Alien Pee and Highlighters

I’m still around. Ray is away. I’ve had a ridiculous number of appointments plus no backup taxi driver. Things are a bit nutty.

How nutty you ask? I have a child who insists on shoving me over in my own bed EVERY NIGHT. At this point I’m too old and or tired to care. Half the time she wakes up not even realizing she made it to my bedroom.

A few days ago I woke up to this…


What’s that you ask? We’ll for about 15 seconds the only thing I could think of was that an alien had peed in my bed. Yep, that’s the first thing I think of. It wasn’t Tucker…

Little britches apparently brought an uncapped highlighter to bed with her. It was under the sheets and the quilt. I certainly don’t sleep with one.

In other news… Even though it was still wet, I couldn’t get it out. Think Ray will notice an alien pee stain when he gets home? Maybe it’s an excuse to buy new sheets. If I buy new sheets do that mean a new comforter too?

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All In Surfing Addition

When we were thick in the middle of the adoption process, Ray liked to say he was “All in.” In fact, Ray coined it and we both started saying it. If we were going to do it, we wanted to jump in and do it. That’s what we did. Since then, it’s something I think about and try to apply to lots of different aspects of our lives. 

I’ve been known to mention that I don’t want my kids to live in fear. I want them to give their all and try new things. Sadly, I wasn’t doing what I was asking them to do. Today I did.

I’ve thought about surfing since we moved here. Oh to be the cool girl on the board, cutting through the waves. Well, I’m here to tell you that I am certainly not cool and my days as a girl are long behind me but I did manage to stand up on a board during my very first surfing lesson today. When we got here I thought I didn’t have enough upper body strength or balance. I was also managing to do what drives me up the wall when my kids do it. I didn’t want to look like an idiot or be the only one who couldn’t possibly get up. 

Then I met Joe.



He was with me on my first paddle to the Mokes…and pointed out the sharks. We had a bit of an argument today. I’m no longer quite shark bait. We’re almost the same color. (sharks prefer white meat according to most locals) He thinks that everyone that wants to try to surf, should try to surf. 

I paddled out. I was too high on the board. I paddled out. I was too low on the board. Third time’s the charm yeah? Nope. I wasn’t fast enough. I paddled back around in line as fast as I could. Yes, my arms and especially my back are already sore. Fourth time, I got up. I can’t even begin to explain the feeling. I’m officially a junkie. I kept paddling out and coming back. I didn’t make it up every time, but the times I did…worth every second. 

So a couple of things… I need to thank my buddy Lorraine for being game and going along with me. I also need to thank the trainers at Dumbell Fitness. I never really understood that a burpee would have such a high pay off until today. Burpees, pushups and planks really are my friend. 

I sadly didn’t get a single picture. I had witnesses though. What I hope my kids heard in my voice when I was talking about it was that I didn’t care that my shirt wasn’t staying put or that I kept falling. I was having fun. I didn’t care if I didn’t look like Bethany Hamilton. I don’t see many surfers who do. I was having fun. I didn’t care who was watching. I was getting up on that board for me, to try something new and do the very best I could do. Sadly, I wish I hadn’t waited until we have just over a year left here.

I’m already planning the next ladies’ day adventure with Joe. (And also begging Ray to extend but it’s still not working.)

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Notes On A Saturday Morning

It’s a typical Saturday in the Stiff house. There is a soccer game, a birthday party at a far flung beach, a child at a weekend long sleepover at the same beach, a dinner date with some passing visitors in Waikiki. Yeah, we’re packed. As if this weren’t enough, let me also mention I’m trying to parent a 13-year old. (Trying is the OPERATIVE word at this point.)

Can I just tell you something that I wish someone had reenforced to me at the same age? Wait. I’m sure someone did and I wasn’t listening. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and all that. The appearance of impropriety is the same as impropriety. I don’t think I really grasped the concept until I became the wife of a military officer. At that point, the drilling into my brain worked. How is it that it seems like some of the younger military wives have missed that? That’s a post for another day. 

Simply put, I’m trying to tell my daughter that perception is reality. That combined with the golden rule makes middle school really, really difficult. I’m not unaware of this point. Middle school is hard. It was hard for me back in the day. I’m sure it’s even more difficult when you are the minority and cultures are a bit different. Add to that parents who are preaching to live in the world not of the world. And this is one parent who is basically saying do as I say not as I do. I’m floundering over here and having a hard time telling a child to make the right choices when I don’t always make the right choices. DSCF0284

Good grief. That’s all. Thanks for letting me get it off my chest. I’m just going to go look for my aloha at the beach. Surely it’s around there somewhere. 

