Wednesday, December 24, 2008

First, Check the Obvious

So, last night I was sitting up waiting for the Diva to get home from a night out with her friends.

Normally I don't wait up for her, but it was getting late and I hadn't heard from her so I was a bit worried. Even though she is 20 y/o, if she isn't home she always calls by 1 a.m. to let me know she's okay and to give me an idea of when to expect her home. If I'm asleep when she comes home, she always lets me know she's home.

Last night she left the house sometime after 9 o'clock. One o'clock came and went and I never heard from her. I sent her a text at 2 o'clock, but she never replied.

This is when I started to worry.

She never forgets to call....sometimes she is late, but she always calls. If she forgets her phone, she borrows one. If I don't answer my cell, she calls the home phone and/or leaves a message.

Last night, nothing.

I called her four times between 2:00 and 3:30. It rang several times, then went to voice mail.

At 3:45 I turned off the television and tried to call one more time. After dialing her number, I heard a ring.......

The ring was coming from upstairs. In her bedroom.

I walked outside, and there was her car in the driveway. She had been sound asleep in bed since some time around midnight. I was cleaning the toy room when she came home, and she assumed I saw her when she walked by.

Next time I'm checking the driveway first.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Feeding Your Inner SuperHero

Last night I made grilled catfish for dinner. Sometimes Destructo will eat them, sometimes not.

Last night was a no-go.

He didn't eat dinner, but I wanted him to eat something before bedtime. He wanted a Pop-Tart and Capri Sun instead of fish. I reminded him of the conversation we had had a couple days earlier about protein, and how it helps build big muscles.

So, when he refused to eat the fish I told him I had a secret for him. He came over to me and I whispered, "Wildcard didn't eat his fish. If you eat yours, your muscles will grow and his won't. Maybe eating the fish will make you stronger than your brother."

That was his motivation.

He took a couple of small bites, but I could tell he needed more convincing. I put a piece of fish on the fork, then pointed to his left bicep and said, "This protein is going to make THAT muscle stronger!"

He ate it, and I continued to point out a different muscle with each bite.

There were two bites left on the plate when I got to his calf muscles. He said he didn't think he needed strong calf muscles, but I told him those are the muscles that help him jump high. So he ate.

Once his plate was empty he walked over and started beating on Wildcard.....just to test my theory.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why I'm Not a Rocket Surgeon (Reason #427)

(Or a Brain Scientist for that matter.)

For the past few weeks I've been freezing my butt off out here. I have one sweatshirt and a couple of long-sleeved shirts that I bought when I went to Michigan this fall. Other than two pair of capris (which look awful on me since I'm so short), all the clothing I own is suited for a tropical climate.

So tonight I was sitting at the computer, wrapped in the throw from the sofa, and trying to stay warm while I attempted to get some work done. It was laundry night, so my limited supply of warm clothes were dirty.

Suddenly it dawned on me that the Hubster wasn't here......and I knew he had some sweatshirts somewhere.

I ran upstairs and started looking through his half of the closet. It didn't take long before I hit the jackpot - there was a box on a low shelf clearly marked with his name followed by "Winter Clothes". I tore through it and found sweatshirts galore! As I was pulling one over my head, I caught a glimpse of a box on the next shelf up.

It was clearly marked with my name......



Followed by "Winter Clothes".

I swear I got rid of everything when we moved from Oklahoma, but obviously I was wrong.

The box contained three sweatshirts, two thermal shirts, three sweaters, a pair of wind pants, two pair of yoga pants, a pair of jeans, and a ton of socks!



Bring on winter!! (Or at least the SoCal version....)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seven Days

That's how long Destructo had to keep his attitude in check in order to get a fish.

fishie (day 12)

He wants to teach it to do tricks, like a dolphin, and wave with its hands.

But it can't ride a motorcycle, because fish don't ride motorcycles.

His big disappointment? Fish don't have eyebrows.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ten Things I've Never Done

A photo group I belong to has weekly challenges. This week's theme is "I've never....."

This got me thinking, and wondering what I've never done, and if I'm missing out on anything. So, I put together a list of Ten Things I've Never Done. It was more challenging than I thought.

1. Gotten a massage. I don't like the feeling of having my muscles kneaded like that, and I don't like people touching me. My sister is a massage therapist too, so I bet I could get a family discount if I wanted one. But I don't.

2. Eat sushi. Looking at it grosses me out. I think it goes all the way back to our days in Japan when we would go out for sushi with a group of friends. (I always stuck with the tempura.) The restaurants were always hole-in-the-wall places down tiny side streets that smelled like binjo ditch/raw fish/rotting flesh. Thank God for good beer.

3. Fix my own car. It's the one area where I prefer to be a dumb girl. I don't want to know how to fix things, I want someone to do it for me.

4. Love science. I find those science and nature shows to be incredibly boring. The Hubster loves that sort of thing, and passed the gene on to all the kids. I'm thankful, for their sake.

5. Skydive. Someday I will.

6. Smoke (anything). Just never appealed to me.

7. Watch Oprah or The View or Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy or anything with CSI in the title. Actually, now that I think about it, I can count the shows I DO watch on one hand. I like it that way.

8. Read Harry Potter. The boys have all the books and love the series. I don't get it.

9. Wear anything strapless. It'll fall off. Enough said.

10. Drink coffee. The smell nauseates me. I keep some on hand for guests and have a stash of Hawaiian coffees I give as gifts, but I've never tried the stuff myself. The Hubster doesn't drink it either. This is the one I decided to photograph for my group.

Photobucket

So, what have you NOT done?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Change, Damnit.

Destructo's attitude, that is.

The past few weeks have been tough on him. He's a bit unsure what all the weirdness around here is about, and doesn't quite know how to handle it.

So, he acts like a teenager. But he does it on the level of a four y/o who doesn't understand teenage behavior or know how to apply what he observes in the Wildcard to his own four y/o life.

For example, the other day I asked where he put his shoes.

His reply?

