Monday madness

Hit the ground running today. For the past two weeks, we've been fitting in our end of the year testing (yes, end of the year...it's been a busy summer...don't judge) and we literally bumped up against the return deadline. So we had to squeeze the last few sections in today before I ran to drop them off at the post office. *whew* We are ALL glad that is over.

I'm curious to see how The Boy and The Girl do this year. Last year, their scores held no surprises - I knew that The Boy's listening skills were on the low side of average and The Girl's math scores would reflect the fact that I had basically held her back in order to beef up her multiplication skills at the expense of having stay on par with her age group. I expect no surprises this year. I expect that The Boy's listening skills will have improved...not necessarily drastically but significantly, nonetheless. I expect that The Girl will be much closer to to her peers this year than she was last year in terms of her math. Regardless, these tests are not FOR my children. They are for me. They will not see their scores - there is no need. These tests are simply to show me where they are excelling and where they need more work in addition to acting as 'proof' of our progress for the year.

We choose to use the Iowa Test of Basic Skills for a variety of reasons. Primarily, the fact that the test has been in existence for over 50 years, thereby allowing for a deeper pool of norm-referenced scores than any other standardized test out there. Additionally, the scope of the test appeals to me. The test covers science, social studies, and reference materials in addition to offering a 'Cognitive Abilities Test' which is a great measure of a child's ability to think abstractly. All of that is on top of the fact that the test is quite strong in both the verbal and mathematical areas as well. And it's the same test I took as a child in elementary school. 

In an effort to recoup some of the money I've spent on curricula over the years, I'm selling off a lot of the curricula we've either outgrown or that I've found just doesn't work for us. Thankfully, we are not hard on books around here so most of what we have has still in very good condition. I buy used when I can and I'm always on the lookout for what we need at the right price so I've managed to keep our costs pretty low. My goal is to make back what we've spent this year on curricula by selling off our old stuff. And I had several items to mail out today so those went with me to the post office as well.

Oh, and late last week, the heating element in our oven caught on FIRE. Fun times! Once I shut it off, the flame died out and I was able to see that the heating element basically corroded. Awesome. The house is only about 4 years old and already the oven is dying. The dishwasher (same manufacturer) is also a piece of junk so it doesn't surprise me that the oven tanked. I'm waiting for the refrigerator to die. Thankfully, we still have our old fridge so we have backup. Remind me never to buy Frigidaire appliances.

MacGyver's been flying a LOT lately which is a blessing. He's surpassed 1,000 hours of total flight time (most civilian companies look for at least 1,000 hours of total flight time when hiring this is HUGE). Now he's busting his butt to get his next 200 hours as the 1,200 hour mark has something to do with Part 135 (correct me if I'm wrong, Pogue). I have no idea what Part 135 is or why it matters but it matters to MacGyver so it matters. 

And we're still waiting...waiting for the Army to, yet again, determine MacGyver's fate. The promotion board results are due out any day now (last year, they came out on August 11) and I swear I'm going to have an ulcer by the time all of this is said and done. Part of me wants to envision the celebrating that would take place if the news were good but the superstitious part of me worries that, if I do, I'll jinx it. So I do my best to simply not think about it. Which means I walk around with a wicked headache pretty much all day. Ulcers AND headaches...awesome. 

I'm trying not to throw things at the television as I watch the Olympics. Between NBC's lousy coverage and Gregg Troy's lousy decision to put Ryan Lochte in as the anchor on the men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay...MacGyver has taken all of the projectiles out of my reach. Probably a wise decision.

I should probably take my grumpiness and go to bed.

My motto for the time being (who am I kidding...for the past 3 years):

Pray for the best.
Prepare for the worst.
Somebody pass the Tums. 


- hfs


Would this work?

I read an article like THIS ONE, discussing how utterly unprepared students in the state of Mississippi are for school and I wonder what kind of success would be seen if the state (or, even better, a private entity/non-profit organization) would simply implement a 'Read Aloud" program, based on Jim Trelease's book, "The Read Aloud Handbook".

