Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Biggest Loser

Note: This is just a rhetorical blog, thoughts I'm having as I watch this show's finale tonight. Just trying to sort through my thoughts out loud...
The kids and I are watching The Biggest Loser finale as I write this. Man, all of the contestants (so far, at least) have had amazing results. I know that on the Biggest Loser campus these folks exercise for hours everyday and have NO access to temptations, like Christmas cookies and other junk. I know that they have help, but they've all gone home and been successful.

I guess I'm feeling a little irked that I am not getting results for my own weight loss journey. I've been running, jogging, walking, trying to eat more vegetables and less cookies. I've been getting on that stupid elliptical trainer at least 3 times a week since April! My pants are looser, but it's not happening fast enough. I guess I need to up my game. I need to get serious - I mean really serious. I want to want it more than I have wanted anything in a long time. There are so, so, so many ways to make excuses. It's so easy to say, "I'll exercise tomorrow", or "I'll only eat one cookie." But, it almost never happens that way. Why is that? Why do I put everyone else ahead of me?

I want to like to exercise more than I do. I have just recently reached the stage where I feel guilty if I miss a day or 2. (It was torture not to be able to get outside and walk for those 4 days of non-stop rain we had last week.) But, 4 hours a week isn't enough. I know that. I can see that those hours are not burning enough calories to make the differences that I want to see.

So what is the next step? Where do I start? Well, I've made a deal with myself. I will do something every single day. Every day. If I can't get out and walk/jog for an hour, I will get on the elliptical trainer, or the WiiFit, or go to the park and walk the track, or something - something. I will do it. Seven days a week. For at least 30 minutes. I will make it a part of my life, just like showering, or eating dinner, or washing the dishes. Why shouldn't I? My best friend told me years ago that I deserve 30 minutes a day for me, but I have never used those 30 minutes as wisely as I could have or should have.

For those friends, family, and readers out there. Say a prayer for me. Make me accountable for it. Tell me that I deserve to do these things for me, that I have to do these things for me. It's not too late to make this journey, but I won't be able to do it alone.

This is officially my resolution for 2009. And I mean every word of it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pictures from the last few weeks...

December is here! And of course it's busy, as I'm sure it is for all of you. We've been decorating, shopping, and just trying to enjoy the season. Partner that with ballet lessons, DEFY, Polynesian Club, IBM, exercise, and daily life, and you have one busy family!

So, I have some fun pictures that I've been meaning to post and haven't had a moment to until today. Enjoy!

Halloween 2008
Abby is Sleeping Beauty, Alissa is a "gangster"
(Alex was with friends and wasn't available for the pic...)
Add Image

Thanksgiving 2008 - Hickam AFB Beach
Alissa, Alex and Abby

Alex and Tyron looking at tiny crabs in the water
Those crabs were fascinating!
All of our friends wanted to take a look... Alex, Jay and Abby - Thanksgiving Dinner at Hickam Beach
Kids at the beach on Thanksgiving:
Nicole and Levi at our front door a couple of nights ago
- Levi didn't want to go home for dinner...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I almost never blog about this. Or talk about it, for that matter. But, someone once told me that writing things down helps. Let's see...

For some reason, I was given the independent gene. I don't know where it came from, but I have always been ok with:
  • being in charge of a situation
  • eating alone in a public place (what's the big deal?)
  • managing things at home
  • being the only grown up in the house for periods of time

OK, that last one I don't really love, but I do it. In 1994, I made a promise when I married Jon. To some, the promises mean love, honor, partnership, and togetherness. Because of Jon's line of work, our promises also included long stretches of time apart, 'single' parenting, and lots of extra work to keep our marriage tight. I promised to handle the hard times that Army life would bring, and I promised to be the boss at home so he could be the boss at work.

Well, you would think that after 14 years of marriage that I would be good at these separations. I'd like to say that I am, but I am human, too. I miss having him here. Even though we don't have a lot of time together - the Army demands a lot of Jon's time - I miss the sound of that motorcycle pulling into the driveway. I miss the 5 times (or more) every day that the phone rings, even though most of those calls from him are only a minute or less. I miss his presence. When he's not here, things function, but they don't. There is a certain silence at bedtime, when my room is missing another grown up and the TV is not tuned to Sci-fi :0) There is a strangeness at dinner, when the kids eat more ramen than they should and we're not wondering "When is Dad going to walk through the door?" I have a lot of trouble sleeping when he's not here - I leave the TV or the bathroom light on for company. (Friday night I woke up and cleaned up the toys in the backyard at 12:30 am because I couldn't sleep.)

So, today I am missing my other half. It's only been a few days since I talked to him, but sometimes those days feel like weeks. "Normal" families take for granted that their dads are home for dinner everynight, and don't have to go on month-long business trips (with little or no communication back home). They never worry about who will repair the lawn mower or figure out why the ceiling fan is a little more wobbly than it should be. They get the man of the house to do those things. When the man of our house is gone, we find solutions to those problems. (Now that Alissa is older, she is a tremendous help when she wants to be.) But, there is no substitute for the real thing.

So, in a nutshell, I am missing Jon terribly today. And, he doesn't return for over 21 days. I don't think he ever reads this blog, so I will have to tell him these same things when he calls again. Until then, I will miss him silently but press on, knowing that the world doesn't stop just because I am feeling a little lonely here in the eerily quiet house. Soon the girls will be home and I will forget what the quiet house sounded like just moments before...

There, that does feel better! Now if only he would call...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Ran!!!

Ok, I did something today. Something I thought I couldn't do. Something I never imagined I would ever do.

Wait for it.....


Ok, I'm sure you're either thinking "So what?" or "What's the big deal?" Hang on while I briefly catch you up.

If you've met me, or ever spent time with me, you know that I am NOT a runner. Never have been. Ever. Did I mention that I am, at best, a sporadic exerciser? Well, until we moved here to Hawaii.

I have been on my elliptical machine quite a bit in the last 6 months. But, I got bored from it and I was afraid that I would lose the momentum I'd gained - "working out" 3 or 4 days a week. It felt good, and it is a great stress relief, and boy did I feel accomplished that I could stay on that thing for 45 minutes at a stretch without dying. I even took pictures of the control screens to prove that I had done it!

I decided, after talking to my neighbor, to give walking in the nearby neighborhoods a try. Why not? It's sunny almost all the time, and warm, and there are always TONS of people walking, no matter what time of day. So, about a month ago I did. I just started walking. It started with a mile. About all I could do. Then, before I knew it, I was up to 4 miles a stretch! (To those who are not impressed, believe me - it is worth screaming from the rooftops to me.) I've been doing this about 3-4 days a week.

But this week I decided that I was ready to add - gasp - jogging! Well, to me, jogging is just walking a bit faster. But, I did it. Walk, jog, walk, jog. And I felt good. Really, really good.

