His Eyes

This guy… the one that is totally obsessIMG_0039ed with all things Infinity and Big Hero 6…the one that tried to lead singing at church the last two Sundays…the one who was VERY upset that I didn’t prepare a home lunch for him this morning because I’m out of bread…and cheese…and fruit… and I’ll stop with the grocery list… he’s due to have his eyes checked tomorrow. Jack is actually due for lots of checks. I think I avoid them out of laziness and deep desperation for him to be a normal kid. Anyway, another eye check tomorrow. He LOVES Dr. Young. I’m sure Jack will be excited to fill him in on Baymax. It still makes this Mama’s heart a little nervous about what we’ll hear. If you think about it, say a little prayer for all of us tomorrow that we stay on the right track. I’m sure a trip to the Disney Store will be in order when we’re finished.

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The MomMobile

It must have been the picture I posted of Tye yesterday. Why else would you cry over a broken down mini-van? I know. Most people wouldn’t. 

This time last year I was on my way to take the big girls to a movie. The van wouldn’t start. I literally wept. It hit me. One day, I wouldn’t have my MomMobile. I thought it was hormones at the time but it happened again this morning. On the way to school Hanan said, “Mom, what kind of car will we have when we move?” 

I answered, “This one. I don’t want another car.” I also don’t want a car payment but I really don’t want another car.

“But, Dad says we can’t take this one so what will you drive?”

Hot tears welled up in my eyes. How silly can one person be? Talk about first world problems. Oh no! My husband wants to purchase a new vehicle…

I still remember the day Ray brought that car home. It was my Valentine’s Day gift after he found out he would be deployed to Iraq. It came complete with a 100,000 mile warranty so I could always have it fixed. It was his way of taking care of us. 

Over the years, that van has taken care of us. It’s traveled back and forth to see family. It’s been to Disney on more than once occasion. It’s contained meltdowns and brought children home from hospitals and airports. It’s falling apart. It’s my giant well worn purse. It has dings, scratches and dents and isn’t in the best shape, a lot like me but it trudges on. I love that car. 

We’ve bonded as a family over washing her. We’ve fought about cleaning her out. She may or may not have a tropical roach infestation but she’s mine. Her television and DVD player no longer work. That only means my kids sing from back seat a little bit louder when we go to the North Shore. She’s a perfect drum section, the perfect place for siblings to spar. I’ve changed diapers in her and mopped up more vomit than I care to think about. She traveled across the ocean to be with us. You’d think I would take better care of her but I think she knows she’s loved. That’s why she just keeps going. Again, kind of like me. 

My MomMobile holds stories of dogs and cats. Tucker has his seat. Haole is still finding hers. She’s road weary. She protected us from bisons on an animal safari and had ostriches stick their heads in to check her out. She made the girls’ trip to FL with Grandma and Nana Bonnie often riding illegally between seats. Cotton candy from the circus has been smeared on her windows. She was the perfect timeout spot for my little temper fuss pot Hanan. 

The biggest reason that I can’t seem to let go of that car is the memories she holds. Yesterday I posted a picture of Tye that I found on Facebook. When Ray was in Iraq, he flew to Virginia to help me with Arleigh’s fourth birthday party. Then he was supposed to ride with me from Virginia back to Kentucky. Those are some of my best memories of just me and Tye hanging out. Arleigh got a Barbie Jeep from Mom. That was his job. Channel Ray and put it together. He couldn’t put that thing together to save his life. I had to call in reinforcements. He was a super hero at the party though. As usual, he entertained everyone.

We had a really great weekend. It was shocking really. Tye and I never spent hours alone without at least bickering with each other. I honestly don’t believe there was anyone in this world that could make me madder than my brother. Bless him. I wanted to kill him all the dang time. That weekend, he was awesome.

We started on our long drive to Kentucky and he was his usual entertaining self. Especially after Arleigh told him her favorite new joke that she made up.

“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there.”


“Bear who?”


He thought that was the funniest thing ever. I think he called everyone he knew to tell them. We told that joke for years later. Maybe you had to be there. In fact, I’m sure you had to be there because Tye and his humor were nothing short of infectious. 

Just as we were reaching the mountains there was a car that would pull around me. It would speed up and then slow way down right in front of me. I kept hitting my brakes, turning off my cruise control and cursing under my breath. Tye was yammering on. I decided to get well ahead to the car. I sped up. We were talking. Before I knew it I was going well over 70 in a 55 mph zone. I see the car before he can even turn on his lights. I look down, oh no… I’m in trouble. So I look for a spot and pull over and wait. 

The cop comes up. I should mention, a friend had given me a magnet for the back of the van. It said, “Half of my heart is in Iraq.” It was the start of the war and things were rough over there. The cop starts talking to me. I handed him my license and registration. I apologized. I explained that I was taking my kids to see their family for Christmas and Tye was along for the ride. I told him about trying to get around the car and Tye had me wound up. I promised to put my cruise control on. He told me he saw me hit my brakes and appreciated that I pulled over and waited for him at a safe spot. I was explaining that I majored in criminal justice and appreciated that he had a job to do. The cop talked to me about Ray and where we were going. Anyone that knows Tye knows he couldn’t stay out of the conversation for long. He whips out his badge and says he’ll keep me under control. Likely story. 

Our new friend was not happy. He had me dead to right’s with a big old ticket but what was he going to do. He comes back and gives me a warning. My heart was still slamming against my chest. I thank him, put my blinker on a pull out. The tires hadn’t even rolled over twice and Tye was rubbing his hands together telling me that I owed him. The only reason I got out of the ticket was because he is a cop. I’m telling Tye that maybe it was because I was a poor pitiful military spouse trying to get home for Christmas. That pretty much sums up the conversation for the next 12 or so hours…when he wasn’t in the back seat watching a movie with the girls. 

