When Tire Rotations Are A Blessing

I am currently sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my tires to be rotated. I planned ahead. I have my coffee, my Southern Living and my iPad. I’m ready to tackle Thanksgiving. I know. It’s a hard life.

Sitting here texting a friend, I’ve decided I need to forget Southern Living and Coastal Living. I need my own magazine… Military/Redneck Living. I promise I can whip up a meal that will make you want to go back for seconds and dare I say, thirds. My pie will not look like this.


My friend who happens to be in charge of pies says no Yankee can make that. Apparently rednecks can’t either.

I won’t be keeping a side dish playbook but I can explain at length how to group text a bunch of military spouses to find out what their Thanksgiving strength is and show you how to put together a meal fit for royalty.

What the heck is this squash casserole that kids will want to eat.

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While I might be tempted to try it, that would not fool my kids. In spite of my best efforts yellow squash is in Bria’s words, “squishy” and the best I can hope for is that they choke it down. I love squash. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but an artful display of goldfish would not a delicious side make in my children’s eyes.

That 1-800 number at the top… Yeah I could’ve used that 18 years ago. It was the first time I made Thanksgiving dinner and it was a hot mess! Just ask my mother. I stayed up all night making a homemade bread cornucopia filled with ham biscuits and struggled with a turkey. I made the worst stuffing that has ever been made. I was up at 4 a.m. and therefore evil. Seriously. I was the devil. Bless my parents and Ray. They choked it all down and then we went to a movie. I think I was in bed by 8 and happy as a clam on Black Friday.

Anyway, that 1-800 number is for amateurs. It’s for your first few Thanksgivings navigating rough waters. The number to call for a seasoned Thanksgiving cook is 1-800 CPT MRGN. You might have heard of the 1-800 MOR WINE number but it always causes headaches.

Navy families have an average of 4-6 kids. That means Thanksgiving is a Lord Of The Flies scenario. You must be prepared for children and single sailors. I got this.

Roasted garlic cauliflower soup with tureens and bowls aren’t happening. Pimento cheese on celery stalks is a much for feasible appetizer. You can pop it in your mouth and catch a football.

So I’m off to plan our last Hawaiian Thanksgiving. Sigh. It will be child and single sailor friendly. There will lots of pop up tables and pie. Football is a must. It will be perfect for us. I’ve learned in my old age that when it comes to holiday gatherings it’s best to set a bar, but not to high. A low bar means our little navy ohana can soar over it. Wish me luck!

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I’ve Been Reduced To This

My day started this morning with Bria screaming that we forgot real shoes. In Hawaii that basically means tennis shoes. There was an evacuation drill at school. Of course it wasn’t a PE day for the littles so that meant a rushed trip home for socks and sneakers.

Jack wasn’t a fan of school today because he spent the day with me yesterday. Ray thinks I spend every day on the computer or surfing. It’s a little closer to the truth than I care to admit. (Not the surfing part. I don’t get to go that often.) Jack thinks I go to the eye doctor and then shopping to the Disney Store and the Lego Store. He was pretty keen on a celebratory lunch too.


After yesterday, school didn’t seem like a great idea and Wednesday was starting to feel a whole lot like a Monday to both of us. (sigh)

It was off to my Bootcamp class even though I felt like an elephant is sitting on my chest and there must be tampons shoved up my nose. I just haven’t found them yet. It’s that or I have the cold Arleigh was nursing last week. Okay, it’s just a cold. It was also my trainers birthday and there was a promise of 42 burpees in honor of her special day. I’ll be 42 this year but burpees are not on my wish list thank you very much! I suffered through and kept reminding myself it’s her birthday you have to try.

I’m getting to the point. I returned home a hot mess, literally and figuratively! That is how I came to be reduced to this.