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Big Island Adventures: Snorkeling Kona

I would love to tell you that my kids LOVED snorkeling in Kona as much as I did. That would be a lie. I am a bad mother. I didn’t bring water shoes for any of us. The water was fabulous and ridiculously clear. I thought the clarity was much better than Haunama Bay on Oahu. There wasn’t so much coral, but there were rocks, hard sharp scraggly rocks and it was extremely shallow. 

DSCF0295I took Arleigh, Hanan and Bria out first. Bria does okay but she doesn’t love the mouth piece. She pretty much just wants to swim around and come up for air. I was struggling to hold onto her and watch the big girls. Arleigh saw a few sea urchins and with no shoes… but she did have flippers…promptly lost her mind. She is like her grandmother and immediately jumped to worse case scenario. It didn’t help that a neighbor friend had just recounted a paddle board incident when he stepped down hard on one. There are a bunch of docs in my neighborhood so they removed the barbs from his bloody foot with pliers on the kitchen table. Good times. 

Arleigh left the waters not much after she came in. No way was my girl chancing her mother pulling those things out. She knows I would do that too, reasonably well. Hanan had scrubbed her ankle on a rock and was so busy swimming around she it was hurt but hadn’t paid much attention to it. With Arleigh on shore with Jack, Ray came out with a board for Bria. Theoretically it should make it easier for me to swim with the board, let her duck her head in when she wants too. We often forget that Bria is like a bull in a china shop and doesn’t hold still for anything. 

So, off we went and it was amazing. I wasn’t fast with the camera. I was too busy holding onto Bria and ogling the fish. 

DSCF0332We didn’t last long. I was paddling Bria and Hanan back in on the board when Hanan kicked too hard and caught her knee on a rock. Her mind immediately went to Arleigh’s sea urchin and it went down hill from there. Her previous ankle injury was actually worse and still bleeding. Her leg was bruised. She was acting like a great white had taken off a limb. I kicked kicked and kicked until we were less than calf deep and got them out.

A tourist was trying really hard to get his fins over his water shoes just as I was getting out. He looks up and says, “You looked like you knew what you were doing.” (This thrilled me more than it should have.) “Can you help?” I told him first, he was never going to be able to walk out in ankle deep water on the rocks with his flippers. It would have been fun watching. Backwards is a little easier but not much. It was barely waist deep out in the middle where the fish were. I told him to make his way out and then put the fins on. No idea if this was the right advice, it’s just what works with the kids. Not sure if it’s the fact that I’m not pasty white or that I might have been faking it until I made it, either way, I took it as a compliment.

We then went from beach to beach. The kids are spoiled with the sand on Oahu. There are only a few rocky beaches that we go to, usually to see turtles. Later in the afternoon, we found some tide pools. They LOVED it.

DSCF0378 DSCF0379 DSCF0370 DSCF0344 DSCF0336 DSCF0401They found tiny crabs, big crabs, sea cucumbers and sea urchin that were all in a respectable level of water. The lava had cooled to form perfect little pools to catch the water and provide a beautiful real life aquarium for the kids to play in. If you are looking for it, we stopped at the Old Airport Beach and found the surf to be a bit much against the rocks for Bria and Jack to really feel totally comfortable. The tide pools are close to the Electric Plant. It’s all in our little Big Island Revealed book.




After our tide pool adventure, we went back to a look where the kids could really swim. 

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Arleigh and Hanan are getting pretty good with the underwater camera.

Then we were off to a beach grill for a spectacular dinner. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of our view.

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When Nana Bonnie and the cousins were here, they went to Big Island to dive with sea rays. I so wanted to but apparently it’s not acceptable to do that and leave your children unattended. Where’s Grandma when I need her? So we watched some people dive from land.

DSCF0499We could only see shadows but we tried. One day maybe I’ll be able to go back and do it. 

It was a nice end to our Kona stay. The next day, we made the drive to the Volcanos!



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On April’s Fool’s Day

Just when you were getting used to hearing about all our adventures on the Big Island, I’m interrupting this blog to tell you about April Fool’s Day. You know every year I mention 2008 when I started pranking my children. It was epic! The best one ever! I will never be able to top it because now, they know it’s coming. How can you beat this? Hanan has never forgiven me for giving her a meatloaf cupcake. She also didn’t forgive me for putting a Cheetos bag full of carrots in her lunch. The cruelty! The next year, I just gave them the Cheetos. Then there was last year when I told them I was taking them to Auulani, The Disney resort. April is the month of the military child after all. They were going to get to go to an R5 concert and maybe even meet them. Okay, that was admittedly a little cruel but so funny. 

