the middle of an emergency. Huh.

One of the reasons I am itching to get off this turd sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is so that I can DRIVE. I can't drive on this island. There is nowhere to go and there are cops literally every .5 miles just waiting to give you a ticket for doing 2 miles over the (incredibly slow and asinine) speed limit, thereby placing another $150+ in the state's coffers to pay for its overblown budget. So I am constantly holding my sweet little red V6 back. I'd really like to get her out on a road where I can truly open her up and let her run.

But that will have to wait.

She came to me through one of the guys in MacGyver's unit. I had just sold my Pilot and divested myself of the painful car payment and this guy was deploying. So he was selling the little red car and selling her cheap. She needed some work - the a/c had issues as did the heater (not a big deal here) and the clutch needed some work. But for a car that was a little more than 10 years old, she had low miles and was in fairly good condition. And my mechanic wasn't going anywhere. So she became mine for a song. The funny thing is that a friend of ours who is looking for a solid used car offered me about 3x what I paid for her the other day.

I turned him down.

I like my car. Get your own.


- hfs


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...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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.


Never forget.


- hfs


Hi, my name is HFS...

...and I am a chai tea addict.

*waves hi to the crowd*


It's so bad that the manager at one of the local SBUX where I spent the majority of the last semester studying knows me by name and usually has my drink waiting for me by the time I get up to the register to pay. I feel like Norm walking into Cheers.

A few months ago, a friend bought me the tumbler you see in the picture - it saves me 10% when I actually remember to bring it with me. And it's the special "Hawaii edition" with "Aloha from Hawaii" and a hibiscus flower emblazoned on the side. Aren't I special?! And I also have the "gold card" aka Starbucks Reward Card.

Hey, if I'm going to have an addiction, I'm going to make it work for me.

Along with the tumbler in the picture at the top of this post, you'll see a container of Tazo chai tea concentrate - the same stuff SBUX uses. It's NOT - no matter what anyone tells you - the same thing as the stuff in the grocery store. It's more concentrated, less watered down. Not.The.Same. I bought a 4-pack on eBay (to split with another addict friend of mine from church) and have been on a caffeinated high ever since. I don't "do" coffee. MacGyver does but I can't stand it. He's a coffee purest and has a whole production that is involved in making his coffee that involves an electric coffee grinder (beans are stored in the freezer in order to maintain freshness), an Aerobie Coffee Press that is microfiltered for silt-free, rich coffee, and the addition of zero sugar or creamer. I'm telling you - it's a production in our house in the morning!

But, for as much time as I spend in SBUX, I can't stand coffee. Blech.

However, I'll knock you over if you get in between me and my chai.


- hfs


The speech he ought to give

Lex has a post up with the contents of the speech Obama ought to give.

Our armed forces fought valiantly under tremendously exceptionally challenging conditions, and without the united support of the people they support and defend, support that they deserved. They fought with unprecedented courage and humanity. Those that died in the effort gave their last full measure of devotion to the prospect that others might win the advantages that most us take for granted.

I'm pretty sure that, due to the three words that comprise paragraph seven, it will never happen. If only...


- hfs


New homeschooling blog

I had a few spare minutes today and put together a blog about our homeschooling adventures. Feel free to check it out --> Homeschool SITREP (I know...corny. What can I say?)


- hfs


Cruel summer

The goodbyes continue. What a brutal summer. I am NOT a fan.

I find the circumstances of my life are distancing me from a lot of the people in my life. Military friends are moving. Homeschooling has kept me at home while my friends whose children are in public school have their days free. Military friends who are still here have their husbands home and are enjoying block leave. I'm sure it's a blessing in disguise so that if and when we ever leave this "medium-sized turd in the middle of the Pacific" it might not hurt quite so badly. Maybe. But who knows when that will happen? I sure don't.

It's all good though. I'm doing my best to embrace my life as it is right now and not worry too much about what tomorrow may bring. Sometimes that is easier said than done but for now, it seems to be working.