I promised Bria that we would walk home from school today. After Bootcamp and a walk up and down that hill and those two little pills, I’m pretty sure a slight fever was breaking. It was just in time for me to sit in a carline waiting for Arleigh, Hanan and Kiana. We got there early and the air was on. I warned the little people of the monster lurking under the surface and asked them to keep it down. That’s when it happened…

I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at the front of the car line. I wasn’t just asleep. I was passed completely out, mouth slack, drool a solid possibility. I heard the click of the sliding door when Hanan hopped into the van. I nearly jumped out of my skin!

So that’s what I’ve been reduced to. I
sent Ray a text telling him what I thought happened. He sent this text back “Hey! Look it! Auntie’s sleepin’!”

Yep. That’s me sleepin’ Auntie! Guess I have to get to work now.

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The Silent Door

Today was a long, crazy, happy, rushed sort of normal day. The point is, I wasn’t at home. In fact until late in the afternoon I wasn’t home. Imagine that. I didn’t get home until much later than usual with the deliver dinner for a new baby and find water bottles and Jack’s eye appointment and some much needed retail therapy.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I turned on my DVR to watch Supernatural (don’t judge) after the little people were tucked into bed and saw something called “The Secret Door.”

My first thought was Arleigh was watching a Hallmark Channel movie and recorded the end to watch after she got home from babysitting. My first thought was, as usual, WRONG!

Curiosity killed the cat or started the recording… It was, I believe a Japanese murder mystery with subtitles and everything…


It got better with the commercials.


You’ll have to take my word for it.

I started to interrogate accuse question the witnesses children. They had the perfect culprit. Straight out of Arleigh’s mouth, “It had to be Tye!”

Well played, brother of mine. Well played. I know I’ve heard that the dead can speak through the living through electronics but I have no idea what you might be saying… Except for your usual “quit taking it all so seriously.” I hear you. Now let me get on with my Supernatural. (I said don’t judge!)

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His Eyes

This guy… the one that is totally obsessIMG_0039ed with all things Infinity and Big Hero 6…the one that tried to lead singing at church the last two Sundays…the one who was VERY upset that I didn’t prepare a home lunch for him this morning because I’m out of bread…and cheese…and fruit… and I’ll stop with the grocery list… he’s due to have his eyes checked tomorrow. Jack is actually due for lots of checks. I think I avoid them out of laziness and deep desperation for him to be a normal kid. Anyway, another eye check tomorrow. He LOVES Dr. Young. I’m sure Jack will be excited to fill him in on Baymax. It still makes this Mama’s heart a little nervous about what we’ll hear. If you think about it, say a little prayer for all of us tomorrow that we stay on the right track. I’m sure a trip to the Disney Store will be in order when we’re finished.

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The MomMobile

It must have been the picture I posted of Tye yesterday. Why else would you cry over a broken down mini-van? I know. Most people wouldn’t. 

This time last year I was on my way to take the big girls to a movie. The van wouldn’t start. I literally wept. It hit me. One day, I wouldn’t have my MomMobile. I thought it was hormones at the time but it happened again this morning. On the way to school Hanan said, “Mom, what kind of car will we have when we move?” 

I answered, “This one. I don’t want another car.” I also don’t want a car payment but I really don’t want another car.

“But, Dad says we can’t take this one so what will you drive?”

Hot tears welled up in my eyes. How silly can one person be? Talk about first world problems. Oh no! My husband wants to purchase a new vehicle…

I still remember the day Ray brought that car home. It was my Valentine’s Day gift after he found out he would be deployed to Iraq. It came complete with a 100,000 mile warranty so I could always have it fixed. It was his way of taking care of us. 

Over the years, that van has taken care of us. It’s traveled back and forth to see family. It’s been to Disney on more than once occasion. It’s contained meltdowns and brought children home from hospitals and airports. It’s falling apart. It’s my giant well worn purse. It has dings, scratches and dents and isn’t in the best shape, a lot like me but it trudges on. I love that car. 

