Have Courage And Be Kind

Happy Prince Kuhio day! The week after spring break everything in Hawaii shuts down for Prince Kuhio day.while the good prince and his history is worthy of a blog post, it’s a princess I want to talk about. 

I took the kids + 1 to see Cinderella today. Yeah, yeah we all know the story. Don’t we all want to be the mysterious beautiful girl walking into the ball?


Admit it. You do just a bit. 

When it comes to my girls, I’ve encouraged my princesses to be more like the Paper Bag Princess than the original Disney cartoons waiting for a prince to rescue them. I want them to slay their own dragons and do for themselves. 

Lately I’ve noticed that in the entitled world we live in I have been stressing service and love to them over conquering the world. (Bria is on her own program. I’m not sure how much I can do there.) Ray has been telling them for years that our family mantra is “Be good. Do good.” 

I was so impressed today with this movie. Cinderella was not just lying down and letting her evil stepmother run over her. It was respect and honor, love and forgiveness that saw her through. I don’t want to spoil the movie but I will share with you a wonderful lesson to be learned. “Have courage and be kind. Always.” If there is another lesson, it’s to forgive. 

Oh my I’m all about be courageous. I probably pride myself a little too much on setting that example for my kiddos. Sometimes I even forget the use your head rule because I’m so busy proving that nothing scares me. Ahem. I do try to be kind but I’ll admit I’m not always kind to the people that irritate me. Forgive… I say I do but is that really true when no one holds a grudge like I do? I say okay, I forgive you but I’m not going to trust you. I’m not saying that’s totally what happened in the movie. I can honestly say that an impression was made on me at the end. There are people that I want to look at dead in the eye and say, “I forgive you.” No, I was never locked in a tower or forced into servant hood but it would be nice to say I know you wronged me and it’s okay. I’m moving on now. On the other hand, who would want to say that to me? Yikes!

Anyway… The movie was good. I’m going to try to remember to have courage, be kind and forgive. I hope my children grow up to be just like Cinderella. Maybe one day I will too.

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A Visit With The Hardisons

I can’t believe it’s already been a couple of weeks since they were here, but we were so excited to get to spend a few hours with the Hardison ohana. We missed a few sweet people (four to be exact) that didn’t make the trip. Miss Dixie you really need to get over that fear of flying! There happened to be a band concert on the night they arrived so a few Stiffs showed up with leis and hugs for a big “E komo mai!” (That’s welcome to you mainlanders.)

Who are Mr. Herky and Miss Gayle? Well, I’ll be happy to tell you. When we moved to Virginia and away from home for the first time, they took a young couple under their wings. They are originally from Tennessee, pretty close to home and have extended family in Paducah. Herky is a graduate of the naval academy where he played football. Gayle was a teacher at the time. I think Ray and I immediately decided that when we grew up, we want to be Herky and Gayle. I don’t think we’ll ever achieve their status but we are still giving it our best shot.

Arleigh and Hanan grew up with Miss Gayle as a willing babysitter if I needed to take someone to the doctor. She mothered us and loved us when we couldn’t be close to home. Mr. Herky doted on our kids just like he was their grandfather. Gayle loves to tell stories about Hanan standing on a pew singing her little heart out at church and Hanan’s little skirt slipped right down off that tiny little waist and hit her shoes. Hanan never stopped singing. She grinned and pulled that skirt up. When Hanan hit about three she decided that she needed a baby brother and she was most definitely going to name him “Mr. Herky!” They were at Arleigh’s first piano recital and not a holiday passes that the kids don’t get a card. Oh how I miss my Hardison ohana! 

Can I just tell you that I wish every young officer’s wife had a Miss Gayle in her life? She told me if I could go to church when Ray was home, I could get there when he was deployed. She took care of us if we were sick but no way ever was she going to encourage me to not do it for myself if I could. I’ll never forget what she said to me when she heard Ray had orders for his first deployment. She pulled me aside and this was 1998 I think but her words are forever written on my heart, she said, “Brandi, let me tell you something. You are not the first wife to ever have to go through a deployment. You won’t be the last. You pull your bootstraps up and do this. Good will happen. Bad will happen. It would happen if he was here or if he was gone. If you need something, I’m here but I know you are strong and you won’t need much.” I was determined to get through that deployment with dignity and strength. Boy howdy, did she ever know what I needed to hear. Dad died the night before that deployment. I could have wrapped myself up in a little ball of mush. I remembered what Miss Gayle said, “Bad will happen and good will happen.” It would’ve happened with or without the deployment. I put my big girl panties on and managed to get through the deployment mostly with my dignity in tact. She helped me know I could. I knew she had my back if I couldn’t. I’m forever grateful to the strong women who have been role models in my life like my mother and Gayle.

