Alien Pee and Highlighters

I’m still around. Ray is away. I’ve had a ridiculous number of appointments plus no backup taxi driver. Things are a bit nutty.

How nutty you ask? I have a child who insists on shoving me over in my own bed EVERY NIGHT. At this point I’m too old and or tired to care. Half the time she wakes up not even realizing she made it to my bedroom.

A few days ago I woke up to this…


What’s that you ask? We’ll for about 15 seconds the only thing I could think of was that an alien had peed in my bed. Yep, that’s the first thing I think of. It wasn’t Tucker…

Little britches apparently brought an uncapped highlighter to bed with her. It was under the sheets and the quilt. I certainly don’t sleep with one.

In other news… Even though it was still wet, I couldn’t get it out. Think Ray will notice an alien pee stain when he gets home? Maybe it’s an excuse to buy new sheets. If I buy new sheets do that mean a new comforter too?

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All In Surfing Addition

When we were thick in the middle of the adoption process, Ray liked to say he was “All in.” In fact, Ray coined it and we both started saying it. If we were going to do it, we wanted to jump in and do it. That’s what we did. Since then, it’s something I think about and try to apply to lots of different aspects of our lives. 

I’ve been known to mention that I don’t want my kids to live in fear. I want them to give their all and try new things. Sadly, I wasn’t doing what I was asking them to do. Today I did.

I’ve thought about surfing since we moved here. Oh to be the cool girl on the board, cutting through the waves. Well, I’m here to tell you that I am certainly not cool and my days as a girl are long behind me but I did manage to stand up on a board during my very first surfing lesson today. When we got here I thought I didn’t have enough upper body strength or balance. I was also managing to do what drives me up the wall when my kids do it. I didn’t want to look like an idiot or be the only one who couldn’t possibly get up. 

Then I met Joe.



He was with me on my first paddle to the Mokes…and pointed out the sharks. We had a bit of an argument today. I’m no longer quite shark bait. We’re almost the same color. (sharks prefer white meat according to most locals) He thinks that everyone that wants to try to surf, should try to surf. 

I paddled out. I was too high on the board. I paddled out. I was too low on the board. Third time’s the charm yeah? Nope. I wasn’t fast enough. I paddled back around in line as fast as I could. Yes, my arms and especially my back are already sore. Fourth time, I got up. I can’t even begin to explain the feeling. I’m officially a junkie. I kept paddling out and coming back. I didn’t make it up every time, but the times I did…worth every second. 

So a couple of things… I need to thank my buddy Lorraine for being game and going along with me. I also need to thank the trainers at Dumbell Fitness. I never really understood that a burpee would have such a high pay off until today. Burpees, pushups and planks really are my friend. 

I sadly didn’t get a single picture. I had witnesses though. What I hope my kids heard in my voice when I was talking about it was that I didn’t care that my shirt wasn’t staying put or that I kept falling. I was having fun. I didn’t care if I didn’t look like Bethany Hamilton. I don’t see many surfers who do. I was having fun. I didn’t care who was watching. I was getting up on that board for me, to try something new and do the very best I could do. Sadly, I wish I hadn’t waited until we have just over a year left here.

I’m already planning the next ladies’ day adventure with Joe. (And also begging Ray to extend but it’s still not working.)

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Big Island Adventures: Kona to The Volcano

I would be remiss if I didn’t start my post with a big old GO CATS! Holy cow! They made it to the championship! You know where I’ll be this afternoon.

Our next day on Big Island, we checked out of our room in Kona and made our way down the south side and up to Volcano National Park. It is a winding road and I gave the kids some dramamine. This point is important because someone please tell me, what’s worse? Throwing up or grumpy kids? I guess if they’re throwing up it’s both. But that stuff made for some extra grumpy children. The car portions of this journey were beautiful views on the outside and whining, car sick grumpy kids on the inside. We scheduled lots of stops to break it up. The first was south point. It’s the most southern spot in the United States. You thought it was those good old Florida Keys didn’t you? Seriously, you have no idea how many times I’ve been asked if I’ll be in the states this summer. Yep…even when I’m in Hawaii. 