"Oh..........now the widdle baby wants a bottle."

What?


Anyway, the other day we were driving home from somewhere and he had been sassy most of the afternoon. I was discussing his attitude with him, and recommended he change the attitude immediately.

Dead silence from the backseat, for several minutes.

"Did you hear me? Do you understand what I'm asking of you?"

"YES!!! I'm just trying to decide what attitude I want to change it to! Gah!!"

(I could almost hear his eyes rolling.)


Today we had a much better day than most of the past week. Again we were talking in the car. (I seem to do a lot of that, don't I?)

I mentioned that I was really happy with his attitude today. We talked about how everyone has bad days but they just have to deal with it and not use it as an excuse to be sassy or mean to other people. I told him that we all have bad days, even grownups.

His response?

"Yeah. I think Thursdays are my bad days."


Wish me luck. It's Thursday.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teenage Hormones, Round Three

I always have the best conversations with the kids when we are in the car. Today was no exception.

I had picked the Wildcard up from swim team and it was just the two of us in the car. I don't remember exactly how the conversation got to this point, but this is where it became interesting.

Wildcard: What's with my eyes, anyway?

Me: What do you mean?

Wildcard: On the first day of school three different people told be that I had really cool eyes.

Me: Were they girls or boys?

Wildcard: (It was dark, but I could imagine he was rolling those really cool eyes.) Mom! They were girls. Don't be creepy.

Me: Just asking.

Wildcard: Today some girl came up to me and said that she and all seven of her friends were in love with my eyes.

Me: Nice possee you have going there. Are they cute? Does this mean you have your first girlfriend?

Wildcard: No........none of them even asked me out. It's not like in Hawaii.

Me: (my interest piqued) What do you mean "not like in Hawaii"?

Wildcard: Girls asked me out all the time in sixth grade and seventh grade. It was creepy.

(pauses)

Wildcard: I don't know why I am telling you this. I have a strict rule about not mixing my home life and my school life. You aren't supposed to know this stuff. Pretend this conversation never happened, okay?


Riiiiiiiight!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Boots in the Sand

Yeah, that too.

I probably won't be writing much about it for OPSEC and PERSEC reasons, but the Hubster left recently for Iraq. He'll be there for 7-12 months. Fortunately we're busy enough here that the time will (hopefully) fly by.

Prayers and good thoughts would be appreciated.


Things have settled down a bit now, and I plan to get back to my regularly scheduled blogging duties real soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Great Pumpkin, Destructo-Style

Fall is officially here. The days are shorter, leaves are beginning to change color, and there is a bit of a chill in the night air. It's been a while since we've experienced Fall (although the SoCal version is nothing compared to most of the rest of the country).

So, with Fall comes a trip to the pumpkin patch.

After Googling pumpkin patches and finding one nearby, I shared the good news with Destructo.

Me: Tomorrow is going to be fun. We're going to do something super-special!

Destructo: Oooohhhhhhh......

Me: We're going to a pumpkin patch.

Destructo: Huh?

Me: There are lots of activities for kids, a petting zoo, and a big field full of pumpkins. We can walk through the field and choose whichever pumpkin you want, then we'll bring it home and decorate it for Halloween.

Destructo: That doesn't sound like fun.

Me: Huh?

Destructo (totally excited, as a light bulb goes off in his head): How about we go to the race car patch? We can walk around, choose a special car, then bring it home and decorate it for Halloween!

I'm thinking I'm out of my league with this one.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Initiation, Of Sorts

Apparently the SoCal seasons are Winter, Mudslide, Gloom, and Wildfire.

It's officially Wildfire Season.

There's a huge fire on the Marine Corps base, about eight miles from our house. Tonight after dropping the Wildcard off at swim team, I headed off to snap a few photos at sunset. The sky was filled with an eerie, hazy smoke....which made for awesome photos.





After the sun set, I shot these from our house.





Perhaps this ISN'T the place for us.....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Mom, You're an Idiot.

So I'm in the commissary with Destructo.

My cart is overloaded with more crap than I came in for, forcing Destructo to huddle into a corner of the cart under an assortment of ramen noodles, Rice Krispies, and Cool Whip.

As I turn in the direction of the check-out, I realize that I forgot the evaporated milk for the pumpkin pies I promised the Hubster.

Me: Evaporated milk.....evaporated milk....must be in the baking aisle.

Destructo: Are we done yet?

Me: No, just one more thing.................not in the baking aisle. Evaporated milk.....in the cereal aisle?

Destructo: What are you looking for?

Me: Evaporated milk. Not in the cereal aisle. If I was evaporated milk, where would I be?

Destructo: What does 'evaporated' mean?

Me: Huh? It means it turns to vapors and disappears, like water into the clouds.

Destructo: So it disappears?

Me: Yeah. Where do they keep the evaporated milk around here?!!?!

Destructo: (total silence)

Me: Why can't I find the evaporated milk??!!???

Destructo: (looking at me as if I've lost my mind) Maybe it disappeared into the clouds.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Messing Around....

Pollen on a hibiscus:



Water drops on spiderwebs:



Brightening the day:



Webby lines:



On the rocks:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Irony?

First, thank you all for the kind words and prayers this past week. Things are slowly returning to normal, whatever that may be. Just when I think I'm doing okay, it hits me again and I break down like a little baby. Hopefully time will heal.

When I was home, one of the things we laughed about was my mom's inability to keep vases in the house.

She loved flowers but with eight kids running wild, her vases had a short life. It was funny because each time she got a new vase, one of us broke it. Once we were grown and out of the vase-breaking stage, her grandchildren took over the vase-breaking duties.


This afternoon I received a bouquet of flowers from a friend.

After thanking the delivery person, I went to the kitchen and started looking for a vase for the flowers. I dug through every kitchen cupboard and closet, but there were no vases to be found. I have at least half a dozen vases, but can't remember where the dang things were put when we unpacked.

