The Beat Of Her Own Drum

We’re just going to ignore the fact that I haven’t been posting. I have a traveling husband, visiting Grandma and four kids in the middle of soccer season. One just joined the dance team, another the drama club. There’s saxophone and piano and traffic. My calendar is CRAZY! I’ve been back on island for a bit. We are excited to have lots of visitors this fall. I have to admit it has taken me a second to find my groove. I think I’ve found it. I might need a bit of dusting off and polishing up but it’s back. And with that… I’m going to try to get back to posting more often. 

This morning on my daily car ride, I was listening to Arleigh and Hanan discuss 5 SOS and which band member was cuter. Jack was repeating that it was picture day for him and Bria was trying to find a rhythm with two pens on the back window. Arleigh and Hanan got out dragging a giant saxophone case, and dance bag and whatever else was shoved between the seats and Bria just kept banging. 

I made the turn to drive back down the hill (mountain) to get to Bria and Jack’s school. Every morning I catch my breath. I can see Ford Island, The Arizona and The Mighty MO just sitting in the calm water. It was supposed to rain today but it was beautiful again. Before I can point it out, Bria says, “Do you like this beat?” There is another rhythm coming from the window, tapped off the cup holder, and then the pens being rubbed together. 

This kid…

DSCF0784Last year she asked for drums for Christmas. I talked her into a much smaller One Direction guitar instead. I’ve been noticing the constant drumming with anything she can find. I need to ask her teacher if it’s something they talk about at school, maybe in Hawaiian studies. She was born loud. She came out ready to take on the world, and especially her big sisters. This morning while I was braiding her hair I asked if she ever plays her guitar. “Not really. It needs to be tuned and I don’t know how.” Apparently you don’t have to tune the car window. Who knew?

Bria is going to have a birthday soon. She asked if she could swim with the sharks since her best buddy will be off island. She goes all out at soccer. She’s pretty sure she runs her elementary school even though she’s only in the first grade. She has so much more compassion for Jack when he’s having a hard time than any of the rest of us. When he’s not… she treats him like a little brother should be treated. She is ornery as the day is long and as sweet as my favorite strawberry cake. This week, she plans on marrying and sailor and teaching Kindergarten. I asked why. “I want to move around and I know kindergarten best because I did it twice.” I guess I need to send Santa a note about the drum set. I can’t wait to see what she does marching to the beat of her own drum. 


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The Grandma Diaries

My children are obsessed with youtube channels, and youtube stars. I’m old. I don’t understand. I’m okay with that. I’ve decided that I should have my own Youtube channel. It will be called the Grandma Diaries. Seriously. This teenage boy was secretly videoing his grandma while she drove him around.

His channel is now some sort of Youtube sensation. So, I would only be sort of stealing his idea. He doesn’t have my Mom or my Aunt. Grandma and Nana Bonnie are pretty hilarious. 

Here is a sampling of a few of things I hear while I drive them around…

“Mom, I can see the main road.” “I know, turn here, it’s shorter. It’s my old Indian trick.”

“He was an Apache. He had a mean streak.” “Because we Cherokees were a kind sensitive tribe?” “Exactly.” (Some of this really needs to be video so you can get the inflections.)

“Well, would you look at those crazy cranks!” 

“They always smile at your face right before they stab you in the back!…Well, she will!!!” 

“He just called her everything but a white woman!” 

 “Well hey!” Then insert any piece of advice Nana Bonnie ever gave me.

“This too shall pass…” with a series of head nods and amens and maybe even a pat on the back. 

“Do you remember that story Mama told about the woman at the sewing plant? What she had to do for her husband…”  I’m just going to stop there since I want this to be a PG-13 blog.

“That was a hot night in July. The sheriff knocked on the door and…” That would be another story that I have to wait to tell until well, I’m dead or I would be in a hot minute. 

“Are you driving me out here to shoot me and leave me for dead?” 

This my friends is but a sampling of the things that I hear. Some of them will haunt me again tonight. How can two women simultaneously fill me with love, make me laugh until I pee myself and horrify me? My word I love them!

