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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The Parenting Minefield

When I was a teenager I think I listened to the song, Love Is A Battlefield about a bazillion times. I think I need to rewrite the lyrics about parenting.

Kids are a Battlefield

We are old
Heartache to heartache we stand
Broken promises, all demands
Kids are a battlefield
We feel weak, they love to tell us we’re wrong
Breakin’ our hearts for so long
Both of us knowing
Kids are a battlefield
You’re beggin’ me for more stuff then breakin’ it right away
Why do you hurt me so bad
It would help me to know
Do I stand in your way, or am I the best thing you’ve had
Believe me, believe me, I can’t tell you why
But I’m trapped by your love and I’m chained to your side
I am old
Heartache to heartache we stand
Broken promises, all demands
Kids are a battlefield
We feel weak, they love to tell us we’re wrong
Breakin’ our hearts for so long
Both of us knowing
Kids are a battlefield…
You get the idea. I have one melting down upstairs right this very second. One was so very helpful this morning, there has to be something she wants. It goes on and on. I’m freaking exhausted. My mother has been gone less than 24 hours and I’m ready to call her and beg her to come back. Ray and I need extra manpower in our united front and logistical strategy. The backup is completely necessary because we are totally outnumbered and I can’t find my bunker to save my life! 
Why all this now? I was thinking about all the battles I lost yesterday. Jack is weeping because he misses his Grandma. Bria is like a bull in a China shop because rain kept us indoors. Arleigh is torn about band, but we finally secured her spot. Funny how that secured spot depended on a big check being written. Then there’s Hanan. I totally messed up the dates of her registration appointment. Sigh. The stress. 
The real battle. The one that I lost before I even realized it was happening… oh it’s a good one. We had an appointment with the band director. I spent the afternoon filling out paperwork in triplicate in case they found a spot for Arleigh that they told us she didn’t have. She’s been pretty excited about the whole 1D concert thing. In an effort to let it spill over I never said a word about the temporary tattoos. It was time to go. She changed into a tank top. I did a double take but it was after office hours. I was sure we would only see the director.
Did you notice the tattoos from the concert?
How could you not?
They were are everywhere including two birds on her chest. All were visible from the tank top. It crossed my mind to say cover it up BUT the meeting WAS after hours. The band director would surely appreciate her devotion to her favorite band. Sigh…. 
I was totally find with it until the brand new assistant freshman principal stopped us and introduced herself. I think I heard the explosion of my lost battle in my head. They are peeling off. Surely she knew they weren’t real? At least that’s what I’m telling myself. She stared but never said a word. I wasn’t offering an explanation. 
The land mines when you are a parent are everywhere. There is a militaristic strategy happening every day in which ones I choose to fight. Social media is the devil. Apparently my girls’ perception of what is appropriate doesn’t always match up with mine and or Ray’s. Sometimes it’s the innocence shining through. Other times it’s…well NOT. The materialism of this country rears it’s ugly head as school is getting ready to start. Sibling rivalry rears it’s ugly head. Are they all being treated fairly because they all need something different. Oh my word. 
After our meeting we went to Costco. A lady talked to Arleigh the entire 10 minutes that we waited in line about her tattoos and 1D and how smart she was to choose only temporary ones. This sweet lady was clearly lonely and in need of conversation. Arleigh engaged her the entire time. She was kind and respectful. She’s not a bad a kid and I love her dearly. Still, excuse me while I go threaten her with the life of her beloved phone while I make her scrub those things off. 
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AIS Pride Night

Graduation is over. Summer has begun. I can’t even talk about it yet. The time is slipping through my fingers way faster than that sands in the hour glass bull I used to hear every day when Gran turned on Days of Our Lives. 

I can talk about Pride Night though because my kids are… well they are FREAKING AWESOME!!! Brace yourselves. The proud Mom post is coming. 

I received separate notes that we really needed to be at Pride Night for both girls this year. This is nothing new. If you are going to receive any award they tell you to come but you have to guess what the award will be. Arleigh was banking on that whole Perfect Attendance thing. More on that later… We got ready and got to the school, I thought early. I (ahem) forgot that food was being served. That means you need to back up your arrival time by at least 15 minutes. No matter. Remember we had that whole Perfect Attendance thing going for us and we knew Hanan was receiving an award for going to the district science fair. 

Did I mention… there was food? The aunties and tutus from the cafeteria prepare a meal and the Stiff Ohana can devour some spaghetti. 

Jack wasn’t even thinking about stopping to take a picture. That whole pile was totally gone including the homemade roll by the time the ukuleles started playing.

Arleigh performed with the band during the dinner hour. The highlight was Uptown Funk and I’m super sorry that I didn’t get a recording. After the band, we got to hear the ukulele club perform. Somewhere around Hotel California I felt the knot that seems to be ever present in my throat. The thought was already forming. I will never again enter a school and hear this many uke’s preform. Sigh. At just the wrong moment, Ray leaned over and made the mistake of asking, “Are you gonna miss it?” The dam broke. It wasn’t quite the ugly cry but it was darn close. Then the chorus stood up singing Elvis. Good freaking gravy!!! I think they were trying to kill me. 

