10.31.2010

Project ValOUR-IT

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(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?




Pau.




- hfs

10.22.2010

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.




Pau.




- hfs

10.16.2010

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.




Pau.




- hfs

Playing Cinderella

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






More later. Sleep now.




Pau.




- hfs

10.13.2010

Irony

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.




Pau.




- hfs

10.09.2010

Whiplash

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.




Pau.




- hfs

10.08.2010

Bullies

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.




Pau.




- hfs