It's good to have the guys back. We don't have aircraft back yet so the skies are still too quiet but they are on their way. Well, some of them are. The unit here will be making the transition from the Delta model of Chinook (CH-47D) that they have been flying to the new Fox model. There are all sorts of differences - the main ones being the improved engines, airframe modifications to reduce vibration (if you've ever ridden in a Chinook, you know how big of a deal any kind of improvement in this area is!), and the addition of the common avionics architecture system (CAAS) which includes all sorts of goodies for the pilots to mess with. I'm not sure exactly when the F models are due to arrive here but I can't wait to see them! And I can't wait to hear the rotors beating the air into submission either. I'd love to see MacGyver flying one (or any aircraft, at this point) but he's been out of the cockpit for too long and it would take some serious refreshing for him to be able to do much right now. So I don't see that happening. But a girl can dream, right?

I'm considering starting up a homeschooling component of this blog so that I can keep parts of my life contained and separated in pretty little boxes (is my OCD showing? Sorry.). We'll see. That will take time and motivation that seems to be needed elsewhere at the moment. But the intention is there - I swear! Of course we all know where good intentions lead us, don't we?

That's about all I have this evening!


- hfs


Beat it, Debbie Downer

Ok - the more I read my previous post, the more it grates on my nerves. It's honest and true but man, do I sound like Eeyore. Which drives me nuts. So I'm going to post something a little more upbeat.

We are just a few chalks away from having all of our guys (and girls...Hi Chaplain!) back which is fantastic! When they left, I wasn't sure if we'd be here to welcome them home. And we are. Which is also fantastic! It's SO good to see them all. I love watching them melt into the arms of their loved ones - it's such a heart-warming thing and it gives me chicken-skin just thinking about it. We have a few more rounds in the next couple of days and I'm really looking forward to those too. Not only is it good to see the soldiers come home, it's nice to be able to reconnect with their spouses. I haven't been in contact with many spouses from MacGyver's company or battalion so it's great to see them and spend time with them (briefly) before they tackle their soldiers.

I took the advice of a commenter here who told me a while back (when I was worrying about how to plan for the future in the face of everything going on) and we're just living life as we would normally. Which means soccer practice and getting ready for school to start. Add in there BMX riding (we haven't started racing...yet) and Awana on the horizon along with church commitments and this thing I like to call life and things have turned a little crazy around here! Which is good - keeps us out of trouble.

We decided to homeschool the kids this year. We've committed to one year and then we'll reevaluate where we stand - phsyically/logistically, financially, spiritually. Neither MacGyver or myself were happy with Little Man's first year of school. His teacher not only didn't challenge him (he was reading and doing simple arithmetic when he started Kindergarten), in some ways she actually stifled him. Because he would finish ahead of his table-mates, he'd get bored and become a distraction. Rather than give him more challenging work or books to read, he was labeled a trouble-maker. He's a typical 6 year old boy and would rather do 1,001 things besides classwork so he'd turn in lousy work (ahead of his table-mates). Yet she'd accept it, rather than make him do it over or correct his mistakes. And then he would get poor marks on his assignments AND be in trouble for being a distraction. I watched his excitement to learn and be in school fade as the year went along.

Combine this with the on-going trouble The Girl has had with a certain bully in her grade and the school's less than acceptable dealings with the situation and the limbo we're currently living in and you get the idea as to why we're homeschooling them. THEY are excited. I am too but also a little overwhelmed. I just remind myself that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time so that's what we're focusing on - one day at a time. They are excited to be studying ancient history and chemistry this year (in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic) and for the co-op we're going to be working with once a week.

I'm in the process of selecting a new song to choreograph for sign language class. My kids (the ones I work with) have lots of suggestions but nothing has really hit me yet.

And tomorrow, we are meeting up with an old and dear friend of mine from junior high and high school for dinner. He and his new bride are here on their honeymoon and we get to see them. I'm really, really excited - he was a sweet guy in high school and thanks to Facebook I've been able to get back in touch with him. Should be lots of fun!

So, even though it's cloudy here (it's always cloudy here...I swear, I live in Seattle) my mood has lifted, for which I am thankful.

Hey Debbie (Downer)...don't let the door hit you in the rear end on your way out!


- hfs


'Tis the season of a thousand tiny cuts

A short while back, I made the observation that military life is a lot like enduring paper cuts. And summertime - prime PCS (permanent change of station) season - seems to be the most painful time of year.