No, it doesn't address many of the core issues facing the Mississippi population but I wonder just how big an impact a program such as this would have. I think the results would be staggering. His book is probably one of THE most important books any teacher, any parent, any adult who interacts with children could possibly read.


- hfs


Weekend organization project

I peruse a variety of minimalist/organizational blogs during the week and one of them had a post up about how to cut down on the long-term paper clutter we tend to accrue. I don't know about the civilian side of life but in the military, you're hesitant to throw anything out because the military so often loses paperwork, making YOUR life most difficult. Most military spouses I know tend to hoarde things like LES (leave and earnings statemements...pay stubs), Tricare paperwork (insurance), copies of orders, POAs, and any other official piece of paper you can possible imagine.

Some spouses are more organized about their hoarding than others.

With the advent of portable and easy to use scanners, the ability to digitize these types of documents has meant that the amount of long-term paper clutter can be significantly diminished. So that is what I set about doing last weekend. I'm about done and I'll try to find my camera and post pictures of my progress once I'm completely done. But first, let's discuss what items should be kept in hard copy:

Records to put in a bank safe deposit box or personal safe include:
  • Birth, death, and marriage certificates
  • Divorce and child custody papers
  • Adoption papers
  • Passports
  • Military records
  • Social Security cards
  • Copies of drivers’ licenses
  • Mortgage/property deeds
  • Stock and bond certificates
  • Car titles
  • List of insurance policies (life, health, disability, longterm care, auto, homeowners, renters), including the type, company, policy number, and name of insured
  • Copies of power of attorney, living will, and other medical power
  • Trust documents
Note: Generally, the original of your will should not be kept in a safe deposit box because the bank may seal the box temporarily at your death. Keep the original of your will at your lawyer’s office and copies of it at home and in your safe deposit box.

(source: Red Cross)

In addition to these items, we also have an "Oh $#!^" folder that contains copies of the most important stuff in a convenient location should we only have moments to evacuate. My family and a few close friends know the location of this folder and can get to it easily, should an emergency occur. 

Once I had all of the important documents put away safely, it was time to weed through all of the other paperwork that had piled up in the filing cabinet. I created three piles:

  • trash (ex: things that I truly had no need for such as receipts for car parts to a car we no longer owned)
  • shred (ex: old credit card and bank statements)
  • file (current month's financials, owner manuals for appliances, paperwork pertaining to cars we currently own, etc.)
  • scan

I scanned things such as Tricare enrollment paperwork for our family, initial account paperwork for credit cards and other financials, receipts for major purchases and homeschool curricula, paperwork from my last place of employment, and so on. My plan is to scan all of this and then burn it to several DVDs. A copy will then be placed in our safe as well as copies sent to key family members for backup. 

All in all, I probably have 25-30 POUNDS of paperwork to shred! Holy paperwork, Batman! And now I have two virtually empty file cabinets. I'd ditch them but they form the base of his desk so I guess I can't quite get rid of them. My 'files' now consist of:

  • current month's financials (at the end of each month, bills will be shredded once payment is confirmed)
  • owner manuals and other registration-type paperwork
  • vehicle paperwork (minus the titles which are in the safe)
  • homeschool receipts (will scan at the end of this school year)

And that's really about it! From a large filing cabinet down to just 4 hanging files. I feel lighter already! How do you keep your files organized?

As a military family, safe deposit boxes aren't always feasible. So we have a fire-proof safe, much like this one:


- hfs


The blessings of a revolving door

We lived in Hawaii for 6.5 years. And, in that time, we had holiday visitors and the occasional non-holiday visitor but nothing like what I expected in terms of traffic. I mean, c'mon! We lived in HAWAII. Our house was small but we had an AeroBed and that mean free lodging. And yet, we were not inundated with guests.

We move to the dead center of the United States and all of a sudden, I feel the need to install a revolving door! We've been here less than a year and already we've had grandparents, uncles, and several friends all stop by and it's been great! As much as I do not like how big this house is, it is a blessing when we have people visit - they have their own room and their own bathroom, as long as they don't mind the Legos strewn about on the floor of the basement.

