Category Archives: Vacations

Waikiki Chase

Aerial Waikiki

Today I have 2 young cousins that are in Waikiki. They’re first cousins and didn’t even know that the other would be there too until their mothers informed them today of their posts that they read on Facebook! One is there for the Honolulu Marathon Week festivities and the other is just there for a short stopover before she heads for a much-needed 3-week vacation to be with her Mama, who lives on Kauai. Of course, this reminds me of a myriad of fabulous memories and events that I’ve enjoyed in Waikiki throughout the past 40 years, but thinking about the Honolulu Marathon being run tomorrow makes me think about my own WAIKIKI CHASE that occurred 26 years ago. The photo above is an aerial photo that was taken recently of Waikiki but the shoreline is basically the same, although the sandy beach area in front of the Sheraton Waikiki isn’t nearly as expansive as it used to be. The 2 red stars that I have placed on this photo are the beginning and end points of this ‘chase‘.

When my (now ex) hubby was stationed on a ‘remote’ tour-of-duty on the Arctic Circle in the very northern part of Canada, the USAF sent the 3 children and I to Oahu for 14 months to be near Hickam Air Force Base. We assumed this would be our next assignment. It didn’t turn out to be so, Hurlburt Field in Florida’s Panhandle did, but that will be for another story. Our favorite activities were going to the beaches and to the zoo. Luckily, the beaches are free and we had an annual pass that included both the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. My daughter loved watching clams and anything else that’d make it’s way into the sand, and running after the birds. My youngest son had his most fun building sandcastles. My oldest son played in the water and chatted with the tourists. That’s one of the main reasons that I usually chose to frequent the beaches with the lifeguard stands….because my 3 kids were ages 5 and under.

We always took a cooler to the beach with our sandwiches and drinks. I kept my wallet in the bottom of this cooler for safekeeping so that I’d not have to have a purse to sling over my shoulder every time the kiddies and I wanted to go into the water. We had a lot of ‘stuff’ that we took to the beach: beach towels, hats, sunblock and suntan lotion, aloe, 2 pairs of sunglasses for each of us, boogie boards, slippahs (flip-flops), assorted items to build sandcastles with, pails and shovels, cooler, bandages, and even an extra swimsuit for each of the kids. I had a couple of big cloth bags that fit all of this stuff and it fit into the trunk of my car. Our car always had this ‘beach kit’….ready for anytime that the mood struck us to ‘hit the beach’!

On this particular day, we were eating lunch at the Ft. DeRussy Beach, which is the military beach at the western end of Waikiki. My daughter started chasing a small flock of birds. I called to her but she didn’t hear me. The wind picked up and she kept running, so I grabbed a boy in each hand and took off after her, leaving ALL of our belongings behind. Every time we got close to her, I’d call out to her but she didn’t hear me. She was 3-years-old and her only thought was to run and laugh as she chased those birds! She was having a blast while the boys and I were barely able to keep her within our sight! The tourists paid no attention and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to ask a lifeguard for assistance. All I could think of was to get to my baby girl! We FINALLY caught up to her at the eastern end of Waikiki near the zoo. We’d run a total of 1.8 miles in the sand! My 5-year-old son caught her first and we all collapsed into the sand, exhausted. That’s when I realized that I didn’t want to make that long and tiresome trek back. I suddenly remembered that all of my belongings, including my wallet and keys, were almost 2 miles away. I decided to beg for a ride so that’s exactly what we did. I brushed off as much of the sand as we could, and then we went to the road, where The Bus comes along every 10 minutes. I was extremely thankful that the very first busdriver believed my story and let us ride for free!

When we got back to Ft. DeRussy, I was relieved that our stuff was still in the same spot where we left it. I was nervous as I stuck my hand down into the cooler but my untouched wallet and keys were actually there too! We gathered everything and walked to the car. Of course I made the kids pay extra attention to the long path as I drove along the exact route that we’d taken as we ran that 1.8 miles during our WAIKIKI CHASE!!! We were very tired when we got home but the ‘lecture‘ was minimal. My daughter never did catch those birds. She still tries though. She’s studying to be a Biologist with hopes of getting a Master’s degree in Zoology. Guess what? She DOES HAVE a special place in her heart for birds too! Hmmm, maybe it started when she was about 3 on a beach somewhere in Hawaii!

