Monday, December 19, 2011

Certain Key Phrases

Kerry recently attended a briefing for Marines who will be deploying to Afghanistan. A small booklet was handed out containing handy phrases they might need to know in case they need to interact with the local populace. Included are the pronunciations in Pashtu for common sentences. The first page includes:

Do not move or the Marines will kill you.
A Marine will come to you and search you.
Do not move unless told to do so.
If you advance further, the Marines will kill you.
Stay away from the Marines.
If you advance any closer, we will be forced to use deadly force.
Marines will kill anyone who is a threat to us.

And at the bottom of the page, they learn to say:

The Marines are here to help you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Black Shirt

I have a black shirt that I love. It's comfortable and I wear it a lot. But it hasn't come through the last few laundry cycles and I guessed it had probably wound up in someone else's drawer.

Emily was sitting at the computer when I came in the room and said, "Have you seen my favorite black shirt, I can't find it anywhere and...............are you wearing it?"

She looked down at herself and back up at me and said, "Oh yeah, I guess I am!"

"I've been looking for that everywhere!"

"Well, I'm glad you found it!"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dance Recital 2011

Ben and Katie were both in a dance recital last week. Katie takes hip-hop and Ben takes ballroom.

The ballroom dance was the Cha-Cha this year. He is dancing with his real life girlfriend, Noelle.

Ben has been taking ballroom for a couple of years now. Katie only just started hip-hop classes about six weeks ago. When she started the class, the other students had already started learning the recital dance and they had quite a head start on Katie. As soon as she learned about the recital, of course, she wanted to be in it. Baby likes a chance to shine. I was opposed to her jumping on the recital bandwagon. "There are only six classes before the recital, I don't know if that's enough time for you to learn the dance." She begged and pleaded, we discussed it with her teacher, and he said as long as she knew the dance, she could be in the recital. Thanks, teach!

Fortunately he had uploaded a video of the dance to you tube and Katie practiced it every day until she had it down pat. I've seen her do that dance every week at class and every day at home. She knew that dance better than most of the girls in class. But when she strolled out on stage, she was decidedly not doing the dance I'd seen so many times. Suddenly, her hips were swaying, her shoulders rolling, and she sashayed around that stage in a manner I had not seen before.

Note how even when the dance is over, she maintains that "I'm so cool" attitude. When the dancers left the stage, Kerry and I looked at each other, closed our mouths, and said, "What was THAT?"

When we found her after the recital, I mentioned that she seemed to be using a lot more hips and shoulders in her dance. "Right before we went out, our teacher said, 'Remember! Dance with attitude!' So I did!"

Thanks again, teach!

On the way home, we praised Katie greatly for the fact that she had learned the dance so quickly and knew it better than most of the girls on stage. We talked about how she had worked so hard and all that hard work had paid off.

Then, out of the corner of his mouth ventriloquist-style, Ben suddenly said, "You did a great job too, Ben!"

Oops! Sorry! You did do a great job Ben!
Something about Ben's post-operative head gear seemed vaguely familiar to me.

Then when I went to the grocery store, I realized what it was!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Four Teeth Fewer Than Yesterday

Ben had all four wisdom teeth removed today. They were impacted and had to come out, so we took a deep breath and did it.

Ben told us later he didn't even have time to get nervous. They had him breathe laughing gas first and he never even felt the IV go into his arm. He liked the fact that the laughing gas made his voice deeper. He said he asked them several times when they would knock him out. The next thing he knew, Kerry and I were in the room and it was all over.

He kept laughing when we first walked in the room. Several times he said, "I don't remember anything!" Then he would laugh. He suddenly patted himself all over. When I asked what he was doing, he said, "Just making sure I have everything." Then he laughed. He said something about his feet, but we couldn't understand him. Then he laughed. He tried talking a lot, but his mouth was full of gauze and we really had no idea what he was saying. We just laughed when he laughed, and he seemed pleased and mellow.

When he said he felt well enough to walk out under his own power, we started toward the door with him. He wobbled precariously close to the walls until Kerry and I each took him by the elbow and steered him in a straighter path.

When we got to the car, we asked him if he wanted to sit up front, or lay down in the back. "You mean I can't drive?"

He was still groggy when we got home, but they had ice packs on him as soon as the surgery was over, so swelling has been minimal.

We managed to get a video of him while he was still a little loopy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Coal And Switches

December is a very intense month for my kids. Packages are arriving in the mail on a nearly daily basis and they are aquiver with curiosity about what's in those boxes.

Today a box arrived, I opened it and checked the contents, then immediately closed it and headed off to hide it.

