Friday, March 30, 2012

Sharing Memories

We try to have a family game night every so often, and we try to think up topics of conversation that let us actually learn about each other.

One of our topics tonight was "What is one of your favorite memories?"

Kerry started off, "I remember my mother making homemade pretzels. I used to love the smell of them, and I liked to watch the dough rise."

Ben stared at his father for a few seconds and then said, "Wow. You must have had a pitiful childhood!"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Marathon Man

26.2 miles. The famous grueling marathon that so many people subject themselves to for some unknown reason. Keep in mind that the original Greek warrior who ran that distance after the battle of Marathon died at the end. There is a reason for that and I will elaborate in detail later on. In an effort to stave off my mid-life crisis I decided to embark on a mid life "challenge" instead and run a marathon. My 43rd birthday was approaching and I could almost hear the fat lady singing (she was enjoying a duet with the Grim Reaper). I figured this was healthier and less costly than a fancy red sports car and much smarter and safer on the marriage than an affair:-). So I dutifully signed up and decided to run the marathon in December (of note is the fact that I am just now writing about it as I have finally recovered physically and mentally). I laid out a well-conceived training regimen that included running, cardio, weight lifting, and stretching, along with a good diet. I planned everything down to the last detail and began training four months before the race. I slowly built myself up to 10 mile runs and then 15 mile runs. I was getting there! However, Uncle Sam has a vote in everything I do and decided to send me to Fort Irwin, California, for the entire month of November. I had ambitious plans to run and train while there but being at Fort Irwin, California and experiencing a rotation at the National Training Center is an event in itself. Needless to say....I was quite busy and the running never really happened. In short order...I showed up on the day of the marathon having never run more than 15 miles. But no worries...I was only talking about a few more miles.

Well...that was my inexperience talking. The day of the marathon was quite intense. More than twenty thousand people were running that day. I smeared vaseline over my feet, ate a large bagel with peanut butter and a banana and promptly stepped off at 0610 in the morning. This should be OK...I was pretty well prepared and ready to go. I ran the first 6 miles at a good pace and thought to myself that I was going to survive. Then we hit Diamond Head and ran two miles uphill. I quickly realized that there was a long way to go. The next six miles were OK...but I had to stop and fight the crowd and use the port-a-john since I had consumed large amounts of water for the 48 hours prior to the race as well as during the race. I will admit..I used the 15 minutes I was in line to suck down some oxygen and ask myself why I was doing this. I only had 12 more miles to go. The runners all around me were amazing. I saw all types of runners from the incredibly fit to the average joe to the dressed up super heroes. I saw Wonder Woman, Superman, Spider Man...all running. I also saw women in wedding dresses and men in tuxedoes running as well as a man in a full traditional samurai costume complete with wooden shoes (he ran much faster than I did and is apparently a fixture at the marathon every year). Anyway...I digress. I pressed on and soon approached 18 miles. My body began to talk to me in earnest and question me intensely as to why I was subjecting it to this torture. I refused to answer and simply sucked down another energy gel pack and continued to plod along.

Folks....take a hint from me. When your body starts asking you questions in earnest, I strongly advise listening to it. I did not and my body simply took matters into its own hands (or legs so to speak). At 19 miles exactly I hit the wall and my legs refused to bend at the knees. My body had simply told me that enough was enough. Amazingly I continued to move forward at an odd stiff legged shuffle that caused the spectators along the route to cringe in pain for me. Some of the smaller kids started crying and asking their parents to put the poor tree sloth out of his misery. Of course...I did not listen. I continued to shuffle along stiff legged and stiff necked. My body became angry at my continued resistance and caused my knees to start aching at mile 22 and my eyes to fog over at mile 23. By mile 24 the only thing sustaining me was the thought that if I actually stopped the herd of runners behind me would trample me to death and steal my remaining energy gel packs. Also...I was almost there and had to finish in order to make this pain worth it. I will mile 25 I honestly thought I was going to keel over...but then the 1980s saved me! I was wearing my iPod and "Eye of the Tiger" came on. Listen....if it could work for Sylvester Stallone it had to work for me. I instantly felt energy surge through me as the old familiar words and music played across my ear phones. With trembling hands I put the iPod on repeat for that song and then pushed myself the remaining mile. I finished in a trance and finally stopped after staggering across the finish line. I had done it!! My feet ached! My legs would not bend! My socks had melted! I would never, never do this again!

But....I had officially checked this event off my bucket list of life and now have my sights on becoming an astronaut:-)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Marching Orders

Well, the Army has given us our marching orders. We are leaving paradise and heading for the east coast this summer.

We are all partly glad to be heading back and partly sad to be leaving here. This is a giant bag of mixed emotions. I'll honestly say we have never loved any duty station the way we have loved it here. I'm going to have to start working on a list of things we need to see and do before we leave.
I've also started scouring websites, looking for long sleeved shirts and sweaters. I don't think any of the kids even own any at this point!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Running Man

Kerry ran in a half-marathon this past Sunday. If you check out this video, you can see him at about 2:18.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hail and Tornado

And today, we had hail and a tornado on the Windward side!

I'm soooo glad we aren't still camped out over there!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Things To Do While Camping In The Rain

Being stuck under a pavilion (which is open on three sides) during a flash flood warning can leave you damp and bored. However, after watching the teens, tweens, and kids who were with us on this campout try to outrun their boredom, I've come up with a pretty good list of ways to entertain yourself if you ever find yourself in this situation:

First of all, take pictures of fire. Not just one or two pictures. LOTS of pictures. Fire looks different every time you photograph it, so don't stop snapping those photos for a minute. Actually this one can be done when it's not flooding as well, if the number of fire photos I have ever since Emily learned to use a camera is any indication.