For now, the bouquet is sitting pretty on my kitchen table...........in Destructo's airplane-shaped Lego container.

How ironic is that?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An Enigma Wrapped in a Paradox With a Side Order of Sarcasm

My mom died last week.

It seemed somewhat unexpected and sudden, but in hindsight not so much.

She has suffered from severe arthritis most of her adult life, and at one point (35 years ago) she was given 5-10 years to live. Of course, being the Queen of Stubborn she completely ignored the doctors on that one.

In spite of the pain, she continued to get up every morning with a smile on her face and never once complained that life wasn't fair to her. The arthritis slowed her down and made everyday tasks more difficult, but that was never an issue for her. Anytime I called and asked how she was feeling, her answer was always, "Oh, I'm fine. How are the kids?"

Three weeks ago she began having difficulty getting out of bed and showering by herself. We (the siblings and I) began discussing assisted living facilities, with my mom's blessing. The decision was made that she should remain in her home, with increased assistance from my brothers and sisters who lived nearby. My mom was relieved.

This was approximately the same time she mentioned to my dad that God had told her she didn't have long to live, and she said she needed to finalize a few things.

Less than two weeks ago she was no longer able to feed herself, brush her teeth, etc. I spoke with her that Saturday and she said she was fine (and asked about the kids) but dropped the phone three times during the conversation because it was just too heavy to hold.

That Sunday we arranged for 24-hour in-home nursing care. My sister called at 3 a.m. Monday to let me know that they didn't think she would make it through the day. I talked with my mom for a few minutes. It was difficult for her to speak, so I talked about the kids. My sister said she smiled.

I spoke with her again Monday afternoon. She wasn't able to respond, but again she smiled.

Monday night she slipped into a coma and she died Tuesday night.

It happened so fast - I still can't wrap my mind around it all.

I've spent the past week laughing and crying with family, friends, and total strangers who came together to remember her. Interestingly enough, many of those who thought they knew her pretty well had no clue who she really was.

On the surface she was the tiny, frail woman who showed up for church every Sunday, brought her famous scalloped corn to potlucks, and loved going to her grandkids' Little League games and Christmas programs. She made handmade quilts for each new baby in the family and always had a supply of ice cream treats for any kids who may stop by.

Below the surface was much, much more.

She had a wicked sense of humor, and her favorite 'holiday' was April Fool's Day. I remember getting up on April 1st, getting dressed for school and standing out in the driveway waiting and waiting and waiting for the school bus to pick us up. At some point one of us would run back into the house to check the clock.....only to discover that my mom had set all the clocks in the house ahead by one hour, leaving us standing out in the driveway for well over an hour.

She was also famous for tampering with our April 1st lunches. Instead of our usual meat and/or cheese sandwiches, we would bite into our sandwich and discover cardboard, or cheese with the wrapper still on, or meat/cheese around the edges of the sandwich with the entire center of the meat/cheese cut out. If we opted for peanut butter and jelly that day, it usually had a creepy crawler inside.

With eight kids she had to be creative, especially with punishment. The usual spankings didn't work after a certain age, so she came up with alternative punishment. My favorite? The time my mom heard my brother say "Fuck!" His punishment? Stand on a chair in the kitchen and repeat "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck....." I'll never forget the look on my dad's face when he came home from work and found my brother standing on a chair in the kitchen saying "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck." My mom was standing with her back to him calmly chopping vegetables for dinner. That was priceless.

This is why it somehow seemed so appropriate when some visitors arrived at the funeral home with their 10 y/o son. The son, who has Tourette's Syndrome, took one look at my mom and blurted out, "Oh, that lady is SO dead!!!" I could almost hear my mom giggling from above.

Her funeral was very traditional. The church was packed. The choir sang. My brother and I assisted with readings. The priest had many comforting words for us. (Although he did say that my mom was never persecuted, except by her children.....hmmmmmm.....)

At the end of the service, there was one last bombshell for those who only knew her as the quiet, petite, church-going woman with the perpetual smile on her face. Waiting in front of the church was a handful of scruffy, bearded, leather-clad bikers standing next to their Harleys waiting to take up the tail end of the motorcade from the church to the cemetery. Yes, she was their friend too.

I'm going to miss her.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Miss.......

Rain.

We haven't had a measurable amount of rain since we arrived. I miss rainstorms, and the rainbows that follow. I miss the smell of the rain. And, finally, I wish we would have a nice heavy rainstorm to wash off all those loogies off the pavement. Now I know why people wear shoes here.

The Aloha Spirit.

Especially on the road. Everyone we've met here has been genuinely nice....which makes me wonder where all the crazy drivers come from. I'm not used to drivers who cut you off just to get to the light first, who think nothing of driving 6 inches behind you at 65 miles per hour, and who interpret a turn signal (for a lane change) as "hurry up before this bitch cuts in front of me!!".

Kona Brewery.

We've found many hole-in-the-wall restaurants to replace those we loved in Hawaii, but I could SO go for a grilled mahi mahi sandwich with fresh, homemade kettle chips.

Good Friends.

No explanation needed.

(sigh)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Deja Vu?

You know that dream you have where you are back in middle school and you suddenly forget where your locker is? And you panic for a few seconds, then go ask the office ladies to help you? But when you try to ask for help, your mouth isn't working right so it comes out like, "Ecccusr m? I cadjjneajnflkdaksdfj." And the office ladies look at you like you are crazy?

Or the one where you show up for class and realize you brought the wrong book, didn't do your homework, or weren't even in the class? And when the teacher tries to tell you where you need to go, you can't understand what he's saying?

How about the one where you forget an important piece of clothing and don't realize it until you're in class, then just pretend nothing is wrong and hope no one notices that you didn't wear a shirt that day.

You would think that after all these years, it wouldn't matter any more.

....................

So, tonight was Back to School Night at the Wildcard's new school.

I arrived early for the new parent orientation, then began the ten-minute per class mini-schedule. First period went off without a hitch, as did second period.