"Christmas presents?" Katie asked hopefully.

"It's just a box full of coal and switches," I told her.

She nodded her head toward Emily and told me wisely, "I knew she was going to get some."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Loving Children

I always hoped that my children would love and protect each other, but I've come to accept that most siblings simply can't resist picking on and competing with each other.

Katie was making a video of herself (we have millions of videos Katie has made of herself - and pictures too!) which was amusing enough in itself but then you hear Ben and Emily arguing in the background because Ben caught Emily taking a bite of a brownie which was made with real butter instead of the dairy free version I usually make.

For those of you who are immediately thinking how mean I am to make brownies that Emily wouldn't be allowed to eat, I didn't make them, Ben's girlfriend did because they wanted to cook together and he made a chicken casserole and she made brownies and I wonder if they were imagining that's what it would be like to be married because that's what I did when I made hot dogs for my college boyfriend and I thought it would be so much fun to cook for my husband one day and then when I'd been married for not too long, I realized that cooking every single day isn't a bit charming the way you think it is when you're playing house by making hot dogs in college.

Wait..... I think this post was supposed to be about the video. So here it is:

If you listen closely, you can hear Ben and Emily arguing in the background about her taking a brownie and he finally tells her he hopes she dies of eczema.

That's sibling love for you.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Question of the Day

Katie: "If our food was still alive while it was in our stomachs, would it be able to read our thoughts?"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where Do Deviled Eggs Come From?

I made a giant platter of deviled eggs this year for Thanksgiving. We love them, and all the folks at our Thanksgiving get together were delighted to have them.

This morning Kerry mentioned that he only got two of them.

"I know, I wish we had more," I remarked. Then it dawned on me. "You know, we could make more. I don't know why we don't have them more often. I made that whole platter, it's not like we don't know where they come from."

"Yeah," Kerry said, "It's like we think the deviled egg bird has to fly in the house and lay deviled eggs on the counter!"

The stork has a new career apparently.


Once again, we went to the mess hall for Thanksgiving. Although, nowadays it's called the DFAC. I like to go because I can get all the food I don't have room to make at home. I only have enough oven space to make ham or turkey and three casseroles (green bean, sweet potato, and corn bread). At the DFAC I can get all that plus fish, prime rib, kalua pig, and crab legs.

The kids always really enjoy this part of Thanksgiving, particularly for the crab legs. This year, we were some of the first people in the door and the crab legs were huge! By the time we left, the people coming through the line had crab legs about the size of a finger.

The carnage was terrible. But as a military family, we are used it.

Then we (I) strolled around and checked out all the decorations like the ice sculptures.....

....the sparkling cider table....

....the general overindulgence table.... cakes....

....and chocolate sculptures. The decorations are always very impressive.....

....well, mostly.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Buying A Bass

Emily has completed her acoustic guitar lessons. Her teacher informed her that there are really only a few things left that he can teach her and asked if she would like to start bass guitar lessons. She was very excited over the idea of a guitar which could be plugged into an amp with a volume control set to the "shatter windows" setting.

Her teacher had told us that the local music store sometimes has a package deal where they bundle the guitar and amp together for a discounted price. So, Emily and I headed over there on Saturday to see what sort of deal we could get. The store is closing and moving to a new location, so they are selling off a lot of their stock at discounted prices which we were hoping would benefit us.

As soon as we walked in, one of the store employees came over and asked us if we needed help.

"Yes," I told him. I explained that Emily was about to start bass guitar lessons and that we needed a bass and amp and that we had heard they sometimes had package deals for a beginners set.

"I'm sorry," he told us. "We no longer have any. We're moving the store and a lot of things have sold out already."

"Oh darn. Do you think you will get any more in when you get to your new location?"

"I don't think so," he told us.

Dad-gum-it. Where the heck am I going to get a bass guitar without spending a fortune, I wondered.

We then told the employee that we would take some new guitar strings and he trotted off to fetch them. While we were standing there waiting, another emplyee came up and said, "Did you find everything you needed today?"

"Well, no," I told him. "We were trying to find a beginners bass guitar and amp, but you don't have any."

He looked at me oddly, "Yes we do. They're right over here, and they are 30% off right now."

I pointed at the other employee and tattled, "He just told me you don't have any!"

The other employee looked at us and said, "She said she wanted a package."

Uh....hello. If I walk in saying I'm looking for a beginners bass guitar and amp and you are selling them for 30% off, don't get hung up on the word "package". I don't mind if they aren't all shrink wrapped together.