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My Captain

I got in rather late Sunday night to find out that Ray would be frocked Monday morning at 10:30. For you non-navy people, Ray was selected to promote to Captain a couple of months ago. His actual promotion wasn’t supposed to take place until sometime late next year. Because of his current job, it was decided to by someone higher up than my pay grade to promote him early. He got his pin, and all that comes with being Captain except for the pay. We’ll have to wait until sometime late next year for that. I was aware that Ray was going to be frocked early. I just didn’t know if was going to come at 10:30 in the morning the day after I got home. 

Ray and I discussed over and over where it would happen. I was gunning for the Mighty MO. I love that ship. It looks out over the harbor and stands watch over the Arizona. Ray didn’t want the pomp and circumstance of all that. In fact, Ray would have been happy to have a small ceremony with only the kids and me. I remind him all the time that it’s not always about him, the new young sailors need to see the ceremony and understand the value but… it was more important to us that our kids be there than the young sailors and as I came closer it was apparent that it was all going to happen on a coveted day off. We would never ask people to get all dressed up in the middle of the morning on their day off to watch a 15 minute ceremony. After lots of talk, we decided that the proper place would be the old Arizona memorial. It looks out on the new memorial and Pearl Harbor and is a great reminder of why Ray chose to serve his country.

The nice thing about jet lag… I’m up early. I had time to iron clothes and primp and do hair. Bria’s was still a little wet but drying all that hair is a bit of a problem. We were out the door. Ray insisted on being quiet about it, but the people that work with him found out and were right there to support all of us. I can’t tell you how much I love all the people at NEPMU6. They will be a HUGE reason that we miss Hawaii so much. 

Okay, so for what you want to see…THE PICTURES…



Captain Via said a few words about the history of oaths and why this day is so special, and then proceeded to have Ray take the oath. It goes something like this, “I, Raymond Stiff, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Then, we are allowed to change out his shoulder boards. He gets a new stripe.


The general idea was that Hanan and Jack would change out one side, and Arleigh and Bria would change out the other. Everyone participated I just had to resnap them in place. Couldn’t have them flapping in the trade winds right after he put them on. 

Then, it’s time for Ray to say a few things. I don’t know how he does it. Off the cuff, he said that he wanted his guys to remember that today wasn’t about what we would get from this promotion. It was an oath to swear allegiance to something bigger and to be reminded of the responsibility he was taking on. 

And like that. It was over. These things literally last all of 15 minutes. We took a few pictures with The Arizona’s flag unfurled behind us. 

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There just aren’t words to tell you about how proud I am of Ray and all he’s accomplished. He is loved and respected by so many sailors that work with him. I swell like a proud peacock every time I get to watch him do what he loves. I am however, no where near old enough to be a captain’s wife. So there’s that.

Ray has a pretty proud son too. He’s decided that the rank of Captain Stiff makes him a pirate. Proud day for that boy!

IMG_0039There has been lots of talk over the last couple of years about what the future holds next for our little family. Ray can’t decide what he wants to be when he grows up. This promotion gives us a bit of relief as the navy has decided to keep up around for a little while. We get to put off our decisions for a few more years. That’s just great for us because the navy is right where we want to be!


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Thoughts On A Plane

I am a people watcher. While I’m not particularly enjoying a long trip leaving my mom to head back to my little family, I must admit that sitting for so long with so many strangers has me feeling a bit like a pig in stink. I’ve traveled from Nashville to Atlanta on the way to Honolulu via Seattle. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve already seen and thought during this shorter leg of my travels.

Here are a few things that have run through my mind…

Why on earth are your drinking five hour energy right before you board a plane? Should I be concerned? Are you on my flight?

I’m happy you’re happy but my headphones aren’t even totally drowning out the sound of your sloppy wet kisses. You are at least 20 years older than me, even if it is your honeymoon, cool it down. The inside of an airplane should not be considered getting a room! From what I understand you should at least retire to the loo to earn the mile high club status, not that I would know or anything.

