The SBX Tour

One of the first things that greeted us when we arrived in Hawaii was the SBX. The first thing we thought to call her was the Death Star. It’s a giant looking golf ball perched on a platform that sits in the harbor. You can see her from almost any of the higher elevations on the island. When we climb Diamond Head, it’s my reference point to finding my house. The kids and I thought she looked a little like the Death Star and texted pictures of the her large white dome at sunset and sent it to our Star Wars loving friends in Virginia while we were living at the Navy Lodge when we arrived. Ray tried to explain what she did. I think all I heard was radar blah blah la la fallallala. I learned so much on this tour.

SBX is an acronym for Sea-Based X-Band Radar. On Wednesday I can’t even tell you how excited I was to be able to go inside the SBX and learn all about her. Granted I felt a little like this with all the technology. 

So the SBX in a nutshell: It is the largest floating, self-propelled, mobile active electronically scanned array radar station in the world, designed to operate in high winds and heavy seas. My friend summed it on Facebook as, “The largest and most sophisticated phased array electro-mechanically steered X-band radar in the world.” Um yeah. Basically she is a bad@#$ awesome missle defense system. All this AND I got to go inside! Seriously, this was an incredible opportunity.

Here she is as we waited impatiently to board her. When she goes out to patrol the pacific and search the skies, she submerges to those water marks. Her longest time at sea was over three hundred days…AT SEA. That is unheard of in the navy community. Ships need to port for supplies and refueling. She is amazing. 



DSCF0449 DSCF0443

That ball is not a hard shell. She is actually made out of a material that is akin to kevlar. She is blown up like a giant bounce house and mounted like a ship’s sail. I got to go inside to see the radar mount that was 10 stories high. We went up another 8 flights of stairs. No cameras or recording devices are allowed inside. I kept hearing there is no way to describe what we would see. That was a true statement indeed. In fact, it was mind blowing. I’m pretty sure my mouth was slack almost the entire time we crawled around inside. Even more impressive, she can see something the size of a baseball from 2,500 miles away. 

I left the tour and felt like my brain was mush and my legs were jello-o. (There are lots of stairs involved with this tour.) How do these scientist figure this stuff out? All I want to know is, “Can you stop a missile attack?” The answer I kept hearing was YES! I am no scientist. Ray is not writing this blog. Of course Wikipedia has a page. If you would like more information on this amazing vessel click here.

Another great part of the tour was the people. I really enjoyed meeting the crew. They were great and they were all so excited to explain what they do. They clearly love their jobs and are proud of it. I loved seeing the signs that hung around the ship. One said, “A ship is safest in port but that’s not what a ship is built for.” I love that! I also saw a John Wayne quote printed and taped to a work space on the bridge that said, “Life is hard. It’s harder stupid.” Amen. Amen. Amen.

We finished out on the helo pad with some of the best views you could see of my beloved Aiea.

DSCF0450 DSCF0444 DSCF0445It was an amazing day, an amazing opportunity and something I will never forget. I am so grateful for the time we’ve had on this little island and the things I’ve learned an experienced. It truly has been a fabulous tour.  

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Throwback Thursday: Blog Style

I had a really lovely day yesterday. I was one of the few people in the world to ever step foot on the world’s largest sea-based x-band radar platform, AKA The Deathstar, AKA God’s golfball, AKA the Pearl of the Pacific. I was there with friends. It was a really good day, until is wasn’t. 

I am sad and disappointed and apparently very vague when talking about things that happened yesterday. Don’t you love it when people start talking about things on a social platform and then say, “I’m really not at liberty to discuss…” or “For legal purposes…” I hate it too. And yet, I can’t stop the words from coming out of my mouth flowing from my finger tips. The truth is, as Mama always says…If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything. So here we are. With a blog. And the need to speak. And a muzzle. Good times people. Good times. Don’t worry. I often find ways to chew through a muzzle. I just don’t feel like it today. 