I arrived at the Wildcard's third period and grabbed an open seat at the front of the room.

The teacher introduced herself, talked about her classroom policies, her expectations for the students, and parent involvement. Then she asked everyone to pull out their spiral notebooks and pass them to the front of the row.

I quickly glanced behind me and saw parents pulling notebooks out of purses, briefcases, and backpacks.

Okay, WTH was that?

Behind me were smug parents with the "See? I did my homework!!" look on their faces.

As they passed their spirals to me and watched as I passed them on to the teacher, I could feel their eyes upon me....

"OMG!! She didn't bring her homework!!!"

It was totally one of those middle school nightmares.

.................

The minute I walked back into the door that night, I called out to the Wildcard.

Me: Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm...............Did you forget to tell me something?

Him: The spiral, right? I pulled it out of my backpack just after you left.......

Me: And?

Him: Sorry?

Me: Can you ask your teacher where she gets her hair cut? Because it is really cute and I can totally see myself with that cut.

Him: Mom? That would be embarrassing.

I guess I'll just e-mail her.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Reality Bites.

The Blonde One is LOVING college. He loves his classes, loves his professors, and loves coming home to do homework.

He also loves being "the kid from Hawaii".

On the first day of his English class, the professor had them each stand up and introduce themselves, give the class some background, and tell them something interesting that they did over the summer.

The Blonde One introduced himself, discussed his future plans, then said he had just moved here from Hawaii this summer.

After class, half the students approached him and gave him a "you're cool" stamp of approval.

He was stoked.

His homework over the weekend involved writing an essay. He, being the cool kid from Hawaii, wrote about a bodysurfing experience at Sandy Beach. Sandy's is known for its treacherous waves, frequent drownings, and of course perfect conditions for bodysurfing.

When class time rolled around today, he was pumped up to share his essay and experiences with the class.

Unfortunately the professor had different ideas.

"Pass your essay to the person sitting behind you. They will critique it and we will discuss it as a group."

The Blonde One turned to see who was sitting behind him.

It was the 13 y/o brainiac who was taking college courses as part of her high school curriculum. He reluctantly passed his essay to the girl. The girl, I might add, is the same age as the Wildcard.

She. Ripped. It. Apart.

His writing style? Not so impressive. His grammar? Needs work. Content? Yeah, work on that too.

He said she was somewhat embarrassed as she passed it back to him.

She apologized.

He was flustered.

"Well........at least I am old enough to drive!!!"

Our family doesn't possess the "great comeback" gene, obviously.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kickin' My Ass

For the past few weeks the Hubster and I have been picking one morning and biking together.

The first week, we loaded the bikes into his car and headed to the beach. We found a nearby parking place and rode about 8 miles (round trip) along the beach. It was nice, relaxing, and just a bit of a workout.

The second week we parked further away, then did 14 miles at a faster pace. Not a problem, it was a good workout and we got to spend some time together.

I need to add, by the way, that we (okay, I) can't ride from our house, even though it is only two miles from the beach. We live in a hilly area, and there is a steep hill between us and the beach.....and I KNOW there is no way I can bike that hill (yet)!

So, we drive to a point past the hill, park and ride.

This morning, week three, we loaded up the bikes, grabbed some water and headed off to our pre-determined parking spot.

Somewhere between our house and the parking spot, I actually said, "You know, you don't have to take it easy because of me. Last week I kept having to brake because you were slowing down for me."

Big mistake.

Ninety minutes, eighteen miles, and numerous steep hills later I almost collapsed as we loaded the bikes back into the car. It was a killer workout and I wanted to vomit.

(That's how I knew it was a good thing.)



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pop!!!!

Did you hear it?

That was the sound of the Wildcard's end-of-summer bubble bursting.

I've always given the kids one day at the end of summer, just before school starts again, to have an official Kids' Day.

They have 24 hours to do any/everything they choose (within reason and the law, of course). In the past it has included water parks, bowling, favorite restaurants, tons of junk food, and marathon all-night slumber parties involving video games and more junk food. There is no bed time, they choose the activities, and meals are at their discretion.

This year, since the Diva and the Blonde One are both in college, the Wildcard was on his own. He planned an all-night meeting on the Wii with two of his friends in Hawaii and one friend in Vegas. He would stay up all night, eat Barbecue Baked Lays, drink root beer until he vomits, then sleep it off the next morning.

The Vegas/SoCal/Hawaii logistics were all worked out - the marathon video game session would be two nights before school started, giving him an entire day to recover before starting at his new school.

Then, the Phone Call.

It was the Wildcard's school, the afternoon before the all-night gaming session.

Did I know that there was an orientation for new students beginning at 8 a.m. the following day? And that all new students were encouraged to attend? And, by the way, the Wildcard's shot record didn't show that he had received a varicella vaccine. I would need to show proof of that before school started.

(His shot record had been transcribed from other records a few years ago, and I knew he had been given the varicella vaccine...it was just a matter of correcting the records.)

So......the all-night gaming was cancelled.

The Wildcard was up at 7 a.m. for orientation (which turned out to be a total disaster, possibly blogworthy on another day).

After orientation I took him to medical to have his shot record properly transcribed. In the process they informed me that a varicella booster was overdue. It was ugly, but we chased him down and the immunization was given.

Poor kid. I feel like I owe him something after all that......

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Head Scratchers

Last week we received an e-mail from the Wildcard's old school in Hawaii. It seems that he is failing all of his classes this year, mostly due to non-attendance and not turning in his assignments.

I e-mailed the school and each of his teachers to let them know we have moved and he wouldn't be attending this year. Most replied, thanking me for making them aware of this.

On Thursday the Hubster received a call from the Marine who had replaced him in Hawaii.

They were looking for the Hubster, and wanted to let him know that his child (the Wildcard) was truant.

The Replacement informed the caller than we had moved to California over the summer.

The caller then asked if the Wildcard would still be attending the school.

Ummmmm.......the daily commute is a bit much, eh?

..........................

