The Obligatory Children Update

Since I haven’t been updating and our trip to Kentucky was so ever loving short over the Christmas break, I’m interrupting my newly found string of adventure posts with updates on the spawn children. So you’ve been warned. My family has made it clear they want to know. Here comes the proud mom post… Feel free to ignore it if you must.

The oldest…

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Arleigh is a typical teen with a phone glued to her hand. She has added instrument number 4 to her repertoire. Crazy since I can’t read music. Seriously, I told you this would be the proud mom post…She was just recommended for a writing course that we’re pretty excited about. She’s decided to she wants to find a way to write for her career and she’s really, really good at it. Maybe she should take over this lame proud mom post. 

The second…

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Hanan is preparing for high school. Sigh. This is the week her course application was due. She’s joined a recreational cheer squad which has helped her find her aloha and that means this mama is closer to finding hers. Life has been an adjustment for all of us. She is at a large school and was happy to receive a supporting role in a new theater production. So basically, the kid is busy. She keeps me on my toes all the time and I’m happy to say that she’s turning into quite the responsible young lady. The social aspects of middle school are hard. No, really, really HARD. I’m constantly amazed at what she has to navigate. 

It’s hard to find pictures of Hanan by herself. She’s at a stage where she constantly hides from a camera if I’m taking the picture. Funny how I see selfies all over her Instagram but I can’t take pictures. She’s also at the age that she’s forbidden me from speaking about all sorts of things. Here’s a list…

  1. Boys.
  2. Accomplishments.
  3. School.
  4. The social ramifications of knowing who was suspended for what. (Scary.) 
  5. Basically all things Hanan.

So I’ve broken a few rules but again, proud mom post and all.

Number 3…

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Have mercy. This child! She is so so fun and so so aggravating. Clearly, she doesn’t love the metro at all. When she is not busy irritating the living tarnation out of her sisters she has taken over as Jack’s body guard, instructor, tutor, boss, playmate, aggravation, and most recently roommate. It’s helping her finally sleep through most nights though so I’m good with it. She’s found a her passion in playing soccer, even the crazy fast indoor soccer. During her first game, one of her teammates left for a trip to the ER and needed stitches on her face. Pray for me. Did I mention that after four years of asking, Santa finally caved and brought drums. I thought, there’s a basement with a door. It will be fine… There is a constant state of saxophone, piano, guitar, and two kinds of drums happening in this house almost every afternoon. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes it’s noise. Just pass the Tylenol…please. 

Number 4…

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Mr. Jack… He genuinely likes life on the mainland especially with so many firsts, like Build-A-Bear. (Thank you Uncle Jim and Aunt Carolyn!) He still asks when we’re going back to Hawaii. In fact, when the metro drove by Reagan National Airport, he was sure that’s what was happening in spite of the fact that I hadn’t packed a darn thing. It’s not all sunshine and roses over here. He’s doing great but we had a rough morning. It happens. He loves going to a new speech therapist after school. Legos for Christmas are still a favorite. His favorite is a new helicopter from Uncle Mike and Aunt Sharon. He has such a sweet disposition, he puts up with all his bossy sisters really well. Except this morning… boy howdy. When it’s rough around here, it’s rough. Of course it doesn’t help that he now feels the need to tell me his eyes are freezing every time we leave for school. None of us enjoy the cold anymore particularly at a bus stop. 

In case you’re wondering about the adults, we’re good. It’s a busy season at work for Ray. The kids make it a busy season for me here. We do occasionally enjoy a night out by ourselves…when he can get away from work. I even enjoy the nights out when they’re for work. 

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That was taken at his Christmas party. We had a really good time and won a wine opener that for the life of me, I can’t find. (Not that I’m looking at 9 in the morning.) 

We’ve all jumped on the rat race that is Northern Virginia and are finding the aloha in our mainland adventures. If I haven’t heard from you, it’s your turn. Let me know how things are please.

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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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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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Middle School Healthcare 101?

Repeat after me, “I love public school. I love public school. I love public school.” No really I do. I do love public school. I love the experiences they are having from Bria and Jack preparing a hula for May Day to Arleigh’s honor band and Hanan’s production of “Into The Woods, Jr.” We chose public school and this morning, I have to stop and remind myself why it was the best thing for our family. 

After prayerful consideration, we knew that we couldn’t hide Arleigh from the world. She seemed to have an innate understanding of the Great Commission in preschool. She was telling people about Jesus, encouraging them to go to church with us. I didn’t want to hide the light in a bushel so to speak. I went to public school. Ray went to public school. We turned out reasonably okay. The cost of schools and what we could do with that money was also a factor. We understand that different families choose different things. We needed to do what was right for us. Public school was our clear answer. That said, right isn’t always easy.

We’ve had our fair share of aggravating educators. They can’t all be as great as my mother. Of course those are hard shoes to fill. We’ve had lazy. We’ve had complacent. We’ve had one that I don’t even know how to describe but the thought of her makes my skin crawl. Having four kids with a combined number of teachers at around 37 give or take in the last 9 years and only wanting to complain about exactly 4…By far, the majority have been excellent, caring, compassionate teachers who really care about my kids. In fact, I worked a concession stand with one on Saturday night. Why can’t they all be like her?