This week, my brother (bet you didn't know I had a brother!) was able to stop in. He was out in SoCal taking care of some family business and was headed our way. Thanks to his wonderful wife, we were able to get in touch with one another and he was able to crash at our place for the evening. What a wonderful surprise! The Boy and The Girl were slightly disappointed that there were no cousins stashed in his truck but we're already looking forward to when we can get back out their way again. So, even though it was a short visit, it was wonderful to see him again. We weren't close growing up (he's a bit older than I am and was out of the house by the time I came along) but it's great to build a relationship as adults. It helps that I adore his family and would steal his children in a heartbeat if I thought I could get away with it. But then The Boy and his cousinal-counterpart (bet you didn't know THAT was a word!) would probably cause the poles to reverse should they spend too much time together.

And, of course, I completely forgot to take a picture. Aside from my wedding pictures (and his wedding pictures) I don't know that there are any other pictures of the two of us in existence. Maybe next time.


In other news, my garden is about done. The heat and my less-than-consistent watering has spelled doom for my poor little garden. I have a handful of tomatoes that I am nursing to ripeness and then I am going to yank up the fence posts and let the bunnies and the deer have at it. Maybe next year...


Good news and bad news on the car front. Seems it's not the CV joint or the half-shaft that need to be replaced. MacGyver took a closer look at found that the bushings for the sway bar are toast. So that saves us a considerable amount of both money and effort. However, my poor car had a run-in with the back end of a Dodge Ram truck and now she needs some serious cosmetic work: new hood, new passenger side quarter panel, new passenger side headlamp assembly, and the crossbar that holds the radiator in place. Rather than file a claim for the damages, we're just going to pay out of pocket and find the parts either at junkyards or online. Unfortunately, hoods and quarter panels are not light and, therefore are not cheap to ship. So we're scrounging.

Poor little Road Runner.


That's about all I have right now. I'm working on a few posts about the streamlining I've been doing and the minimal(ish)  approach to life I seem to be tending toward. We'll see how that goes.


- hfs


Rental car review

I don't really have anything particular to write about today. My back is still unknotting itself from my road trip. I rented a car because I don't trust my own car on an 800 mile road trip unless MacGyver is with me.

The car I rented was a Toyota Yaris. I've rented one before when I was visiting family in the DC area. On the outside, the Yaris looks like any other compact sedan. Nothing special. But oh my goodness are they roomy on the inside! The dashboard seems to go on forever, partially because the gauges are actually in the center of the dash, leaving your eye to gaze on an open dash as you look out through the windshield. The backseat is so roomy that even my 6'4" brother-in-law could be comfortable sitting back there! There's plenty of room up front on the passenger side as well. The driver's area is a little snug but that was probably because I am short and, therefore, had the seat pulled all the way up.

Given the fact that it was a 4-cylinder automatic, I didn't expect great things on the performance side and I wasn't surprised. However, it does handle speed quite smoothly, as evinced by the fact that I hit the highway going about 105 mph when I really didn't think I was going much faster than 75mph (the speed limit). I'm used to my well-used 6-cylinder stick shift - you KNOW when you're going that fast. You feel it in every bone in your body - she's not really a smooth ride. But the Yaris is! And the gas mileage...oh, the gas mileage! I was averaging close to 36mpg, which is impressive since my average mph was probably well above what is ideal for best mpg.

My only complaint about the Yaris (besides the fact that the one I had was a 4-cylinder automatic) has more to do with ME and less to do with the car: it didn't 'fit' me very well. I couldn't get the upper part
of the seat close enough to the steering wheel to be able to steer with my arm muscles which meant I had to use more shoulder/trapezius muscle which left me tight and grumpy by the end of my drive. Had I positioned the upper part of the seat close enough to where I could bend my elbows and steer more with my arm muscles, I'd be sitting at less than a 90° angle which is silly. Thankfully, I have a good chiropractor.

