Happy Hawaiian Easter

We had a wonderful Easter that started with the sunrise service aboard the Mighty MO. 

Why yes, we did get rained on for a second. Also…I readily admit to being slightly vain and have a need to explain away my fuzzy hair and that hot mess on Bria’s head. 

There is so much to be said about a sunrise service aboard the USS Missouri. I may have mentioned the chicken skin I get every time I cross over to her deck. I love love love stepping on the deck and thinking about the history that surrounds that ship. As we sat waiting for the service to begin, a veteran was sitting just to my left. As the sky brightened she was looking out over the water and she started to cry soft silent tears. Oh my goodness, my own eyes welled for a minute. Sitting there preparing to remember the death and especially the resurrection of Jesus Christ combined with the history of the ship, I literally felt like my heart could burst. Jesus died for me and all the people who gave their life so that I can freely worship him. Knowing the Arizona rests behind me and Pacific was in front of me, a wonderful example of God’s creation. It was all truly overwhelming. Isn’t that what an Easter worship service should be like? 

My absolute favorite part of this worship service is the hula. Where is that soap box? Oh. Here it is. Give me a second and let me climb up on it. We are members of the Church of Christ. At times I’m pleased as punch to let that bit of information slip. At other times, boy howdy I know a lot of people who are also members of this congregation that claims it’s non-denomnational but I sometimes wonder if having that name on the door makes it a denomination(Wait, that’s another blog.) that won’t be happy that I loved a hula performed during a worship service.  Anyway, as we were leaving overseas orders and at times different worship services we visited home. We were at a Vacation Bible School of all places. I don’t remember what led to the discussion but a gentleman pulled me aside and said that instrumental music during worship would send me straight to hell. Good times. About the time he said that, I looked at my two very little girls dancing and singing praise songs on the church stage. (VBS was over.) I grabbed their little hands and hightailed it out of Dodge. Good gravy. I was quite sure if he thought instruments were that bad my girls shaking their groove thang in front of the congregation was bound to be an abomination. You see, we’ve been at worship services all over the world. Some were denominational and some weren’t. Some had instruments and some didn’t. I will say there are times I prefer acappella and times when the instruments made me weep. So, I’m hard pressed to tell anyone that they are going to hell over instruments and I still understand why my church chooses not to use them. Let me also say, while I’m up here on this soapbox. Jesus’ resurrection should be remembered and celebrated every day, every second really. Easter Sunday is one day a year that some people choose to willingly walk into a church. Shouldn’t we share that most important story that day? Sorry. Instead of Monday morning quarterbacking I’m Monday morning preaching. I’ll stop. 

I promise I’m getting to the point. I’ve talked about one of the first churches we visited here featuring a hula and it moved me. That’s too mild. I left sobbing. I could barely catch my breath. I didn’t even understand hula at the time. Hula tells a story but instead of words from your lips, it is literally supposed be from your heart and soul. The hula that quite literally broke me was performed (is that the right word) by men to represent their testimony after coming back from a horrible place. In fact, when I think about that particular hula sometimes tears still well up in my eyes. 

Hulas are said to have come from a ritual dance originally performed for the goddess Pele. Missionaries arrived on the islands and thought the dance was pagan, vulgar and so disgusting it had to be sinful. When they converted Queen Ka’ahumanu to Christianity she destroyed the heiaus. Heiaus are temples. She banned hula as a pagan form of worship. King Kamehameha III decided that everyone should be free to worship in whatever form they chose. Hula came out of the secret shadows and was being performed again. Sometimes it was for the ancient rituals. Other times, it was simply to tell a story. By the time King Kalakaua reigned, he encouraged the performances and added moves, sometimes costumes for festivals. That’s where the Merrie Monarch began. Hulas became a way to tell a story, any story even the story of Jesus. When I’ve seen it performed in that context or as someone’s personal testimony, it’s indescribable to watch and leaves me with at least chicken skin, often in tears. 

As much as I would like to share the video with you, I’m having technical difficulties. I have managed to add it to my Facebook page. I’ll check in with nerd geek tech savvy husband and ask him to add the video here. 