And today I took it even a step further. I RAN! I mean really ran. Not sissy running, not fast walking. (OK, not sprinting, though, either.) Running. And for half-mile stretches!

HALF Mile stretches.
And it didn't kill me.

For those of you still not impressed - did I mention that I have never been a runner in my life? Ever?

Being active on a regular basis is - dare I say it - Fun! And, sometimes it's the only time that I leave the house all day (besides school carpool).

And today was pure euphoria. I am crying as I write this because I have done something that I thought was impossible. Something I never thought I would ever even try. And not only did I try it, but I did it. And I think I'll do it again tomorrow.

I did it!
What a blessed day!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008


So, I've been hearing all day about the snow in Ohio. Family, friends, blogs - they all speak of a beautiful snowfall that occurred today. And, here in Hawaii it's 80s and off-again, on-again rain.

Living amidst Paradise, where you can swim in the ocean on New Year's Eve (and it's not a Polar Bear Club swim), do I miss the snow?

. . . . .yes, I do.

Can you believe it? The kids miss it, too. They have been talking about it for the last 2 weeks. "Mom, is it winter here too, or just in Ohio?". "Mom, what will Christmas be like with no snow?".

All my life I have associated winter with snow. I mean, I lived in Ohio until I was 24. In Ohio, there was (and is) a lot of snow in the winter. I remember bundling up so tight and full that I could barely move. Sledding in the schoolyard behind the house. Laughing and making snow angels when school was canceled for the day (or days).

Here in Hawaii, the seasons move - from summer to fall, and fall to winter. Just like everywhere else. But, there are no real weather patterns to mark the changes in the calendar. We don't even have Daylight Savings Time. (Well, November has been a rainy month, and I'm told that last November was the same way. Maybe that's the "sign" that winter is coming.)

Am I obsessed with the Christmas-but-no-snow thing? Maybe a little. Will it ruin our holiday? Most definitely not. One thing I have learned in all these military-related travels, is that you go with the flow.

So, our snow this year is replaced with sand from Bellows Beach. Our winter coats are replaced with bathing suits, and our turkey dinner might just be turkey sandwiches (or hotdogs on the grill)! Our family celebrations will not physically be with our loved ones, but with our new neighbor friends - our Hawaii Ohana. The cards will come, with warm wishes from Home, and those we love and long to be with.

And, despite missing our families, I am really looking forward to putting up the tree and filling the house with the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas. It is a time like no other.

For those of you who we usually see during the holidays, but won't this year, your are always in our hearts.

For those we haven't seen in a while, or maybe have never even met in person, I hope that this coming holiday season (starting in just a few days!), brings you joy, happiness, love, and togetherness. As you open your gifts and marvel over the new iPod, earrings, or great clothes under the tree, remember the true meaning of Christmas. Remember those who are in your hearts but far from home.

Remember those sacrificing in countries far away, giving their time, their family life, and sometimes their own lives, for our freedoms. For them, a card, a letter, a small box, might just make their day. Their week. Their year. It might make them feel that their sacrifice is worth it.

Visit http://www.anysolider.com/ and find a serviceman/servicewoman to greet this holiday season. Trust me, it means more than just a card and a stamp. It brings hope, faith, and renewed spirit.

Those things mean much, much more than a new iPod, earrings, or clothes under the tree.

Happy Holidays ALL!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The End of the Road...

Jon and I have been trying to resurrect "Date Night". Anyone with kids knows that you need to try to carve out couple time whenever you can. (Don't worry, this is a G-rated blog...) Since Alissa is old enough to babysit and Red Cross certified, we have a great resource when we need someone to watch Alex and Abby so we can have "Date Night".

So, this past Saturday, we got our Harley Davidson gear out of the garage, boarded the bike and off we went. We just rode. One of the great things about O'ahu is that there are so many roads that are scenic and beautiful, and there is no pastime that pleases Jon more than riding the motorcycle.

After about 80 miles of driving, we stopped to have dinner at a great Mexican cantina on the North Shore. Then, we went to the "end of the road".

Literally. The road just...stops.

There are boulders stacked up to let folks know that you can't go any further. Actually, you can hoof it for another 3 miles to the site of a beautiful and mystical ancient Hawaiian legend involving souls and sacrifice. (We opted not to make the trek on this particular night since we had only the moonlight to guide us.)

So, we parked the bike, took off our gear, and walked approximately 50 steps to the beach. There was truly no one around but the 2 of us, a couple of night fisherman down the beach, and the moon. We took our blanket, laid it on the beach, and sat there for about 20 miutes, listening to the ocean and looking at the amazing night sky, full of bright stars. There was no city light to blind us, no car engines blocking the ocean's beautiful melody.

It was an amazing date.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Have you seen The Office?

Yes, I am a little behind the curve. This TV show came out over 3 years ago. (Currently they're airing season 5 on NBC, Thursdays, 8:30 CST.) A friend here in Hawaii loaned me the DVDs from seasons 1-4 because she couldn't believe I hadn't seen them. I was so sucked in that I watched them all over the course of a week. (Yes, I don't think much else got done that week...)

This show is super funny. The premise is a small branch of a paper-company in Pennsylvania and the antics that go on there during (and after) business hours. These folks work in cubicles and answer phones and work on their computers, but with comedy. To me it is extra funny because, until 2005 when I started working from home, I had been a cubicle rat many, many times before. Some of the things they do - office pranks, team-building exercises, "ethics" training, birthday parties - are especially funny because they are so true to life. Everyone who works in cubicle-land knows there's one of these in every office: the know-it-all, the tattletale/boss's pet, the prankster, the cute guy, and the flirt. I know that the last job I had before I started working at home was the best job I'd ever had until that point, because we had all of these people in our office. The comedy on the show can be much more exaggerated, though (no one would really have chilled someone else's stapler in Jell-o, or filled their phone handset with nickels, or moved their desk into the men's room), but it is the thought that it could happen that is so funny.

I am going to ask Santa for these DVDs for Christmas because, even though I am caught up on all the episodes, I want to watch them over and over again. Even if you have never worked in a cubicle (or any office, for that matter), you can appreciate some of the things that happen on this show.

It has become my new favorite TV program. (Well, at least until LOST comes back in January. ..)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Random thoughts....

It's amazing to me, today is October 27. Where did 2008 go?

Almost a year ago, we packed up our lives and moved them across the ocean. Now we've been in Hawaii for 10 months. I remember first moving here, thinking I would never figure out the roads here (very confusing), I would never make friends (living off post, and being nervous about not fitting in here), that it would be ages before Abby would be in school and I would be home alone (although working) everyday.

Wow, did time fly over the last 10 months!

My mom always says that after July 4, the rest of the year flies by. She is correct, and every year that gap between Independence Day and December 31 seems to shrink a little more. And this year will mark the first time since 1999 that we've had a Thanksgiving and Christmas without our extended families, so those holidays will be bittersweet. It's just too expensive to go home this year.