I’ve decided not to say anything. The truth always has a way of coming out anyway. Instead, I hope you’ll enjoy one of my more popular posts. (Thank you Pinterest.) Feel free to repin. It has been three years after all…


Repurposed Window

Posted by  on February 3, 2012 in Ramblings | 2 comments

Years ago, two newly weds bought a house that they thought would always be way too huge for their family. That would be us. We labored on that house with love. Funny thing is, that huge house  means we have to share space now when if we ever move back. Still, that house that sits in Kempsville was a labor of love. We jacked up concrete that was two feet deep, ripped out every bathroom and laid an insane amount of tile. We painted and repainted when I changed my mind on a whim. Huge built ins were created and suddenly it became our home. You should also note that when I say we, in most cases I mean Ray. I was always a willing helper supervisor. Can you tell I miss being in the home I own…and walls that aren’t gold?

One of the last things we completed (and I did help a little by standing still and holding things) was to replace all the old windows. I was so tired of junk, I just wanted to get rid of everything. Ray decided to save the biggest picture window in the house. That sucker is huge. I couldn’t imagine what on earth I would do with it. Then I saw a picture somewhere of an old window on a mantle. We moved into our new digs for a short stint. There was a mantle. There were also huge ceilings that would accommodate the height of the window. There was also a huge hole to hide the back of television. I mean huge. The window looked silly perched in front of it. So did everything else we could think of. Mom was here. We were brainstorming. Ask any one of us, we all take credit for the big idea… one big picture. I was planning in my head how on earth I could take a picture that was square with all three girls (Jack wasn’t around yet) and not block an important expression or facial feature with a window pain. Then I remembered the picture I snapped at my brother’s wedding. Ray tweaked it. He found an online site to order canvases for businesses and asked them to put the picture on a canvas just slightly bigger than the window. This was the most cost effective thing we did. The canvas was huge and it cost less than $100.

The canvas arrived and it was perfect. I also got a bonus canvas for the bathroom for free. Always great. We cleaned the window, stretched the canvas and I held it while Ray stapled it into the frame. It’s pretty perfect.

There are times when we’ve had to move it, sitting in front of the window, it is really stunning because the light shines through it. I know it will ruin the canvas but I’ve seriously considered backlighting it to create the same effect.

Just call me Uncle Hailey because I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before. That was before the invention of Pinterest. Like it? Pin it please. I need all the traffic I can get.

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Some Thoughts On Wee Worship

I want to address an elephant in my church’s room. By church I don’t simply mean my congregation. I mean the church all over the world. The elephant, it’s known as wee worship. If you aren’t at a Christian church that offers a wee worship/children’s church program feel free to move along. I’m sure I’ve ranted about plenty of other things that will aggravate you. If you attend a church with a program that allows children to attend a separate worship service from their parents, please join this discussion. May we please have a discussion about Children’s Church? I clearly have some things I need to work out in my own head and maybe we can encourage each other. 

Let’s start at the beginning. Fourteen years ago when I just dipping my toe in the pool of motherhood and obviously smarter than somehow getting incredibly wet behind my ears for just having a toe in the pool, I just knew that I would not allow my children to attend Children’s Church. Why? Well, that wasn’t how I was raised and I’m just fine. (I’m not. I’m the one grabbing the kid’s notes at church to try my hardest to follow along with the sermon and totally lost if I don’t.) Anyway, I just knew when Arleigh was 6 weeks old that she was the smartest, most compliant child in the world and she would easily learn how to respectfully sit through a service without needing her own worship service. Ahem. Did I mention that three weeks ago I missed as entire service because I drug my seven-year old kicking and screaming out to the car? Yeah. There’s that. I did have a very compliant ready to please child in Arleigh. I had a very artistic needs to get it out of her system fidgety to the nth degree child in Hanan. Bria is, well, Bria the bull is what we like to call her. Jack just wants his snack, man. They are all different. They all approached a worship service, much like life, differently. Some were easier to get on board with the let’s sing and be respectful plan than others. 

We can all quote Proverbs 22:6 until we are blue in the face.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not leave it.”

Okay, I get it. Teach them early. The problem is, all four of my children have different learning styles. Children’s Worship/Children’s Church/Wee Worship…whatever you want to call it works better for some than it does for others. It is not just a break for worn out parents, but sometimes it is and that’s okay. 

I have been married to Ray for almost twenty years. I know it’s hard to believe since I’m basically 30. Anyway, over than 20 year period I have been teaching classes. I started with 2 and 3 year olds before I had kids. I thought at the time I couldn’t break them. I see in my old age how wrong I was. Maybe I should have been more concerned about their ability to break me. Anybody can sing Jesus Loves Me and read a Bible story right? I moved on to older kids. I’ve taught ladies’ classes and fourth grade classes. Ray and I were even youth leaders for a brief time. Let me just say God has made it VERY CLEAR that is not my calling. Other than teens, my least favorite thing to do is a children’s worship. Here’s why. 