E-mail from our bank, exactly as received:

"Subject: Account has an NSF Check or ACH Debit

Your account, ending in , has a non-sufficient funds , in the amount of $. This item was presented for payment on , and subsequently returned for non-sufficient funds. A non-sufficient funds fee of $20.00 will be debited from your account."

Seven hours later, we received this follow-up:

"This is to advise you that an E-mail notification was sent to you in error. The E-mail subject states, “Account has an NSF Check or ACH Debit”. Please note this E-mail did not accurately reflect your account status. Please disregard it. We apologize for the inconvenience."

Really???? The missing information in the original e-mail never would have clued me in...

......................................

The Blonde One erupts into a serious case of the giggles as he is filling out a job application.

Mom!! Come and look at this question!!

He points to Question #12:

Have you had any felony convictions within the past seven years? (please select only one)

0 Decline to answer.
0 Yes. (please explain)
0 No.
0 Hawaii applicant.

Gotta love the Islands!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Good Gouge

"Sir, you drive until you see a traffic cone on top of a post. Turn on the dirt road just past the cone, and drive for a while. It'll turn to asphalt, then back to dirt. After ten or fifteen miles it comes to a 'T" and you turn left. Follow it to the end. Oh, and wear sneakers because you may step in fresh bison poop. And by the way, tell your wife there are lots of rattlesnakes up there."

With those directions, we ditched the kids and headed off.

Getting there was half the battle (okay, more like 90% of the battle). The dirt road was narrow and filled with rocks and ruts. As we drove on, the dirt turned to powder. Each stop left us sweaty, coughing and covered in dirt/powder.

Once we reached the top, the terrain completely changed. We were surrounded by rolling hills, trees, and ponds. It was like a different world up there, so quiet and peaceful.

I'm sure that's what the bison thought too.....quiet and peaceful until we pulled up and I started snapping pictures. This one was a bit ticked off. A few seconds later his friend stood up and they took a few steps in my direction.

I made a quick exit.

Photobucket

This is one of the ponds we found. The Hubster was wishing he had brought fishing poles because it was filled with huge fish. (If I was a fisherperson, I would remember what type of fish they were.)

Photobucket

The scenery at the top was breathtaking....

Photobucket

This is my favorite photo from the trip - it is the view looking back down the mountain. You can see all the narrow, dirt roads winding across the hills.

Photobucket

It's certainly not Hawaii, but it'll do!

(Oh, and we didn't see a single rattlesnake!)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Blah, Blah, Blah, Right? Right?? RIGHT??!!??

Destructo has been taking swim lessons this month.

His first two-week session was great, from my perspective.

I was able to plop him into the pool with Miss Kara, then retreat to the sidelines and have intelligent conversation with the other moms. Destructo often emerged from his 30-minute lesson with dry hair, but it was okay as long as I was able to have a few minutes of intellectual stimulation.

The second session was totally opposite.

Destructo cried when he discovered that he had a new teacher, but quickly fell in love with Miss Alexa. He obediently did his head dunks, jumped into deep water, and practiced his front crawl.

For me, it was not so much fun.

The only other mom there was......well, annoying as Hell.

Not only was she constantly telling Miss Alexa how to teach the class, but she NEVER shut up about her kid.

A typical conversation went like this:

Annoying as Hell Mom: Oh, look!! They are going to do back floats now! Go Jakie, go!!! Good job, Jakie!

Me: Shut the Hell up. (Okay, that was just inside my head.)

Annoying as Hell Mom: (to me) Did you see Jakie? He is so cute! Isn't he cute?

Me: Shut the Hell up. (Again inside my head, but I can feel my lips resisting the urge to move....)

Annoying as Hell Mom: (looking at me now, making sure there is eye contact) Isn't he cute? Isn't Jakie the CUTEST THING EVER??!!??

So now I'm sitting there, trying to find a way to politely tell her that her kid really isn't that cute, at least not compared to the blue-eyed kid with the blonde curls, and by the way could you just Shut-the-Hell-Up?

And just then it happened.

Destructo, in an effort to impress Miss Alexa, popped out of his turtle float too quickly, too close to the edge, and cracked his head on the lip of the pool. There was blood, there was crying, and there was an exit.

Thank God for head wounds.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Reality

So I'm puttering around in the kitchen, trying to avoid the chaos and mess that the Hubster just dumped all over the living room floor.

Suddenly Destructo comes running around the corner, carrying a drab brown pouch, excited out of his mind by his new discovery.

Destructo: Mom!! Look what Dad has!! You open it up and it transforms into a shovel! Just like my Transformers movie!

Me: Ummmmmhmmm.....that's super cool!

He trots off to rummage through the increasing pile of crap on the living room floor.

A few minutes later he returns, wearing goggles.

Destructo: Mom!! Do I look cool? These aren't for swimming though, Dad said they are sand goggles.

And he's off before I can respond.

By this time I've scrubbed the granite several times and the stainless steel is spotless. I'm working on organizing my spice cupboard when Destructo returns.

He's giggling as he tries to maneuver the corner in a desert cammo flack jacket. The Hubster is holding the jacket to keep Destructo's 35-pound self from collapsing into a heap on the floor.

Destructo: Mom, you should come out here and see all the cool stuff Dad brought home!

I shoot the Hubster a look, then go back to alphabetizing my spices.

Denial works well until you start tripping over it in your living room.

(sigh)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Fun With Imaginary Friends

Today our mailbox was filled with the usual junk mail.....grocery store flyers, catalogs, Val-Pak coupons, etc.

Amidst the junk, one envelope caught my eye.

It was an advertisement/solicitation from the Dish Network. The upper left corner of the envelope displayed their company logo, which you can see on their web page.

I must be pure evil, because I quickly called Destructo over and showed him the envelope. He knows about addresses on mail....the name in the center is who it's for, and the name in the upper left corner is who it's from.

I showed him the return address, and helped him sound it out.

