Eighth Grade Banquet

Graduation season is upon us. I am a hot mess. If this is what I’m like during eighth grade graduation season, what on earth will I be like in four short years when Arleigh graduates from high school and Hanan is right behind her? Heaven help us all. I’m not even kidding. Ray looked at me last night and said, “You have been way too emotional.” Really, what was your first clue? Maybe the crying over Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? Again. Not even kidding. I wish I was. 

Where was I? Oh yes… graduation season. Grad season in Hawaii is not like grad season on the mainland. There is no real way to describe it. You celebrate for weeks. It isn’t a graduation from Intermediate school. It’s called the Rites of Passage. One of the mile markers is your 8th grade banquet. It starts in your 7th grade health and PE class where they teach you how to dance with a member of the opposite sex and how to not be an idiot. I truly appreciate the time and effort it must take to teach a bunch of hormonal middle schoolers to behave with that kind of decorum. Then as your 8th grade comes to an end, everyone dresses up and goes to a ballroom in Waikiki for a sit-down lunch with real napkins and real glasses and more than one fork. After lunch, they go to a club and get a few hours to dance and generally act a fool. It is a special day. It’s like someone mixed a ball and school dance with a bunch of middle schoolers, shook it all up and poured it into a school day. It makes for one excited eighth grader. 

The down side is we’ve basically had to do a mini prom preparation at 6 a.m. I am not a morning person. I’m especially not a morning person when I have to help my baby who is supposed to look like this…


Look like this…


I need to thank Auntie Chan and Madi for waking up early and coming down to help. Those curls don’t curl themselves and I rarely if ever wear makeup so it was so nice to have second and third opinions. Seriously. They came down so early and I didn’t even have coffee to offer. One more ohana to miss as we move. Luckily they’ll only be hours away instead of thousands of miles. 

Arleigh looked fabulous and she had a good time. She has the best group of friends. I love them! I love all of them! They are sweet and funny and just good kids. I want to put them in our suitcase and take them with us. I know Arleigh can text them and Instagram with them and she’ll stay in touch. I will miss them and their fun stories and moving is just hard on all of us. 

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I’m prayerfully hoping that she finds another good group of kids in Virginia. If she doesn’t… well, Ray may have to retire and we’re going to live in a two bedroom shack on this little island. 

This is the friend I’ll miss the most. She’s such a regular fixture in our house, we think of her as our own. She is the polar opposite of my loud tribe. She is quiet and always watching but we do occasionally hear the fit of giggles that come out especially when she’s slightly embarrassed. She might be slightly embarrassed quite often by a bunch of obnoxious Stiffs but that’s another post. We all love our Kiki!

IMG_8081Don’t tell her Mom but we may just have to kidnap her for a while. 

These next few weeks are going to be hard on all of us, especially this mama’s heart. Pride night is tomorrow and Rites of Passage is next week. I’m trying to buckle up for this long ride. 



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Our Memorial Day

Yesterday was our last Memorial Day in Hawaii. I had big plans. Like most things that happen to fall when you are in the process of a move, big ideas don’t usually come to fruition. It wasn’t what I planned, but it was perfect for our little family, even with our usual hiccups.

First, let me give you (and my children who read this) a bit of a history lesson. Memorial Day began after the Civil War as Decoration Day. So many souls were lost during the Civil War, every town in every county in every state felt the burden of fallen sons. I think the estimate is somewhere near 620,000 men that died during just that war. To put it into perspective that would be about 2% of the population of the United States. By the late 1860s most communities had some sort of planned holiday to recognize the fallen soldiers of our country. Memorial Day didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971. 

I don’t remember many Memorial Days as a child. I was pretty sheltered living in a small town in Kentucky. I’ve been introduced to a few more Memorial Celebrations since being married to Ray and therefore the navy. I’ve been to parades. We’ve stood for ceremonies. We’ve also been at every sort of party you can imagine. Our tradition in Virginia was to spend a weekend at a beloved camp and end up on the beach if we could by Monday so we could get the kids into bed for school on Tuesday morning. I guess my point is, I don’t spend every moment of Memorial Day only thinking about the men who died for our freedom but…Look kids! Mom is writing about it. It’s important to me that you at least think about it, pray about it and pray for the gold star families that are left behind. 