  • It’s always on rotation. The kids don’t get to know me and I don’t get to know the kids.
  • Two words: crowd control.
  • The curriculum tends to be too broad.
  • I find the age groupings to be so broad it makes it difficult, you are either over someone’s head or boring someone else. 
  • I’m usually teaching on Sunday mornings so why do I have to miss the sermon? 
  • I’ve done my time. I taught while my kids were in the class. Let those parents step up. 

Look, if I wanted to, I could make up 1,000 reasons why I don’t always enjoy helping out in Children’s worship. Can’t you?

A few weeks ago, the person in charge came to me right before services and asked if I would step up and teach the 2-3 year old group wee worship. I’m in church so I have to say yes, right? She told me it would be okay there were usually only 2 or 3 kids in there. I most likely let out a very loud audible sigh and asked for the curriculum. The story was the widow and the mite found in Mark 12:42. I walked into the class to find more children than I could count. Seriously our 2-3 quickly went to at least 12 before I could blink. I asked someone to get Arleigh to help me. Another adult who also taught during Sunday school stayed to help. We went over the story, counting the blocks of the rich and making lots of noise. We counted the 2 blocks the widow gave and they didn’t make much noise. The kids sat at a table and counted with me. We sort of sang songs. They may have sort of learned a lesson. Here’s the thing. Most of the kids in that room hadn’t made it for Sunday school. This is the only one on one Sunday school lesson they were going to get. It might be the only time during the week that some of them would be around other kids. It struck me how ready they were to soak up the story. 

I think I get grumpy. I wonder why I have to serve parents that don’t serve themselves. Ugly, isn’t it? I realized that morning that it wasn’t about serving the parents. It was about serving the kids and more importantly serving God. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk with Arleigh about how she served them. We talked about the widow’s 2 mites and how she didn’t know that they were put in the particular kind of container described in the lesson. We both learned more than a little that morning. We may have missed a sermon but we learned so much. 

So, let me take a step up on the soap box. No. I don’t want to miss a sermon every week and an opportunity to worship. More than that, something that I try to impress on all four of my kids is that we shouldn’t miss an opportunity to serve either. Until that moment several weeks ago, that was something I was missing. I don’t want others to miss the opportunity either. Sometimes you learn a whole lot more when you step out of your comfort zone. Almost every week I see the leader of our children’s worship program scrambling to find someone to fill in. It makes me sad. Here’s the deal. 

  • It doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids that age. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids. It doesn’t matter if your kids are tiny or grown. 
  • The kids don’t care if you don’t have a  singing voice. Guess what! I’m pretty sure God doesn’t either. 
  • The kids don’t care if you think you aren’t a good teacher. They just want someone to engage them for an hour.
  • The kids don’t care if you already did your time because your kids are older. The experience you can share is priceless.
  • This is the only time these kids may have to learn about the love of Jesus. Why not be the one to tell them?
  • When given the choice, shouldn’t we choose service? There is not better way “To do church.”
  • Sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone.
  • When I teach, I learn more. 

There are lots of reasons. To have the number of ladies in a church and always see Vanessa begging for teachers is shameful. Really it is. It shouldn’t have to be the same people doing it all the time. I guess I’m saying, sign us up. All the Stiffs. We’re ready to do church in whatever way is necessary. Are you?

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When Sunday Looks Like Monday

When Sunday looks like Monday I tend to oversleep…on the day that we also have a pot luck. Brownies in the oven, kids barely fed, I lay out clothes for Jack and Bria who are now blessedly dressing themselves most days. (Note the key word MOST in this sentence.) A quick shower, throw on some clothes and rush downstairs when I hear the oven screaming beeping at me. I look at the clock in sheer horror. I hate being late. I know what time church is. I know there is a potluck and brownies to be made. I’m filling water bottles when I turn around. There stands my son. He is not wearing the clothes I picked out. He has on the t-shirt and shorts but not the nice dress shirt or his slippers. Instead he has on old, too-little sneakers and brown dress socks. 