Ddddd.........iiiiiiiii.........shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

There goes my Gold Star for the day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Hate To Say It.....

And I may regret saying it.

But....

We

Love

It

Here!

We're not missing Hawaii nearly as much as we thought we would, with the exception of a few things. We have been spoiled by Hawaii's beaches, the soft sand, turquoise waters, and blue skies. California beaches are grey.....grey skies, grey water, and grey dirt. Definitely not as photogenic as the Hawaii beaches!! The Hubster misses his Hawaii surf, but broke down and bought a wetsuit for the cold Pacific Ocean.

The traffic here can get crazy, especially on the freeways. A friend pointed out that we still drive like we are in the islands. Oh well, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

On the plus side, we LOVE the cooler weather. I'll probably complain about it when winter comes, but we love being able to be outside more than in Hawaii.

We love the convenience of everything. The Diva and Blonde One have a ten minute commute to their college. The Wildcard's school is less than that. The bank, the mall, any store or restaurant we need is within fifteen minutes. Parking is free and without hassle.

We have a Target (ten minutes away), Olive Garden (five minutes away), and Mervyns (ten minutes away)! It's the trifecta of things I've been missing.....I don't know if I'll be able to contain myself if I find an Auntie Anne's pretzels nearby!

We rented our house sight-unseen. Have I mentioned that we love it? (More on that another day.) The neighborhood is Norman Rockwellish, but in a non-freaky way. Our neighbors introduced themselves, had pizza delivered while we were unpacking, and sent their kids over to welcome our kids to the neighborhood.

People are (gasp!!) nice here! I called the DMV and not only did they answer their phone, but they were pleasant when answering my questions. The secretary at the Wildcard's school returned my call within an hour of leaving a voicemail. And.....sit down for this one.....I have had TWO pleasant shopping experiences at Costco!!! Not only were the employees friendly and helpful, but the customers smiled and didn't shove me out of the way to get free samples!!

It's funny because we've been avoiding California like the plague for the Hubster's entire career. It was never, ever on our list of places we wanted to be. Now we've been here three weeks and are already including it on our Top Three Places We Want to Retire list.

Crazy, eh?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Question of the Day:

A woman walks into a grocery store carrying a pineapple, a jar of pickles, and a package of coffee filters. She makes a beeline for the Express Checkout and plops her items down in front of the cashier and says she needs to return them. She fumbles through her purse and comes up with a handful of wadded receipts, some from the grocery store and some not. She, the cashier, and the bagger look through the receipts and attempt to find a pineapple, a jar of pickles, and a package of coffee filters.

The manager has been watching from a distance and comes over to let the lady know that the coffee filters are not a brand carried by the store. The lady insists she bought them from the store, but after a brief argument decides not to press the issue.

Meanwhile, the cashier and the bagger find the pineapple and the jar of pickles on two different receipts, charged to two different credit cards. The cashier needs both credit cards in order to do the return.

Once again, the lady fumbles through her purse....this time looking for credit cards. She produces a half dozen cards, and the cashier attempts to match the card numbers to the receipts. She finds the credit card used to buy the jar of pickles, but not the pineapple.

The cashier says she can't do a return on the pineapple without the credit card. The lady argues and the manager steps in. After a few heated words, the lady grabs her pineapple, jar of pickles, and package of coffee filters and stomps out of the store.

The question of the day....

Who was next in line?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dish

Destructo: Mom, can I play with my friend today?

Me: Which friend would that be?

Destructo: Dish.

Me: Dish?

Destructo: Dish.

Me: I don't think I know Dish. Where does he live?

Destructo: He lives on Kauai.

Me: (silence)

Destructo: He's going to drive his Mustang here. He's five, so he knows how to drive.

Me: How do you know Dish?

Destructo: From swimming lessons. His class is before mine.

The Diva (not wanting to be left out of this conversation): What does Dish look like?

Destructo: Like me. Except his belly button is here (pointing to a spot three inches above his own belly button).

The Diva: Why is his belly button up there?

Destructo: Because he lives on Kauai.

(Duh.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like.....

Home!!

We're (almost) settled, finally. I have to finish hanging pictures, buy some new throw rugs, and find a solution for the lack of towel racks in the bathrooms....oh, and register the Wildcard for school.

Anyway.

It's been a long two months.

The move itself went well. After doing this more than a dozen times, we have things figured out and were able to handle the unexpected issues without getting stressed.

As far as the 'vacation' is concerned, it really wasn't that much of a vacation. We spent a lot of time handling issues related to aging parents - financial matters, medical care, etc. That, and mopey jet-lagged teenagers, sucked most of the energy out of me. We also received news that one of our neighbors in Hawaii was killed in Iraq, leaving behind a wife and four children.

On the positive side, in spite of the cold and rainy Michigan weather, we did manage a canoe trip and then had (almost) the entire family together for Father's Day. That's a rarity, since there are so many of us!

In Florida, Destructo went fishing for the first time....and ended up catching the biggest fish ALL BY HIMSELF while his brothers weren't watching him (grrr....). We also went to see the Bodies Exhibition in Ft. Lauderdale. It was cool and a bit gruesome at the same time.

Anyway, we're "home" now and getting back to normal. A makeover of the Blog is in order, to go along with the new life off the island. Stay tuned....

Friday, June 20, 2008

Observations From the Road

1. A limo is a freaky experience at 4 a.m.

2. California is C-O-L-D!

3. There were squirrels on the beach.

4. Kids become best friends and worst enemies with so much togetherness.

5. Michigan was COLDER!

6. Be skeptical of any 50-something guy named "Freddie".

7. Florida is hotter and more muggy than I remember.

8. I need my own space.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Crazy Update

Now that we're down to one computer, it's tough finding time to update things. Here's the rundown and a few pictures:

-The Blonde One graduated! His blondeness took over at the last minute and he almost wasn't allowed to walk due to a "wardrobe malfunction", but it all worked out.