Jon won't be here for Thanksgiving this year - he'll be away on Army business. The kids and I have kicked around some ideas for celebrating. I know it's selfish, but I am not really into cooking a turkey for just the 4 of us. It hardly seems worth it. Instead, we're considering starting a new tradition - turkey sandwiches on the beach! (Well, this tradition will only really work while we're living here, but what a memory for the kids to carry with them. "Mom, remember that Thanksgiving that we sat on the beach, eating turkey sandwiches in our bathingsuits and laughing?") I think it's a great idea.

The kids' school year is almost half over. Unbelievable. I can't understand where the time goes.

The beautiful holiday season starts soon. It is my favorite time of year. Some things worry me, though:

1. What will Christmas be like without the drive to Ohio and the snow? (We equate Christmas with the drive home to Ohio, and there is always snow!)
2. We haven't been this far from home in many years. I know we won't be forgotten, but we won't be there physically. It's a concern to me. (Shouldn't be, but it is.)

My friends here feel it too in their own ways - we've planned Christmas cookie parties, spending holiday time together, putting up Christmas lights...No one will be lonely. But, there is something to be said for hot chocolate around the fire and staying up late on Christmas vacation, telling stories and seeing folks you haven't seen in a few months (or longer)...

I told you these were random thoughts! (Probably shouldn't have had that afternoon nap today, it messed up my sleep pattern...)

Take care, all of you. Stay in touch!!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

One more day until HSM3...

So, if you have kids over the age of 2, you have heard of the Disney phenomenon that is High School Musical. HSM3, as it is better known, makes its way to theaters tomorrow. Now, if you are a kid, I can certainly understand your excitement and joy over this impending closure of the original HSM trilogy. But, what about those grown-ups who are as excited, or maybe more (count me in that category...)

Well, according to acutal news articles that I found on http://www.msnbc.com/, "...it's OK to be an adult and be excited about this movie." (see article here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27286351/)

Many may wonder why adults are drawn to the movie, after all - it's about high school! (I was in high school 19 years ago...) I can only tell you my experience:

When the original HSM came to Disney Channel in 2006, I personally was already ready for the movie to be over already. Disney Channel hyped that crazy movie to death! I was sick of all of the songs and Sharpay's crazy behavior and clapping even before the first viewing. But then something happened: I watched the movie with my 3 girls (ages at the time were 11, 7, and 2). We were all mesmerized. I mean, it was just a movie, it wasn't even meant to be the "event" that it became, but it made a mark in our family. I actually saw myself as the "smart girl" trying to fit in all those years ago. The music was catchy, and I was actually glad that the leads didn't kiss at all in that movie. It wasn't necessary. We all got the message that Disney intended, without any teenage romantic gratuity. Alissa and I actually talked about another aspect of HSM (1) the other day - that Gabriella moved to a new school in 11th grade, worried that she wouldn't fit in, and she found that she didn't need to worry about that at all. (P.S. This worries Alissa because she could be "the new kid" as an 11th grader, but somehow knowing that Gabriella's experience turned out Ok comforted her a little.)

Well, fast forward a year and a half, to the necessary sequel: HSM2. Everyone wanted, no, needed, to know what happened to these kids after the first installment. People threw HSM2 parties (we actually went to one!) and, in my opinion, that movie was even better. My kids didn't realize the message they were subliminally receiving - that its OK to be different, and you should embrace that. And, you shouldn't change who you are - be true to yourself and everything will be OK. They just liked the music and the cool dances and the Humuhumunuknukapua'a deleted scene. But, they absorbed the themes in the movie as they watched (over and over), memorizing the lyrics. We listened to those songs on our iPods, and in the car. Even Abby, so young at the time, was entranced.

Yes, I got tired of both of those movies, especially after repeated viewings, but we still pop them in regularly and sing along. Even me.

Almost as soon as HSM2 aired, there were talks of a 3rd installment. The kids and I devoured every morsel of information we could get about it. Now, it's here. And I find myself more excited for this one than the last 2. I don't really think this movie will top the other 2. I've heard the music, and I'm not blown away. But it's the recurring theme that Disney presents that I am so impressed with - be yourself, it's OK. And this movie brings at least one new message, as far as I can tell from the snipits that I've seen:

This is the time to remember. While you're a kid, take time to be a kid. (As a 37 year-old, I am lucky that I can look back at my teenager years fondly.) Those really are times that you want to remember. Make some memories and treasure them.

So, I can't wait to see this movie. (Yes, part of it is that cutie Zac Efron - I know, I'm almost old enough to be his mother!) But, I know that there will be more than music and dancing and maybe a kiss at the end. There will be the magic that is Disney - a message that the kids will receive from these young adults. And, maybe the music will grow on me....

Our tickets wait in my wallet (bought 2 weeks ago!) as my friend and I talk about how excited we are to see this movie with our kids tomorrow (we are both grown-ups with kids), and we laugh at how silly it must sound to others (especially our husbands, both of whom have no desire to even be near the theater that plays HSM.) But, you are never too old to be captured by a movie, especially one that brings such a warm, beautiful message.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Best Friend

A wonderful thing happened to me today - I got the chance to talk to my best girl friend in the world. I don't even know if she knows this, but she's my best friend.

Christina, or Chris, as I call her.

Most people take advantage of having a best friend, one who probably lives down the street and can come by for coffee anytime, babysit each other's kids, take neighborhood walks. Their version of a best friend is not the same as mine, but in my opinion I have the best kind. Read on...

Being married to a soldier, you don't get to choose when and where you move (unless you are really lucky). Sometimes you move very far away, and each time you adopt a new "home", you have to start over - new home, new neighborhood, new friends. I didn't realize how Germany would change me. Not just seeing the sights and learning the language, but meeting someone who holds a very large, dear spot in my heart.

We met ten years ago, in Germany. We were both new to the country, new to living overseas as military wives. I remember the day we met as if it was yesterday. On a cold winter day in early 1999, I met Chris and her husband walking near the post library. I marveled at her beauty, she had the most beautiful curly hair, and the biggest smile I'd ever seen. She was tall and so very friendly, and I think she even hugged me that day.

Chris and her family came to Schweinfurt just a couple of months after us (maybe it wasn't even that long...) I remember saying to Jon the day that I met her, "We should have them over for dinner, welcome them into the building." It is worth noting, as an aside, that we'd moved to Germany a week before Christmas, 1998, and another military family in our building invited us to Christmas dinner. It was an act of kindness that Jon and I have never forgotten, and we have continued the tradition of having new military friends over for dinner as often as we possibly can. They may not know it, but Chris and Anthony were our very first guests in that tradition.

