Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The van is here!!!

Thank goodness. The van is here! We found out yesterday morning and had it picked up by noon. Needless to say, I am thrilled. I actually teared up a little when I saw it at the dock.

Unless you have moved across an ocean and have lived in an empty house, driving a convertible in the rain (that you can't put the top up on because it's still damaged), you can't understand the level of joy I felt yesterday. At one point, Abby (the 4-year old), actually said to me, "Mom, get over it - it is just a van!". She obviously doesn't understand my joy either.

I guess the simplest way to explain it is - our lives are finally getting back to a more "normal" state. Now that the van is here, and the kids have started back to school, all that's left is to receive our furniture. It's not here yet, but has been promised by Feb. 8 - so, only 1 more week! Actually, it hasn't been that bad. Those canvas lawn chairs and Coleman air mattresses have been surprisingly comfortable!

Speaking of school, Alissa and Alex started back this past Monday when their "track" resumed. Kapolei schools operate on a staggered schedule, as I mentioned in a previous post. That means that the kids are separated into 4 teams, or "tracks" - green, red, yellow, and blue. At any given time during the school year, only 3 tracks are in session. Each child still gets a full year of education, but this lessens the overcrowding burden the schools face as Kapolei's rapid growth continues.

Anyway, I guess we were all a little nervous - not sure why, I guess because it's the middle of the school year. We've heard that Hawaiians are welcoming of newcomers, but there's still always that "new person" worry. I know the girls felt it - we all had trouble sleeping on Sunday night. But, Monday I drove them both to school and kissed them goodbye (not so anyone else could see, of course - that would be embarrassing!). I prayed as I left for them to be safe and to have a great first day and to find someone nice to eat lunch with.

Well, imagine my surprise and delight when Alex emerged after school with the biggest smile on her face! She had already made 5 friends, and is excited about learning Hawaiian and Japanese every day (an ongoing curriculum at the Elementary school). She continues to be excited about school, which makes Mom feel so much more at ease. (Note the picture below in her "uniform" - Kapolei t-shirts and Skechers!)

Alissa was less forthcoming about her first day - she answered "I guess" to every question I asked. I think she was still missing her friends in TN, who tell her all the time that she is missed. However, as the evening wore on, I managed to find out that she also made a couple of friends, and was invited to sit with a whole group for lunch, and that she is actually going to be OK at middle school. Yesterday she talked about the same group from the day before, and when I picked her up I noticed her walking from the school to the car with a group of girls and they were giggling like teenagers do. Thank Goodness!!

I know I can't protect them forever, but I want them to be happy, and I want people to be nice to them. And, I don't want them to feel like "the new kid" for too long. Looks like they both inherited their dad's charm, and have escaped the "new kid" syndrome. I am proud, thrilled, and relieved.

Looks like things are on their way to becoming "normal" here. I will keep you posted....


Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's been a week!

Well, we've survived a week in the house with no furniture (well, except for some air mattresses, a few lawn chairs, and a folding table.) We've made it into a "home", at least until the rest of our things arrive. Our small shipment arrived on Tuesday, so now we have towels, blankets, a second TV and a few more kitchen items.

When the shipment arrived, the girls were so excited! Back in Clarksville, I gave each of them one Rubbermaid bucket and told them that they could put whatever they wanted in it. When they opened those buckets this week, it was like Christmas all over again! They spent hours in their rooms going through those buckets. It made me happy and sad at the same time. I was happy that they are starting to feel at home here - and as materialistic as it sounds, having your stuff helps you feel at home.

The sadness came when it dawned on me that this move has been hard on all of us, the kids included. We moved during a crappy time of year, our stuff has taken FOREVER to get here, and we're starting over (again). For Jon and me, this is the 6th move we've made together with the Army in our almost 14 years together. In my opinion, it has also been the hardest by far. Part of it is that the girls are older, so we have school, and them missing their old friends, etc., but there is something else, too. I can't pinpoint it, but it's just been harder.

And, this weekend our convertible was broken into. Dang!! Apparently there is a pretty high property theft problem here on O'ahu. We learned that lesson the hard way. The thief cut open the back of the roof, basically peeling away the window so they could crawl in. The funny thing was that they took only a pair of sunglasses, and left the stereo with removable face plate intact!! It was a weird event. (Luckily, my wonderful husband has the foresight to remove things from the car when he gets out. I don't always remember to do that. I will now!)

But, no one was hurt, it happened during the night. We've since found out that convertibles are targets and if you just keep your top down all the time (and remember to take your stuff with you when you're not in the car), you will be fine. A friend of Jon's drives a Jeep and said that he hasn't put the top on it in a couple of years! So, we were upset about it but it's OK now. Luckily we have great insurance.

The girls head back to school on Monday. The schools here are on a staggered schedule in order to combat the growing population and the issue of overcrowding. So, wish them luck as they make new friends and get back into the school/life routine.

Everyone please stay in touch...We've only been here a month, and things are slowly getting back to "normal", but we're still new here and it's easy to feel disconnected from those you love.

Have a great day!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some pictures from Hawaii

So, I thought I would post some of the pictures we've taken since we've been here. Though the transition from Tennessee to Hawaii has been crazy, we have managed to see some really great things in Hawaii so far.

To start out, here is the view from the first hotel we stayed at (yes, there was more than one, but not by choice...):
We were in awe. I couldn't believe we were here. Seems like 100 years ago since we found out so long ago that we were going to Hawaii, so actually being here on the island is a big deal to us. (And, moving during the holidays stinks. I don't care what anyone says, we've moved at Christmastime twice and it is so much harder to move than in the summer.)
As of yesterday (the 16th), we are finally in our house:

No furniture yet, but we have a great friend here on the island who loaned us some of the basics. And, there's a park directly across the street, which the girls already love. Our van arrives soon, and then our furniture and other stuff should be here at the beginning of February (God willing).

This past weekend we visited Pearl Harbor and Ford Island. I'm sure many of you know the basics of the Pearl Harbor raid. I personally only knew the date and the most basic details. But, I have learned a lot more. The USS Utah sits in the water at Ford Island, turned on its side since 1941. Approximately 60 men lost their lives on that ship, one of the lesser known tragedies of that day. And certainly least visited. It is on a guarded part of Ford Island, and you can only get to it with permission. It is beautiful and somber and sad. In the picture below, you can see the side of the USS Utah sitting above the water.

One of the better known memorials is the USS Arizona, where 1,177 men lost their lives, and over 900 of them are still entombed in the remains of the ship. You can catch a boat out to the memorial and see the ship sitting directly underneath. It is a constant reminder of the sacrific those innocent souls made that day - a sacrifice that forever changed US History.

It is also a site and a moment in time that I hope my children will remember. Though they seemed mildly interested in parts of the day, I know that some of the images were important enough to impact them, because all 3 still talk about it, even Abby. She doesn't understand the meaning of the memorials, but she knows they are important.

And underneath the memorial lay the remains of the ship:

Remember Pearl Harbor and those who gave their lives that day.

Our first post since moving to O'ahu...

This the view from our hotel on Ford Island (adjacent to Pearl Harbor)

Here goes my first attempt at blogging. My friend Christy started a blog recently ( and I thought to myself, "what a great way to keep in contact with everyone on the mainland while we start our new life in Hawaii."

With the 4 or 5 hour time difference, it's been difficult to call home to friends and family, and we always seem a day behind (because our day is only half over when most of you are going to bed!) Hopefully this will allow us all to stay in touch. And, when we journey somewhere new on the island, or find something amazing, we can share it with all of you.

Welcome to our Hawaiian adventure. Stay tuned!