-Quality of life sucks lately. We went from four cars to two overnight, and sharing vehicles means I am usually stuck at home with Destructo. We also went from six air conditioners to one, which means I am stuck in a HOT house with a 4 y/o who doesn't have any of his toys.


-On my third attempt, I finally found the trailhead to the Old Pali/Likelike trail!!! And when I did, I realized my camera battery was dead. Bummer. I hiked the trail anyway, but have no pictures to share.

-I did make it back to Koko Botanical Gardens. It was a hot, dusty, dry hike. There was a cool cactus patch in the middle, but other than that I would recommend checking out the plumeria groves and skipping the rest.

Plumeria of every color:







- We have had some of the most amazing sunsets. I captured this from my front porch last weekend:



- Each year on Memorial Day there is a lantern floating at Magic Island. It's a Buddhist tradition where lanterns with the names of those who have passed on are floated out to sea at sunset. We had gone to one in Japan, and I always wanted to go to the one here. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh?



Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend Weirdness

Friday Night, 2 a.m.:

I had just crawled into bed when I heard a car pull into the driveway and saw two MP's (military police officers) get out and head toward our back door. Three seconds later I heard the back door open, and someone enter our house. As I went flying down the hallway toward the kitchen, the swinging kitchen door opened and nearly hit me in the head.

It was the Blonde One, who had celebrated his last day of high school at the beach with his friends, and was supposed to be spending the night at a friend's house.

"Mom, I'm not in trouble. Except maybe with you."

The short version: They were still at the beach. Some of the kids were drinking. Everyone was given a breathalyzer. The Blonde One and his current Nottagirlfriend were the only ones to blow a 0.00000. Alcohol was confiscated. Anyone under 18 y/o was escorted home because there was a midnight curfew for 17 y/o kids.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what to punish him for.

His friends were drinking. He drove two of them home, just to make sure they made it safely.

The M.P.s said he was very polite and cooperative, and had obviously not been drinking.

He was out past curfew, but I didn't realize there was a curfew for 17 y/o kids.

He asked the MP if he could keep the little white tube he had to blow into for the breathalyzer, and he thought it was really cool that they let him keep it.

Other than being a goofy teenager who wasn't where he told me he would be, I really don't have a lot to punish him for.....except maybe making me run outside and talk to MPs at 2 a.m.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Poetry Slam

Sometimes the ideas they come up with scare me.

Take the Wildcard this time.

They are doing a poetry unit in English class, and their assignment is to choose a poem (any poem), analyze it, critique it, and explain where you think the writer is coming from. It's due next week, and he hasn't really started yet.

Oh, and it's an oral presentation.

No biggie, he's pretty good about getting things completed and turned in on time.


Tomorrow his school is having a carnival, of sorts. The teachers are all volunteering for dunking booths, face painting, and other activities. The kids get to have the upper hand for the day, dunking the math teacher or watching the music teacher dance the hula. It's a fun day, and the money raised goes back into school programs.

The Wildcard's English teacher came up with her own idea, something only an English teacher would attempt. For $1 she will write a poem about any subject of the student's choosing, no matter how obscure.

You read that right, and probably made the connection.

The Wildcard is going to pay his teacher $1 to write a poem on a topic she knows nothing about, then critique it for his oral presentation in her class.


I'm looking forward to the teacher's feedback on that one....

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Power of Sir

After the packers hauled all our crap away, the base provided us with loaner furniture and a washer/dryer. We discovered this weekend that the dryer wasn't heating (and it takes approximately six hours to dry clothes without heat, FYI).

So, apparently the Hubster (aka "Sir") and I (aka "Justawife") each decided to handle the situation.

I called housing. I expected them to take a week or more to fix it, and was surprised when they told me they would send someone to 'take a look at it' between 1-3 on Wednesday. 'Taking a look at it' may or may not mean the same as fixing it, but it was a start, right?

The Hubster (aka Sir) contacted a 'Sir' at Housing. They said they would take care of it as soon as possible, most likely today.

Less than an hour later they arrived with apologies and a brand new dryer, tags still attached.

I need a title. Obviously "Justawife" isn't cutting it any more.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Attracting the Crazies Yet Again

The Hubster hates being home on packout and moving days, and I don't blame him. There's always a bit of weirdness going on with our movers.

Take this week for example.

Packing out is a three-day process, usually two days of packing followed by one day of loading everything onto the truck(s). The moving company we had this time did a pack and load each day, which was awesome - our house was cleared gradually and we didn't have to live among cardboard and clutter while we waited for it to all be loaded.

Day one was uneventful.

Day two took a turn toward the bizarre early in the day.

The Big Guy of the three-man crew asked to use my phone. Not a problem.

I happened to be in the Blonde One's room at the time, which was just around the corner from the kitchen where he was using the phone. I heard him dial several numbers, but there was no conversation.

A few minutes later, my phone rang and when I answered it, it was a woman asking if I had just called her.

I told her I didn't, but someone else in the house may have called. I handed the phone over to the Big Guy who acted confused by the whole thing. He had a brief conversation, then hung up.

A few minutes later the phone rang again. It was the same lady asking who I was, then asking to speak with the Big Guy.

This happened two more times within an hour.

Finally the Big Guy came clean. The voice on the other end of the phone was his ex-wife and she was demanding more support. He called her from my phone, then hung up just to "mess with her".

She kept calling back to find out who I was, and why her ex was at my house.

The next time she called, I handed the phone to him and stood there until he told her the truth. My kids don't even pull crap like that.

Day three didn't turn weird until the afternoon.

I think the Big Guy felt bad for his behavior the previous day because he showed up with a large bag of "grinds of da kine!" (grinds=food; da kine really has no translation)

He explained that his girlfriend (NOT me!) works at Zippy's (the Hawaiian version of Denny's) and always brings home leftovers at the end of the day. The previous night she had brought home a bag of ham/cheese croissants, hotdog croissants, and some chicken wraps.