DSCF0520The kids jumped out of the car. It was windy. I immediately started to have a panic attack as Bria followed Arleigh and Hanan to the edge. We rushed over and made them move back so this Mama could catch her breath. What happened next is a story that will be told for years, probably to grandchildren. 

The wind was whipping. The drop off was huge and there were two ledges that walk out so you can see WITH NO GUARDRAIL. I yell at them and shake my head. We each took a second to look over.

DSCF0510The water was super clear. This picture is weird. This was the top of the ladder. The drop looked to be around 50 ft. Our guide book said to tie off because the currents are so strong here. Nothing like having four kids literally on the edge of the earth. Of course, Bria wanted to see too. Ray was holding onto her and the rail. Arleigh came rushing up behind them and tripped bumping into them. I’m pretty sure I had a heart attack. Arleigh was scared too and started to laugh nervously. That just set me off more. We were both a little pouty for the rest of our stop. It was amazing to see.

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We really wanted to get to green sand beach but decided that Jack couldn’t handle the hike. We weren’t too sure about Bria either so we’ll put that off for another trip. I so hope there is another trip. Big Island isn’t where I would want to live but it was a great family vacation spot. 


DSCF0538 DSCF0539Our next stop was Hana Hou. It’s the southernmost restaurant and bakery in the United States. We decided that we needed to go ahead and have lunch while we were there. I’m so glad we did. It was a little like the restaurant that I worked at in my hometown. Let’s face it. I feel right at home anywhere that anyone says, “Aloha y’all!” 

The breads are made right there. We split sandwiches so we could enjoy some of their fabulous pie. After a sampling of three, we all decided that the Honu Pie was the absolute favorite. They were all delicious. Honu Pie is what we Kentuckians call turtle pie. It’s somehow especially tasty when you just thought your children were saved from a near death experience.









Later we continued our drive and stopped at Black Sand Beach. First, I made Ray stop for a second so I could take a picture of a street sign we had been seeing everywhere. Is it just me or does it look like the little dude is running into the tsunami instead of away from the tsunami?

DSCF0548We had a nice little surprise on Black Sand Beach. Our neighbors were also there to play. 

DSCF0551These two are thick as thieves. They are so cute together. They’re plotting to be on the same soccer team. At any given moment you can find one of them at the other’s house. So it was pretty exciting for them to bump into each other on another island. 

Hailey and Hanan are pretty tight too.

IMG_2528Between that and the turtles, it was a pretty good day!

IMG_2532 DSCF0603 DSCF0599 DSCF0567 DSCF0581 DSCF0572 DSCF0564 DSCF0594 DSCF0582 DSCF0549 DSCF0560 DSCF0609We left black sands and finished the drive to Volcano National Park where we had a military cabin waiting for us. The sun had started to dip. As we drove in, Bria said, “Why is the sky pink?” You might be fooled into think it was a wonderful sunset but it was actually the glow of the volcano. We headed to Jagger Observatory after roasting some hot dogs and marshmallows in the fire place cabin and we were totally amazed.



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It was another great day on Big Island.









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Notes On A Saturday Morning

It’s a typical Saturday in the Stiff house. There is a soccer game, a birthday party at a far flung beach, a child at a weekend long sleepover at the same beach, a dinner date with some passing visitors in Waikiki. Yeah, we’re packed. As if this weren’t enough, let me also mention I’m trying to parent a 13-year old. (Trying is the OPERATIVE word at this point.)

Can I just tell you something that I wish someone had reenforced to me at the same age? Wait. I’m sure someone did and I wasn’t listening. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and all that. The appearance of impropriety is the same as impropriety. I don’t think I really grasped the concept until I became the wife of a military officer. At that point, the drilling into my brain worked. How is it that it seems like some of the younger military wives have missed that? That’s a post for another day. 

Simply put, I’m trying to tell my daughter that perception is reality. That combined with the golden rule makes middle school really, really difficult. I’m not unaware of this point. Middle school is hard. It was hard for me back in the day. I’m sure it’s even more difficult when you are the minority and cultures are a bit different. Add to that parents who are preaching to live in the world not of the world. And this is one parent who is basically saying do as I say not as I do. I’m floundering over here and having a hard time telling a child to make the right choices when I don’t always make the right choices. DSCF0284

Good grief. That’s all. Thanks for letting me get it off my chest. I’m just going to go look for my aloha at the beach. Surely it’s around there somewhere. 

