USA Band Competition 

On Saturday I hitched a ride with two other moms and headed to Annapolis to the Navy and Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the USA Bands Competition.


I never thought my first time seeing that field would be for Arleigh. It was a bit surreal to walk into the stadium…even with Ray’s favorite Dancing Goat.


I can’t wait to go back for a football game. And of course, my beloved Hawaii is never far from my mind. I sat across from the Pearl Harbor sign.


I’ve never been to a band competition. I had no idea what to expect. As a new band parent, I certainly have an appreciation of the work it takes to compete. These kids and some of the parent volunteers have really done an amazing thing to prepare for these events this year.

Honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know music. I knew Arleigh’s high school looked awesome but so did all of the other schools performing. Before the awards were announced we enjoyed a great performance from IUP. They were AMAZING. 

Here’s Arleigh’s band. 


She’s the third sax from the left, behind the “N” in Navy. (I think. It’s hard to see on the computer screen.)

She was so great. Marching is completely new for her and I’m amazed at the choreography. I think that was clearly my word for the day… and impressed. 

They were one of the larger bands and in the last group to perform. We waited with baited breath watching them watch from an upper deck. 


I’m happy to report a big fat WIN!!!! I’m so happy for the seniors. What a great way to start off their freshman year. It was such a great and tiring day. 


I’m also happy to report Bria has a win and scored several goals for her team. It was a great weekend to be a Stiff. 

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First Day of School

On Sunday we were visiting another church. (I promise I’m not just bragging about my kids. This story has a point.) The children’s minister looked for me between classes. She told me that she briefly met Arleigh and Hanan and how she was amazed by their spirit of adventure. Apparently she asked them about things they would love to do. She wanted to know about Jack. Then she said, “Do you know you have a very bold daughter?” Yeah… sort of aware. This could be good or bad but I just smiled and waited to see where she was going. It was Bria’s first time attending this children’s ministry. They do a few things in an age appropriate class then all the grades gather for a small worship service. She is in second grade. She volunteered to read the morning scripture. She stood in front of the large group and read without nerves or jitters. Then she sat down. I wish I was there to see it but we were in our own class. The sweet lady told me how she’s not used to visitors behaving like that. Funny thing is, military kids don’t always know how to be visitors. 

Yesterday Hanan went to school number five. That’s not even counting the two different preschools she attended. She got on the bus with a neighborhood friend. She knows. Find your crowd fast. I’m super proud of her. 

Arleigh started high school. How is that even possible? School number five for her in nine years. 

Not going to lie. This has not been easy. With the start of band camp we had some pretty nasty days. It’s amazing to see her confidence grow. She walks around a huge campus, finding her way without problems. I remember being all nerves going to high school. Sure there were people there I didn’t know but there also almost 40 that I had been with since kindergarten. At parent orientation, I watched as kids who had been in this school district forever melted down. My kid found her way without breaking a sweat.

These two hooligans started second grade at their second school.

First bus experience. New school. Bria was slightly offended at the bus stop when a very little boy asked if she was going into kindergarten. Later a mom asked if she was in 3rd or 4th so all is right with the world again. They rocked their day. They made it home and are ready to go again this morning. 

The thing about military kids that amazes me is this…

That is the hardest part. The good-byes. I’ve been there. There are moments when you think you don’t want to open yourself up to a new relationship because that means there will be a goodbye. My kids are brave and fearless and they have no idea. They solidify relationships quickly because they don’t know how long they have. 

I’m happy to report that all four rocked their first day. There were a few hiccups and a couple of sad parts but for the most part everyone is happy and ready to go back today. Thinking about our other moves, that is nothing short of amazing and worry of a prayer of thanks. Yep. Totally bragging but my kids are rock stars and so are their military kid friends. 

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The Nana and Papa Chronicles

We’ve been enjoying Nana and Papa’s company for a bit now. We actually made it out of the house into town on Monday to the Air & Space Museum.

I’m not sure exactly when Bria and Jack decided to get so tall. Good grief! I won’t mention the fact that my oldest is trying to look taller. (I see that Arleigh Grace!) 

We watched an IMAX movie about the Hubble Space telescope. They decided to play IZ at the beginning of the movie. Everyone waited for my reaction. (I may still pine for our island life a little.) Then in the middle of the movie they mentioned how beautiful Hawaii is from space. Seriously, it’s beautiful from any vantage point. I really am trying to embrace D.C. living. I promise. In other news, Bria and Jack are both considering being astronauts for Halloween now. The choice is between astronaut and wolf for Bria, Hulk, TMNT and astronaut for Jack. 

All four kids acted like kids and had a great time. 

After minor disappointment that it wasn’t like the Science Museum in Huntsville, they found the interactive room and LOVED it! 

It’s nice to get out and let them learn and have fun. I’m sure the teens didn’t think it was possible but we managed. 

It was a short day because Arleigh’s band practice is ongoing until school starts. We’ve just enjoyed having Nana and Papa around this week in between all of our many school functions. It’s Friday and that means FOOTBALL. Arleigh has her first public performance with the marching band and we’re all pretty excited to see it, especially Nana and Papa. We’re off to soak up the rest of our time with them. Have a great weekend!

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The Kidnapping

I would like to report a kidnapping.  This morning at O dark thirty (that means about 5:15 a.m. Grandma) these sweet girls showed up at my house to steal my daughter. I must be a horrible mom because I allowed it to happen. 