So it looks like this post today winds up being a review of the Toyota Yaris. Not a bad car. Not sure I'd buy one but for people taller than me with longer arms, it would be a good buy. Oh, and I love Enterprise Car Rental - they are fantastic. I don't think - in 20 years of renting cars - I've ever had a negative experience with them.


- hfs


Road trip music

Took off on a road trip this past weekend - a friend of ours that we knew from Hawaii is riding out a deployment back on the mainland with family. She's about ready to give birth to their third child and her husband - wonderful man that he is - brought a handful of her closest friends into town to hang out with her for a weekend. However, this necessitated a 800 mile round trip drive.

By myself.

Ah, the possibilities were ENDLESS! I could listen to anything I wanted! I could stop for Starbucks any time I wanted (well, once I made it into an area that resembled civilization...)! I could sing along and not have anyone talk through my favorite songs!

Just a glimpse at my playlist and you'll get an idea of the rocking out that was going on (and no laughing at how 'eclectic' my list is):

- Audioslave
- Keb 'Mo
- Sonia Dada
- Voice of the Beehive
- Chris Tomlin
- J Boog
- JJ Grey and MOFRO
- Kolohe Kai
- Dirty Heads
- Toby Lightman
- Zac Brown Band
- Kansas
- Journey
- Bob Seger
- The Cult
- Kenny Chesney
- U2
- UB40
- needtobreathe
- Johnny Clegg & Savuka
- Jars of Clay
- Sublime
- Ben Harper
- Sugarland
- Blues Traveler
- Better Than Ezra

And one of the songs that came on was the one above - "I Go Back" by Kenny Chesney. I started thinking about certain songs that hold deeper meaning than just being a soundtrack that plays continuously in the back of my head on a daily basis. Does anyone else do that? Or is it just me that has music in my head every day?

Anyway...the first song that comes to mind is (don't laugh), "Puff the Magic Dragon" by Peter, Paul, and Mary. It's one of the first songs I remember listening to as a child on my family's record player. I just remember loving the melody of the song and how soothing it felt but then I listened to the words and I realized how sad of a song it really is. It still transports me back to my living room.

The next song that popped into my mind was "Still Rock and Roll to Me" by Billy Joel and "Call Me" by Blondie. My best friend used to come over and we'd dance around my living room to those two songs. I still know all the words.

After that, it's the song, "Forever Young" which was our theme song my senior year in high school. We had lost a friend that year and most of us had to come to terms with the fact that we really weren't immortal. That was a tough one for 17 year olds to wrap their brains around.

Lately, there are so many songs that stick in my mind that I really can't sort them all out. What are some of the songs that take you back and where do they take you?


- hfs


Forty-three years

Forty-three years today. 
I don't think I ever once saw or heard them argue. 
They set an incredible example for me and I attribute part of the success of my marriage to that.

Happy anniversary. I love you.


- hfs


Thoughts on Thursday

Pardon the randomness...insomnia reared its ugly head last night and I'm rolling on about 3.5 hours of sleep and not nearly enough caffeine. But at least it's cool inside my house!

There must have been something in the waffles that my children ate this morning. They are both quite talkative but this morning, the concept of 'internal monologue' seemed to be completely foreign to them. I tried turning up the music but they just talked LOUDER.

Minimal sleep plus minimal caffeine plus a naturally short, red-headed temper combined with SoCal born and raised road rage tendencies makes for an ugly scene out in public. Thankfully no one else was in the car with me at the time. And really...if you're going to talk on your cell phone while driving, can you please do it at a speed faster than 17 mph? Multitasking, people. Learn it. Or pull over and write the damned directions DOWN. 

We got rain yesterday. It was 107° when it started and dropped 20° in a matter of minutes. I danced in it. Twice. The bulk of it went north of us and most of the rain fell on post. They also battled some pretty stiff winds and found that, when you don't properly tie down an AH-64 Apache, they can be blow over. Whoopsie! I'm glad *I* wasn't the one that had to make the phone call to the brigade commander. We're due to stay in the triple digits through late next week. The farm crop here is faltering as is the soybean crop. Nebraska just told its farmers to stop irrigating. I have a feeling water restrictions are headed this way soon. The only thing I'm watering is my garden. 