There was also the first time he got in my van. We had been riding around for about 5 minutes when he said, “Brandi, I hope you have seat warmers. If you don’t we have a serious situation over here.” There were seat warmers and he knew it. I sure do miss his dramatics though. 

So anyway, it could have been the picture. It could have been thinking about what the van meant when Ray gave it to me. It could have been so many things. It doesn’t matter because I’ve the dork crying over a minivan. Somewhere Tye is making fun of me because of that. 

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The Redneck Haole Dog

When I brought Haole home, she was tiny. I was told she was already 3 months old and wouldn’t get much bigger. Um. “They” were wrong. She is smaller than Tucker but much bigger than the lap dog I was expecting. She is all puppy and makes life interesting. Ray would say aggravating but potatoes/potatoes. It’s all in how you say it. (How did you read potatoes/potatoes?)

So Haole is a bit like a toddler right now shoving everything she can find in her mouth. Two days ago I heard Ray say, “Why is there a snail on the rug?…Haole!!!!” Have you seen the snails here?

If you know the size of my feet, you know that thing is HUGE!

There are sticks, leaves and my favorite, lava rocks left all over our floors. I dare say stepping on one of those is worse than stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night. Ouch!

Yesterday I got home to find her chewing on something. I grabbed thinking maybe she found an old piece of coral. Nope.

The dumb dog was gnawing on her own tooth. Gross. Why yes I did take a picture. Grosser!

I guess she’s officially a Stiff redneck with summer teeth. You know, summer here…summer there. We’ve all got a little touch of Redneck around here.

Then there are times that she chooses to mimic the best dog in the world. (Yes, I play favorites with the animals.) It gives me a little hope that Tucker will one day teach all of us to be as regal as he is.

A girl can dream…

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My Musician

It seems like yesterday that I was living on another much colder island with only one very cute little girl.



She has always been silly and funny and ready to sick her tongue out in a picture.

Hanan 015IMG_2757












When exactly did my super compliant Ariel loving, soccer playing always ready to talk on the phone daughter turn into a dauntless always texting teen ready to take on the world? I think I only blinked and here we are. It seems like yesterday stray puppies came to Grandma’s house and she was crying, begging to bring one home. I refused to do that to Kiera. We brought home cats instead. That’s right, I said cats. Could you say no to this?

KY Summer 082


Apparently I still can’t.

Arleigh is growing into a beautiful young lady who is courageous and compassionate and a very talented musician. I’m clearly very proud of her. 

This week, Arleigh was selected to participate in the CDBF Parade of Honor Bands. She was chosen to play with a group from 7 schools across the island under the baton of Robert Feller, Head of Winds and Percussion at Biola University Conservatory of Music and a Disney clinician and Grant Okamura, retired Director of Bands at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is very excited about this opportunity. 

Never in a million years would I have ever thought I’d be a band mom. Here I am. Every Saturday for a while, she’ll need to be at the school at 6:45 in the morning. Poor Ray. Just kidding…maybe. He really is the morning person of our parenting team. 

Arleigh we’re super proud of you. It’s so much fun watching you pursue music whether it’s piano, sax or guitar. I can’t wait for the CDBF Parade!


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A Little Parenting Help…Please

I need a little help. Years ago I had two little girls who were given, well basically everything. I was reading about caring for orphans and seeing everything my kids have. I was frustrated with the amount of stuff…stuff I was cleaning up. Sadly, not a lot has changed. I’ve just added two kids and a heck of a lot more stuff. Anyway, at that time I never, ever in a million years thought the navy would send us to Hawaii. I told those two sweet little girls way back then that I love that they are children and I never want them to grow up. I explained how I was feeling overwhelmed and we cleaned out their playroom. We gave some things away and talked about how one day that they wouldn’t care about toys anymore. We talked about their birthday parties and agreed to scale them back. (Believe it or not that has happened.) I said that I would keep throwing parties until they turned 13. Instead of parties we would go on mission trips. I said one parent/one child would go somewhere and serve. 

Guess what. Of all my crazy ideas and plans and schemes….that’s the one that stuck. Then we moved to literally the most remote populated area in the world. Not even kidding. Someone’s 14th birthday is coming up in a bit over a month. Okay, right at a month. I’m in denial that my child will be in high school next year. 

I know that we can do missions right here on this island. My girls have participated in some. Arleigh was planning a trip to Jamaica since I said that. Easy peasy if you live on the east coast. From Hawaii, well not so much. It’s her 14th birthday. There is no idea too great or too small. Please help a mama out. What would you do?

I’m open to just about anything. We’ve talked about birthday cake with the homeless people down the street to trying to tag along with a group headed to another island or the Philippines. Of course, her passport has expired. I think we’ve watched too much Soul Surfer. Our church is small and as far as I know has no plans to travel in the near future. They aren’t hopping on planes to go places. I have a few people to message but I am seriously open to anything. Anybody want to join us in Samoa?

Thanks for the help! 

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Happy Veteran’s Day

It seems a bit odd to me this morning to say “Happy Veteran’s Day.” To be a veteran means that you have known great sacrifice. Instead I choose thank you. Thank you for choosing to serve so the rest of us can sleep peacefully at night.

Elmer Davis once said, “This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” This is so true. Our brave men and women in uniform display a great amount of courage. G.K. Chesterton described courage as “almost a contradiction in terms. It’s the great desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”

A friend pointed out that only 2% of our American population are veterans. You certainly wouldn’t realize that was the statistic from my Facebook news feed. I’m so thankful for each of those pictures I glanced over this morning.

I’m pretty partial to these three.


Thanks to all veterans past and present for your service and sacrifice.

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