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.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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


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