I Missed My Calling: Iolani Palace

In my effort to suck all the aloha out of this place my new mission is to fully explore the history of the island. Procrastination much? I’ve been reading historical fiction and fallen head over heels in love with the ali’i. (Hawaiian high Chiefs or royalty) Naturally, I had to make a trip to Iolani Palace. 

My friend Jen is possibly as sad as I am to have a PCS date looming. We picked a Friday and ventured out to walk on the same grounds as King Kalakaua and his sister, Queen Lilioukalani. As Arleigh would say, we were clearly having a fan girl moment. After reading about the parties and balls held at the palace I ached to walk up the front steps.

 
Alas, we were asked to enter in the rear and to the side. No pretending to be a true guest of the ali’i for me.

One of my first thoughts is that the palace doesn’t seem so grand according the east coast mansion standards. My experience of mansions is limited to the Biltmore though so what do I know?

 
This majestic home houses the largest freestanding koa wood structure. It’s a beautiful staircase that adorns the great hall.

 
The architecture is nothing short of amazing. The palace has undergone some pretty extensive restoration. After the monarchy was overthrown, everything on the inside was sold off and sadly it was used as government offices. As we walked through old pictures and saw attached trailers and dividers my heart hurt. It all seemed so disrespectful. 

We saw a quilt that Queen Lilioukalani stitched during her house arrest. Crazy quilts were the fashion of the day but I heard a rumor once that Liliuokalani loved them because they represented her life. There were good pieces and bad pieces but far more good than bad.

 The Throne room is where I knew I missed my calling. Sitting between 2 grand thrones you’ll see the puloulou, consisting of a gold sphere atop a 7-foot spiral, ivory tusk from a narwhal whale. 

We also got to see Queen Liliuokalani’s butterfly pin. She purchased it in Europe. I don’t remember how many diamonds that butterfly had but I do remember that the wings fluttered as she walked. I desperately want a butterfly pin like that now.   
  It was a good day! Thanks for tagging along with me Jen. Now we’re off to find the next historic adventure before I lose my aloha.

 

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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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Jack Jack’s Time Hop

So I have that Timehop app on my phone. It lets me see what I posted on a certain day years before. Yesterday after an excruciatingly long homework session with Jack that had me a bit down I opened the app. I saw a picture of Jack standing on the bridge of a playground at the girls’ elementary school in Tennessee. I remember that day well. Jack walked up the steps by himself, stood on the bridge and actually smiled. 

Sure. This wouldn’t be a big thing for most of you. What you might not know is that Jack had been with us for about 6 months. After an icy winter, our friends would want to meet us at different parks to play. This was a problem for me. Arleigh and Hanan were in school. I had to chase Bria to keep her from breaking her neck. The sight of the playground terrified Jack. I had a hard time spotting Bria when Jack was screaming his fool head off. If we put him in even a baby swing, you could see his white knuckles as he clung to the chains. His eyes would be sealed shut so he wouldn’t have to look. Eventually he would start to yell or scream. Jack had given up on crying real tears a long time ago. We tried to put him on baby slides, holding him to slide or any variation. There was abject terror. He would scream at the top of his lungs like I had stabbed him. Fun playdates. 

I started taking Bria and Jack on long walks. We would stop for even a few minutes at empty parks. Jack would watch Bria swing, slide and monkey bar her way across the playground. I’m a firm believer in pushing Jack. If I don’t push a little, he won’t try. I would let him sit at the bottom of the slide. The next trip I would set him a little further up. Talk about a mad little boy. Months and months of just wanting to watch Bria and Jack play together like siblings. I can’t describe it. I read all the books. I knew there would be challenges but I thought in my heart that we would bring him home and he would fine. I had no idea how emotionally draining it would make me at the time. 

This was the picture I posted yesterday. 

Jack lost his fear of playgrounds a long time ago. It has still taken him time to learn how to play with other kids. Can you see the difference? Jack loves to go to the park across the street from our house. He gets a little flustered when new kids arrive that don’t understand him, but he rocks every contraption on that thing, even the pole. 

Yesterday was a bloody nose mad at Mr. Arnie yelled at my kumu couldn’t understand number order made my mom completely crazy I don’t know if I should be sad frustrated or mad kind of day for Mr. Jack. (Jack’s kumu is his Hawaiiana teacher.) This gave me a high blood pressure frustrated try and fail at not raising my voice afternoon. That little Timehop app on my phone was a blessing. I needed to stop for a second and remember just how far Jack has come in a little over three years. 

I’m not telling you all this for praise or a pat on the back. This was not my doing. This is between Jack and God. I’m just blessed enough to be the witness and try my best not to mess it up. I hope that by telling the story, more people will understand that it’s hard but oh so worth it to provide homes and families for these kids. If I can encourage even one family, it’s worth all the time it took to share these few words. 

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Aloha Raheim

On Sunday we had to say fair winds and following seas to Raheim. 

I don’t even know where to start with Raheim. He was our big girls’ Sunday School teacher for a little while. He is hands down their favorite Sunday School teacher. I think it’s because he truly challenges them not to take their every day gifts for granted. He honestly let them know when he was disappointed and set the bar high and yet, if they fell or didn’t quite make it to the bar he loved them anyway. A mama’s heart loves a Sunday School teacher that will do that for her kids. He challenged them to make the right choices even when it’s hard. 

Arleigh wrote him a letter before he left Sunday. It was all I could do to hold it together. She really didn’t want me to read it so I won’t share all it said other than to tell you her gratitude oozed from her words. Raheim is special to us. I’m so sad he won’t be around to encourage all four of them. I have offered him my basement if he’ll just choose to go to school in DC. There’s always that… 

I think that people’s character comes out in how they weather life’s storms. A few months after Tye died, I sat in church hearing the horrible news that Raheim’s brother had been killed. It opened my own wounds and I just ached for him. I knew that there was nothing I could do to fix his pain but every ounce of me wanted to do something. Honestly, with the exception of maybe my own mother, I haven’t witnessed anyone overcoming grief with the dignity and character that Raheim did. He never questioned his faith. He continued to walk the line and even served others all while he was obviously going through so much. What an example at such a young age. 

A little while ago we were watching the Captain America:The Winter Soldier. During the movie they introduce a character called Falcon. That character is former soldier who spends his time helping others in particular military members suffering from PTSD. As they introduce him you could see that he was just an all around good guy who’s life was built on service. He didn’t need the wings or to be a super hero to be the good guy my kids were desperate to watch. Before you even realize that his character is going to be Falcon the girls started pointing out how he’s just like Raheim. 

Raheim is moving on to go do great things. He will always be a super hero in our eyes…even if you can’t ride a skateboard. We love you brother. 

 

 

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