He declined my offer of refrigeration and plopped the entire bag on the kitchen counter, where they sat all morning. Keep in mind that this is May in Hawaii, we currently have no tradewinds, and we only have air conditioning in our bedrooms.

The Big Guy and his Two Accomplices went about their business, wrapping, packing, and loading throughout the morning, taking occasional breaks for 'da grinds'.

Early afternoon came, and the Big Guy was complaining of stomach pain. He asked if I wanted the other half of his chicken wrap, because it didn't seem to be agreeing with him. (Ummmmmm................no?) Almost an hour passed, and he was doubled over in pain. He asked if I would call an ambulance for him, then changed his mind and headed to the Diva's bathroom where he spent the next thirty minutes.

Meanwhile, the Two Accomplices continued working, sort of. Accomplice #1 slowed the pace, then had to go lie down in the truck for a long time. He came back just in time to take his turn in the Diva's bathroom while the Bug Guy took his place in the truck.

Accomplice #2 did the best he could, but by that time most of the wrapping and packing was finished. Loading the truck was a two or three person job.

Eventually they gave up and said they would return in the morning for an unprecedented (for me) fourth day of packout.

It's been a freakin' long week.

In spite of everything, I am optimistic that they did a good job, but I won't really know until I see my stuff again in July.

I'm hoping I don't open a kitchen box and find some grinds of da kine in there......
So It Begins

Everything we own (except 1,000 pounds and six suitcases not to exceed 50 pounds each) is on its way to the Mainland. The remaining 1,000 pounds will leave in early June, and we will be on a plane soon after.

Moving sucks.

More on that after I get some much needed sleep and a Margarita or two.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Maybe She'll Get Her Own 900-Number

I'm not sure what disturbs me the most about this story - that the Blonde One can do this with a straight face, or that the guidance counselor actually believed it.

The Diva is majoring in kinesiology, with a pre-physical therapy focus. Kinesiology is the science of human movement, basically how the body functions and moves.

So, the Blonde One was talking with his school guidance counselor this week, and she asked about the Diva and what she was studying in college.

The Blonde One inherited the sarcasm gene, which runs rampant in our family. I'm positive it is a dominant gene, because I'm constantly surrounded by smartasses, and they all seem to be related to me.

He told the counselor that his sister was a kinesiology major.

The counselor gave him a blank look, then asked what "kinesiology" was.

The Blonde One jumped at this opening.

Blonde One: She's studying to be a psychic.

Counselor: Oh. (long pause) I didn't know you could major in that.

Blonde One: It pays really well if you have a degree.

Counselor: She's a very smart girl, I just never pictured her as a psychic though. I'm sure she'll do well.






Sunday, May 04, 2008

Craigslist Crazies

We have a love/hate relationship with Craigslist.

We've had some very good luck selling things on Craigslist, but have also run into more than our fair share of freaks.

Like the lady who wanted to buy the Diva's vehicle.

The Diva has been trying to decide if she should keep her vehicle or pay $1,000+ to have it shipped to the Mainland when we move. She finally decided to list it on Craigslist just to see if she got any offers. If it sold, fine. If not, we'll ship. No big deal.

She listed it about a month ago for the Blue Book value, $7,200. Almost immediately we received a call from Crazy Lady, who seemed quite normal at this early stage of the game. Crazy Lady had been looking for that make/model, and was very interested in the Diva's vehicle. We talked for several minutes, and she told me how much she loved that make/model, she only drives that make/model, and would love to take it for a test drive before buying it. Then she said that she could not go above $6,300.

We said we would consider it, if it meant a quick sale.

Crazy Lady drove the vehicle and raved about how much she loved the make/model and wanted to buy the Diva's vehicle for $6,300. She asked if we could meet her at her bank the following morning to do the transaction.

Awesome, right?

The next morning when we met her at the bank, she said she wanted her mechanic to take a look at it first. We were okay with that, so we headed over to the auto shop and took a ride with the mechanic.

We drove around town while Crazy Lady asked about the quality of the vehicle in general, and the quirky noises of the Diva's vehicle. The mechanic said the make/model tends to run forever with few problems, then addressed each quirky noise she asked about. All in all, the mechanic said it was an excellent vehicle, and the little quirks could be fixed for under $200.

We drove back to the bank, where Crazy Lady said that based on her mechanic's recommendation, she couldn't offer us any more than $5,800 for the vehicle.

Huh?

She said the repairs would cost a few hundred dollars, plus the vehicle didn't have a cassette player and she would have to install one. It has a 6-CD player, but she only listens to cassettes.

I told her we wouldn't sell for $5,800. After some negotiation, we agreed on $6,000 only if we could complete the sale the following day.

The following morning she called and said that her friend told her we were taking advantage of her status as a single, older woman, and that she shouldn't be paying any more than $5,500.

So now we've gone from $7,200 to $6,300 to $6,000 to $5,500.

I said, "No thank you" and ended it there.

She followed up with an e-mail detailing why she should only pay $5,500 for the vehicle. Most of her rationale was that she was borrowing the money from a friend and wanted to pay it off in ten months. Her payment of $550 was going to strap her for those ten months, which was somehow our fault.

Fast forward to this weekend.

The Diva took her expensive sound system out of the vehicle and re-listed it for $6,300.

The first e-mail we received was from Crazy Lady: "I sure wish you had offered it at that price when I was in the market for a vehicle a few weeks ago."

WTF?? Then she would have tried to get it for $4,600??

Idiots.

Monday, April 28, 2008

You Told Them WHAT??!!??

A conversation on the way home from church today:

Me (to the Diva): You need to let them (her employer) know that you are moving in a few weeks.

The Diva: I did. I just feel bad because I'm the only one who really does anything there, and they depend on me.

The Hubster: I'm sure they understand. They know that military families move a lot.

The Diva: Oh, I didn't tell them we were military.

Me: You didn't?

The Diva: No. I didn't want to get into all of that.

Me: What did you give as a reason for leaving?

The Diva: I just said that my parents were separating, and I was moving to California with my mom.