I've often debated with friends whether it is better to be the leavER or the leavEE...both have their upsides and downsides. Given the fact that we've been on this rock for five and a half years, I've about had enough of being the leavEE. And I'm not a fan. Don't get me wrong - I'm not sure I'm ready to leave yet. But the being left part leaves a lot to be desired. And, having been here for as long as we've been here, the emotional attachments are deep and therefore quite painful to sever.

Add to that the fact that I am horrible at goodbyes and you get an idea of how horribly icky the past few weeks have been. This past weekend was the worst - having to say goodbye to a family with whom we became quite close. Their children were in my youth group at church. We performed several sign language songs together. We camped together, shared many a meal together. They've cared for my children (this is big...there are very few people I let care for my children). And, on the night my world came crashing down around me last year, they were there for me in ways I cannot ever begin to repay. They've seen my good side and they've seen my bad side. And they love us (and me) all the same.

And now they are gone. Half way around the world. And so the new normal begins. For now. Until someone else leaves. Or we leave.

I find myself quite tired of this. And I don't know if it's just that I'm weary for the moment or if I'm truly reaching the end of my proverbial rope.

In the buildup to a deployment, couples often fight. The anticipatory grief gets to be too much and things blow up. It's easier to say goodbye to the person you love if you're ready to be rid of them because you're mad at them...or so you think. MacGyver and I danced that dance with the last deployment. I think I'm about there with the Army. It's been over a year and I find myself feeling "about done" with the Army. And with this island. Maybe it's just that time of year...time for school to start, time for a change of pace, a change in the weather.


Or maybe there's more to it. Maybe the last 14 months haven't meant anything more than a way for me to distance myself from military life. So that leaving it might be easier. Whatever that means.

I don't know.

I just don't know.


- hfs


Welcome home!

About a year ago, we said goodbye to some friends. And now they are making their way back to us. It is SO good to be able to welcome them home. Safely. The first waves are coming in now and everyone (for the most part) should be home by the middle of next month, give or take.

I will do my best to get pictures when I am able to get to a welcome home ceremony.

Definitely a warm-fuzzy feeling.


- hfs



It's been a month since the "big day" - the day that was supposed to bring answers or at least some kind of direction. Or a hint of direction. Or something. Yet here we sit, in limbo still. Apparently nothing happens quickly in the Army.

You'd think I'd learn these things by now, right? Apparently not.

And I find myself torn, yet again. Torn between the desire for this to continue on as it has been - slow and relatively uneventful - and wanting the Army to just HURRY UP!!!! But I'm leaning toward the slow side of things. I'm not sure that I am ready to find out what the final outcome may be. And I know I'm not ready to say goodbye to this part of my life.

A good friend of mine is in a similar situation - not the legal side of things but the unexpected end of her husband's Army career. In addition to the looming end of this military life that she's known for 13 years, her husband is due to return from deployment shortly. And, as happy as she is to know that she will not have to go through this again (unless he finds a contractor position that takes him overseas...but that would be voluntary), it is bittersweet. We sat, watching fireworks last weekend together on post and she commented that she was going to miss that part of military life - the shared experiences, the community, the camaraderie. MacGyver and I took the kids to go see "Iron Man 2" on post a short while back and I found myself feeling the same way - I am going to MISS this. I am going to miss the National Anthem being played before the movie and the extra courtesies that are extended at a military theatre that you don't always find at a civilian one.

It is a bittersweet time.

A lot of the time, I find myself feeling like I'm on a rollercoaster and I'm at the part where you're climbing the track on your way to the top of the REALLY BIG DROP. You know it's coming. Your body is primed for the event and you're kind of excited, kind of scared...mostly apprehensive. It's a kind of "anticipatory grief". And that's exactly where I'm at (and have probably been for the past 4-6 months of my life). I'm getting closer to being ready to embrace the next stage of our lives (whatever the hell that might be) but I am immensely sad at the prospect of having to see this stage end.

I'm tired of saying "we'll see". I'm tired of adding the caveat "if we're here in _______" when committing to something. I'm tired of sending out my husband's resume, knowing that he can't really be offered or accept a job until the Army decides what they are going to do. I'm tired of not being able to talk about all of this properly and, instead, having to resort to being vague.

Patience has never been my strong point.

But seriously? Seriously.


- hfs



The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


- hfs


Summertime, and the livin's easy...