We lived in Army housing in Germany - a trio of brightly-colored apartment buildings. For almost three years, she and I lived in the "blue building". Everyone in town knew what we meant. And, for almost three years, she and I created a wonderful friendship. We were there for each other - laughing, getting through the rough spots, worrying about our soldiers together, and trying to live through the adventure that was life in Germany. We sat in each other's bedrooms in our pajamas, laughing and talking like teenagers. We weathered a storm together, and after some turbulence, came out safely on the other side. I was ready to move when it was time to leave, but there was one reason I wanted to stay - Chris.

Over the last 7 1/2 years, since my family left Germany, she and I have not once had coffee, or babysat each other's kids, or taken a neighborhood walk. In fact, I have not seen her since July 2001, and we don't really get to talk to each other much at all - maybe 3 or 4 phone calls a year.

But, when we do talk, we pick up the conversation like we'd just talked 5 minutes ago. Not a moment has passed. We giggle like schoolgirls, laughing about our everyday adventures and the sounds of each other's one-liners. It is a beautiful blessing to have that with someone. Those of you who know me know that I have been burned by "friends" in the past, and have a very hard time making new friends that I can let into my world. Chris is a rare exception to that rule. She is the real deal.

Though we haven't seen each other in a long, long time, Chris is in my thoughts every single day. We have pictures of each other's families displayed proudly. I long to talk to her all the time, but the time zone difference (and life in general) often keeps that from happening. I wonder about her everyday - is she OK? What's she doing right now?

Today was a blessed day, because I got to spend some (phone) time with my best friend. I cried when we ended our call, but only a few of my tears were from sadness (at the thought that she's so far away.) Most of the tears were tears of thanks - that she is still in my life, and that we are still as close as sisters.

Thank you, Chris. I love you very,very much. (Let's get together in 2o09 - what are we waiting for?)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Still here but been away from the blog...

We're still around, haven't been able to blog much in the last week or so. I've been covering my teammate's accounts while he's out of the office (on a Hawaiian cruise!) and have put in a lot of extra hours "at work".

Not a lot of new items to report, although we did host our first dinner party at the new house this weekend. (When I say dinner party, I mean hamburgers and salads and everyone in shorts and tank tops.) It was such a nice evening! I love, love, love having people here. Not that I don't love my own kids and husband, but there is something about opening your home to friends and laughing and having a good time.

One thing I was really worried about when we found out we were moving down the street was that we would lose our close contact with our neighbors, Jay & Lucie and Graham & Nicole. Boy, was I wrong. We probably actually see them more now than we did before. (And I am very glad about that!) When you are "overseas", like the Army considers us, the people you meet on your journey - your friends and neighbors - really become your "family". And they have. These people mean everything to us. And, we've been blessed to have new families move in too, joining us in this Hawaiian adventure.

So, Saturday the girls and I were really excited to have folks over. (Jon is away right now.) We had such fun - the dads and the boys hung out in the living room with Alex and Abby, and the moms and Alissa hung out around the kitchen table. It was good to laugh like that. There is something about laughing so hard that your stomach hurts. Nicole is a great storyteller! The people we've met here have truly changed what our Hawaii experience has become, and what it will continue to bring us.

On another note, the "old" house went to auction last Friday. We saw the old owners come by a few days before (they didn't see us, it was dark and we were sitting in Jay's driveway hanging out). They went in, turned on all the lights one by one, then turned them off, came out, and left. It was weird. I think they were taking one last look - either for sentimentality, or to see if they could take anything from the house before it goes back to the bank.

So far no one has moved in, so it sits empty. When I go to the park to walk the track, there is a section of track that forces you to look the direction of that house. So, every time I walk one lap on the track - fifteen times a day (or more if you count driving by in the car) - I look at that house. It forces me to think about it, and feel the emotions that go with it. My mom kept saying that she was waiting for me to get mad about the whole situation. I don't think I ever did - I went through sadness, numbness, and then just moved on.

We're fully moved into the new place, and it has become "home", at least for the next couple of years. After that, who knows...

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, October 3, 2008

A couple more pictures from Diamond Head...

For Tyron - you're on a website! You were so much faster than me that day that this is the only photo I have of you (besides the one of all of us.) Next time I will have to walk much faster!!

And a photo of all 17 of us, taken by a very nice and patient tourist after we'd finished our trek to the top and back down (thanks Nicole!):

Thursday, October 2, 2008

We climbed Diamond Head!

The date: September 27,2008

We climbed Diamond Head! It is a volcanic crater on the island of O'ahu - widely regarded as the most famous volcanic crater in the world. And, it was hard work. (Well, at least for me it was.) According to http://www.hawaiiweb.com/, the name "DiamondHead" was given to the crater by British sailors in the 1800's. When they first saw the crater at a great distance, the calcite crystals in the lava rock appeared to glimmer in the sunlight. The sailors mistakenly thought there must be diamonds in the soil.

The calcite crystals have dulled (or disappeared) since then, but the crater itself is still insanely beautiful. When my mom was here a few weeks ago, we drove out to DiamondHead, but didn't make the trek to the top. (I think I'll get her up there next time, though.) I definitely call it a "must-do" if/when you ever come to O'ahu. (You can even get a certificate at the top (for $2), and a t-shirt at the flea market that shows your success.)

Some interesting facts about Diamond Head:
*The crater is 3,520 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit.
When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, harbor defense became a main responsibility. One of the major defense forts, Fort Ruger, occupied the Diamond Head Crater. A battery of canons was located within the crater providing complete concealment and protection from invading enemies.
An observation deck was constructed at the summit in 1910 to provide target sighting and a four level underground complex was built within the walls of the crater as a command post.
A 580-foot tunnel was dug through the crater wall to provide easier access to the Fort.
There are two sets of stairs, one with 99 steps and the other, 76 steps. There is also a 225-foot unlit tunnel. (OK, well it is slightly lit, there is track lighting along the bottom edge.) That may not sound like a lot, but those 99 steps are straight uphill! The kids did great - no complaining, no skinned knees, plenty of singing and laughing.

There were 17 of us who climbed the crater that day. Seventeen friends - 10 adults, 1 teenager and 6 kids under 10. It took us about 2 1/2 hours, counting the time we spent at the top - taking photographs, holding each other's kids, drinking in the beautiful view of the entire south coast of O'ahu. It was a magical experience - not because we saw the amazing views, or made it to the top of that crater without any injuries, but because we did it together. We made an amazing memory that day, with our Hawaii Family.

Thank you my friends - Jay, Lucie, Tania, Jon, Sonya, Ken, Nicole, Graham, Jon, Alissa, Alex, Abby, Claire, Jonathan, Tyron, and Levi. It was most definitely a day I will never forget.

Now for the photographs! (Well, these are just a few. I will put the rest into a slide show and post them later this weekend.)

All the girls: (clockwise) Nicole, Lucie, Tiffany, Sonya, Alissa, Tania,
Alex, Claire and Abby

Graham and Levi climbing those crazy 99 stairs!