I can’t forget Rob. We know all about him even if he knows not that much about us. Rob was here to celebrate his 50th birthday. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it than touring Oahu and Maui! Hau`oli Lā Hānau Rob! I know you had a memorable birthday.


We got to bring the Hardison’s to church with us on Sunday. After a quick lunch at Hickam we dropped the kiddos off to finish up their weekend homework and chores and drove around our little island to show the Hardisons a few of our favorite spots and to catch up. We also sampled things like Dole Whip and a taro pie from McDonald’s. MMmm taro pie. One more thing I’m going to desperately miss. Anyway, they enjoyed the tour and we said our alohas. Soon we’ll be on the same coast and will hopefully being seeing them more often. Maybe even to cheer on the navy at a football game!

Miss Gayle is going to be mad her eyes are closed in that picture so I’ll end with another one. Hawaii sure looks good on her! We all love the rainbow eucalyptus from the North Shore. Aloha Hardisons. The Stiffs are like bad pennies, you aren’t rid of us yet!



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To Sum Up

Oh my. Where has the time gone? Since my last post we’ve had old friends visit. I can’t tell you how much I love them. I want to be Miss Gayle when I grow up! Ray had a virus. He shared with me. I didn’t know he shared it with me and I hiked a ridge. About the time I hit the virus wall Bria started puking. Good times. Seriously. Good times. She missed a much anticipated field trip. Sigh. Then spring break started. We hiked a falls trail while a hacked up…um never mind. Then we surfed. I wasn’t missing surfing. There was an off day where we met with movers and another hike and a pool day and a famDSCF0582ily field trip to the aquarium.

Since then, I’ve been preoccupied. Did I mention we won’t be on the island forever? I have four kids going into three schools. One kid with special needs, three that have been playing soccer, they need a new piano teacher, one kid might be joining marching band and all this is happening 6 hours ahead of me. I’ve talked to three schools. Two were nice. One wasn’t impressive. Band boosters have a direct line to my email. Sigh. Our move shifted to the right meaning our things won’t get there before us or even with us. I refuse to let up on my own personal time table out of pure stubbornness. I mean really, 6 weeks should be enough time right. (Even though you’ve been telling me 8 weeks this whole dang time.) Why can’t the movers get with my needed schedule? 

So the blog has been neglected. Partly because of my preoccupation partly because of a certain group with a certain list of people to terrorize. There’s the other part of this story…

I love to write my thoughts and document our daily misadventures. It’s my outlet. It’s also a door for some pretty evil people to have access to my family. So over the next week I’ll be summing up. I’m honestly not sure where the future of this little blog will go. As much as I love my outlet and my ego loves to hear people tell me they read it, it’s not worth putting my family at risk. My safe little island is leaving me. It’s back to the real world soon. Here’s just one story for Hawaii News Now since I’m being vague. 

Thoughts? I’d love to hear them. I’ll just be hanging out here playing in the Pacific while I still can. 

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My Texts

This morning Mom asked me to work on a project for her. Her project included pouring over literally thousands of pictures to find one of her house. It makes me miss my babies. Of course having big kids is fun too. I remember a time when I thought texting was… Well not my thing. Right now, it’s one more way I can communicate with my sweet girls. 

Of course, if someone ever finds my phone they might question our level of communication.

There’s me trying to be funny.

She didn’t find it that amusing. Yes, I saw it on the Internet and stole it.

They are however amused when I mess up.

They also ❤️ the occasional I sympathize with you that math is from the devil joke. Ray doesn’t understand these.

If I didn’t have teens teaching me that texting is fun I wouldn’t get lovely gems like this from my friends.

Even better is when Ray gets involved.

Maybe I should explain. I thought I maybe pinched or pulled something. I had a hard time sleeping the night before. It was all totally worth it to pick up Arleigh from school and her first words were, “Mom, why is Dad asking about my butt?” I think I got a “you’re so weird…”

We also had our share of dress memes going back and forth last week. This was my favorite.