We walked around as much of the Mighty MO as we could. Did I mention I’m a fan? I try to soak her up as much as I can every chance I have. Then we made our way to Liliha Bakery for brunch. Yum! I must say Ray has the very best ideas sometimes. We were hoping to catch up with some friends visiting the island but that had to be postponed to later in the week so the girls and I hit the pool after a much needed nap. 4 am wake up calls don’t exactly agree with me. We had a leftover supper from our egg dying experience. Everyone was off to bed pretty early. 

I hope you had a wonderful Easter celebrating the resurrection. He is risen indeed. 


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Kuli ‘ou’ou Ridge Trail

I promised I would back up and tell you all about our Spring Break Staycation. There seems to be a vortex sucking up my days. The house is blessedly quiet for a Friday morning at 6:30. No school for Good Friday and all four kiddos are sleeping soundly. I dreamt of boxes and paper and cleaning a house when a vacuum cleaner is packed. No fooling I really did. Sleep eludes me. So there is nothing better to do than sit here and tell you about a really great hike.

Just before Spring Break I joined my spouse group for a hike up the Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail. It’s just on the other side a Waikiki from me. It was one of those crazy mornings. I had a hard time getting everyone out the door and my gear packed and how wonderful…I was out of gas both literally and figuratively. Lucky for a me a friend offered to drive. We were supposed to car pool. I parked the Mom Mobile and climbed in for the ride.

The views from the trail are stunning.


When we came out of the clearing I could see from Koko Head to Diamond Head. I was also starting to break into a cold sweat. The week before Ray returned from Virginia with a nasty little bug. He says I wasn’t a good nurse. I told him I’m never a good nurse. I also thought his was made worse by jet lag. It was about this section of the trail that I realized I probably had his little bug too. The fact that it was freezing but sweat was pouring off of me like I was in a sauna was my first clue. The body aches weren’t helping but I was so close to the top…

Up until this point I had been thinking that Bria and Jack could handle the hike. Um. That’d be a no for Jack. If going up looks like a beast, you should’ve seen the coming down portion of our hike. There was only one stumble. I don’t think it drew much blood. Operative word being blood and thank goodness it wasn’t me because it usually is.

At the top, we had some fun with this sign. You could see bird s%&* island. (Yes, that’s the name but my mother reads this and Arleigh complains when the blog is blocked on her phone.) Turtle island, rabbit island, the Mokes, Diamond Head and Koko Head were all there. It is amazing. It was also really cloudy. I guess I’ll have to go back. 

A little yoga is never a bad things.

We had fun.

And then headed back down before the rain came. 

It was a good day.

See, still smiling even though I just wanted to lay down for a week. 

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A Trip To The Aquarium

Today was Jack’s trip to the aquarium. Someone in this house was not very happy. Bria missed her field trip 2 weeks ago. She spent the morning voicing her feelings on the matter. There will be more on that later… We were off to learn about the reef and animal adaptions but really, isn’t it always about the bus ride?

Do you want to know about the 7 month old turtles? I could tell you about the peppermint fish. There is only one on display in the world, only 14 ever found and we got to see it. I could tell you about the lauwilinukunukuoioi fish. Try to say that three times fast. No really. Try. The haole’s just call it a butterfly fish. I could tell you that there are only about 1100 monk seals left in the world. I’ve seen two at the aquarium and been lucky enough to encounter more than a few in their natural habitat. Those boogers can dive 1800 feet. Subs have seen them! They can hold their breath for 20 minutes at a time. I didn’t know sea horses could look in two directions at the same time or that the male tilapia holds eggs and babies in his mouth. There is a lot to be told after a trip to the aquarium but none of those things are on my mind, maybe laid open in my heart right now. 

As Arleigh would say, I’ve had too many “feels” today. I love the kids at Alvah Scott. Some of them, I’ve been around for the last three years. Kimani and Jayden to name a couple… I was wondering this morning if my kids would remember their time here. Don’t get me wrong. I had a FABULOUS childhood. My memories include everything from shucking much more corn than I ever thought necessary to sucking on honeysuckle and running away through fields barefoot. I climbed an old willow tree and swung from the branches without much fear. I could walk to my grandparents’ house and had two sets of grandparents at my disposal. My childhood of riding in my Dee’s truck to my uncle’s horse shows and begging to ride the riding lawn mower was in my mind one of legend. Still, I think in another life, I must’ve lived here. My kids run barefoot through the neighborhood just like I did. They climb trees, granted here they are mostly plumeria or banyan and see how high their little legs will pump to get their swing up. Arleigh rarely has shoes on her skateboard. Bria thinks she knows how to surf but she is actually a master on a body board. Hanan makes glorious fairy houses and plays games until well past dusk with her friends. It is a charmed life they lead and they have no idea. Most of these things wouldn’t be happening unsupervised on the mainland. 