Jon and Levi at the top in the lookout

Claire and Abby

An amazing view of the southeast shore (taken from the top of the crater)

Honolulu and Waikiki -taken from the top of Diamond Head

Monday, September 29, 2008

Alissa is 14!

Alissa, Happy Birthday!

A letter to my teenage daughter on her birthday:

I thought I would take a moment to remember your special day. The day you joined my life seems like yesterday. I was so afraid! And excited! Grandma Sue drove me to the hospital at about 12:30 am on the 29th. (Daddy was away in Army school.) We were excited and nervous and I had no idea how my life was about to change.

After 15 1/2 hours, you finally arrived (while - your favorite part of the story - "Full House" was playing on TV in the background.) You were so much smaller than I expected, 6 pounds 9 ounces. But so, so incredibly beautfiul. I was blessed in that very moment. The moment we met. I had no idea how much one person could love another, until the moment our eyes met. You changed me. You gave my life a whole new purpose.

The Army let Daddy fly home to see us so he could meet you. It was a wonderful day. We were young parents and we were learning as we went along, but I think you survived most of our mistakes! :-)

You and I spent a lot of time together, just the 2 of us, for those first 3 1/2 years. Dad was gone a lot and it was you and me. You were (and are) such a great kid. Every moment was wonderful, even the not-so-easy ones.

Over the years you have grown into such a beautiful, confident, funny, charismatic, compassionate young lady. You have a heart of gold, and a laugh that drives me insane (because I can't avoid laughing along, even when I'm trying to be serious with you.) We have so many wonderful memories from the last 14 years, and I know that there are decades more to come.

I know it's hard being the oldest (been there, done that). I know we expect a lot from you, and every parenting decision we make gets tested on you first. I am sorry for that. And I know being in an Army family, your life is different than the life you may have chosen for yourself - moving all the time, starting over at every turn. But know that this life you have is meant for you. There's a wonderful plan for you and your life, and it includes all of the moments you've already been through, and all of the moments that you haven't yet experienced. When life feels difficult, keep your head up. You are so confident and you never let the bad moments bring you down for too long. (Oh, if only I'd had that mindset as a teenager!) When life is wonderful, drink in every minute and make it yours.

On this day, I wish you the happiest birthday yet! I hope for a day filled with laughter, memories, and much love. (Not to mention dinner tonight and the pretty cake you chose!)

Happy 14 birthday, Alissa. I love you more than anything in this world.

Have an untoppable day!

(Oh, and thanks for sitting on my lap like a little kid last night while we watched "Extreme Makeover Home Edition". What a nice, quiet bonding time we had, until I stupidly tickled you and we spilled soda all over the floor. Guess that will go into the story bank of funny stories we'll share later in life, right?)

Love You! Mom

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Bradlee!

Happy 8th Birthday to Bradlee Michael. I can't believe you're 8 years old!!

Jon, the girls and I wish you the happiest 8th birthday you could possibly have.

We love you and miss you.

Have a WONDERFUL day!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

September is almost over...

I can't believe it, September 2008 is almost over. What that means for me is, in 6 days my oldest child will turn 14. To some, that may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is HUGE. She is growing faster than I am ready for. She comes home from school, talking about her day and it seems to me that just yesterday I was talking about those same things - which boy I liked, hanging out with my friends at lunchtime. Could it be that 23 years have passed since I was a freshman like her? Could it be that it was so long ago that I was laughing with my friends, thinking like I'm sure she does, that my mom could not possibly know what it was like to be in my shoes, a teenage girl? Most days, even when I'm not having a great day, I still feel like a youngster myself. OK, maybe not a youngster. But definitely a young adult. I still dance and laugh and run and play. To me it is impossible to believe that I am the mother of an almost-14 year old child.

Wait, she isn't really a child. I mean, she can't vote, she can't drive, she can't buy a car. But, she is so grown, so mature, so strong. She is so beautiful, so smiley, even in the midst of her first major breakup. She has a laugh that makes you laugh with her. As hard as you try, you can't avoid it. It's infectious! She is tall and lean and so grown. I can't believe that 14 years ago she wasn't here with me - instead, it is as if she has been with me all my life. Sort of like she's always been in my heart, waiting for the right time to join us in the living world.

They say that when you have a child, it is like having your heart walking around outside your body. I always thought that was a strange statement, until Alissa became a teenager. She does so much more without me these days, and although I am happy for her and I'm glad she has many friends, part of me longs for the days when she would sit on my lap and rest her head on my shoulder. Sometimes I secretly wish she would sit with me and just be there, the two of us, like the old days. (When she does, however, it is very funny. She sits on my lap, this child that is as tall as me, and hugs me tight.) It is funny and sentimental and wonderful, and we laugh for all those reasons. She doesn't realize what those moments give me - a small piece of "what used to be", when she was small - a reminder that no matter how she grows or where she lives, we will always be mother and daughter.

I am scared for the day, not too long from now, when I will watch her pack her things and go out into the world. I worry for the day when I will take her to college, help her unpack, and then have to leave her there. It is so hard for me to imagine that someday soon, she will be on her own and not need me everyday anymore. I know what you're thinking, "She's your child. She will always need you." But it won't be the same.

My beautiful Alissa, I love you so much. I hope that when you are on your own and not under my roof, that you will still need me and want me around. I pray that we will always be close, and always have this special relationship. I know you don't understand it now, how I feel and how scared I am for you to grow. Not because you aren't ready, but because I'm not ready.

Until then, even on the days when we aren't getting along, I will cherish every moment with you. I will remember these days so that we can talk about them later. "Mom, remember when...?" Those are some of my favorite times with my own mom, and I vow to keep our memories safe and secure. You (and your sisters) mean everything to me. I am blessed and proud to be a part of your life. As "our" song says, "these are the sweetest days we'll know."

I love you!

Friday, September 19, 2008

We've moved!! (successfully)

The move is complete. We're in the new house, and all but about 20 boxes of stuff are put away. This has been easily the smoothest move we've ever done. Yes, the house still has some clutter, but it will always be that way. My husband is allergic to cleaning up after himself, and his habit has worn off onto 2 of the kids. And, Alex is a packrat. She keeps EVERYTHING!! Every couple of months I have to do a purge just to get rid of all the excess.

We're free and clear of the old place - we turned in the keys on Monday and got our entire deposit back without any fuss at all. The house will sit empty until at least October 10, when it is set for auction.

Anyway, the move was smooth. About 90% of the house was moved on Saturday (the remainder was moved over Sunday and Monday). We have some awesome friends. They knocked it out of the park for us. My muscles were sore for 3 days! We were running on pure adrenaline only. The whole day is a blur. But, we are moved, thank goodness. The new house looks smaller from the outside, but inside it is laid out very well. And, the layout makes more sense. There's a 5th bedroom, so there is clutter in there right now (and truthfully, there probably will be until the next time we have a visitor). So far the house is mostly put together and we just have to sort through the garage and that 5th bedroom. Jon and I have both said that this house will work better for us. Though there is less storage (i.e. closets), there is also much less "dead" space. I hope to have some pics up next week.