To balance out the painful electric bill that came yesterday, my gas bill came today and it was all of $14. Whew. I also brought in some money for some articles I wrote, a $10 Target gift card for joining Ebates.com (a great website that pays you cash back every time you shop online - up to 26% back! Ebates works with 1,500 stores including Sephora, Amazon.com, JCPenney, Kohl's, Home Depot, Overstock.com, Groupon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart.), a FREE drink from Starbucks (thanks to my membership card with them), and another Amazon.com gift card from Swagbucks. And I've managed to keep our food bill this pay period under $100 thanks to those great refried beans and a bunch of frozen leftovers. Every penny counts! Feel free to go check those sites out - if you're going to be shopping on line (Ebates.com) or searching online (Swagbucks.com), you might as well get something out of it!

And I'm grateful for the savings because my poor 14-year old car is going to need some more work. Seems the CV joint is dying and the half-shaft is going to need to be replaced. I was hoping to be able to put that savings toward my credit cards but that doesn't seem to be the plan this time. Ah, well. At least I won't have to slap the cost of the parts on the credit card. 

We are having an old friend over for dinner. He's in town on a recruiting stint and it will be good to see him. We haven't seen him since he and his family left Hawaii a while back. Lasagna for dinner!


- hfs


Lesson learned

Last month, our electricity bill was about $108. It was hot last month so I set our thermostat to 85° during the day and 76° at night. I thought, by doing so, I'd be saving us a TON of money because the a/c wouldn't be working as much during the day. I thought I was all that AND a bag of chips.

Until I opened our electric bill today. $214+!! I then had to sit down and put my head between my knees. That's not only double last month's bill, it far exceeds my budget for that utility. Thankfully, I have some wiggle room because our gas bill is so low but dangit!

I talked with a friend of mine whose father is a mechanical engineer with some 40 years of heating/cooling experience and she pointed out that having such a discrepancy between the daytime and nighttime thermostat settings might be making the a/c work harder to cool the house down as opposed to setting the temp to either one constant setting or keeping the day/night settings closer in range. So it's possible that, by trying to SAVE us money, I've costed us money. Poo. Absolutely not what I had in mind.

However, there might be a bit of an upside. I reset the thermostat to 80° during the day and 78° at night (and before you all get worked up over how hot that is, keep in mind the fact that I lived in Hawaii for 6.5 years and 85° during the day was JUST. FINE.) and we'll see how the next bill shakes out. July has been wicked hot (and dry) and it looks like August is going to be the same, if not worse. Fun times in the heartland, I tell you!

At least it will cooler here during the day!


- hfs



Today, I'm not here. I'm HERE! I'm reviewing a book my dear friend gave me that has really changed my grumpy perspective on our latest move. Go read and let me know what you think!


- hfs


Meatless Monday too!

If you've ever listened to Dave Ramsey, you know he advocates "Gazelle-like intensity" when tackling debt, part of which involves "rice and beans, beans and rice" for meals. So tonight, we're having refried beans, rice, and taco fixings (minus the ground beef) for those that want tacos. And the refried beans are homemade. I've never made my own refried beans before so this was new.

Because it's so stinking hot outside, I prefer to use my Crock Pot whenever I can (not to mention the fact that I can use it while I'm sleeping! Don't try THAT with a pot on the stove.) so I searched for a Crock Pot recipe for homemade refried beans and found one that was simple and for which I had all ingredients on hand. I found this one from Real Mom Kitchen and figured I'd give it a try. The hardest part is chopping up the onion (I'm a wimp. I actually use swimming goggles when I'm chopping onions because I'm such a wimp. But my mascara stays on and I don't look like I've spent the day watching sappy chick flicks.). I threw everything in the Crock Pot last night before I sacked out and the beans were waiting for me this morning.