Since we’ve been in Hawaii, I’ve been able to witness and participate in another great tradition, the Hawaii Lantern Festival. It’s held on the evening of Memorial Day. Here is the history of the Lantern Festival directly quoted from the Lantern Festival website.

Memorial Day in America is a day when people remember and honor those who have fallen in service to their country. In Hawai‘i, with its diverse population, traditions become easily adopted and assimilated into its rich cultural fabric. It is the norm for people in Hawai‘i, on Memorial Day, to place flowers and offerings on gravesites of loved ones who served their country as well as those of others who have passed away.

With the wish of creating cultural harmony and understanding, Her Holiness Shinso Ito, Head Priest of Shinnyo-en, officiated the inaugural Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony on Memorial Day, 1999. For the first three years, the event was held at Ke’ehi Lagoon on the south shore of O’ahu. In 2002, the ceremony was moved a few miles down the coast to Ala Moana Beach where it has been observed every year since.

Unfortunately this year we lost many people in our family, Ray’s grandmother, Louise; his uncle, Roger, my stepfather, Ned AKA Grandpa and Nedbone. When Tye passed, it was the first time we attended a lantern ceremony. I sat on the sand and one of the people that asked to speak talked about losing her son and her husband within a year and how cathartic floating a lantern was for her. I thought of my Mammaw at the time. She buried a son and two husbands. Little did I know that my own mother would suffer the same fate. And so, we returned to place another lantern all too soon.

We listed names of people in our family. I plucked some plumeria off the tree in our front yard. We did the best we could without much to decorate the lantern here. I’m sad I didn’t think to make a silhouette for this one like I made for Tye’s before my machine was gone. We were on the far end of the beach this time and got to watch the pre-made lanterns go out. 


As the sun set, and the drums beat someone came by to light our lantern.

And then I got to walk out again and release it with a prayer for our family, gone but never forgotten. 

It is a beautiful ceremony and frankly indescribable to witness.

It literally takes your breath away to see them all quietly floating.

I love that we have been able to find our aloha and celebrate the rich culture around us. I also love that we got a moment to send a little aloha up to heaven. I’m also surprised Tye didn’t find a way to push me in. 

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Terrific Tuesday

i left the house at 7:10 this morning. I stopped by the house for less than 5 minutes twice and for 10 minutes once over the course of the day. I finally parked the van at almost a quarter to nine. 

One child is upset that she is missing time with her friends before we move.

One child lost it after a not so great soccer practice.

One child slept through soccer practice in the car.

One child has been a little off at school to the point that even is aid is frustrated. 

So… There were blessings in the day that I need to count. 

I had some pretty cute dates at a retirement ceremony this afternoon.


It was a lovely celebration of a wonderful career. It was hard not to get teary eyed.

It was particularly hard for Jack. He just couldn’t hold the tears back especially when his mean mom told him to be still and stop eating candy during the national anthem and benediction that followed. Good times right there friends.

Now that Bria is a little bit older, we tooled around the USS Missouri for a minute and talked about treaties and the end of WWII. I suspected that she didn’t absorb much of that when we toured the Mighty MO with her cousins a couple of years ago. 

Jack isn’t dealing well with the prospect of moving. He stayed glued to me most of the time. Bria wanted to try her hand at artillery practice.

  And no visit would be complete without checking things out. We only had time for the officers’ ward rooms today and the plaque on the upper deck. 





 By the time we picked up the big kids and dropped them to get ready for soccer, we tried and failed to return the helium tank that was used to decorate the reception. Traffic here at 3 in the afternoon is just indescribable. So it was just a quick loop and we headed east for soccer. 

Bria slept through most of practice while Jack talked my ear off. Then we headed west with Hanan so very sad about her practice. Sigh.

We turned in the helium tank and the equation basically went like this…Mom wasn’t home all day + she’s tired + our aloha is diminished – dad who is off island + late soccer practice + errands on the west side of town after an east side soccer practice = Genki Sushi. That’s Arleigh’s kind of algebra. 

Before anyone asks, no Jack didn’t know how to use Chopsticks in China. He didn’t know how to eat with his fingers then much less chopsticks. He still prefers a shovel…I mean fork.

We made the best of our long tiring day and found our aloha even knowing tomorrow is just as busy.

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Happy 20th… Really?

It seems like  yesterday I was standing in hot sand with wind blowing through what it could of my frizzy, sticky with hair spray big head of hair. I don’t really remember being nervous. Maybe Ray was. I was just ready to start our adventure. That yesterday when the adventure began was twenty years ago today. Yikes!