I have to admit, it is a little hard driving by the old house everyday (which is unavoidable). But, it isn't as hard as I imagined. I suppose that when/if the house is sold and new folks move in it will be tough to see someone else coming out the front door. Not necessarily because I was in love with the house, but because of the circumstances that forced us to move so quickly. But, I am truly happy in the new place. As I told my friend just a few minutes ago, it feels like "home". The old house never felt that way to me, in the entire 8 months that we lived there.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers. We're doing great now.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Krysti!

On this day, 16 years ago, a wonderful child was born. Christine Marie Dubler. She is a gift from God, a girl who is kind and loving and has an infectious laugh!

She is sweet 16 today. I can't believe how fast you've grown!

The world is your oyster. Embrace your birthday today and make it the best yet!

We love you and miss you, wish we could be there to hug you in person.

Have a wonderful, fantastic day!

Love you!

September 11 Remembered

I know everyone will be blogging and talking about this, so I thought I would also look back to see where I was on that horrible day...

Seven years ago, has it been that long? I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was at work, my second week at a new job. We were in a meeting, using a computer hooked to a projector. One of my team members came in late, and said he'd heard on the car radio that a plane had crashed in New York City and that they were talking about it all over the news.

Our meeting quickly ended, and we turned the projector screen to CNN.com. By then the second plane had hit, and everyone was in disbelief. My husband, a solider in the US Army, was supposed to be travelling that day. (I can't remember where.) He was calling and calling, frantically trying to get a hold of me to let me know he was OK and his travel plans were canceled. Then work released us, to go home and be with families. To try and digest what was happening and why. Why would someone do this? Was it planned?

I remember picking up my kids from school and daycare - many, many people left work as soon as they were allowed, so they could go get their kids and hold them close. Alissa was in the 2nd grade. There was no way to explain to her what was happening, but I knew I had to find something to say to her. Unfortunately, once your child is in school it becomes harder and harder to shelter them from the outside world. I don't remember what I told her, except that something bad had happened - two planes had crashed and people were hurt, and the schools said it was OK for us to come get our kids and be with them early today. (I didn't know about the plane at the Pentagon or in PA at that time.)

We were staying with my parents and my grandma, because we'd just moved back to the US from Europe about 6 weeks before, and hadn't closed on our own house yet. I went home to their house, and my grandma was outside. We turned on the TV to get more information, and the TV stayed on for about 2 weeks. I couldn't stop watching it. I don't know why, to this day, the events of September 11 mesmerize and capture me. I watched every bit of news about that day that I could for the entire month after it happened. I didn't know anyone personally affected by this tragedy, but at the same time we were all personally affected. It changed the US in many ways.

What those evil people behind the tragedy didn't realize was that, just like the tragic events of Pearl Harbor 60 years before, this unspeakable event brought our country together. Even 7 years later, we are still a unified, patriotic nation, rallying behind the troops and showing our love for our country. It changed some of the ways we do things (more airport security, more travel restrictions...), but it also made us all realize what a great country we live in.

One thing I never understood about that fateful day, though - why did the folks who lost their lives at the Pentagon get so much less attention than those who died in New York or PA? The Pentagon quietly buried their dead, and rebuilt their structure, even unveiling a new memorial to those we lost (the memorial is being dedicated today). Why were those heroes given less attention than the civilians in the World Trade Center towers? Why don't we hear about their heroism (unless you live in the military community and read the military newspapers/magazines). Their lives were no less precious, and their sacrifice was no less honorable and no less tragic.

Visit the Pentagon Memorial website at http://memorial.pentagon.mil.

Today, take a moment to remember those who lost their lives on that terrible day seven years ago. All of them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Maybe some good news, but I am still worried...

Thanks to those of you who have contacted us with words of wisdom, or the promise of a prayer. I know that things could be much worse (after all, I am not personally involved in the foreclosure, and I don't own this house - all I have to do is move, albeit against my will and without much notice.) I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is probably not the end of the world. But, it sucks while we're living it. We weren't planning to move, and we don't necessarily want to move. But, it is what it is. And:

Looks like we can move into the new house on September 13. We signed a new lease last night. I am working to get everything switched over (address changes, cable, phone, etc.), and REMAX has promised me that they will do the walk-through of this house on 9/13 or 14 and bring me my deposit check (so that I can give that deposit to the new landlord.) They are trying to be helpful, I guess. But, I still hate the situation.

My awesome neighbor Jay already has the troops rallied to help us move, and he has a plan in place to get it all done over that weekend. So, maybe the nightmare is almost resolved.

But, as many of you know, I am a constant worrier. I worry about absolutely everything - even things that are not important enough to even justify a worry! Jon is always the voice of calm, the voice of "everything will be fine in the end". He is almost always right. I, however, make up things to worry about. OK, well, most of the things I worry about are legitimate, but not necessarily stuff that everyone else worries about. For example: "Where will we be living in 5 years?", "What kind of house will we move to when we retire and settle down?" Those things are years down the road, yet they are things that I am always thinking about. Jon says that it is too early to worry about those things. But, I have just always been that way. My mind is always racing, thinking about things and trying to process it all. It seems like I can never just relax and go with the flow. I am just always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's like I have let myself believe that this bad stuff is just destined to happen to me, so I might as well prepare for it.

It's not healthy, I know. And, it can make me ill. But, it is the way that God made me. I try to worry less, but I do not believe that it is in my DNA.

So, we're moving next weekend. Everything seems to be falling into place for it. But, your continued prayers are still very much welcomed. Yes, it could be worse. But, until we are settled and out of this house and away from this drama and REMAX has given us everything that is due to us, I will not be able to rest easy.

If you could just continue to ask God to help me get out of this situation and move on with as little pain and red tape and drama as possible, we would really appreciate it.

Thanks everyone!


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Can things get worse?

Say a prayer for me, please. I can't write it all down now, because I have made myself almost sick from it.

Basically, we have to move. We're not leaving Hawaii, in fact we aren't even leaving the street (at least we're trying not to). But, the house we live in now has gone into foreclosure. Apparently the morons who own it have been using the rent money to pay the mortgage on the house that they live in, in order to save their own house. So, this house is being auctioned off. October 10. Yep, that's right. 40 days from now. Luckily for us, I think we've found a place, right down the street, that we can move to before the month is out, and get out of this nightmare that is neither our fault or in our control. However, we've been sucked into it.

The new house is a little smaller, with a smaller yard, but there's a 5th bedroom. We got a chance to see it over the weekend and measure, and all of our stuff will fit fine. I think it will work out OK, but after the crappy time we've had in Hawaii so far, I can use all the good karma that I can get. I wish that we could just move. Leave this stupid island. I hate it here.