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Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

My Mama makes the best APPLE DUMPLINGS in the world! This is my opinion & it’s undisputed. Nobody can change my mind tho many have tried. Nope….won’t happen; can’t be done….hers are best! No room for discussion! Yes, I am a very good cook too, and, yes, I probably COULD prepare them just about the same as Mama does (I’ve watched and assisted numerous times since I was a young girl) but that just wouldn’t be the same, now would it???

This time of year brings the falling leaves in the top half and middle of our country. Friends and kin like to ask me the same thing every year at this time, and that is whether or not I’m missing the changing of the seasons and the beautiful, splendid, colorful, and ever-changing scenery. I always emphatically answer a resounding “NO”! I don’t like the cold in any way, shape, or form! As for the spectacular changing colors….viewing their lovely photos on social media is plenty enough for me. I do NOT need to be there physically in order to admire my Lord’s awesome handiwork.

Autumn DOES bring ‘apple harvest’ tho, which means APPLE DUMPLINGS, apple pies, apple cider, homemade applesauce and/or apple butter in the crockpots, and caramel or candied apples; and also bobbing-for-apples at get-togethers! I grew up in northern Indiana where there were always plenty of apples to pick. The school kids would be taken by the busloads to a particular apple orchard for a special day of being educated about the apple harvest, and would then be treated to apple recipes to try and bring home, as well as having fun and games before being taken back to school. I remember chaperoning when my youngest son’s class took this ‘field trip’ and enjoyed an amazing day with his classmates. My biggest surprise of that day was the gigantic jar of Apple Blossom Honey that I bought. It was the tastiest honey that I have EVER had in my entire life! Just the thought of it makes me want some RIGHT NOW! But I’m not willing to drive all the way to Indiana just for honey! Florida’s Orange Blossom Honey comes in 2nd place, so I settle for that.

Now, at this time I will add a tiny note to mention that the Cracker Barrel restaurant does indeed offer a rather yummy dessert that they TRY to pass off as an Apple Dumpling, however it is actually more of an Apple Cobbler or some kind of an Apple Dessert Casserole. Anybody that knows me will attest that I’ll use every excuse to dine at Cracker Barrel because I feel that their ‘Southern cooking’ reminds me the most of my own Gramma’s cooking. Biscuits and gravy for breakfast OR fried catfish with turnip greens and dumplins are my ‘go-to’ meals that I could enjoy every week, much to my children’s dismay (since they are the ones that take me)! IF I’m lucky….or perhaps it’s ‘if my daughter is feeling sorry for me’….I’ll get her to share one of those big desserts with me. It’s delicious for sure, but usually just tends to create a hunger for Mama’s APPLE DUMPLINGS even more!

Late September of last year we drove to Indianapolis to attend my beautiful niece’s perfect wedding. (believe me, my love for her is one of the very few reasons that I’ll return to that cold climate!) We stayed a couple of days with my Mama and I didn’t even realize until a few months later that I’d totally forgotten to ask her to bake some APPLE DUMPLINGS for me! When I called and mentioned it to her, she got a kick outa that….HA! I’m getting sooooo forgetful that I’m having trouble remembering things, even requests of my fave desserts that ONLY MAMA can make just the way I like it! But AHA! Next spring at the end of April I certainly hope that I remember to ask for them when I go to visit Mama for her 80th Birthday Celebration! I realize that apples will be out of season and I know that it’ll be her birthday but I still want my treat!!! And only Mama can make it for me….and that’s just the way it is! This time I’m getting my APPLE DUMPLINGS!

Silly Boy

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My baby boy is coming for a visit in exactly ONE WEEK!! HOORAY!!! This youngest child of mine is the one that has oddest sense of humor and always keeps me laughing. He comes up with hilarious ‘off the cuff’ remarks that somehow seem to flow effortlessly and so quickly that I’m constantly wondering how he thinks up spontaneous retorts immediately. Daily I’m saying to him, “Joey, you’re a SILLY BOY!” He has been doing this for a couple of decades, beginning as the CLASS CLOWN in elementary school. He’s never outgrown it so I reckon that it’s just a part of his personality. He’s well-liked wherever he goes, so maybe that’s the reason.

