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, "'s OK to be an adult and be excited about this movie." (see article here:

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, 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