I ran The Boy and The Girl to their activities after turning the Crock Pot off and let the beans cool while I was out. Once I came home, I gave them a quick whirl through the food processor and they are good to go. And YUMMY! If we weren't having them for dinner, I'd be chowing down on them right now. Great flavor with plenty of depth. Not too overwhelming on any one seasoning though they do taste a might bit salty so I may scale back the salt by a teaspoon next time.

And CHEAP! A can of refried beans will run me about $1 per can (of course, the one time I actually want to find a receipt to check a price, I can't...grr.). This recipe called for 3 cups of dried beans (about $1 for the bag), a white onion (about 25 cents), water, and some spices. For $1.25, I easily came away with 5 cans' worth of refried beans. And no fat or lard or other ingredients whose names I cannot pronounce. Works for me and my budget. I have sour cream, cilantro, taco shells, block cheese, and taco sauce still on hand and we will eat well tonight!

I'm coveting this Crock Pot -->

If that's not your style, you can find more Crock Pot options HERE.

What is your favorite money-saving meal?


- hfs

Money-saving Monday

If you've been reading for a while, you know I'm trying to cut back on our expenses as much as possible. A lot of our 'discretionary spending' has been cut - we only eat out rarely anymore, my Starbucks habit has been relegated mostly to my kitchen and the rest comes out of my monthly spending money, we frequent Goodwill and other thrift shops rather than buying new clothes, we line dry the majority of our wash, my thermostat is set at 85°F during the day.

And coupons. Coupons, coupons, coupons.

I'm getting better at it - my average savings is up around 15-20% per shopping trip and I've been able to scale back our food budget by a good $100 per month. We are buying less in the way of snack and prepared foods and making more of our meals and snacks from scratch. I found a great bakery outlet and I'm trying to grow some of my own veggies.

Today, I'm on a mission to Target. My goal is to get multiple boxes of Post Shredded Wheat & Bran for FREE. I have several $1 off 1 box of said cereal and Target reportedly has smaller boxes of it on sale for $1. So we'll see if I can score some free cereal today. MacGyver likes this cereal so this will be a good buy. I have a hard time buying multiples of an item that my family doesn't use simply because it's cheap. Maybe, once the Army decides what it's going to do with us and we no longer (hopefully) have the scepter of an impending move over our heads, I can actually start to stock up in earnest. For now, I'll be content with 4 boxes of free cereal (because that's what the coupon allows).

Tomorrow, I'll go back and get 4 more. Because MacGyver will eat it.

What are you doing to save money today?


- hfs


Small houses

            Growing up, I lived in a house that was 1,008 square feet according to the blueprints. I'm pretty sure that included the bathroom, the hallway, and the closets. At the time, through my child's eye, I did not realize how small that house was. To me, it was the world. The backyard was large, I had my own room (granted it was all of 9x10 feet in dimension), and I was free to roam the neighborhood. I had no concept of exactly how compact - yes, compact...I don't like the word 'small' - the house was. 

My swing in my backyard. 

            A few years ago, I was back in my hometown, visiting friends who still lived next door to my old house and I found my old house to be vacant. Given the fact that I lived there for 17 years, I knew how to break into (and out of...sorry Mom) that house. So I did. And wandering back through it was a trip down memory lane. The people that bought it from us had changed some things but many things were still the same. The atrium was gone but the marks on the pantry door, indicating my growth, remained. So did the initials I carved into the inside of the closet door in my room. And sitting in what had been my room made me realize just how compact that house had been. I felt like a giant in that room.

Our atrium.

            Even after I moved out, the largest space I inhabited was no bigger than that house, save for my in-laws' house where I lived for a year. But I lived in my husband's childhood bedroom so I didn't really count the entire house. Our house in Alaska was really a condo in an 8-plex and, though it was 3 stories, it was probably no more than 1,500 square feet. Our house in Alabama was a duplex and large but not that big - probably not even 2,000 square feet. And our house in Hawaii - as are all houses in Hawaii unless you're rich - was much smaller than that, coming in just over 1,400 square feet.