It was well past time to leave. I get him upstairs and will admit to not having a happy heart, okay I’m really angry. I get his slippers out and look frantically for his shirt. I ask where it is. “In the drawer,” Jack says. I look in his drawer…no shirt. “Show me.” This is where I should’ve started. It was wadded up in a toy drawer. I put the shirt on and told Jack he has to do what I say. I wasn’t very kind. Starting to look like a Monday.

I got in the car mad. The kids were singing in the back. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. You know the one…objects in mirror may be closer than they appear. I was struck by the fact that I really didn’t want my 7 chins to get any closer. My eyes look swollen and I haven’t been feeling great. Clearly it’s time for some changes. To add a little slap as I gazed stared at my reflection I caught Hanan’s reflection in the corner. Now not many people can claim to be as thin as Hanan but I could only see her face, the one that looks a little like mine did 29 years ago. Sigh. Insult to injury that one. Sunday feels like Monday. 

I go off to the little class I teach. I usually have two boys. I open my teacher guide to the Bible background for the day’s lesson and read, “when Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth around AD 53, their church had a lot of problems, including division and sexual sin.” Oh goody! This is just what I wanted to discuss with two tween boys, one who can’t even really be considered a tween yet. Sigh… I go on and realize the lesson titled, “Caretakers of God’s Temple” is actually written with a 12-year old girl in mind. It’s about loving your body and treating it the way God wants you to treat it. Is it proper for curse words to run through your mind when you think about talking to your kids in Bible class? Yeah. I’ve got stuff to work on. I really wanted to hear about eating right and exercising after my mirror moment. “Do as I say kids, not as I obviously do!” 

We made it through church. I successfully had Ray disqualified from the chili competition at the pot luck by making it myself. I don’t know why he can’t lie at church. I mean, really! Arleigh and Hanan decided they really did want to be at the youth event even though they had been telling me all weekend that they didn’t want to. That meant go home to change clothes and then go back again. Did I mention the H1 was knocked down to one lane on Sunday afternoon? No? Well there’s that… 

I took them back to church and hung out for a bit then back home I decided to cut Jack’s hair. We’ve been trying so hard to let it grow out. He has been terrified of scissors so I never take him to a barber. I laid out the guards in number order. Picked up the clippers. I don’t know what I was thinking but I took a strip off straight up the middle. It was bad. No guard at all. It wasn’t like I started at the back where I could sort of fudge it. 


I won’t lie. I cried a little. All I could think was the kid has such a hard time and I just made it worse. He looks like a monk.

IMG_5993Everyone just walks around rubbing his head like he’s a Buddha doll. Sigh.

So now that I have given myself the worst mother of the year of the award, what else is there to do but call my Mama? I’m Facetiming with her when I hear Ray yell he needs help. Bria is whimpering. She was waiting for me at the playground by the pool. She was run over by a scooter. Grandma was losing her mind imagining a moped careening down the streets of my neighborhood. He brought her upstairs because there was so much blood it looked like she might need stitches. 

Thankfully it was just a deep scratch. She is one tough cookie. I got her cleaned up and bandaged. She went on with her day.


So now it’s Monday. I’m just over here looking for a do over. Better yet, can it just be Tuesday already?


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Don’t Hate Me

So last night I shivered through soccer practice. I came home wondering where the socks are. This morning we turned off fans. The kids are grabbing hoodies to wear to school. I want nothing more than to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head all cozy.

How cold is it you ask? I took this picture when Bria and I were leaving soccer last night.

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Tye’s Troubling Two

Once I noticed Feb. 1 on the calendar I started to dread today. I was asking myself if it has really been two years since I got that awful phone call that Tye was gone. It seems like I just got to Hawaii but it also seems like we’ve been missing him for far too long. I’ve been processing for several days what to write today. Can I just say it sucks? What could I say that wouldn’t stab my mother in the heart again? If I don’t say anything people will think I’ve forgotten. How can I forget? If I say something they’ll think I’m asking for attention or pity. I want neither, only peace. A nasty thing happens when you lose someone so tragically.

I’m not sure if it’s your heart or your brain, but you somehow relive those horrible moments on the anniversary of those days. I woke up too early this morning, Just like I did on Feb. 5, 2013. My eyes were dry and I inched downstairs. Mom called me in the middle of the night when Dad died the night before Ray’s first deployment. I always suspected that my Dad would die young. It was horrible. The gut punch I took when Ned made that phone call was for all of us. My poor mother was alone in an airport. All I could think was I did that to her asking her to come see us. My kids lost their hero, their crazy, funny police officer, k-9 training, bigger than life uncle. I have no delusions that I was Tye’s first phone call when he was in trouble. Most of the time I wasn’t. A lot of the time I was his last. I felt like the life was sucked out of me knowing he wouldn’t call again. Did I mention this sucks?