That blurry picture of a picture with those babies… who are those people? I was totally 10 years old when I got married. Did I mention that?

Here we are a couple of weeks ago…

We’re older and wiser and my hair is sometimes not so frizzy…still hanging around turquoise water for now.

So much has happened in twenty years. Obviously, we’ve had four kids. There have been eleven moves. We’ve managed to get through more hurricanes than I care to think about, a couple of earthquakes. We’ve endured life on two very different islands and loved both of them and traveled this small world of ours, Ray a little more than me. That’s okay, I’ve ridden out more hurricanes than he did. Here we are.

I look at those kids. That girl was excited to enter this navy life and had every intention of being back in Kentucky by now. She was sure she wanted just a couple of kids and couldn’t quite decide if she should use her public relations major or her criminal justice major. She had a hard time finding herself for a bit following the navy guy around. Here she is… an old lady turned gypsy with salt in her veins, not quite ready to settle down like she thought she would be. She’s just found her footing or maybe it was the salt. My how things change and still they stay the same. 

In honor of twenty years with my officer and gentleman, I thought I’d list the 20 things I love about being married to him. (Feel free to skim this, it’s more for him since he’s busy on the other side of the world and he didn’t get a real gift and all that…)

  1. I love the way he loves me but not just me, the kids, the dogs, even my mother. What more could I ask for?
  2. I love that he loves to build things with his hands and if I can imagine it and sketch it, he can build it.
  3. I love it even more when he creates things with the kids, pieces of furniture that they’ll cherish forever or pieces of furniture that he lets them get all artistic with until they are ready to start again.
  4. I love that he’s passionate about his job. He is hands down the greatest naval officer I know. I am absolutely not biased at all. 
  5. I love seeing how he takes care of all the young sailors he is in charge of. He worries and fusses about them like they are his kids and tries his best to make sure they are all okay not just at work, but at home because he knows your home life has a way of making it into work. 
  6. Ray is the best math tutor. He walks the kids through a problem until they get to the answer on their own and know how to find their way back again. 
  7. He can totally do anything he sets his mind to. It’s maddening sometimes but I love him for it. 
  8. He indulges me all the time, especially when I decide we must have an adventure, paddle to the Mokes, snorkel shark’s cove, jump off cliffs, parasailing, surfing…whatever crazy thing I decide we need to try (adopting a special needs kid anyone?) he’s right there with me usually doing it far better than I am. I’m still trying to talk him into that skydive though. 
  9. No matter what I decide I want to try, he encourages me to see it through. Run a half marathon, he runs circles around me to keep me going, try a new business, never a word even when I don’t make money. I’m going to write a book, he’s cheering me on even if it’s all only in my head. 
  10. He puts up with my hot mess. And I am one big hot mess!
  11. He’s heard so many stories about Gran and her “viva” he tries his best to channel Dee and not say much when I spend too much money and I do channel Gran and spend too much money. (My Gran would hand over hear credit card and say, “Put it on my viva.” My Dee never said a word, he just paid the bills.)
  12. Ray is a legitimate hero for our kids to look up to. 
  13. Ray could curse like a sailor, he’s certainly around it all the time but he makes a pointed effort not to. In fact my mouth is far fouler than his. He’s always setting the better example.
  14. When he sees I’m falling behind with whatever, he picks up the slack without ever saying a word even when he works 12-14 hour days.
  15. He doesn’t just indulge me, he spoils me and knows me better than anyone else. He even knows what I want usually long before I do. 
  16. I love how hard he works to plan our family outings.
  17. One of the most important… he encourages all of us spiritually. He teaches us to have compassion and diligence. He is the first one to make sure we get to church or work together on a charitable project. 
  18. We often joke that we don’t know where home is anymore but we still call Kentucky home and he gets me there when I need to be there no matter what the circumstances.
  19. Ray has been my rock so many times through some awful things. I know I’m better with him. Sometimes I can only stand when he is standing beside me. 
  20. After 20 years, I just love him and love to be around him… so you could get your sailor’s behind home anytime now Raymond!

I love you more!

