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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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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Throwback Thursday

It’s picture day for one. Soccer day for three. There’s a yard sale in the ‘hood on Saturday that we plan to participate in but I haven’t gotten ready for it yet. I have a husband down and out with the cruds after a trip to the frozen tundra. Did I mention my filthy really needs to be cleaned house and Mount Washmore is currently waiting. Sigh. Yesterday I went through thousands of pictures. I happened upon one of my all time favorites. So I’m going to cheat and share it as my Throwback Thursday.

Christmas04 103

Neither one of them ever proved to be good at sitting still for our family prayer. I guess I was the one taking the picture. 

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Oh Snap!

When you are 5 you want to be just like your sisters. When your mother is busy getting ready for a birthday party, prepping for a tropical storm and worrying about what’s happening in Kentucky, it’s pretty darn easy to wear her down. It’s made even easier when Daddy is out of town. It’s then that bad things can happen. Things like this…

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Need a closer look?

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That would be Kool-Aid dip dyed hair. Oh it will come out with baking soda and vinegar they said… They better freakin’ be right! School starts Monday for heaven’s sake!

No. It is not just Bria. Arleigh chose blue that turned into a lovely shade of chlorine green. Hanan picked purple… AKA my goth phase is growing out. Bria’s definitely accepted the color the easiest. Maybe it was those ends that have gotten bleached in the summer sun. It is pretty much the same shade of red as the Ariel wig Arleigh wore the entire year she was three.

I’m praying that the baking soda combined with a day the pool takes care of it. The things I get myself into!

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