Yep, still here. Enjoying summer as much as possible, actually. Right now we're home on a 48-hour recouperation mission. Spent 3 days camping out at the beach this past weekend and we're heading back out to do the same here shortly. It's been entirely too much fun and I've eaten entirely too many roasted marshmallows, if that's possible.

Soon, I get to go pick up Chuck and his family from the airport and deposit them at their temporary lodging location. They are moving here (!) and we are so excited to have them on island! Should be interesting...heh.

After that, my mom and my godmother arrive for a visit. We've lived on this island for 5+ years and they are finally getting around to gracing us with their presence. We are all excited to see them - should be fun tagging along with them as they take in the sights.

The rest of our summer seems to be filling up with hiking, swimming lessons, soccer practice, Vacation Bible School, days at the beach (yay for jet skis and boats with innertubes and water skis!), BBQs, and the like. Not a bad way to live, if you ask me. The rest of our lives still hangs in limbo but our summertime activities do a lot to distract us from that fact.

Once I find my card-reader, I will download pictures from our latest hike and from our beach excursions. Hope things are well with you all!

In the meantime, we continue to pray for everyone in MacGyver's company and the Brigade as they begin to make their way home over the next few weeks. We're hoping to be here to welcome them home.


- hfs


Father's Day 2010

This weekend, like most others, is packed so I am reposting last year's Father's Day post. Every word of it holds true today. I am grateful to have had 36 years with my Dad and I am also grateful that my children have a wonderful father like I did.

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there - the ones linked by DNA and the ones that stepped up when they were needed, even if there was no DNA involved. And hugs to those missing their Dads this year.


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.


- hfs


Army Ball pictures

I was reminded today (thanks, Pogue!) that I had promised pictures from Army Ball. Here are the two (out of 500+) that were taken that night that I deem appropriate.

Me and MacGyver. We clean up pretty well. And this dress is one of my favorites - for a variety of reasons...not the least of which is that this was a Thrift Store find for $8.99!

Some of my favorite people. The majority of the people I was with have loved ones currently deployed. MacGyver was the "male chaperone" of the evening - he showed up with seven women! Lucky man!

All in all, it was a wonderful evening, though bittersweet. More than likely this was our last Army ball and that makes me sad. Even though I'm quite a tomboy at heart, I love to get dressed up (and see my man dressed up) and spend the evening dancing and having a blast with wonderful friends. And you can't beat a room full of good looking men in uniform! I will miss it.

Still no news. While we wait for word, we are exploring civilian employment options (basically, anything with "CH-47" in the job description gets a resume thrown at it) and that is looking cautiously promising. I don't want to get my hopes up too high - I've had them crushed more often than I care to count lately - but the situation does not look to be as dire as we had feared. But, until things are settled with the Army, we remain in limbo. Which is ok.

In an unrelated conversation, I was remarking to a friend that I was content to wait for something (don't remember what it was that was being discussed) and that I am can be patient when necessary. And then I laughed - just as those of you who know me in real life are probably laughing right now! But it's true - if I've learned anything in the past year of my life, it's how to be patient. And that is no small feat!

Right now, my biggest hope is that we are able to remain on island to see MacGyver's fellow Hookers make it back from the Sandbox. We saw them off. We'd like to welcome them home.

In the meantime, we wait and we pray. There is still hope that a decision will be made that allows us to remain a military family. It's unlikely but still possible.


- hfs


Back to waiting

Nothing new to report. We are back to waiting which, surprisingly (for those that know me in real life) I am getting to be decent at. Who would have thought?

I have no idea when to expect news on the next step in this process. Maybe a week? Two? Who knows? So life goes on.

I will say this...when all is said and done, I might have a career in the contract aviation headhunting world. There's a niche for you.

Tomorrow night is Army Ball. An excuse to get all dolled up and forget about worries for a few hours. My dress is awesome (on a variety of levels, not the least of which being the fact that I bought it at a thrift store for less than $10) and my friends are going to do my hair. MacGyver will be resplendent in his dress blues. I love a man in uniform! I'll post pictures when I recover.

And, as if everything that has been going on in my life wasn't enough, I'm giving my testimony at church on Sunday. Because *that* isn't going to be emotionally exhausting. Eesh. And then, next week, I'm watching a friend's 2 year old while she's at training for the Guard. Fun times! I need a vacation just thinking about it!