Maybe after September, when we're moved and we can forget that this happened, things will get better. But for now, I hate it here. Hawaii is sunny and warm and the ocean is all around, but other than that it has not been nice to us. It's a weird place with weird "rules" and crazy drivers, and no Target, and outrageous house prices. The lien on our home (the foreclosed one) is over $800k. (And the owners have owned it since 2005.) I always feel alone here, because I am white and I work at home so I never see anyone. And, the Army couldn't care less about us. We're just another military family, and since Jon isn't overseas, who cares? They don't. If your soldier is home, then everything must be fine with you. You have a problem? Too bad. You should live on post, in the 75 year old houses, and send your kids to the roughest, crappiest schools on the island. Then the Army will care about you.

If you would please, say a prayer that this current nightmare is over soon. I have always heard that God doesn't give you more than you can handle, but right now I feel that I can't take any more. Please just say a prayer that the new house works out, and soon, and that we can escape this house and the drama attached with it, and we can just get back to our life (and out of this ridiculousness.)



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Abby's first homework assignment!

OK, I am a proud parent. Abby is such a great kindergarten student. Alissa and Alex weren't this excited. And, she is writing words much sooner in the year than Alissa and Alex did. So, the schools in Hawaii are not supposed to be as great as other parts of the USA. But, Abby's class is off to a great start. Just look at her work ethic! And, she can already spell Abigail! (We taught her how to write "Abby" about a year or so ago.) When I met her teacher at orientation, she told me that she wanted all the students to know how to write their formal first names, since that's what is on their school records. I didn't give Abby enough credit - already she can write it, with all the letters in the correct order, without any help!

Look at my baby's great work:

I don't know if anyone is more excited about kindergarten than Abby is...

Her first homework assignment.
It's a picture from a story we read,
"Elmer Again", about an elephant
who is many colors and lives near the water.

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't get sick in Hawaii...

This is like any other place. I guess I assumed living somewhere where the weather was always warm and sunny that there was no way I would ever have a cough or a temperature, let alone bronchitis!

Yes, I have bronchitis. I barely got rid of the ear infections and sinus trouble (I just stopped that medicine a week ago) and now I'm taking new stuff! I don't get sick very often - I think that God has mercy on me because Jon is gone so much. He knows that there is a lot that I can manage while being a "single parent", but not my own illness. This time, Jon is out of town, but at least I am only dealing with a cough. Thank Goodness! Well, and my ears are a little angry again, but not as bad as a couple of weeks ago. When I went to the doctor last night, he said that since school has started back up that there have been a lot of folks in the office with coughs and sinus troubles and temperatures. I know that happens, but I never imagined it happened in Hawaii. I mean, I'm not stupid. I know that living here does not make one immune to illness. I guess logic just went out the window with me on this one.

At least it's me and not the kids who are sick. There is nothing that makes me feel more helpless than when one (or more) of the kids are not feeling well. It is one of my many weaknesses as a parent - I can't stand to see them ill in any way. When Alissa had all of her feet trouble all those years ago, I honestly don't know how I got through that. I guess it was sheer adrenaline - that and having family so close by.

So, besides that things are all normal. We went to Ko Olina again this past Saturday, before Jon left for his latest trip. Our great new neighbor, Nicole, went along, with her 2-year old son, Levi. (What a cutie!) They are such great people. (Her husband was away on business...) We had a great time. Nicole is braver than I am, she and Jon went snorkeling out near the rocks and they both commented on the many species of sea creatures that they saw. Me personally, I have nothing against sea life. However, when I am in the water, I prefer to remain naive and not know what's out there swimming around with me. Plus, I don't think I am a great swimmer, and I get nervous when the water gets deep. So, Jon had a snorkeling buddy for the day. A great time was had by all.

Abby and Levi

Alex and Levi

Jon, Abby, Levi and me

Nicole and Jon snorkeling

Monday, August 18, 2008

A brand new week...

Feeling better than last week!! My ear is healed, my sad mood is gone, and it's back to business.

Had a really busy weekend. Friday was Hawaii Admissions Day, celebrating the day that Hawaii became a state. (Hawaii, being the strange state that it is, has a lot of state holidays that they celebrate.) The kids and Jon were off from school and work, so I took the day off too. It wasn't a major day, but Jon and I ran some errands together and had a nice lunch with just the 2 of us. (We invited the kids to come along, but they like errands about as much as they like doing chores.)

Saturday was more running around the island - Abby's last dance class for summer. (She starts again in Pre-Ballet I in a couple of weeks...) Alex's monthly DEFY day - they went to Sea Life Park, which is sort of like Sea World but smaller and more touristy. Alex enjoyed it, though (and it was free because the Dept. of Defense pays for all of the DEFY activities.) Then we went to Costco and ran other errands. Not the most fun, but it has to be done, right?

Yesterday we went to Ko Olina. What a beautiful place. As I've mentioned before, Ko Olina is a Marriott resort community. They've carved out 4 "lagoons" and made them very family-friendly - soft sand, no rough rocks to step on in the water, no waves to speak of, and lots of places for families to sit on the beach and enjoy the day. In Hawaii all beachfront is required to be open to the public. So, you don't have to be staying there to visit the lagoons. The last time the kids and I went to Ko Olina, it was February and unusually rainy. Yesterday was sunny and beautiful. We got up early (if you aren't there by 9:30, you don't get a parking space), packed our beach bag, and off we went. Bellows is still my favorite, but Ko Olina is closer, and we knew we were only going to stay for 3 hours or so (Alissa had homework to do and I had some stuff I needed to do at home).

It was such a beautiful day, very sunny, and no one got sunburned! Alissa didn't go in the water yesterday, so she took pictures. Some of them turned out really great. Here's a few:

Ko Olina view #1:

Lagoon #4, where we swam:

View from the sidewalk:

Me, Alex and Abby:

A Japanese lady getting wedding photos taken:
Abby is making me "hide" her rocks in the sand under the
water so Alex won't see them and take them from her:

The waterfall at the entrance:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Feeling Better (Even though it's Monday...)

First of all, thanks to everyone who emailed me or called since my last post. Yeah, I was sort of feeling sorry for myself, but my loneliness was genuine. If all of you only knew how much I appreciate you getting in touch with me. It is so nice to know that there are people out there on the other side of blog-land that really exist and are there if I need you.

The comments from all of you were so kind. It reminds me that things are always brighter if you just give it a little more time. It meant so much to hear from all of you. I hate showing moments of weakness like that. I am supposed to be this larger-than-life military wife who can do it all and without help, right? For the last 14 years, I have always been conditioned to believe that. But sometimes it wears on you and you just want to be a normal person. That's what happened to me last week. I'd been having a tough week - being alone at home while all the kids went to school, work has been hectic, Jon informs me of another trip he has to go on, etc., etc. I just really, really needed someone to talk to. Then, my immune system got the best of me at the end of a tough week.