Tell me I’m not the only one with weird stuff on my phone. If I could only pull up some old texts from Tye…

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Last Day Of Bootcamp

If you haven’t heard me whining, our time on this island is coming to an end. Sigh. Yesterday was the first nail in the coffin that is our time in Hawaii…my last day of bootcamp. It was bittersweet. I had a hard time not tearing up and it wasn’t the 24 reps of everything we did…literally 24 reps. 

I started bootcamp in March after Tye died. I have mentioned before that I felt like my first year in Hawaii was wasted, one of life’s regrets. There were months of figuring out what was wrong with my kidneys, surgeries to repair the damage, Tye’s death, a trip to the mainland. Lots of bad things have happened during this tour. It takes seeing the bad to appreciate the good. Maybe that’s why I’ve loved Hawaii so much. 

My first bootcamp was also the first bootcamp that my friend Jen taught. Like everything else there have been ups and downs with this class. The class lost childcare. They changed locations. They changed locations again and again. Jen even went to a different location for a few months. During that time I was introduced to another great trainer. Lots of ups and downs.

Let’s be honest. Anyone who knows me knows that I never lost a pound with bootcamp. I like to eat. I like to eat a lot. I am stronger. I have much more endurance. I’m more confident. Two years ago I wouldn’t have jumped off a cliff. I might have been afraid of getting to the top or what I looked like. Two weeks ago, I paddled two miles to climb to a cliff and jump off. I didn’t think twice about taking this picture. That wouldn’t have happened two years ago.


And I’ve made some really great friends. I got to know my neighbors. We laughed and joked while we ran through Jen’s paces. It was great. 

Tomorrow I’ll wake up and try to do it on my own. It won’t be as fun. It won’t be the same but I’ll get it done with the knowledge and training I received from Jen. I’ll miss the motivation and the laughs. I’ll miss the joking whimpers. Life will go on. My little McGrew Crew will always hold a place in my heart. 

Mahalo nui loa, Jen. There aren’t many people who can make me want to work out. I’ll miss you ladies.


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When Your Husband Is Away

I just wanted to take a second and jot down a few notes about things that happen when I have to function as a single parent. Ray really hasn’t had all that much travel with this job. Just one of the many things I love about Hawaii. I’m spoiled in so many ways. Anyway, last week Ray was off to D.C. leaving me at home as acting Mom and Dad. Here are a few of my notes.

  • When Ray is away, I’m sometimes concentrating so hard on everything that I have to get done in a day that I drive right by the school that I’m supposed to be dropping kids off at. U-turn anyone?
  • Jack can somehow find something to tattle tale on me about to his beloved aid while Ray’s away almost every day. “I’m telling Mr. Arnie, Mom!” seems to be on repeat in my house. 
  • When Ray is away and I’m at soccer until 6:50 p.m. barely hanging on to my sanity at least three nights a week, we eat out or crappy food or out. Did I mention I miss Ray?
  • I also get to see sweet moments like this one… Maybe this shouldn’t be on the list of not so great things. IMG_6177
  • The weekend that Ray’s away somehow is always the one with the band concert that lasts until 10 p.m. Thank goodness I have friends that invite my kids to watch movies and be totally entertained and spoiled while I’m off watching their sister. (Thanks Chan!)
  • Someone doesn’t like to have her picture taken when she’s playing. That has nothing to do with her father being away but I just needed to throw that in there.IMG_6216
  • On one Saturday there can be soccer games and all day science fairs…on two different parts of the island. Did I mention that I can’t be in two places at once? Thanks goodness for neighbors that understand. IMG_6231
  • Did I mention the really great birthday party that Jack and Bria were over 2 hours late for? No… they had fun anyway.IMG_6250
  • There was also a moment when my daughter told me that I’m like Hannah Montana. Apparently I’m two different people. I’m much kinder and nicer and not as angry when my hair is down. Apparently it’s pulled up A LOT when Ray is out of town. 
  • I had more parenting fails before 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning than most people have in an entire week. Rushing one to get ready for soccer, hurting another’s feelings by asking her to change her clothes, waking a certain boy up to get going for the day… the list goes on and on and on and well you get the idea. 

I have to say, I feel like I used to be better at this. I’m out of practice. That’s not a bad thing. To sum up, single parents have my respect. Parenting isn’t a walk in the park and I am ever so happy to have my husband back home where he belongs!

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