- hfs


Friday is a big day. Not huge but big. Another step in this process that's been weighing on us for the past year. If any of you could spare some prayers, that would be wonderful. A miracle would be great too. But beggars can't be choosers.

Currently, I'm clinging to the following:

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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.

Nahum 1:7

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.

I am blessed to be surrounded by incredible friends and family - online and in real life. Thank you all for being there for me and for us. It's not over yet and there IS still room for a miracle and yet, even if that miracle doesn't come, that's ok.

Right now, it's just time to remember to breathe.


- hfs


"Happy" Memorial Day?

A friend shared this with me the other day and it really struck a nerve. I have several friends for whom this day holds special, and painful, meaning. It is not a "happy" day but it is a day for reflection and gratitude for those whose sacrifices preserve our freedoms. Though every day should be that day.

"Every year at this time I fight with the idea that people tell me "Happy Memorial Day". People that know me, know what Ive gone through... still say it to me. Family still says it. For the rest who say it, do you think that there is anything "happy" at all about remembering all those who have died for this country? I blog about this every year and I dont think there will ever be a year that I dont. When I hear those three words my skin crawls.

"Happy Memorial Day"...it seems to just flow of the tongues of those around us. As though Memorial Day is just any other "holiday" to be celebrated with joy and happiness. When someone says "Hey Happy Memorial Day" what exactly are they so "happy" about? Maybe its the extra 20% or 30% they will get off beach towels at Macys, or maybe its the fact that they are off work, cooking out and not paying any attention to why they are really off work. Do these "happy" people take any time during their day off to share a moment thinking of those who paid the ultimate price for them to be off work and cooking out, or shopping "the big sale"??

Do people take the time to teach and show their children the importance of Memorial Day? Do they take them to a National Cemetery and show them all the lives that have been lost, tell them what that means for those who are still alive? Do they educate their children to show respect to those who have fallen for all the freedoms we take for granted every damn day? Do they just take a moment, a simple moment in their day to show that they care, or understand what the day is about?

My first Memorial Day I was not willing to admit that it had anything to do with Chris. We had always gone and placed flags at grave sites on this day. My first Memorial Day I did the same thing with Oliver and Owen in tow. But on that first one, there were more deaths. A CPT Alex Funkhouser was killed while in the line of duty not only to his country but to US reporters in Iraq. I knew that all that I had been feeling since January 5, his wife would now feel too. My heart broke for I knew every Memorial Day she would have a double heart wrenching reminder of her husband's death. I knew that she would face Memorial Day and the 29th of May, double days for her. Little did I know that this wife, now a new widow like me would become one of my best friends. Little did I know that she had two girls close to my two boy's age. Little did I know that our lives ran in such a parallel manner.

My second Memorial Day I took the boys and we went to Virginia to see Chris' mom. I wanted to spend this Memorial Day with Chris at Arlington. I wanted the boys to see that they were not only, not alone; but that they could still be near their father. As that day went on there were more cameras taking pictures of them by the Chris' grave.(One made it to the front page of the Washington Post the next day) There were families that just stood there, paying their respects and as the tears flowed down their cheeks they watched Oliver fix a flag by Chris' grave. They watched Owen pluck the heads of the flowers there and they watched a mother with tears in her eyes as she realized this was her reality, this was her life. Watching her two boys "play" with or by their father...the only way they ever would be able to.

As I looked around and saw their faces, their tears and their heads shaking back and forth; I realized that yes there are those out there that dont say "Happy Memorial Day", they come to Arlington to pay their respects to OUR fallen. They come to be with those who have paid the ultimate and spend time with their families. There was a father there, in uniform and beside him was his little son in BDUs. They stood at attention as TAPS played. I was so taken by this that I asked him why he does this with his son and he said "death is a part of life, death for your country is going beyond what life can offer" "I want my son to realize what this day is for. Not just a day off school or work, I want him to understand and respect the magnitude of what and who and why we have set this day aside to honor and remember those who have died in combat". I burst into tears, gave him a big hug and as I let go of him he and his son saluted the boys and I and then went to salute Chris. (Gosh I have tears running down my face typing this) I have never seen the true meaning in any one person's eyes of what Memeorial Day means to them then that of those eyes that day.

