Our two child things (5 and 2) are currently in Hawaii, but we are a military family, and we live where the Army tells us. This blog is designed to keep us in touch with our family and the friends we have made along the way, to offer insight into our turbulent military lifestyle, and to share our experiences as we try out "homing school." So glad you stopped by!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Maui Vacation

Maui in the morning
 We made it to Maui and back with the child things, and we had a really good time on our little vacation! For some reason, my darling husband scheduled us to leave Oahu at 5 in the morning, so the vacation started very early. I am tempted to complain about having to wake up at 3 a.m., but it was kinda cool to see the sunrise from the airplane. We arrived in Maui just after the sun did, and then the fun began!

We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. If anyone is looking for a place to stay in Maui, here's what we thought of it: the grounds were beautiful, the room was very nice, the staff was oh-so-friendly and helpful (almost indulgent), the pool was great, the food was delicious, the spa was AWESOME, and the golf course also got rave reviews from my other half. The only downsides: it was pricey, and the beach (though it looked like lots of adults and teenagers were having tons of fun boogie boarding) wasn't the most kid-friendly beach we've been to. It was always windy, and the waves weren't the coddling waves we're used to.

Overlooking the resort grounds
Personally, my favorite touristy thing we did was take a boat ride out to a small offshore island called Molokini to snorkel. Definitely the best snorkeling I've ever done! I guess that's not saying a lot since I had never snorkeled until 2 years ago when I moved to Hawaii. But it really was pretty spectacular! I finally got to see the two fish I always look for, but never find: the Moorish Idol and the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Hawaiian state fish).

We also drove the Hana Highway, and I'm sure we did not experience it to its fullest, but it was still amazingly beautiful. There are dozens of stops to make a long the way, but we wanted the child things to enjoy it as much as possible, so we did not do any of the hikes or swim to any waterfalls or pull over at every scenic overlook. Even so...it was awesome! Here are some of the things we did stop and see:
Keopuka Rock, which was filmed in the opening scene of Jurassic Park.

Beautiful coastline scenery
Child Thing #1 at Waikani Falls (The Three Bears Waterfall)

Child Thing #2 at Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach. The kids had a good time at this place...it had CAVES!

The Child Things at a red sand beach in Hana
More beautiful coastline scenery
A fresh coconut and coconut ice cream.
Child Thing #1 had a fresh coconut before we left Hawaii and loved it, so the whole 9 months we were living in Texas, she kept asking me when she could get another one. We saw this stand, Coconut Glen's, on the side of the Hana Highway and thought it was the perfect opportunity. We bought a coconut and some ice cream made from coconut milk (which was actually really good), and of course, she did not like the coconut at all. Scott tried it (his first taste of fresh coconut milk) and didn't like it either, so I drank some and then we threw it away. The first time I tried drinking a coconut, I didn't care for it much either. It just wasn't what I expected. You'd think it would be very sweet and creamy, but it's more like water. But it has grown on me.

We all loved the ice cream, though, and I also loved what a hippie/environmentalist Coconut Glen was. No plastic spoons. He gave us a sliver of a coconut shell to eat our ice cream. And when the Child Thing asked him if he had any straws to use to drink the coconut, he stepped outside his stand, pulled a leaf off of a papaya tree, used his machete to chop off its hollow stem, and stuck it in the coconut for a straw. It didn't taste very good, though...

What else did we do in Maui? We went to the Maui Ocean Center, an aquarium that we all enjoyed. Child Thing #1 is now positively fascinated with hammerhead sharks. We spent a good deal of time hanging around the pool at our hotel. And we visited the very quaint downtown Lahaina. It was a wonderful vacation. So much fun! And there is much more fun to come! At the end of the week, we will have visitors arriving!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Headed to Maui!

Don't expect any blog updates from me for a few days. Tomorrow we are headed to Maui for vacation!! Woohoo! I'll take lots of pictures for you. Have a fun weekend, friends. I know I will!

Redeployment Ball-Fun, Fun!