We’ve bonded as a family over washing her. We’ve fought about cleaning her out. She may or may not have a tropical roach infestation but she’s mine. Her television and DVD player no longer work. That only means my kids sing from back seat a little bit louder when we go to the North Shore. She’s a perfect drum section, the perfect place for siblings to spar. I’ve changed diapers in her and mopped up more vomit than I care to think about. She traveled across the ocean to be with us. You’d think I would take better care of her but I think she knows she’s loved. That’s why she just keeps going. Again, kind of like me. 

My MomMobile holds stories of dogs and cats. Tucker has his seat. Haole is still finding hers. She’s road weary. She protected us from bisons on an animal safari and had ostriches stick their heads in to check her out. She made the girls’ trip to FL with Grandma and Nana Bonnie often riding illegally between seats. Cotton candy from the circus has been smeared on her windows. She was the perfect timeout spot for my little temper fuss pot Hanan. 

The biggest reason that I can’t seem to let go of that car is the memories she holds. Yesterday I posted a picture of Tye that I found on Facebook. When Ray was in Iraq, he flew to Virginia to help me with Arleigh’s fourth birthday party. Then he was supposed to ride with me from Virginia back to Kentucky. Those are some of my best memories of just me and Tye hanging out. Arleigh got a Barbie Jeep from Mom. That was his job. Channel Ray and put it together. He couldn’t put that thing together to save his life. I had to call in reinforcements. He was a super hero at the party though. As usual, he entertained everyone.

We had a really great weekend. It was shocking really. Tye and I never spent hours alone without at least bickering with each other. I honestly don’t believe there was anyone in this world that could make me madder than my brother. Bless him. I wanted to kill him all the dang time. That weekend, he was awesome.

We started on our long drive to Kentucky and he was his usual entertaining self. Especially after Arleigh told him her favorite new joke that she made up.

“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there.”


“Bear who?”


He thought that was the funniest thing ever. I think he called everyone he knew to tell them. We told that joke for years later. Maybe you had to be there. In fact, I’m sure you had to be there because Tye and his humor were nothing short of infectious. 

Just as we were reaching the mountains there was a car that would pull around me. It would speed up and then slow way down right in front of me. I kept hitting my brakes, turning off my cruise control and cursing under my breath. Tye was yammering on. I decided to get well ahead to the car. I sped up. We were talking. Before I knew it I was going well over 70 in a 55 mph zone. I see the car before he can even turn on his lights. I look down, oh no… I’m in trouble. So I look for a spot and pull over and wait. 

The cop comes up. I should mention, a friend had given me a magnet for the back of the van. It said, “Half of my heart is in Iraq.” It was the start of the war and things were rough over there. The cop starts talking to me. I handed him my license and registration. I apologized. I explained that I was taking my kids to see their family for Christmas and Tye was along for the ride. I told him about trying to get around the car and Tye had me wound up. I promised to put my cruise control on. He told me he saw me hit my brakes and appreciated that I pulled over and waited for him at a safe spot. I was explaining that I majored in criminal justice and appreciated that he had a job to do. The cop talked to me about Ray and where we were going. Anyone that knows Tye knows he couldn’t stay out of the conversation for long. He whips out his badge and says he’ll keep me under control. Likely story. 

Our new friend was not happy. He had me dead to right’s with a big old ticket but what was he going to do. He comes back and gives me a warning. My heart was still slamming against my chest. I thank him, put my blinker on a pull out. The tires hadn’t even rolled over twice and Tye was rubbing his hands together telling me that I owed him. The only reason I got out of the ticket was because he is a cop. I’m telling Tye that maybe it was because I was a poor pitiful military spouse trying to get home for Christmas. That pretty much sums up the conversation for the next 12 or so hours…when he wasn’t in the back seat watching a movie with the girls. 

There was also the first time he got in my van. We had been riding around for about 5 minutes when he said, “Brandi, I hope you have seat warmers. If you don’t we have a serious situation over here.” There were seat warmers and he knew it. I sure do miss his dramatics though. 

So anyway, it could have been the picture. It could have been thinking about what the van meant when Ray gave it to me. It could have been so many things. It doesn’t matter because I’ve the dork crying over a minivan. Somewhere Tye is making fun of me because of that. 

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