I’ve not seen my baby boy in nearly 8 months this time. Or to be more ‘family correct’, I reckon I oughta say that my BABBY BOY is visiting. I don’t even remember when or why I started calling him that but the name has stuck. Just for me though. Nobody but his Mama calls him that, but then I suppose that mothers have cutesy names for each of their children (I surely do). Come to think of it, he’s had the most nick-names throughout the years out of the 3 of my kids. I honestly don’t think that there’s been any that he’s disliked. I often call him JoeRicky, which I think is a rather cute combo of his first & middle names that I’ve never heard anywhere else. He started out as JoeJoe as a baby and had that name for several years. I accidentally called him that, I don’t why it slipped outa my mouth, last year one time while we were with plenty of other folks. I was appalled, but he didn’t even flinch! I’ve never ever even heard him say “Mama, don’t call me that in front of my friends.” I certainly CAN remember asking my own mother NOT to do so at her many ‘pet names’ for me! Imagine my dismay when my mother came 4,350 miles from her small Hoosier home to visit me at college in Honolulu and managed to get my entire coed dormitory calling me ‘Jean Bean’! Oh, the horrors! But Joey has always liked his name. When he was young, he enjoyed the fact that his name meant the same as a baby kangaroo. I used to tease him that it was probably the reason that I had to carry him everywhere! That BABBY BOY wouldn’t walk till 3 months later than his brother and sister had. In retrospect, it was probably because I DID carry him so often that he didn’t feel the need to. With his sister less than a year older than him and his brother 2 years older than her, more often than not it was just much easier to grab the young’un and go!

My family and friends have all heard me lament over the fact that it’s really very hard when the youngest child is the first to move far away. Well, it’s true nonetheless. He’s 29 and engaged to a young lady that he’s been dating for several years. But I still miss him tremendously just the same. A thousand miles from Mama is tooooo far indeed! I’m sure he’s looking forward to some of my chicken & noodles; that’s the meal that he always asks for first! We’ll go to some of the theme parks, of course. The beach is a definite MUST; everyone wants to go to the beaches. Joey usually likes to go to a beach on both coasts: the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s one of the positives of living in the middle of a long peninsular state. We’re a bit more than an hour from either coast plus we have passes to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. Naturally we’ll go to DisneyWorld since those are free for us. He and his sister and a friend are wanting to go to Universal Studios annual ‘Halloween Horror Nights‘ but they can definitely leave this old Mama out of that one!

I’m looking forward to taking photos. My other 2 children live here in this area within 5 miles so maybe I’ll get a few great group shots of ‘my little family’. But as for my SILLY BOY, as seen in the photo above….we just never know what kinda mischief he’ll get into when I get ready to take his picture! Another example: last year at Magic Kingdom, an instant before I was to snap his photo in front of Belle’s fireplace, he quickly curled himself up INTO Belle’s fireplace! Aaahhh, JoeJoe my BABBY BOY always likes to keep us guessing….and laughing….and smiling. He IS my SILLY BOY before, still, and probably always!

Magnum Kiss

Smithsonian's Magnum P.I. shirt

Meeting and seeing celebrities has been a part of my life since the late 1970s when I attended college in Hawaii. A decade later when I returned to Oahu as an Air Force Officer’s wife with 3 very young kiddies in tow, I’d had many opportunities to teach them that celebrities have lives other than those that are portrayed on TV. We saw sooooo many celebrities that it seemed rather commonplace, especially since Hawaii is a popular vacation destination for them too. I’m thinking this is the reason that my children don’t particularly ‘go nutso‘ whenever they see somebody famous nowadays. This is a good thing because now they either are, or have been, Disney Castmembers and are once again seeing dozens of celebrities. I taught my kids not to pester famous folks for autographs (unless it’s a book signing, for example) or for photos because these people are only hoping to have an enjoyable vacation experience like everybody else! And to think that, for them it all started more than a quarter-of-a-century ago with my daughter and her ‘kiss‘….a MAGNUM KISS to be precise!