In the past two years so much has happened. So much that Tye missed. How many times has Mom said something that I think, “I need to text him right now. Can you believe our mother said…?” I want him to tease Arleigh about being a band geek and threaten the boys that are creeping around. I need him to cheer for Hanan in the play and tell her how beautiful her voice is when she sings. He would love to see Bria play soccer. Oh my word, he would be bonding with Jack over his new found love of the Hulk. I don’t know if we will ever have moments again that I don’t think I wish I could send a clip of it to Tye. All those times I think I should text him. I have moments where I think it’s okay because surely he’s watching over them. Then I decide he’s not. He’s having too much fun to care about what’s going on in the car line.

I’ve considered writing letters to him. Heaven knows I want to yell at him. He left at the worst time. When Dad died, I had peace knowing Mom and Tye were in the same house and they would take care of each other. If left me to live this fabulous navy life in Iceland and then Maryland and Virginia. I never worried about Mom or her pain because Tye would make her laugh and she could try to keep him on the straight and narrow. Here we are… I’m on an island. I want to beat Tye with a stick. Mom could’ve really used him this year. Watching Ned lose his battle was awful. Hearing about it from here was torture because there was nothing I could do and no Tye to boss around. I really miss him being my hands even if it was frustrating to get him going. Then there was the phone call. Knowing Mom was hurt. Later finding out her elbow was basically crushed. Thank goodness for Nana Bonnie. Tye I could’ve really used you then. 

Dang I miss him. I miss the inappropriate texts and trying to make sure the kids weren’t holding the phone when they came through. I miss answering the phone and hearing, “Can anybody hear me?” because he was going to tell me a horrifically dirty joke. I can barely watch a Titans v. Texans game. It’s not the same without him around to talk smack to even if the Titans are horrible. I miss the phone call telling me that he had sent a text, telling me I had to watch some video. I would tell him I was in the car with the kids. Five minutes later he was back on the phone asking if I had pulled over to watch it. Um No! I just want to yell at him again. 

Losing your only sibling is like losing an appendage. It hurts really bad. You can learn to live without it. You can even function pretty well most days. Life is never ever the same. 

I miss Tye. I miss this guy…

Arleigh's 4th birthday 006The one that came for a weekend when Ray was in Iraq. He ate an obscene amount of food at our favorite Mexican joint. He tried and failed to put a Barbie jeep together for Arleigh’s birthday and then had to listen to me heckle him about it. He then rode the 14 hours back to Kentucky with me. He claimed to get me out of a speeding ticket. I think I did just fine on my own. I wouldn’t have been speeding anyway if he didn’t have me so spun up. 




I miss this guy…

IMG_2209He’s the one that taught Jack to love Sundrop. He’s the one that let Arleigh drive the mule when she was all of 8. He’s the one that showed my too little to watch it kids Dumb & Dumber and then acted like I was the horrible person for not letting them watch. Grandma was sitting right there the whole time by the way. He’s the one constantly jumping in the pond with the kids and telling them what the next thing they had to see was. I don’t know how many times he would say, “It’s just PG-13.” My kids were 5 and 6…




P000653I miss the guy that had me bring my days old daughter to a penis museum because he read about it in Maxim magazine. That picture is Tye with the curator/owner, his copy of Maxim and a whale penis. Good times.





Sorry Mom. I deal with things by thumbing through old pictures. It helps me remember the good, the bad and even the ugly. Did I mention that I miss my irritating little brother? There are so many stories to tell. So many memories I want to preserve for my kids. Today, I can’t. Instead I’ll post a few pictures I have and I’ll be happy for the wounds to start to scab over again tomorrow. 

IMG_2382 IMG_2367 IMG_1736 IMG_5477 Bria Faith 033_2 April 2006 002 First Tooth 042 KY Summer 083 Grandma Tye Winery Zoo 045 Grandma Tye Winery Zoo 043 Christmas04 161 Christmas04 157 Tye1 Tye_Han Tye&Gun






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