So I ask that if you dont know anyone who has been affected by a war death, to please at least teach your children what Memorial Day is for. Take them to a National Cemetary and place a few flags, go on and google Memorial Day, teach them about what this day means. This is just a small thing to do, teach your kids what this country is about, teach them why we need to stand up for it, love it, and protect it. That is the BEST way to honor our fallen, those who faught and died for what they beleived in. For those familieas that struggle everyday without their loved one, this is a small gesture for them too. It tells us that our loved one, did not die in vein. If you do know someone who has lost someone to a war, this one or any previous, please take the time to just tell them you are thinking about them, you are greatful and love them. But please dont say "Happy Memorial Day" to them...for us there is nothing "happy" about it.

To all my widsters that might read this, know that on Memorial Day, your Anniversaries and every day of the year, I think of OUR HEROES! I think about your families, your pain, your hearts your children and your happiness. For those who have lost a family member to previous wars, my heart and my thoughts are always with you too. Thank you for your loved ones service to our great nation, I am forever in their debt for their sacrafice.

May this Memorial Day bring you comfort in knowing that our Great Nation aknowledges and says "Thank You" for the sacrafice OURS and THEIR HEROES have made for us and them!

May we raise a glass to OUR HEROES! WE love you...We miss you...We are proud of you....We are forever YOURS!"


- hfs


Mr. Morton needs to be fired

Top Official Says Feds May Not Process Illegals Referred From Arizona

John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, made the comment during a meeting on Wednesday with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper reports.

"I don't think the Arizona law, or laws like it, are the solution," Morton told the newspaper.

Last I checked, Mr. Morton, it's not your place to determine the solution all by your lonesome. Exactly who do you think you are? This country is a Republic comprised of individual states who have the right and the responsibility to establish their own laws. Assuming that the Arizona immigration law does not violate the United States Constitution, it is not up to ICE or Mr. Morton to pick and choose what laws he will and will not enforce. If he cannot - or WILL NOT - do his job then he should be fired.

And, on a side note to Mexico's president, Felipe Calderone...howzabout you take care of your own country and fix your own problems before you try coming across the border to OUR White House and badmouthing OUR states' laws. If you'd take care of your own backyard first, maybe we wouldn't NEED laws like what Arizona has enacted.


- hfs


Here and there

and everywhere. Well, maybe not everywhere. But I'm still here.


I am done.

I managed to pull a 3.7 for the semester which - given the circumstances of my life at the moment - is pretty damn impressive. I think I deserve a medal. Ok - maybe just a brownie. I missed the Dean's List by 0.1 point and had to fight for the 'A' in my Anatomy lecture because my professor left a lot to be desired when it came to organizational or communication skills. But I got it (I earned it so there really shouldn't have been a fight) which is all that matters.

UPDATE: I just checked my grades and by some miracle (and it was a miracle...I know what my test scores were) I earned an 'A' in the one class that I thought I'd get a 'B' in. So I pulled a 4.0 this semester. That definitely earns me a medal. AND a brownie!

So, for now, I am pretty much squared away with regard to prerequisites for Nursing school. No idea if I'll actually go but if I need to, I'm prepared. I could stand to take one more psych class (Developmental Psych) because the FIVE other psych classes I've taken over the course of my post-secondary educational career (yes, FIVE) aren't enough for nursing school. But that's not possible right now so I'll just have to hope I am able to either scoot around that requirement (if I've learned nothing else as an Army spouse, it's that EVERYTHING is waiverable) or talk someone into giving me credit for it based on the FIVE other psych classes I've taken in the past.

No idea where I'd go to school. I've put in at a few Junior Colleges in SoCal. And I've looked at schools in Tyler, Texas as well as Armstrong Atlantic in Savannah. At this point - like everything else in my life - it's up in the air so I'll worry about it when the time comes.

The kids have about a week left of school. They are ready to be done. I am ready for them to be done. This year has left a lot to be desired and I'm looking forward to homeschooling them myself next year if that winds up being possible.

MacGyver acquired two old jet skis a while back and has been working on rebuilding them (that's what he does. Hence the name "MacGyver"). He's taken them out a few times for test runs down by the airport and had spotty success. But last week he was able to get them running well so we went out with some friends from church (they have a boat and like to go water skiing and tubing) and they both ran pretty well for a bit. They both are tempermental (like me!) and took some coaxing to get going but they ran. The yellow one gave out before the purple one and I was able to get a good ride in on the purple one. That was awesome - I haven't jet skiied in over 15 years. After the skis died (they both need new batteries among other things) we hit the tubes and got tossed around pretty good. I'm not as young as I used to be and I'm STILL feeling it today (it's Monday. We went out Saturday.). But oh, it was so much fun.