I took my children to the beaches of Oahu almost on a daily basis. There were numerous beaches to choose from so we liked to explore different areas and tried to find some of the quieter beaches. Of course we adored the ever-popular Waikiki Beach but my kiddies had a tendency to get away from me quickly there since the beaches were crowded and the children were ages 2, 3, & 5 and very quick. We also tried to go as early in the morning as possible so as not to get too overly pink; besides, the tourists were mostly still kinda hung-over from partying the night before and didn’t usually start arriving until 10:30 or later. By noon Waikiki & Kaneohe beaches are packed. So earlier was better for us. A breakfast picnic on the beach was fun and lovely!

One perfect morning we were at a particular beach, which shall go nameless for the sake of celebrities that enjoy the privacy of this stretch of beaches. I knew of several celebrities that lived in the area because of a former college job that I’d had delivering floral bouquets. So I sometimes brought the kids to this beach because it was usually very quiet and we were often the only ones there! But that morning there was a couple strolling far down the beach and my 3-year-old daughter saw them and recognized HIM before I did. She jumped up and started running down the beach towards them, hollering “Magnum, Magnum, Magnum!”. (she was too young to understand that he wasn’t actually named that in real life) I was embarrassed but had no choice but to leave our things, grab a hand of each of my boys and start running after her! We 3 were so much slower than she was by herself. Of course, by the time we finally caught up, she’d already made her way to ‘the man from the TV‘ and his then-girlfriend Jillie. So there I stood, face-to-face with THE HEART-THROB of the decade, apologizing profusely to Tom Selleck and his girlfriend while he held my daughter and acted like he honestly didn’t mind! Tom and Jillie were the nicest, sweetest people and were extremely kind to my 3 children as we chatted for 20 minutes or so. My daughter didn’t wanna let go of him but he kissed her cheek and she giggled….probably his mustache tickled!

That was a memory-of-a-lifetime for her! Me too! Oh, and by the way….my daughter’s name is Jillian. She’s always liked her name. Sometimes we call her Jillian, and often she goes by Jill. But you’d better believe that after meeting ‘Magnum’s girlfriend‘ that my 3-year-old preferred us to call her Jillie for about a year after that encounter. She was as much enthralled with Jillie Mack as she was with Tom Selleck! For MANY years afterwards, we’d ask her: “Where did MAGNUM KISS you?” and she would always coyly point to her cheek and smile. Such a precious memory to have her very first non-family-member KISS be from such a handsome man! Aaahhh….could I possibly have been jealous of a 3-year-old?

1st Love

My 1st love-age 12-Middle School band

I’m thinking that if somebody looks at this photo before reading this blog then there’s bound to be a bit of confusion. But nope….my 1ST LOVE was band! In this photo I was 12 and had no beaux to speak of, nor did I want any. I had my pals, the boys that I grew up with and played with since childhood and that was all right with me!

I was a ‘late bloomer‘ when I started band. Most of my classmates that’d been interested in playing instruments had begun 2 years before. I started late and had a lot of catching up to do. I certainly did! This was probably the first time in my young life that I’d ever taken anything seriously enough to develop an extreme passion for it. I practiced and practiced and practiced, and I was GOOD! Luckily I had a band director that worked with me to give me lessons during that beginning summer on my own since I’d not had the ‘group lessons‘ that the rest of my classmates previously had. So I started out having to be in the 6th-grade band as an 8th-grader, that first fall when I had my original beginning band experience. It wasn’t fun being with the younger kids, plus my school itinerary was quite messed up in order to accommodate my classes so I practiced even more at home, 2-4 hours nightly (yes, I DID learn to drive particular family members crazy whenever I wanted to!) so that by the time spring term rolled around, I’d moved up to 7th-grade band. I skipped 8th-grade band altogether because I got more than caught up during the next summer vacation….so much so that when I began high school in the fall, I moved to the lead of ALL of the freshman clarinetists! Of course I was 1st-Chair Clarinetist as a Senior and had lots of solos, which I loved!