Play board games and card games. Change all the rules to make it more interesting.

When you hear the sound of a hatchet hitting wood, sit up and stare (with your mouth hanging open) the entire time the wood is being chopped.

Imagine what it would be like to be the one holding the hatchet.

Drool a little.

Try to climb up in the rafters.

Try to climb the walls.

Forget that younger kids are watching.

Forget that they will try to imitate you.

Forget that they will have to be rescued when they can't get back down.

Get into the most difficult spot you possibly can.

Scare the crap out of your mother.

Dust off the entire top of the rafters with your shirt.

And most in the rain.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Adventures in Camping

When we reserved the campsite, we were told that the pavilion was unavailable. It had already been reserved by another group. The lady on the phone actually laughed when Kerry asked about it. "You have to reserve it a year ahead of time to get it," she told him.

However, when we arrived, we were told that the group of boy scouts who had reserved it had cancelled their trip due to the rain and we could have it after all. Over the course of the weekend we sent up prayers of thanks numerous times for that pavilion. Turns out, it would have been a miserable weekend without it!

The fact that another group cancelled their trip because of the weather should have been a big clue.

Flash flood warnings had been issued. We just didn't know it yet.

The spot where we set up our tents seemed great. In between rain showers, we ran out and set the tent up and threw our gear inside. During the rainy moments, we hunkered down under the pavilion (Thank You Lord, for providing the pavilion!). During one less rainy moment I ran out to our tent to fetch something and as I stepped inside my foot came down into a puddle inside the tent. "Kerry, the tent is leaking!" It actually rained down on my head while I was in there, despite the fact that our rain flap was on securely.

We grabbed our EZ Up tent and put it over our entire family tent to help block the rain. Then we went back to the pavilion and made dinner and played board games for a while.
(Thank you God, for the pavilion!)

After a while I ran back out to the tent to get something else, and when I stepped inside, the water came up to my ankle. "Kerry!"

The EZ Up tent had collected so much rain on it that the back side of it had collapsed and dumped all the water directly into our tent. Everything was soaked. We managed to salvage two blankets which were only damp around the edges but all of our towels, sheets, sleeping bags, pillows, and a large portion of our clothes were completely drenched.

We wound up spreading our stuff all over the pavilion trying to get it to dry, but of course, with rain coming down all around us, it was far too humid for anything to actually dry. By this time, other families were experiencing leaks as well and we were all moving as much stuff as we could to the pavilion (Thank You, Lord!).

My wonderful, wonderful husband had fortunately brought an extra tent in case some of the teen girls wanted their own tent so they could stay up late and giggle. Instead of letting the teens have it, we wound up setting it up underneath the pavilion and Kerry, Katie, and I slept in it. We had an air mattress and the three of us squished together like sardines on it, but at least it was dry. I slept inside a sleeping bag liner, Kerry slept under an Army poncho and Katie slept under our one blanket that was still dry. Kerry wadded up a jacket to use as a pillow, Katie used a stuffed animal, and I took one pillow which was wet on one end and turned it sideways to sleep on the dry portion.

The teens all slept under the pavilion with no tent, but they were happy. The biggest issue was that the lights on the pavilion can not be turned off so it was as bright as day all night long. Inside our tent, it wasn't too bad, but the teens had to pull their blankets over their heads to block out the light so they could sleep.

Our blessed pavilion had started to look like a refugee camp.

I was so tired and waterlogged, when I got into dry pajamas and into the tent, I slept like a log all night. I found out the next morning that at 2:00 AM, we had been invaded by feral cats who had broken into the food, ate our bread, and then sat around yowling for more.

On the second night, it rained so much that one of the moms said the air mattress she was sleeping on actually started floating and moved around in her tent!

When we finally broke camp, we discovered that a river had actually formed and had flowed right through the area where our tents were staked!

These were the glorious mountains right next to our camp site.

Once the rain started pouring down, the mountains were covered in waterfalls!

What an amazingly beautiful sight! We may have been wet, but the view was worth it.

Of course, with not much else to do, the kids wanted to play in the rain. We finally let them. After we got home, we found out there was a "brown water" advisory which means because of the flooding the water could have runoff from cesspools, dead animals, or other filth and disease in it. Also, two people were swept away by flood waters over the weekend.

Ah, well. What we didn't know, didn't hurt us.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden is 400 acres of rainforest located on the Windward (east) side of Oahu. We went camping there this weekend with a group of friends on what turned out to be a very memorable trip.

There are wonderful camping areas with large covered pavilions, clean bathrooms, and showers (but no hot water). There are electrical outlets under the pavilions but they will tell you they don't work, which is a lie. They just turn off the power to them so you don't cost them any extra money in electricity.

The view is stunning. Ho'omaluhia, which means "to make a place of peace and tranquility", is located in the foothills of the Ko'olau Mountain Range. The gardens were actually created by the US Army Corp of Engineers to provide flood protection for the town of Kaneohe. See? The Army does all kind of great things that you don't know about!

The area is divided into sections representing different geographical locations around the world. You can hike through areas with plants from the Philippines, Hawaii, Africa, Sri Lanka/India, Polynesia, Melanesia, Malaysia, and Tropical America.

There is a 32-acre lake which is good for fishing (catch and release only), but not swimming.

This is the view when you are fishing. Even if you don't catch anything, it's worth just going to sit and stare at the other side of the lake.

There were ducks and the kids enjoyed throwing bread to them. Seeing these ducks made me realize I haven't seen one single duck in the three years we've lived here. Until now.

This is a beautiful place to go for a relaxing weekend!