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Manic May Meltdowns

It’s May. Heaven help us all it’s May. We have officially crossed the threshold of the craziest time of year. This year in our little hale (and I can call it my little hale for at least 3 more weeks) things are particularly manic. I’ve been trying to find and store as much aloha as I can. We had a lovely visit with Uncle Mike, Aunt Sharon and Nana. In fact it was so much fun I couldn’t find the time to blog. Nana left on a Thursday and the movers came Monday. All of our things are in crates, weighed and being packaged for a boat ride to the east coast. In the middle of all this, we finished up Hanan’s play, Arleigh had a band concert and one last one coming up. There is a banquet for everything my kids do. Arleigh is going to participate in a “Rites of Passage.” (I think that’s what Intermediate graduation is called but now I’m thinking I might be wrong.) The soccer season is going to continue until the end of the school year. They changed his year’s schedule. I have kids that want to spend every last second with their friends. My kids have a Mom that wants to spend every last second at the beach. So long story short, we added moving to the already busiest time of year and the same goes for Ray’s work.

I should probably be surprised that we haven’t had more meltdowns. I made it through the pack out without tears. Even when the last nail went in the last crate and I equated it to a nail in a coffin…

As I’ve said to Ray 1,000 times, I know in my head it’s time to go for many reasons. COLA rates drop drastically the month after we leave. Arleigh is going to high school and most of her friends are going to different schools. It’s time for Ray to switch jobs. It’s always nice to get new eyes on Jack. We haven’t had our DC adventure yet. Traffic is soul crushing and expected to get worse over the next few years because of Hawaii’s rail project. I know it’s time to go. 

I’ve had my taste of aloha. I’m trying hard to remember that it’s better to have aloha and lost it than to not have aloha at all. I’m quite sure I have the opposite of island fever. I’m sure that’s a thing. It’s a thing right? Some sort of psychological disorder that requires island living…

I don’t go surf that often but knowing I can’t…

Well, there is no real way to express what I’m feeling. I’m excited for the next chapter and completely heartbroken to have to close the door. 

So the movers walked out. As they started their truck Bria brought in an envelope. It was an invitation to our friend’s daughter’s high school graduation. This was Madi and a little ears are infected Arleigh in Iceland… 

I saw that invitation and promptly burst into tears. Arleigh will be in high school next year. She will be leaving me all too soon. Everything is changing and I just want to hit the pause button. 

I’m not the only one having crisis moments. Last night having band, soccer and extra homework got the best of Arleigh. Did I mention May sucks? It’s too much. Teacher appreciation week, finals, banquets, field trips, end of the year parties for everything… I’m over here like where the heck is summer and why do I have to get dressed? By the way we have to finish that Hawaii bucket list like NOW.

Okay. My rant is over. No stuff in my house makes my day a bit easier. I’ll find my aloha and tell you about our lovely visit with family next week. Please tell me it’s crazy everywhere else too.

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What Will It Be Like

Tonight was Hanan’s final performance as Rapunzel in “Into The Woods, Jr.” So much to say… I could tell you how this was the perfect part for her to dip her toes into the drama pool. I could tell you that it takes a special kind of courage to perform and sing in front of an audience. I could tell you how proud I am because I think it takes even more courage to sing those high notes in front of your middle school friends. I could tell you about all the sweet friends and family members that came to support her. I’m not.

I’m going to tell you about the after party. Hanan joined the cast and crew and teachers and parents at Zippy’s after the show. I walked into a mad house. The line was out the door. The kids were sitting together laughing having a good time. I rushed the girls a bit because, well Nana, Uncle Mike and Aunt Sharon are here. We have church in the morning and I was tired. We couldn’t leave until everyone hugged and kissed my daughter.

I noticed how these kids…these middle school kids sincerely love and care for each other. As they hugged they joked about future plans. They pouted about the fact that Hanan wouldn’t be at next year’s performance and they congratulated each other. I love them!

So we were riding home late, talking about the night and Hanan said “Mom these people are good. They are like family. Do you think it will be like that when we move?” I told her that I wasn’t sure but with all the practice it would have to feel like family. She said, “but this is drama ohana. We pray before every performance. It won’t be like than on the mainland.” 

Sigh. I bet it won’t be like that either. What I wish I said…

I don’t what it will be like but we’ll find our place. These friends will always only be a cellphone away. We are going to hang onto these memories forever. We’re going to make new great memories too. We can’t compare the two being better or worse. It’s just different and we need to embrace it.

Now, in four months when school starts back, someone remind me I said that. 

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