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Big Island Adventures: Snorkeling Kona

I would love to tell you that my kids LOVED snorkeling in Kona as much as I did. That would be a lie. I am a bad mother. I didn’t bring water shoes for any of us. The water was fabulous and ridiculously clear. I thought the clarity was much better than Haunama Bay on Oahu. There wasn’t so much coral, but there were rocks, hard sharp scraggly rocks and it was extremely shallow. 

DSCF0295I took Arleigh, Hanan and Bria out first. Bria does okay but she doesn’t love the mouth piece. She pretty much just wants to swim around and come up for air. I was struggling to hold onto her and watch the big girls. Arleigh saw a few sea urchins and with no shoes… but she did have flippers…promptly lost her mind. She is like her grandmother and immediately jumped to worse case scenario. It didn’t help that a neighbor friend had just recounted a paddle board incident when he stepped down hard on one. There are a bunch of docs in my neighborhood so they removed the barbs from his bloody foot with pliers on the kitchen table. Good times. 

Arleigh left the waters not much after she came in. No way was my girl chancing her mother pulling those things out. She knows I would do that too, reasonably well. Hanan had scrubbed her ankle on a rock and was so busy swimming around she it was hurt but hadn’t paid much attention to it. With Arleigh on shore with Jack, Ray came out with a board for Bria. Theoretically it should make it easier for me to swim with the board, let her duck her head in when she wants too. We often forget that Bria is like a bull in a china shop and doesn’t hold still for anything. 

So, off we went and it was amazing. I wasn’t fast with the camera. I was too busy holding onto Bria and ogling the fish. 

DSCF0332We didn’t last long. I was paddling Bria and Hanan back in on the board when Hanan kicked too hard and caught her knee on a rock. Her mind immediately went to Arleigh’s sea urchin and it went down hill from there. Her previous ankle injury was actually worse and still bleeding. Her leg was bruised. She was acting like a great white had taken off a limb. I kicked kicked and kicked until we were less than calf deep and got them out.

A tourist was trying really hard to get his fins over his water shoes just as I was getting out. He looks up and says, “You looked like you knew what you were doing.” (This thrilled me more than it should have.) “Can you help?” I told him first, he was never going to be able to walk out in ankle deep water on the rocks with his flippers. It would have been fun watching. Backwards is a little easier but not much. It was barely waist deep out in the middle where the fish were. I told him to make his way out and then put the fins on. No idea if this was the right advice, it’s just what works with the kids. Not sure if it’s the fact that I’m not pasty white or that I might have been faking it until I made it, either way, I took it as a compliment.

We then went from beach to beach. The kids are spoiled with the sand on Oahu. There are only a few rocky beaches that we go to, usually to see turtles. Later in the afternoon, we found some tide pools. They LOVED it.

DSCF0378 DSCF0379 DSCF0370 DSCF0344 DSCF0336 DSCF0401They found tiny crabs, big crabs, sea cucumbers and sea urchin that were all in a respectable level of water. The lava had cooled to form perfect little pools to catch the water and provide a beautiful real life aquarium for the kids to play in. If you are looking for it, we stopped at the Old Airport Beach and found the surf to be a bit much against the rocks for Bria and Jack to really feel totally comfortable. The tide pools are close to the Electric Plant. It’s all in our little Big Island Revealed book.




After our tide pool adventure, we went back to a look where the kids could really swim. 

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Arleigh and Hanan are getting pretty good with the underwater camera.

Then we were off to a beach grill for a spectacular dinner. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of our view.

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When Nana Bonnie and the cousins were here, they went to Big Island to dive with sea rays. I so wanted to but apparently it’s not acceptable to do that and leave your children unattended. Where’s Grandma when I need her? So we watched some people dive from land.

DSCF0499We could only see shadows but we tried. One day maybe I’ll be able to go back and do it. 

It was a nice end to our Kona stay. The next day, we made the drive to the Volcanos!



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