This evening my daughter and I were watching a TV reality show and one of the given tasks was to learn to march. I found it humorous that the couples were having so much trouble doing so, even after several attempts. My daughter was surprised when I stood up and marched around the house, CORRECTLY, showing her that I still knew how to do every command and make every turn although I’d not done it for approximately 4 decades! She was quite impressed and even asked me to write my blog about my love of band! Awwww!

In my high school we had marching band in the fall semester and concert band in the spring semester. I adored them both! Nowadays, I reckon I was then what was called a ‘Band Geek‘! I spent any and all free time in the band room. Band was my forte. I went to band camp every summer throughout high school at Purdue University. I was awarded the honor of being named to the McDonald’s All-American Band during my Senior year. Unfortunately, I turned down that honor because I was also invited to audition for the American Musical Ambassadors the same year. I chose to do that instead, and was surprised at the auditions to learn that several hundred invitations had been sent out to audition for each individual spot. I did manage to be one of the 2 representatives chosen for the state of Indiana so I got to make a grand European trip, playing 1 or 2 daily concerts EACH DAY in various cities all over Europe! It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I cherish those memories immensely! It was also my first time being away from home but I got a taste of what it was going to be like to go away to college when I returned from the trip. It was so very much fun selecting souvenirs from Europe for my parents and brothers and Gramma! My parents were usually the ones that’d traveled lots, and my brothers and I would always remind them to bring us something. It was a tremendous joy for me to be able to be the one to select the ‘treasures‘ and give them out for a change!

Now my clarinets (I have 3) and my flute and my daughter’s oboe sit in my closet. It would presently cost a lot of money to get my main instrument ‘overhauled‘ in order to get it back into ‘playing condition‘, because it wasn’t a cheap clarinet. For my 16th Christmas, my parents bought me the best clarinet that money could buy, all the way from Paris! When I went to college in Hawaii and took private lessons from a member of the Honolulu Symphony, even my instructor was constantly trying to buy it from me. But I wouldn’t give up my 1ST LOVE!!! I’m just hoping that someday perhaps one of my grandbabies will love music as much as I did. Then my clarinet can possibly come back to life!

LAST DOLL

birthday dolls for my 58th

Yesterday my 58th birthday came and left. My daughter bought me a couple of adorable dolls, pictured above. My mind wanders back to my LAST DOLL that my folks had verrryyy reluctantly bought me more than 45 years ago for Christmas when I was probably 12 or 13. I was much too old to PLAY with dolls but I’d gotten it into my mind that I wanted a Raggedy Ann doll! You see, I’d never been a little girl to play with baby-dolls although my Mama and Gramma had bought me plenty over the years. They’d even tried to entice me to play ‘dress-up’ and ‘tea party‘ by sewing little outfits for the dollies but I still wasn’t interested. I did, however, go through a period of playing Barbies with a little girl that lived about a mile away but I think that was just an excuse to get to ride my bike alone down the country road and antagonize the big ugly bull (that was fenced-in) as I passed by! Also, I thought it was fun when it was MaryLou’s turn to come to my house because she many more Barbie dolls and so we’d sneak into my brother’s toybox and get out his G.I. Joe’s to use as ‘boyfriend dolls’ because we had more than enough girl dolls for just the Ken and Alan dolls! My oh my, how annoyed my brother would get when he would catch us! That somehow made it worthwhile. Those dolls had all been stored away or given to charity several years before, so my folks were probably thinking I was silly for asking for a Raggedy Ann doll. I didn’t really wanna PLAY with it; I just wanted it to look pretty on my bed. After all, most of my friends had one from their childhood and that’s when I’d realized that I didn’t have one. So on Christmas morning, one of my gifts was indeed the Raggedy Ann doll. Mama has the photo in her scrapbook of me in my jammies holding the doll and the inscription says “Jeannie’s last doll”. (I’m tthinking that she figured that if she wrote it down, then that’d make it true!)