This year the kids were on to me. No one but Jack wanted to pack a lunch. I was a little worried about tricking him at lunch anyway. I planned a nice little picnic at Dog Beach instead. I tried to act like I was being all sneaky. Of course, they peaked in the picnic basket and were delighted to see 4 bottles of sprite. I NEVER buy soda. They beg for it. It’s probably something I will regret. They are going to be addicted as adults. Anyway, as I filled their plates I started to explain that I had planned on telling them how I wanted to trick them into thinking I forgot to pack drinks and I was going to surprise them with Sprite. (This was Ray’s idea.) The little stinkers peeked so there went my April Fool’s. They were pretty happy with the situation until they gulped at the Sprite and discovered water instead. 

The sun was behind them. You know the beautiful, glorious sunset that I am going to miss so much… oh sorry. Anyway, the picture wasn’t so great. As a surprise I whipped out tiny cans of Sierra Mist as a peace offering. 

Moments later the kids and Tucker were in the water running off the soda. About five minutes later, the beach was closed as a precaution for the possible tsunami. Leave it to a bunch of Stiffs to get kicked off the beach… 

I hope it was one more April Fool’s day that they’ll remember. 

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A Place Of Refuge

Our Big Island adventure started with changing our plane ticket. Instead of leaving in the afternoon and giving ourselves only enough time to check in and shop for supplies, we decided to head out around 7:30. This was no small feat with four kids and a full day of soccer to start our spring break off right. Plus, it was Mr. Jack’s birthday. (I’m a bad blogger. I’m just realizing I never wrote about his big day.) We had a small family party and promised a ride on an airplane bright and early. He was super excited for a plane ride for his birthday. He asked if we were going to Kentucky…not yet. We’ll have to save the ride for later. 

If you ever make a trip to any Hawaiian island, I suggest you pick up a Revealed book. I think there is one for every island.

I bought this one a few months back but of course waited until the last possible second to go through it. It provides a list of drivable routes, where to stop, what to do and eat. It makes planning your vacation much easier. Between that and having friends with family on the Big Island, I felt pretty set. 

After loading up at Costco and checking into our timeshare we threw on our swim gear just in case and headed out. I really wanted to see Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook monument. We headed that way first. Captain Cook was the man who brought Christianity to Hawaii. It is an interesting story. I would have loved to paddle the bay over to his monument but we were there in the very late afternoon with four kids and no kayak… 

DSCF0013The monument is across the bay, about a mile behind the cute kids. I don’t know what’s up with Jack’s smile. This is apparently what he thinks we do when we get the camera out right now. 

DSCF0015This is the heiau that was built when Captain Cook performed a funeral service. This was also marks the moments when the Hawaiian’s figured out Cook was not a god, only a mortal. It eventually leads to his demise. The story is quite fascinating. 


One more thing about the heiaus and the walls…there are places where the walls are just stacked lava rock, no mortar and they are impressively solid and very scary at the same time, especially when there are four kids who think walls were made for climbing over. Luckily there were kapu signs everywhere. (keep out)



Speaking of kapu… before Cook arrived the Hawaiians were governed by a Kapu system. It essentially meant there were tons of rules. If you broke one, you were marked for death. The only way out of it was to get to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau. This was the Place of Refuge. If you got inside the gates, there were priests who could cleanse you and remove the mark of death. Rules were things like, women couldn’t eat with me… if a chief’s shadow fell on you… stuff like that. This totally freaked the kids out. Why on earth would they kill you for that? The theory was that their gods would cause a tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruptions…you get the drift if you broke a law. Ray’s theory is one morning the chief’s shadow touched a commoner and an earthquake happened. They decided that they only way to prevent it was this way… I think the kings also became power hungry and just started making stuff up, but that was a very long time ago. 

Our next stop was Pu’uhonua o Honaunau or Place of Refuge. I’m so glad we stopped and a little sorry we didn’t decide to snorkel at the nearby spot. The sun was going down and the water was so clear we could see a school of bright yellow fish. 


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The sun was starting to set and we moved on to a small little Catholic church known as Painted Church. It was so serene and peaceful. A priest painted almost every surface on the inside of the church to depict different stories. Although, I did question his interpretation of Cain being marked. Now that I’m thinking about it, I need to reread that story. 


DSCF0083Looking out from inside the church was breathtaking. The picture doesn’t nearly do it justice.

DSCF0086We traveled back up the road toward Kona and I yelled. We had to stop. Tye loved the package of Donkey Balls I sent him. There on the side of the road was the giant donkey. 

DSCF0093We stopped, talked about Tye Tye. The kids had some hot chocolate and we each ate a donkey ball. 

You would think that was enough adventure for one afternoon, but we got back to our room to fix dinner and Mr. Jack lost his first tooth. 

IMG_2499That explained a lot about his weird behavior over the course of the day. It was really hard to get him to understand that another tooth would grow there. I think he’s got it down now.






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