We did end up leaving the store with a bass guitar, an amp, a cable to hook the two together and a guitar case, all at 30% off despite the guy who couldn't see the forest because of all the trees.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hiking to Lanikai Pillboxes

Yesterday we went hiking to the Lanikai Pillboxes over on the windward side. I was assured that this one was much easier than the easy hike we had been on before. No handholds needed, no cliffs to climb while hanging on to a rope. That's my kind of hike.

We all gathered together to start our hike at five o'clock in the afternoon. Our main purpose in starting so late was to climb to the top and then watch the full moon rise. We've been waiting quite a while for a night when the weather was good, and when the moon was not already up, or only had a crescent showing.

Of course, once we were all ready to go, one of the teens who has been on this hike before mentioned, "Yeah, there's just a couple of parts where the trail is so narrow it's like, if you step too far to the right, you die. If you step too far to the left, you die."


As it turns out, we weren't going to be hiking along a regular trail, but along a ridge. I wasn't pleased to be hearing this info. "Why are we taking our kids up to a place where they could take a wrong step and die?" I wanted to know.

I was assured that it really wasn't dangerous and that the teens were just dramatizing.

So off we went.

If you ever go, you should know there is no public parking lot for this hike. You have to park in a neighborhood, so be respectful of people's driveways and property.

Also, the first third of this hike is fairly strenuous. Bring a water bottle that you don't have to hold in your hand. There are a lot of places where you really have to scramble up some steep inclines covered in loose gravel and grab on to branches to help hoist yourself along. But I really didn't find any of it to be so difficult that I wished I hadn't come.

About the time you start breathing hard, you reach a really good spot to stop and take in the view of the Mokulua Islands. It is a phenomenal view of the windward coast and I am not kidding. It was like looking at a postcard.

When you see this view, you want to stop and get your breath back.

Because the trail is about to get steep again.

As you climb higher and higher the view just gets better and better. The sunset was reflecting off the ocean making the water look rosy.

This is one of the areas where if you go left you die, if you go right you die. It's not very wide, but at least it isn't a sheer drop off a cliff on either side. It is incredibly windy when you get to these areas though. If you ever go, wear a jacket. I actually got an ear ache from the wind.

We could also see the town of Kailua below us.

We could see the sun setting as we were hiking, and it was a great view.

The "pillboxes" are actually two bunkers left over from World War II. You can climb down inside of them or just sit on the roof of one.

This is the view from the first pillbox. We didn't climb up on this one, but headed up higher to the second one and climbed up on top of it.

The view from the rooftop was fabulous.

The view inside the bunker was fabulous in a different way.

We all sat on the rooftop and watched the lights come on in the town below us as we waited for the moon to rise.

We watched it come up over the Mokulua Islands. It was full and bright and rose a lot faster than you would think.

We stayed up there for quite a while just talking and trying to keep warm. Then we all pulled out our flashlights and headed back down.

Now, what I call a strenuous but not horrible hike on the way up in the daylight, is a whole different story on the way down in the dark. Katie promptly dropped her flashlight and broke it so we had less light from the start. We lost sight of the trail several times in the dark. Those steep places with loose gravel are extremely difficult to navigate in the dark while holding a flashlight. There was one steep section where I would cling to one little tree on the side of the path, then aim for the next little tree on the path to stop my forward motion by grabbing on to it. Then I would pick out another little tree further down and start over again. This required changing my flashlight from hand to hand depending on what side of the trail the next tree was on. I think I did fairly well as I only fell three times - doing a very impressive split on one incline. I took some skin off my palms and my forearm, bruised my behind on some gravel, and jammed most of my fingers on my right hand.

If you ever go, bring Bactine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Emily, Who Is Good At Everything

I was buying groceries today when my phone beeped indicating a new voicemail. I don't get a good signal in the store so my phone never rings but will occasionally take a message for me.

The voicemail from Emily went something like this, "Hi mom...I love you and you are the best mother in the world! I just want to remind you that I've never made less than an 'A' in my life and I'm a very dedicated student. I'm also good at sports and really good at the guitar. I'm thrifty and I save most of my babysitting money, just like you've taught me."

At that point, my phone had decided it didn't want to be my secretary any longer and it cut her off. I assumed that she was probably trying to butter me up into buying candy or something while I was at the store, and I laughed to myself. But since I had no signal, I couldn't call to confirm what it was she wanted, and I promptly forgot about it in the excitement of discovering some unexpected coupons on a shelf.

Then I got home and found this taped to the front door:

That's not a good sign.

Once inside I was bombarded with a houseful of smoke and the tale of how Emily was cooking bacon and she turned away just long enough to butter her toast. And the bacon burned up completely in just those few seconds.