Ever since my own children were preschool age, we’ve enjoyed numerous trips to DisneyWorld. As an Air Force family we did get to live in Florida a few times, plus Texas, Hawaii, and Georgia. All the times that we lived in Florida or Georgia, we kept Annual passes to the theme parks in the Orlando area. We would visit as often as possible. When the children were very small, of course we were more limited on which attractions that they could ride on. Growth spurts meant excitement because it added more rides in each of the parks that they were tall enough to go on. It got to the point that they didn’t wanna go on some of the old rides that they considered ‘kiddy rides‘….for example, my VERY FAVORITE at Magic Kingdom: ‘It’s a Small World’. Naturally, I told them that they had to go on that because it’s my favorite! It got to the point where it became a joke/battle: “Mama, do we have to go on ‘Small World’ again this trip”? I ALWAYS said, “YES, WE DO”! They’d try to trick me, make me forget about it, etc., etc. but I always won. I simply said that if we didn’t ride that attraction….well, then I’d be singing that song all evening in the motel room! Ten years ago, these same kids of mine and I became Castmembers at ‘The Most Magical Place On Earth’! Still, whenever we go to Magic Kingdom on our days off….the joke remains. Altho now I’m in a wheelchair and one of my darlings is pushing me, while trying to steer clear of Fantasyland hoping that I won’t think of ‘It’s a Small World’, we usually still ride that attraction! The kiddies are now 29, 30, & 32….they still say “Do we have to?” and I still reply “YES WE DO”! It has become our tried-and-true time-honored tradition for them to TRY! After all, I’m old now. I’m disabled. I don’t know how many years I’ll still be able to enjoy it so I wanna ride my favorite!!!

A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I were in the Disney Store in the biggest mall of the area. Normally I don’t go to malls and I cannot even recall the reason that she talked me into it on this particular occasion, but I agreed. I saw a display of ‘Small World’ dolls. She saw it too and quickly turned my wheelchair around….she was hoping I’d not seen it yet but HA! I had! Too late! I told her that I ‘just wanted to look‘ so I was looking at how cute and how BIG they were PLUS they were on sale AND she gets a hefty Disney Castmember discount on top of that. Just as we were about to turn around….that’s when I saw her at the very bottom: the Hawaiian doll! (I’ve been to Hawaii 11 times, have lived there, attended college there, my children have lived there too, many of my friends still live there, it’s my favorite place of all!) She was soooo cute and adorable. I picked her up and pressed her tummy and she sang the chorus to ‘It’s a Small World’. My daughter immediately said “Ohhhh, now that’d get annoying really fast so please don’t even think about it.” I started to put the doll back but when I tapped her tummy the second time, she sang the song in Hawaiian and I WAS IN LOVE!!! My dear daughter said “Nope” and wheeled me outa that store fast! We headed towards the food court, looking at a few kiosks along the way. I ordered my Chinese food and she ordered her vegetarian meal. We talked about our upcoming birthdays. She finished her meal much sooner than I did so I told her to leave me there for awhile. As she hurried away, I thought I heard her muttering “I know I’m gonna regret this”! When she returned, I pretended NOT to notice the Disney Store bag that she slipped onto the back of my wheelchair and tried to contain my smile!

I’d forgotten about the gift until we returned from my birthday supper last night. That’s when my daughter gave me the doll and I suddenly remembered about it; I was so thrilled that I called a couple of people and let the dolly sing into their voice-mail! Yeah, that might’ve been a bit over-the-top but it was fun! She also gave me a little Maleficent doll. Maleficent has always been my favorite Disney villianess and the recent movie of the same name was deliciously delightful. I soooo enjoyed Disney’s re-imagining of the character for this movie plus the casting of Angelina Jolie was a remarkable choice. So I got my 2 cutie little ‘dolls’ for my 58th birthday. Who would’ve ever guessed that? Hmmm, 45 years ago my Mama’s prediction wasn’t exactly correct but will this be my LAST DOLL? I just do not know! What’s this second childhood that I keep hearing about? Am I getting to the approximate age for that yet? Could all these years at Disney have helped that along? We’ll see! Oh, and as for my daughter….I’m sure it comes as NO SURPRISE that she was already tired of hearing ‘It’s a Small World’ shortly after giving me the doll! Awwww….well, her birthday is next week!