We watched the video club’s clips which were cute and funny and I was finally entering recovery mode. Meanwhile Bria and Jack were wondering who had died as their mother was acting a fool and all they wanted to do was shake their groove thang to the music. Good times I tell you. We got to hear the Improv Club perform. Funny stuff. At this point I was almost breathing regularly. 

The drama teacher stands up to explain that the rest of the evening would be devoted to awards. They gave out a leadership award and an aloha award. Then they were going to give awards to the most outstanding boy and girl in each core. Arleigh told me that there are about 120 students in each core, there are three cores in each grade. She introduces the teachers who have homerooms in 7 C1 and they call, “Hanan Stiff.” Holy cow!!! I was thinking Hanan might get the math award. I was hopeful but I really wasn’t expecting Most Outstanding 7th grader. I was crying so hard, I could barely hold up my phone to take the picture. I promise tears are puddling as I write this.

At this point, she was pretty stoked. My heart was pounding. We clapped and she beamed as they made their way through all the other cores. Arleigh’s core was dead last. She wasn’t sitting with us. She was hanging out with her band buddies. At this point she said she was thinking, “Great. Hanan got outstanding and I’m going to get Perfect Attendance. Awesome.” The last name in the outstanding list was…”Arleigh Stiff.” 

Talk about a proud mom. We made it through the other awards and Hanan even picked up another certificate and a $25 Starbucks gift card for her Science Fair project. It was a good night.

Okay… so cue the tears again. I have every hope that they will continue to do just as well at every other school. I will admit, my heart was so proud and so happy for them and so sad at the same time. They are doing so well here. They have the best friends. I love love love these kids. I can’t tell you how much I love their teachers. So a little bit wonders, why are we changing everything right now? The truth is, on our way out of Memphis, the same thing happened. I have AWESOME kids. They are going to do BIG things no matter where we land. They are military kid strong and know how to bloom wherever they’re planted. It just took me a second to remember that because sometimes, the Beauton Wheeler in me comes out and I wonder and worry about what’s next. 

After our celebration, we got to hang out with another graduate to celebrate. 

Madi graduated from Radford the next night. More happy tears. Life is changing too fast but we are trying to enjoy every last second of it. 

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Purpled Up

Kids to school on time: Check

Kids wearing purple for school: Check

Appropriate footwear for field practice: Check

Lunches: Check

Mom resembling Barney in her purple outfit: Double Check 

Praying that there really aren’t Purple People Eaters…Wait. Were they purple and ate people or did they eat purple people? I give up.

Take a picture of everyone wearing purple: I’ve got nothing. 

April is designated the month of the military child. I have some pretty great ones to hang out with around here. These kids are awesome. They step up to the challenge and roll with the punches EVERY SINGLE TIME. In support of their friends all over the world we put on our purple yesterday. 

Bria was so excited when we got to school. I was thinking on the way over there. My kids are pretty privileged compared to most of the local kids. In fact, we’ve been talking to one child about entitlement and her attitude while consoling another when her friend lashes out because she sees my child as having more. (Parenting is hard. I need a parent’s award. Kids need awards just for surviving each other in middle school. Another blog…I know.) Anyway, I was thinking that it wouldn’t surprise me if there weren’t many local kids wearing purple. As I made my right turn, Bria was squealing. There was purple everywhere. I will admit tears welled up in my eyes. 

It just so happened that we were chatting with Grandma that morning on our drive in to school. I was telling Mom how much it touched me and may have mentioned that I think Bria is the only white child, maybe only military kid in her class. Bria stopped me right there. “No, Mom! There is only one brown kid in my class. Everybody is white. There’s …and she lists off the names.” Oh my word that made me laugh. Bria is the only while child in her class. Every name she listed is either Hawaiian or Asian. I wonder what color she thinks pasty mainland kids are. 

I read an online news feed about military spouses called Spouse Buzz occasionally. A week or so ago I lost my mind. A friend posted an article that I missed in honor of The Month Of The Military Child. It listed 13 ways the Obama girls are like military children. The comparisons were stretched so thin you could see right through them. One of my favorites is that their Dad’s job is dangerous. Um. Yes. He also has a security force surrounding him sworn to protect him at all costs at all times. I don’t think it’s exactly the same when you’re In Country. I was irritated with some of the comparisons but even more irritated when I read it was written by a spouse. I’m sure President Obama’s daughters make huge sacrifices, their privacy is top of the list but they really aren’t the same. We are currently in really nice military housing but it’s not the dang white house and there isn’t a maid. If there is, she needs to be fired which would also be fine with me because does that mean more beach time for me if I’m fired? Anyway why compare the two?

As I pulled into the school I was wondering why on earth we were celebrating my super privileged compared to some of their peers kids. Then I remembered. They give up everything and move a world away from our families. They set up shop in new places and learn to make friends quickly. They are helpers and learn to step up when the military member is away. They savor every moment they get with their grandparents because they know it might be a very long time before they see them again. There are too many things to mention.

I should’ve learned my lesson. There is no comparison between my kids and civilian kids. Each make various sacrifices. I’m totally okay with celebrating mine for all they do. 

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