For those of you that called over the weekend who I didn't get to talk to, I am sorry about that. I got a really bad ear infection on Friday that seemed like it was killing me from the inside of my ear out! I spent most of the weekend sleeping and letting the antibiotics work.

So, Monday (today) is the start of a brand new week. I'm feeling better physically, and mentally my mind is back in the game. Let's make it a good one!

Thanks for your support, friendship, love, whatever wonderful thing it is that you bring to my life. Each of you mean a lot to me.

Love to you all -

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Feeling a little depressed today...

Yeah, I said it. Depressed. Well, maybe just a little lonely. I can't be sure. It seems like all of my friends from the past (my recent past and my "past" past) have moved on without me. I have tried to contact some of them, but no one ever writes back. I don't get it. I read a passage once, I don't know where it came from. It said, "People are in your life for as long as God wants them in your life." I know that God has a plan - I have always believed that. I don't understand why God thinks that I am better off doing things alone - no best girlfriend to call on the phone, no buddies to have a book club with. I am sure that there is a reason - I have never doubted that there is a Divine Plan for me, and it is not my place to question it. But, sometimes I wonder. Why? Why did those people, who once meant so much to me (and some still hold very dear places in my heart) leave my life? Just because I move from place to place, why do I have to start over EVERY TIME and find new people to share with? It's so hard for me to trust someone enough to even make a friend. I have been hurt way too many times in my life. So, how do I get to a point where I can find someone, let them in, and keep them (even after the next move)? I think that this military life has made me stronger than I ever thought I could be - more tolerant, more patient, more independent. But everyone needs at least one person that they can always go to. I know people are busy with their lives. I am too, I get it - I have a job, 3 school-age kids, a husband who always has to go somewhere. But, it only takes 30 seconds to send an email that says "Got your note, I can't talk long but thanks! You are my friend too." If you only knew how much that would mean to me!! I want so much to give my friendship to someone who can give me a friendship in return. I am tired of being lonely.

And, just like Germany was, Hawaii is a nice enough place but sometimes it is just too darn far from home. (For those of you who have lived here, please don't say I told you so.) I like it here, but sometimes you just need to see your Mom so she can make it better. (Even when you're 37!) When you live an ocean away, you can't do that. And with the time difference, every time I want to call one of those friends (because it's harder to avoid me if I call than it is if I email you), it is the middle of the night on the mainland.

So, if anyone out there reading this could just write me a little note or comment, so I know that there is someone thinking of me and that it will be OK. I just need that right now. I know we're all busy. But we all need friends. A friend once told me, "If you want a friend, you have to be a friend." I want to be a friend. Will anyone answer that call?

Monday, July 28, 2008

The First Day of School - 2008

The Girls on their first morning back to school - July 28, 2008

Well, I have made it through the morning of the first day of school 2008. The day that all 3 of my fabulous children go to school. I thought I would cry, and I did for about half a second, but it went away as I rushed (and I really mean rushed) from taking Alex and Abby to school to getting Alissa to the high school so she wouldn't be late. It's been a hectic morning!

Alex and Abby have to be at school by 7:45, and Alissa by 7:55. Abby's teacher opens the door for the kids to come in at exactly 7:45. So, by the time Jon and I get her settled and get back to the car where Alissa is waiting, it's 7:51. Alissa is panicking - "I'm going to be late, Mom!!"

She got there exactly at 7:55. Hopefully the 1st period teacher showed some mercy because it's the first day and the kids are new to the school and there is inherent chaos that goes along with that. Obviously we'll have to figure out a better plan to get everyone to school on time starting tomorrow!
So I'm sitting here at my desk, in a quiet house. We've done this before, when Abby was in preschool and Alissa and Alex were in school in TN. But, somehow it's different now. Kindergarten is a whole other world, and Abby has been counting down the days for months now. And the quiet here is different - knowing she is gone for the whole day. I know, I know - time for her to grow up. I can't help it - she's still my "baby" in many ways. We still cuddle on Saturday mornings and she still is so excited to see me all the time. I am missing her! She'd heard me talking to my friend about missing her while she's at school, so I made sure to tell her not to worry about Mom. (She can be a worrier, just like me, only not so bad.) Jon assures me that she will be fine, and I know he's right. (When I worry, he is always the voice of reason and he is almost always right. I don't know how he stays so calm all the time.)

Thought I would share some pics of the girls from this morning before things started to get crazy!

Have a great day all. Say a prayer that the girls have a great day and that Mom makes it through the day full of slience....
Love, Tiffany

Abby getting ready for school...

Alex posing for the camera...

Alissa doesn't want to go...She's not used to being up this early...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Miscellaneous updates...

Hey all. It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. Since that time, Alex has graduated from Phase I of DEFY, the DoD camp she was attending. For those of you that have been wondering where Alex has been in my posts, I was waiting for the camp to get started before I posted about it. Then, before I knew it, camp was over! So, I took a couple of pictures at her Phase I graduation.

Phase II starts in August. The kids go one Saturday a month and there's learning accompanied usually by community service or a field trip. At the end of the year-long commitment in May, Alex will graduate from the program and be eligible to be a "Junior Mentor" (when she's 12). It's a really neat program, gets the kids doing something besides watching TV. And, you've all seen the commercials about talking to your kids about stuff. This was, if nothing else, a chance for some of the information about drugs, tobacco, alcohol, gangs, and basic behavior to enter their brains. You could tell that most of the kids got something out of it. And, they made new friends that they wouldn't otherwise have met (because these kids live all over the island, and have parents in all branches of service.) Overall, I think it was an exceptional program that I was glad to have been able to let Alex participate in.

On a totally separate note, I wanted to share some unrelated pictures. Abby's been loving her Creative Dance Class, and you can tell from the pictures that she's trying to do her best. I am so proud of her!

And, lastly, I've been trying to get on the Elliptical Machine at least 3 or 4 days a week for the past 3 months or so. Is it working? Yeah, I think it's starting to work. (When and if you can see dramatic changes, I will post a picture.) Anyway, I think my consistent exercise habits are rubbing off on the kids, but on this particular day they were more just goofing around (note Abby's facial expression and the fact that Alissa is wearing skinny jeans on the machine!)

For us this is the last weekend before all 3 of my beautiful girls start school. Alissa is nervous, Alex is indifferent, Abby is thrilled. I am all of those, and scared, too. As I mentioned before, our lives change on Monday. Maybe that's a little dramatic, but we are definitely opening a new chapter in the Heffner family novel. I hope you will all say a prayer for my girls and their first day back to school, and a prayer that Mom makes it through the day too!
Have a great weekend everyone, I will post "First Day of School" pictures on Monday afternoon...