Well, let me tell you, that is the last time I buy the extra fast cooking bacon!

Monday, November 7, 2011


When you go to Starbucks, they ask your name and write it on your cup when you order. Apparently, I don't pronounce "Amy" clearly enough.

When I got my drink, I thought, "Who on earth would think that my parents would name me 'Namie'"?

Then someone pointed out to me that the barrista was probably writing my name on my cup and thinking, "Who on earth would name their kid 'Namie'"?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Milk Jug Ghosts

I saw this idea on a craft site and thought it would be fun (and easy) to do for Halloween.

We each took an empty milk jug, drew a ghost face on it, and put battery operated tea lights in it. I thought they were really cute, and I love how each member of my family put their own spin theirs.

But Ben told me we just look like we are too poor to afford a pumpkin!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Powderpuff Football

Kerry's unit had a Powderpuff football game this week. That's where the women play flag football. I was asked if I would like to play.

No, I would not.

I did go watch, but I have no desire to break a knee or throw my back out. Let the younger women participate.

Besides, I really just go to look at the cheerleaders.

Jumping around in their short skirts and combat boots....

It takes a secure man to wear a kilt!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Karma Chameleon

I know this doesn't even look real, but this is an actual chameleon that one of the kids at church found in the bushes today. He was not particularly pleased to be shown about the inside of the building and rolled his eyes at all of us a lot. Now, I'm going to be completely freaked out that there might be more of those bad boys around here somewhere.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Camping (The Girly Way)

We went camping on the North Shore. Our friends at church have been renting this same house for one weekend a year for seventeen years. It's right on the beach and we have bathrooms and a kitchen. There are also bedrooms, but I don't think anyone actually used them. The yard is big enough for all of us to set up our tents.

Our own personal Taj Mahal had a great ocean view. We brought the air mattresses with us because the last time I slept on the ground I could barely move the next day. Cots or air mattresses are not optional if you want me to stay.

Which is kind of funny, because I didn't spend Friday night out there. I went to see "The Phantom of the Opera" with some friends and left for the campsite Saturday morning.

So it was just Kerry and the kids.

Except Kerry had to go in to work at 1:00 in the morning and didn't get back out to the camp until 5:00 Saturday morning.

So it was just the kids.

And Ben and Emily decided to sleep on the beach.

So it was just Katie on the two queen-size air mattresses in the tent.

Fortunately, Kerry has the ability to rise on two hours of sleep and make breakfast for thirty people.

It was phenomenal. He is the master of dutch oven cooking. It was truly the best meal we had while we were there.

The teens all ate in the back of a truck because it makes food taste better, dontacha know.

They spent a lot of time in the ocean which also counted as bathing,

Played a ton of volleyball,

And made s'mores over the campfire while someone played praise songs on a guitar.

We had our own little church service Sunday morning since we were all missing church.

Not a bad way to vacation (if I didn't have to load everything up again and then clean and wash it all when we got home).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heading Out To Camp

We went camping last weekend with a group of about thirty people from our church. Each family signed up to take care of making one specific meal. We joined together with another family to make breakfast Saturday morning and Kerry volunteered to take on dessert for Saturday night. Each family also signed up to bring paper goods which we would all share.

I spent the day gathering......

...two water coolers, two air mattresses, paper towels, toilet paper, coffee cups, water cups, tin foil, flashlights, the tent, a ground cover, blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, sunscreen, bug spray, beach toys, beach towels, folding chairs, a pop up tent to act as a covered porch in case of rain or excessive sunshine, light jackets because it's getting chilly at night, Emily's guitar....

...charcoal, lighters, a big metal fire pit, ingredients to make breakfast casserole for the entire group, ingredients to make dessert for the entire group, dairy-free food for Emily, and snacks for my family packed into two coolers because it wouldn't all fit in one.

Plus, each of us packed a backpack with our clothes and swimsuits.

(The dogs know when they see all this stuff that someone is leaving and they give us looks of betrayal all day.)

Once I had everything gathered together and Kerry got home to help load it into the vehicles, I gestured at everything and said, "This is like moving. I'm honestly not sure I think camping is worth it."

Kerry responded, "Ben and I go camping once a month and we take every single thing we need on our backs. This," he gestured at the piles of gear, "is not camping!"

Fashion Plate

This is Katie's favorite favorite pair of pajamas.

She refuses to admit that she might have outgrown them, even though she can barely squeeze into them and the top and bottom won't stay touching unless she constantly tugs on them.

I'm not sure why she added the fur-topped socks to this particular ensemble unless it was just to add some pizzaz.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ringo's Happy Place

A sunny spot is a happy place.