If you'd like to know why being an Army wife stinks, see my collection of blog posts on deployment. But sometimes we get to do fun stuff, too, like the military ball we went to not long ago. If I hadn't married a military man, I probably would not have attended a formal event (other than weddings) since my high school prom. And it's kinda fun! Actually, I'd say I have more fun at military balls than I did at prom. :P

So the military ball has all sorts of formalities and etiquette rules, but I have learned that for the most part, nobody really cares much if you follow the rules or not. Here's the basic format:
1. First there's a social hour, which is just mingling time. I love to "people watch" and take a look at all the gorgeous gowns! A ball is technically a black tie event, so if you follow the rules, you are supposed to wear a full length dress, but every ball I have been to, there have been women who wear "cocktail" style dresses, and they look amazing, too, in my own opinion.
2. Then you go through the receiving line, in which you are introduced to and greet the "hosts" of the event. There are all sorts of rules for the receiving line, like don't carry a drink. I stand in front of Scott as we proceed through the line (the woman always goes first). He introduces me to the first person in line (that person is supposed to already know his name and rank by checking out his uniform), but you don't shake that person's hand. That person introduces you to the next "receiver," whose hand you do shake. Then your names get passed down the line until you have shaken every one's hand in line. All these guidelines, but it usually turns into a disorganized mess as hundreds of people go through the line. :P
3. After the receiving line, you can enter the ballroom and find your table and place card, but you aren't supposed to sit down until instructed to do so.

4. When everyone is in, it's time for the formal portion of the ball. It includes the presentation of the colors, lots of toasts (including the toast to fallen comrades, which is a tear-jerker. I should write more about that one another day.), and the grog bowl ceremony. Oh, the grog bowl. A friend and I laughed at this last ball how at the most formal of the events, these soldiers act the most informal. All of the company commanders pour a bottle or two or three of alcohol into the grog bowl, and they explain to the ball attendees that each bottle symbolizes something his or her company has accomplished. Scott chose orange cognac (because orange is the signal corps color) and everclear, because his soldiers kept the communications EVER CLEAR during the deployment. You should have heard his company hooping and hollering. :) Also included in the formal portion is an awards presentation. My soldier was 1 of 3 people in the battalion who received the Order of Mercury. Way to go, Babe! Now he gets to wear a swanky medal around his neck when he wears his dress uniform.
5. When all the ceremonies are over, it's time for dinner and dancing. When you leave, don't forget to bid your hosts, who generally post themselves near the exit, farewell.

Yes, this ball was MUCH more fun than high school prom. I especially enjoyed this one because Scott was so involved in the program. It was so cool to see his soldiers cheer for him when he received his award and during his part of the grog bowl ceremony. And as always, it's just fun to get dressed up every now and then!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Military Pomp

Big event from last week: Redeployment Ceremony. I realize that to some of you, redeployment sounds like a bad thing. It seems that it should mean "deploying again," but no, it's a good thing! Redeployment means coming back from deployment. Yay for redeployment!

So we got to witness some real military pomp at the ceremony. First, all the battalions marched in, calling cadence, of course. Since Scott is a company commander, I was very proud to watch him marching up front, leading his company to the drill field. Here he is, in the front row, the nearest column.
When everyone was in place, several people of impressive rank spoke, recognizing some hard-working volunteers, and commenting on how spectacular the troops look and what an outstanding job they did in Iraq.

They do look pretty spectacular, don't they? Except for the smudge on my camera lens, of course.

Here's another foggy picture, but that's Scott in the center front, with the orange flag...excuse me, guidon...blowing into him. I tell ya, if rows and rows of saluting soldiers doesn't arouse some sort of patriotic pride in you, then come watch one of these ceremonies with me; I'm sure the military pomp will get to you. It's easier to feel patriotic, however, if you don't have two hot and bored kids pulling on your legs. Just a helpful hint from one who has been there.

Also, no matter how hot and bored your kids are at the ceremony, they will miraculously regain all sorts of energy if you take them to the "after party" where there is free pizza, fruit punch, moonwalks and face painting. :)
Superhero mask!

Guess Who's Two

Child Thing #2 is now 2 years old! Because we had a birthday party for both of them before we left Texas, we didn't have a big shebang celebration for him. Scott had to work, so I walked the kids down to the beach that morning. They both LOVE the beach!! I am so happy about that because a year ago, neither of them were too comfortable in the water. That evening, we had a pineapple upside down cake and opened presents.

This water table was so intriguing that he pretty much let his sister open the rest of his presents while he studied the box.

My baby is so big! He'll even tell you so. If you ask him if he's a baby, he replies, "No. Boy."

What I'm really enjoying is watching the two kids interact and communicate with each other now that he is talking more and more. Of course, sometimes the communication consists of "Mine!" "No, MINE!" "No, MIIIIIIINNNNNEEEE!"

But other times it's really very sweet and amusing. My favorite thing is when Child Thing #2 carries a book over to his big sister and says, "Read book, Baboo." I haven't figured out exactly why he calls her "Baboo" yet or where that word came from, but that's her name.