Supposedly there is video of me flying off the tube - I'll have to track it down and watch it.

This week I have declared war on crap in my house. I let it go this semester because I just couldn't keep up but now that school is over, the gloves are off. Today was the office and it has been pretty well beaten into submission. Tomorrow I tackle the master bedroom and hall/craft closet.

Fun times.


- hfs


War of my Life


Come out angels,
Come out ghosts,
Come out darkness,
Bring everyone you know.
I'm not running,
and I'm not scared,
I am waiting,
And well prepared.

I'm in the war of my life,
At the door of my life,
Out of time
and there's nowhere to run

I've got a hammer,
And a heart of glass
I gotta know right now
which walls to smash
I got a pocket
Got no pills
If fear hasn't killed me yet,
then nothing will
All the suffering and all the pain
Never left a name

I'm in the war of my life,
at the door of my life,
out of time
and there's nowhere to run
I'm in the war of my life,
at the core of my life
Got no choice but to fight til its done

No more suffering, no more pain
Never again

I'm in the war of my life,
at the door of my life,
out of time
and there's nowhere to run
I'm in the war of my life,
at the core of my life
Got no choice but to fight til its done

So fight on,
fight on everyone
fight on
got no choice but to fight til it's done
I won't give up
I won't run
I won't stop for anyone



Just as parents aren't supposed to outlive their children, teachers are not supposed to outlive their students. It's unnatural.

I taught in Alaska for 3 wonderful years. High school. In addition to teaching, I coached the swim team and I cannot tell you how many wonderful people I had on that team. I was blessed beyond measure. Thankfully I was able to stay in touch with many of my students and swimmers even after we left Alaska (thank goodness for email, MySpace, and Facebook!).

Shortly after we left Alaska, one of my former swimmers, B, got back in touch with me about swimming. He was swimming in college and was having pain in one of his arms and wanted to know what part of his stroke might be causing the pain. We discussed a few possibilities and how to rectify those problems, talked about having him film his stroke and send it to me so I could take a look, and planned to get back in touch in a few weeks to see if things had improved. I never got his video. Shortly after we talked, the pain got worse and he went to his doctor as it was apparent that it wasn't his swimming that was causing the pain. After many tests, he was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma in his humerus. Sadly it had already metastized and in his brain. He fought hard but died shortly after being diagnosed.

It broke my heart to follow his progress on CaringBridge and to pray for him and then to watch him slip away. There is very little in life beyond things like this that leave you feeling more helpless.

During my time in Alaska, another of my students, S, was diagnosed with the same disease - Ewing's Sarcoma - but it was diagnosed at an earlier stage. She fared much better and, after surgery and chemo, seemed to have gained the upper hand on the disease. She graduated, went to college (she majored in radiation therapy, "The career was chosen early on because she knew she had the empathy and understanding of what cancer patients were experiencing during treatment."), and seemed to be doing great. I managed to hook up with her on Facebook about a year ago and was thrilled to see pictures of her traveling, hanging out with friends, living the good life. It left me with a smile every time I looked at them or talked to her.

However, a few months ago, the cancer came back. She gave up her arm to it this time. But she was a fighter and took on the disease in the same manner she had taken it on ten years ago - that same determination, that same energy, that same smile. Her color faded but she still glowed, especially as she walked down the aisle. There was no reason to doubt that she wouldn't be able to defeat it this time around as well.

Wrongly, I assumed things were going well and therefore didn't check in with her for a while. A few weeks back, it dawned on me that I hadn't heard from her in a while so I popped over to her FB page and cried when I read her friends telling her how much the loved her and missed her. It broke my heart, yet again. Teachers are not supposed to outlive their students.

It's just not natural.

Today, when I logged in to Facebook, on the right-hand side, there was a reminder to "reconnect" with S.

Oh, how I wish I could.

I miss you, S. We hear so much from students about how a particular teacher touched their life in one way or another. From my position, you blessed mine more than you know.


- hfs


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