            For six years, we strained against that square footage. It didn't help that the garage was on the small side while my husband's collection of tools, computer equipment, and other garage-related machinery is, well, not. So we (and by 'we' I mean 'I') had to be creative in our storage of things and cognizant of the limitations of our space. And we longed for space. Well, MacGyver longed for space. I longed for less 'stuff'. 

He won.

            We PCSd to the midwest where land is plentiful and housing costs are a fraction of what they are in Hawaii so homes are bigger. MUCH bigger. The house we live in now is two and a half times larger than the house we lived in while we were in Hawaii. In addition to the massive square footage, we have an oversized garage - much to MacGyver's delight - and a fairly large yard. The Boy and The Girl each have their own room AND there is room for guests (though no bed unless you count the AeroBed...we're hoping to buy a new bed if we find out we get to stay in the Army and stay here). The school area has its own space. MacGyver's computer stuff has its own space. The video game/Lego mess has its own space! The dining room is just that - a dining room. It's not a schoolroom or an office or a sewing/craft room, or anything other than a dining room! Novel concept. All of this space for us to stretch out. 

Room to BREATHE! 


And I can't STAND it. 

          Don't get me wrong - I am grateful for our house. I am grateful to have a roof over our heads, a place to call home. But I can't STAND how big this house is. I thought I'd love having a place for everything and room to move and breathe and stretch. And I can't stand it. I lose my people. With so much space, I never know who is home, where they are, or what they are doing. In Hawaii, I knew what my children were doing at all times because it's hard to hide anything in 1,400 square feet. If they weren't playing in their room (singular...they shared. And their room was right off the living room so I could hear/see them pretty much all the time) then they were in the living room. Or in the backyard. Or riding bikes down the street.

            But in this house, their rooms (plural...they no longer share) are down the hall from the living room. And the video games/Legos are downstairs in the basement. And I lose them. I lose my husband too. He can be downstairs in the computer area, playing video games with The Boy and The Girl in the basement, or puttering in the garage. I never know where anyone is. The other day, we were getting ready to leave to go to a friend's house and I thought The Girl was at her friend's house down the road. I started to go get her and The Boy informed me that she was downstairs and had been for an hour or so. I didn't have a clue!

            Regardless of the outcome of the promotion board, we plan on moving when our lease is up. Not only is the house not a good fit for us, it's too far from the bulk of our activities in town and our gas budget is a huge drain on our finances. Even if the news from the promotion board is good news, I am going to push for us to find a smaller house. I want that closeness back again. We don't need to be living on top of one another and my children are getting to an age where sharing a room is not feasible (though it might become temporarily necessary if we wind up having to cut our living expenses drastically in preparation for MacGyver's exit from the Army) but I'd like to downsize.

            There's a lot to be said for living in a small(er) house. I've seen both sides of that and I prefer a smaller house. What about you?

One of my favorite architects (and one of my dad's too, I believe) is Frank Lloyd Wright. I love his simple, elegant designs and the 'bones' of his architecture. This book is on my wish list:


- hfs


Prayer request

MacGyver is up for promotion. This is his 'second look' and, if he's passed over this time, it spells the end of his active duty Army career. We should know the results of the promotion board either at the end of July or the beginning of August. 

My request is that you keep the promotion board and their decision in your prayers. But, beyond that, I would ask that you would pray for us: for peace, for wisdom, and for discernment. If this is the end of MacGyver's active duty Army career, we will need to explore our options in terms of employment for him and/or for me. Thankfully, and as a testament to God's provision, we have many options available to us but it's the interim that is scary.

Selfishly, I would like for us to remain an Army family and for him to be promoted. But that may not be what God has in store for us so I would pray that He would grant us peace in knowing that He has our best interests at heart, allowing us to rest in Him and for my ability to set aside my worries and my fears and truly hear Him. Most of you know how difficult this can be.

I'm still working my way through the Bible and, in my reading this week, I came across this verse: Psalm 86:5-7

You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
In the day of my trouble I will call to you,
for you will answer me.

It's fitting and it gives me a sense of peace going into this month. I thank you for taking the time to read this, to pray for us, and for your friendship. We are truly blessed beyond measure. 


- hfs


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