So then Baboo will say, "Ok, I'll read you a book." And they'll sit down together and she'll read while he intently looks on. She has a surprisingly large number of our picture books memorized and can "read" him almost any book he brings her.

So yes...he's getting to be a big boy! If you don't believe me, ask him yourself. :P

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's Official...Unofficially.

Look what I got in the mail! It's our curriculum for kindergarten, and I'm excited about it! Last year I wrote a lot about our trial period of homeschooling, but until recently I didn't decide for sure what we were going to do about school this year. As you can see, I have now decided. We are going to homeschool, and we are using the Sonlight curriculum. The Child Thing and I have already rummaged through the boxes a little bit, and both of us found items that looked interesting.

It's still not totally official. I haven't registered with the state, but that won't be hard. I'm feeling positive about this and about our new curriculum, too. I think we will have a great school year!


As you know, I just moved for the hundredth time in my adult life, and as I unpacked, I almost felt ashamed of myself for having so much STUFF. After living for a year on the contents of 4 suitcases and a borrowed mish-mash of items, what I have now seems positively excessive. Here are 7 things that collect in this house, either intentionally or unintentionally.

1. Books! I love books, and it's one thing I don't feel guilty about having copious amounts of. We have shelves and shelves of childrens books, of course, but I also love books. And I like to buy antique books when I can find them. I think they are beautiful and full of history, and I buy them because I hate to think of them deteriorating and ending up in the garbage. I especially love the ones that have names or messages written in lovely, old-fashioned script on the inside. The inside cover of my old copy of Paradise Lost reads, "To Phil. From Mrs. S. L. Dowling. Christmas 1894."

2. Pitchers. When we first got married, I bought a pitcher because, ya know, you need a pitcher to serve lemonade and stuff. After that, I came across lots of pitchers that I loved and wanted to buy. But of course I already had a pitcher and didn't need more. After longing after a dozen or so pitchers, I realized I just really like pitchers. They have such an elegant shape. So, why not start a collection? Then I have an excuse to buy the ones I really love, even if I already have one.

3. Blankets and Quilts. This is something I do not intentionally collect, but we have ended up with so many! I know several very talented quilters who have been kind enough to gift us with their beautiful creations. I try my hand at quilting myself on occasion, and have produced several in the collection. And somehow we have accumulated a gazillion little throw blankets over time, so we have ended up with quite an impressive quilt and blanket collection.

4. Recipes. I totally love when friends pass on their best recipes to me! I will copy it down or print it out and write the name of the person who shared it with me and stick it in my rather disorganized recipe binder. It's something I will most likely have for decades that will remind me of a person I hold dear every time I cook a meal inspired by him/her. And I'm always printing off recipes I find online. Half of them I never get around to trying, but...

5. Scrapbooks. OK...I just found 3 boxes full of scrapbooks and I have no place to put them in this little beach house. I like to make one for every year, and I have several "special edition" scrapbooks, too. Like I have an Army scrapbook for Scott, and I have a "baby's first year" scrapbook for the kids. I did not realize until this week how many I have made, and I'm actually feeling quite overrun by them!

6. Toys. They have taken over the house. They have taken over my life. Someone help me!

7. Movies. I do not collect movies ( I really don't care much about movies), but someone else in my house does. And he has drawers and drawers full of them. I kinda wish he would get rid of some, actually. Then I would have a place to store my scrapbooks. :P

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pictures to Share

Well I have been wanting to share lots of pictures, but things have been so crazy lately I haven't done much blogging at all. I am still trying to unpack our house and am now sick for the THIRD time since coming to Hawaii. Uggh...what is wrong with me? Either there are strange germs on the island that I have no immunity to or, with this move, I am overworking and overstressing and not sleeping enough and have forced my body into shutdown mode.

Anyway, I'm just going to post a few random pictures from before the move all at once because otherwise they might not get shared at all.

Child Thing #1 at our big birthday bash. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of Child Thing #2 with the cake because he was not the least bit interested. He didn't even really want to eat any. Just put that boy in the pool!
What he did enjoy, however, was the cookie cake we got to celebrate his sister's real birthday (since the party wasn't on her birthday).
She was THRILLED when she realized she got an American Girl doll for her birthday!
Now for our dance recital pictures. This is her tap costume. She danced to Yellow Submarine. Tee hee!
Here she is after the recital in her ballet costume with Grandma, cousin Julie and Aunt Robyn. By this point she was rather tired and cranky, but you might have already guessed that by her facial expression.
Here we are with Grandmommy and brother. We coaxed a little smile out of her!
And then I tried to get a picture with the little ballerina and the impending meltdown happened.