And all these things running through my mind are not the reason for all my “feels.” This picture sums it up.

All day long, when we lined up, Will made sure Jack kept up. If he wasn’t, Will quietly grabbed his hands and made a train. As the day ended and Jack was falling a bit more behind, Will tried to give him a piggy back ride. All the kids here, love Jack. They rally around him. They encourage him. They push him to do better, even if he gets frustrated and yells. One little boy gave him a tract today about God because he just really wants Jack to understand God and since the website on the tract had a Mandarin option, he thought that might work better. Bless him. Jack played duck duck goose today like a normal kid. (It became turtle, turtle sea lion but that’s another story.) He didn’t always understand but his friends kindly made sure he was never left behind and that he was having a good time. 

As we climbed the bus for the ride back to the school I couldn’t help but wonder what it will be like for Jack when we move. I can’t imagine children being this kind and this compassionate anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong. There are mean kids in middle school but my heavens there was a higher percentage of mean kids in elementary school in TN. Most of these kids don’t have much but they have love and they freely share it. It’s truly the spirit of aloha and it’s filled my eyes with freakin’ buckets of tears all day long to wonder what it will be like to go back to a land of entitled kids who maybe aren’t mean but are super concerned with their own well being and don’t think much about anyone else and heaven help me I don’t want my kids to be like that. I’d rather park my butt in the land of aloha. 

I’m prayerfully hoping that our next duty station will be just as wonderful but my expectations are sure low today. This is where we needed to be for the time we were here and it was pretty apparent to me today. (Look, more feels. Sigh…) Jack learned to speak here. He started to communicate here. We found a wonderful eye doctor who fixed his pitiful little googly eyes. Jack is asserting his independence here. He’s boosting his confidence here. He is growing in aloha. 

It’s not just Jack. Remember Bria. Yeah, she was sad. She missed her field trip because she was unfortunately enough yacking up a disgusting amount of stomach contents that I didn’t want to share with her classmates or the fish at the aquarium. Never mind we went to the aquarium as a family over spring break. My child decided she had a rash while I was gone. She went to see the nurse. Miss Burke heard that Bria was out of sorts and let her hang out for a bit since no one was there. She talked to her, loved on her and sent her back to class. Then there was lunch and Bria came back with a tummy ache. Miss Burke again knew Bria’s problem wasn’t exactly her tummy. She left messages for me and Ray just before I arrived back at the school. I went to see my girl, gave her a hug and all was right with the world again. Her teacher fussed over her little broken heart all day. Miss Burke did too. I wonder if everyone that works at our new school will be as patient with the persistence my daughter has? Heaven knows I’m not always.

Hanan’s teacher has recognized her effort this year. She’s buoyed her up and pushed her to be better and told her she’s writing a letter for her record before we leave. Arleigh’s band teacher has offered to contact her high school band and do whatever is necessary for the her. The best thing that happened today was from Mr. Arnie. He’s Jack’s aid. He loves Jack and Jack loves him and it sort of spreads over our whole little family. Mr. Arnie handed me a box at school today. He said he didn’t know when our pack out would start. He hand made four bowls for the kids’ cereal and 2 coffee cups for us. He made sure they were green so we could remember Aiea. Shoot! Those darn feels are puddling again. I know how many days we have left. I know that I will cherish all these special people forever and darn it, I don’t want to give it up for any of us. 

And yet, we’re obviously needed somewhere else. There are other memories to be made and someday I’ll know the reason we have to leave. Until then, I plan on soaking up every last drop of aloha that I can get so that maybe we can spread it around on the mainland. 

I’m off to deal with the darn feels. Sending you aloha my friends. 

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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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