It’s the last day of band camp. Can I get a Hallelujah, AMEN!!! She made it! We made it! Dare I say it? She actually LIKES it!!! How far we’ve come in a couple of weeks. This morning she was whisked away in the dark with the other freshmen. These sweet girls snuck in her room, woke her up and got her ready and out the door in under 10 minutes. Bless them. I’ve never been able to do that. 

This morning Arleigh will be initiated into band. There are games, races and some other fun stuff. They’ll eat breakfast and then the last day will start. 

I’m so so happy for Arleigh. She has friends. She knows people. She’s learning her way around the school. She has a better head start at her new school then some of the other kids that have been in the same district for much longer. I think this mama just found her some aloha.

Go Spartans! 

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This One Time At Band Camp

We are on day 3. Can I get off this band roller coaster yet? She likes it. She hates it. She’s quitting. She’s suffering through. She’s proud. It’s the WORST THING EVER. We are supportive parents. We are the WORST PARENTS EVER. I go from knowing my stuff to the dumbest mom on the planet in less than 2.5 seconds. Sigh.

Arleigh is at band camp today. Heaven help me. I got her there. On Friday, boys in her section were literally in the fetal position crying on the pavement. Arleigh was praised for being the toughest in her section. She’s the only girl. All Arleigh will say is that she’s worried it’s not her “thing.” An upperclassman’s encouragement got her there this morning. Heaven knows it wasn’t her mother. 

This is for you Arleigh Grace…


And then there’s this…


Thought you’d like this one too. 

Okay. I’ll stop now. This is one roller coaster that I’m ready to get off of. We have three more weeks. I promise this blog won’t be all things band. Right now, it just feels like our whole little ohana revolves around it. 

If you’re a band parent, please tell me it gets better. PLEEEEEAAAAASSSSEEEE!



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So This Is Band Camp

IMG_8264Back in March I started communicating with Arleigh’s new high school to let them know she would be coming and to please save a spot for her in band. We’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster since. Arleigh wasn’t sure that band was what she wanted. Then she was sure. Then she wasn’t. When we arrived, she was ready. I went into the school to pay the hefty fees for her participation and was told there might not be a spot. Sigh. Moving with kids is not a cakewalk. We scheduled a meeting with the program director. Good news! There is a spot. I filled out the paperwork. Paid the fees and we proceeded to try and prepare for band camp.

Band camp prep included procuring an alto saxophone. This is one more time I want to praise the Hawaii public school system. Arleigh was loaned FREE OF CHARGE an intermediate level alto sax. That is not the case here in Virginia. The school recommended that we purchase or rent one from a local store. The only thing the store would rent was a student level saxophone at the low low price of $70 per month. Arleigh tried soaking her reeds. This morning she was still frustrated because it wasn’t playing the way she is used to. I ordered a new lunch bag from Amazon because she didn’t like the options I found on short notice. Amazon was cheaper anyway. I thought it was fine because all my paperwork said that she would finish up at noon today. WRONG. Today and tomorrow she stays until 5. I’ve also been given multiple notes that we should consider private lessons on top of what she’ll be doing at school for the low low price of $35 per week. I need a job just to pay for band!

Last night I got a phone call. I seriously nearly cried. They asked if they could chalk our driveway so that Arleigh would wake up, see it this morning and be excited about camp. Seriously…watery eyes. I knew that was just what she needed. This morning I woke up like a kid on Christmas morning ready to make Arleigh look out her window. Good thing I checked first. There was no beautiful kid writing welcoming her to band. Sigh. What if she is the only freshman without it?

By the time we got in the car I could tell her nerves were getting the best of her. Before we got out of the ‘hood she was in tears. New is hard. I told her new is always hard and almost always scary but the hardest scariest things that I’ve done have always been worth it. I told her that I was excited that she was going to totally know where she was going on her first day of school. I told her I couldn’t wait to hear all about her new friends. I told her I was sorry about her being uncomfortable with the new sax but I would email the director and together we would figure it out, better now than in the middle of a competition. 

My girl straightened her shoulders and took the news that she would be there all day in stride. I think she knew it was coming. She found her way to the auditorium. I had to walk away. 

The truth is, when you move to a new place, home school starts to look pretty good. I would love to wrap my arms around all four of them and protect their little hearts from mean kids and feeling out of place. I would love to be with them all day with my delusion of grandeur literature studies and history lessons. Then I remember. Math is…well, not my strong suit. Science makes my head hurt most of the time. I am not what is best for them. I am a better Mom when they get home from school. New is hard for me too. When I got home I cried. 

I cried for the friends that they desperately miss. I cried for the teachers that loved them so so much. I cried for the slow island pace. I cried because I know my kids are way the heck out of their comfort zone and there isn’t much I can do to help them navigate. Then I sucked it up. We have a great house, a great school and Arleigh got her spot. I fully expect that today will be great and she’s going to come home telling me about her new friends. I will worry and pray all day though. 

The next few weeks are going to be chock full of new new new for all four. If you think about it, please say a prayer of peace for my little military brats. They are strong. They are friendly. They are kind and compassionate. They can do big great things. They also ache a bit for what they know of as home. 

I had every intention of writing about our lovely summer detour through Kentucky and Illinois today. That will have to wait for a bit. We have bigger fish to fry and other instruments to tune. I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled programming soon. Thanks for the indulgence. 

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