I wonder what the Seattle hippies thought when I opened my Southern Guns and Gardens magazine. Oh yes I did! Alton Brown is featured in it. You can stop shaking your head anytime now but it was funny.

I am equally amazed that wifi is available for me to write this post during my flight and irritated that it works so ever loving slow.

Should I be concerned that this flight took off so late because the auxiliary power shut off? Between the ac spitting a vile liquid on my face, announcements that the computers have gone haywire and the auxiliary power shut off, I would be lying like a dog in the afternoon sun if I said I wasn’t a bit concerned.

I know everyone wants to be comfortable when they travel. If I can see your skin through the transparent tights you’re wearing, you might want to wear more than a tiny little shawl over that unitard that you wore to your gymnastic class in the fourth grade. Plus, you haven’t been in the fourth grade in like 35 years so….I seriously just said unitard. That word just sounds funny.

If this is what I’ve seen and thought and I’m not even to Seattle yet, can you imagine what the next leg will be like? Fair winds and following seas indeed!

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When The Mom’s Away

Lots of people have asked how Ray is doing with four kids by himself. I have to tell you…he’s offended. I thinks he’s approached it much like a full scale tactical operation and he’s performing beautifully in spite of the many challenges.

For instance this morning lunches were lined, kids were bathed, everyone was ready. Like any exercise, a kink was thrown in just to see if he could handle one more thing…like his son accidentally sitting down on a fresh pile of puppy poop exactly 7 minutes before he prepared to execute operation car line from hell. By the way, he’s learning there is nothing quite like an aloha time car line. I also believe there was a relatively new rug left on my curb this morning and Jack might have one less pair of shorts but it’s all good. If Eddie happens to drive by in an RV he’s welcome to the very stinky rug. Of course he’ll have to beat the pickup that circles like a vulture on bulk trash day.

Ray got to handle our schedule on a week that everything shifted on a dime as all the middle school extracurriculars were added to the line up. I did cancel piano for him saving him approximately an hour and a half in traffic and two hours stuck on a couch listening to Miss Momoko tell our kids they are wasting our money by not practicing enough. I try to throw him a bone like that every now and then.

I’ve heard that Daddy is better at bath time, homework and also dinner among many other things. Of course he cheated and walked over to the Forty-Niner for banana mac nut pancakes.


Ray is the best Dad ever! It is such a relief to know that I can be here and things literally a world away are running smoothly. Truth be told, it’s probably much smoother with Ray at the helm. Thanks Ray for always being there for me! I love you!

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Hawaii In Kentucky

When we moved to Hawaii a little over two years ago I fell hard for my little island. Well, the first month living in the Navy Lodge without a car wasn’t easy but a hot second after I unpacked my house I was smitten. The salt water, the blue skies and rainbows, the surf and especially the people. Right after unpacking Ray surprised me with a snuba excursion for my birthday. (I didn’t misspell scuba. It’s fun and you should come visit and try it.) On our ride back into shore we were talking about why I loved it so much and seemed to have no problem with the locals that we had heard so many rumors about. We came to one conclusion. Hawaii is just a more tropical version of my little piece of Western Kentucky.

If you get away from Waikiki, you’ll find people who love their family. Family is first, always. The are suspicious of outsiders but once you’re welcomed, you are family. They like big trucks or in my case, big Jeeps. Kailua pork and mac salad is really not that far off what is served at every family gathering here. Hunting and fishing are a way of life. You would be surprised at how much people in Western Kentucky have in common with people in Hawaii.

It all came full circle for me yesterday. If you’ve seen the movie, 50 First Dates, you know that it about a girl in Hawaii who suffers from short term memory loss after a car accident because a cow is in the road. Love that movie! In fact a good friend just sent me a copy for my birthday. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Plus, it’s my little island and Sea Life Park. Anyway… yesterday a storm blew over. I jumped in Mom’s truck and headed into town to meet up with some friends. I came around the corner and had to stop.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen a cow in the road, but it certainly made me laugh. Thankfully, there was no accident. Unfortunately, there was also no fresh pineapple.


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