Irish Twins

Hawaii 1987 Joey is 2 & Jill is 3

“Welcome to your last day of being 28!” These are the words I’ll tell my youngest child tomorrow on the day before his 29th birthday. This is a family tradition that we’ve been doing for as long as I’ve been a Mama. The morning before each child’s birthday I awaken them by reminding him/her that it’s the last day that they’ll be that particular age. It’s always been the first thing that I say on that day and they’ve come to expect it, even though my 3 children are now adults. My 2 youngest  children are what many folks lovingly and teasingly refer to as ‘IRISH TWINS‘, meaning that they are less than a year apart in age, so the day that my youngest child turns 29 will also be the day that he ‘catches up’ to his sister again! This has always been a delightful 2-week period for me each year when these 2 kiddies are of the same age. He’s always gotten such a big kick outa being the  same age as his sis for a while, but it’s always been much to her dismay! She’s always hated it just as much  as he’s always enjoyed it! My own birthday falls exactly in between the two of theirs, making each  July quite the month of celebrations for our family. Besides our nation’s Independence, we celebrate 3 Thursdays-in-a-row of birthdays this year, plus my brother’s birthday too. Try explaining THAT to an employer when your children are young and you really do need 3 of the same days in the same month as vacation days! It’s nearly unbelievable!

My adorable daughter was born exactly a week after my 28th birthday. She was 3 weeks overdue, as was her big brother 2&1/4 years before. So I was assuming that baby #3 would be 3 weeks overdue also but the Obstetrician had told me that usually only the first babies were overdue. Since baby #2 had taken just an hour of labor and we lived 40 minutes from the USAF hospital where delivery was to occur….well, I’d better get to the hospital if I even felt a teeny flutter so that I wouldn’t have this baby in the hallway with an audience of more than 40 onlookers like last time! So at about 4:00 in the morning I awoke with a thought, (however not in labor), but I nudged my husband nonetheless and awakened him too. He said “Is it time yet?” I told him it wasn’t time but that I just had a feeling that since last year I’d had our daughter exactly 1 week AFTER my birthday….then I was positive that this baby would be coming THAT DAY since it was exactly 1 week before my next birthday. Well, hubby wasn’t amused at my insight and told me to go back to sleep! I did, but it was a tiny nap because twenty minutes later I most definitely felt the first familiar contractions and suddenly I was IN LABOR! So my baby boy certainly DID arrive a week before my 29th birthday. This meant that I had 2 babies when I was 28 years old!

I’d originally wanted to have 6 boys….spaced approximately every 2 years. That sounded good to me at the time. However, having 3 children within 4 years was an amazing and awesome challenge. I didn’t get much sleep, was always busy, nor did I get any time to be by myself; but I’d not change it a bit. I enjoyed it tremendously! So much so that with EVERY pregnancy when my Obstetrician had thought that I was having twins. I’d get extremely excited for a couple of months; then disappointment would follow when the mid-pregnancy ultrasound would reveal a single baby. Of course, throughout the years I have always jokingly exclaimed that I really don’t think I could choose which 1 of my 3 kiddies that I could handle having a duplicate of!!! Oh my, I’d shudder at the thought! But now as the years have fled by and the 3 of them are adults; I’m changing my mind. They’re ADORABLE, silly, kind-hearted, joyful, compassionate adults. I’d be proud to have a double of any 1 of them or even of ALL of them!

So in a couple of days my baby boy will be turning 29. Then next week will be MY birthday. The following week the oldest of my ‘Irish Twins‘ will be turning 30 and will finally ‘pass up’ the little brother again. And of course, the day before, I’ll awaken her with these words: “Welcome to your last day of being 29!”

Teacher Hero

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Last night I was ‘playing catch-up’ on Facebook and I noticed that one of my high school teachers is having his 75th birthday today! I used this same cutesy little TEACHER HERO image to wish him a Happy Birthday. It may have been a tiny gesture that many of my former classmates might also see, but what they don’t know is the chain-of-reflection that started me thinking about Mr. B last night and how our teachers truly do influence our lives, some positively and others not so much.