Anyway, I’ve mentioned that all of my children have been born with an extra sensitive chip. One has been troubled by something lately. She just knew her teacher had to be right about what she said. She brought it up on the way home from church. As we had a discussion, my child had a minor meltdown. In part, this is the information my child said the teacher had been giving her.

  • America’s healthcare system is one of the worst in the world. We are killing our own citizens.
  • People are dying of cancer because they don’t have the money to pay and it’s not fair.
  • No one should have to pay for an education. Other countries have free higher education just like public elementary schools. Why should we pay for college?
  • She mentioned moving to Cuba for healthcare, France to have a baby and Germany maybe for education. 

This is just a small sampling of what was said to my very impressionable 12-year old. Worst of it was my daughter had the distinct impression that this teacher that she looks up to thinks our country isn’t just bad but is slowly killing us. That was a hard pill for this military spouse to swallow. Let’s add to it that this isn’t a social studies class. It isn’t economics or history. It’s her science teacher. 

Guess what I did after a long hard talk with Hanan. Well, I called my Mama of course. What am I supposed to do with this? Confront the teacher? Report her to the administration so the chip on her shoulder can grow? Sigh. 

Here are a few of the things I said to my daughter.

  • Yes, healthcare is expensive. The system isn’t perfect and is maybe even broken. If I had to pick a country to be sick in, I’d pick the United States. We don’t wait that long for care. Research is expensive and we are paying on the back end with the medicines we purchase. If you can’t afford healthcare, there are things like medicaid. And… we help people. The church helps people. If we know others truly need something we share. I want to know where my money goes. I don’t want the government to take it and distribute it. 
  • (These are Ray’s words not mine.) You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. This teacher omitted information that would be valuable when making your decision. 
  • I’m hurt that your teacher doesn’t see how great our country is and the freedoms that it offers you. I’m hurt that she doesn’t seem to understand the sacrifices that people make. At the same time, people made those sacrifices so that she could tell you what she thinks. 
  • Our family has seen the ravages of cancer. Some cancers are easier to treat than others. Grandpa’s was really bad. Amy’s Dad’s cancer was really bad. Your dad’s uncle is in remission though because our testing caught it early. Our treatments helped him. He was able to add a supplement plan to his insurance that helped with the cost. They aren’t rich people and they could pay for their healthcare because they planned ahead. 

We had other talks about how nice it would be if we could all be educated for free or had really good healthcare for free. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Research costs money. Uncle Sann needs money for his house and his kids and his student loans and his malpractice insurance. There was lots of good discussion. 

We told our daughter that we never want her to listen to information someone gives and take it at face value, even her know-it-all parents. She needs to do her own research, form her own opinion. I want her to be prepared. What if she goes to college and her professor tells her that intellectual people, people who study and know things couldn’t possibly believe in God? I want my kids to be prepared for that. To stand for something. I want my kids to understand something J.K. Rowling said, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

One last thing that I want my kids to consider and yes at least the two older ones will be reading this later, if you are passionate about something, go after it. If it is nagging at your heart that cancer isn’t fair, set your mind and your heart and your passion to helping find a cure. Don’t sit back and complain about it. Go and do. The last thing I’ll say is our family motto that Ray has been preaching to the kids. Always remember to Be Good and Do Good and we’ll come out okay. The do is an important as the be.

 

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Rapunzel Rapunzel

Hanan is Rapunzel in Aiea Intermediate’s school production of “Into the Woods, Junior.” Opening night was Friday and this is one proud Mama! She was perfection. We joked that she started preparing for the role by screaming and crying at age 2. Both were almost too real in the play. It’s hard to listen to your child shriek in terror and not jump out of your seat. 

I don’t want to give the entire thing away since there are two more performances. I will share some things that happened during the the show though. 

The book revolves around intersecting fairy tales. That’s how Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk all come together. At one point during the play someone is searching for Jack. She’s yelling, “Jack! Jack! Where are you?” Another Jack has been playing some pretty serious games of hide and seek with his sisters. He just couldn’t help himself and yelled, “Hey! I’m right here!” in the middle of the performance. Thankfully it wasn’t too distracting for the actors but it sure gave us a big chuckle.

Bria found the witch to be a bit scary but not enough to really care. Jack loved the music. My favorite number is somewhere between “Agony” and “Ever After.” That’s weird. I’m sure that’s a blog post on it’s own. In all seriousness, I just love Rapunzel’s prince. Mason dreams of being on broadway one day. He also dreams of marrying Indina Menzell and wanted to long before anyone ever thought to “Let It Go…” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In other news, only in Hawaii do you get to hold chickens after the show. Met Chichi.

And only my Hawaiian wannabe red neck children would ask to hold the chicken. Even Jack wanted in on the chicken holding. Unfortunately he somehow tried to grab the Chicken’s tenders every time and she flapped those wings too hard for him to get a good hold on her.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful Rapunzel. We tell Hanan all the time that she could be one of the princesses at Disney World. She’s so good with little kids.

It was a good night. If you are on my little island we would love to see you at either of the next two performances!

 

 

 

 

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