Mr. B was the best Algebra teacher in the world, as far as I’m concerned! I’d always thought that I was just ‘bad in Math’, as soooo many others also assume. I was a very good student, except for Math. I just couldn’t really understand why I’d need more than the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The rest always seemed like a waste of my energy and brain cells; and I was so very eager to LEARN too many other things but there just wasn’t enough time in the school day to fit in all of the classes that I’d hoped to take. So I was annoyed at having to have a Math class, plus I wasn’t grasping the concept of Algebra. The first few days of class were torturous for me….I felt like I was in a foreign language class. I was already taking Latin and this was just too much. Why were there LETTERS mixed in with my numbers? And why were there soooo many ‘story problems’? I tried to slump down into my chair and hoped that the teacher wouldn’t notice me. I couldn’t wait to take my book home and hope that Daddy could help ‘coz he was good with Math.

Daddy helped me ‘survive’ the first few weeks of Algebra 1, but with great difficulty. I’m so glad that my other subjects weren’t giving me a problem, with the exception of Typing (but the teacher was lenient since my left arm was in a cast). However, harvest season took over and Daddy got too busy and he’d not get home early enough to help with homework. So I had to get courageous. I was so scared as one day after class, I asked Mr. B for extra help. That was a first for me, I think I was shaking in my sneakers! Mr. B was so kind; he helped me over and over again, and always with a smile on his face. He was always smiling, that’s one of the things that I remember most about him (and his wife too). He smiled while teaching, he smiled while talking to a student individually, he smiled at us if we looked up at him while we were sitting quietly taking a test, and he smiled as he entered the classroom for each session. Two summers ago, I was visiting in my small Hoosier hometown and I briefly saw Mr. and Mrs. B in a restaurant, still smiling! I wished that I’d had the time to speak with them but I was having lunch with somebody else and we were leaving as Mr. and Mrs B were arriving. It was wonderful to know that they’re still the smiling couple of educators that made my high-school days most impressionable. I never ever ever got that feeling that it was burdensome for him to have to take extra time to help me out. He made me feel as if I’m important enough to make sure that I DO understand PLUS excel, not ‘just keep up’ with the others. At some point, Algebra ‘clicked’, and as I began to understand, I REALLY GOT IT. And I enjoyed it tremendously! All those years of thinking that I was ‘bad in Math’….only to find that it wasn’t necessarily true! Perhaps I just wasn’t properly taught! (That actually angered me in later life and I wasn’t going to allow that to happen to my kids; more on that shortly)

Unlike the way most schools’ curriculum path today, back in the early 70s, we had to take Algebra 1, followed by Geometry, then we could take Algebra 2. I was excited to take Algebra 2 but I couldn’t understand Geometry and did NOT have a very good teacher. I struggled. My younger brother was in my class, and it didn’t help matters that he was an excellent Math student (his only truly good subject) but he was ‘SUPER-JOCK’ and had zero time to assist me, although I had to drive him to and from football and wrestling and baseball practices! So once again, even though he wasn’t even MY teacher, I asked Mr. B for help with my Geometry. That’s what I call dedication! He is truly dedicated to the Art of Education and he is dedicated to his students.

Teachers like Mr. B are becoming more and more of a rarity nowadays. Even myself. I couldn’t make it. Of course, I opted out myself. I majored in English/Secondary Education. Daddy really really REALLY wanted me to be a teacher. I have always adored Creative Writing and excelled at all the writing classes that my college offered. My father was ever the practical guy though. He said that “writers are a dime-a-dozen” and that since he was paying for my college expenses, I was adding Education to that degree! (did I mention that I’m a ‘Daddy’s Girl’? hehehe) So I did. After a year of teaching Freshmen English to rich boys at a private Catholic high school, I took myself out of the profession. I felt that I could NOT offer to these students the excellence that I’d been accustomed to so I had NO BUSINESS being a teacher! My heart wasn’t in it. How could I teach these guys when I didn’t even really like them? This isn’t how I was raised; it’d not be fair to them. I had some not-so-good teachers in the past, and I would not want to be remembered that way in my students’ futures when they are reflecting back!

I did, however, have 3 excellent students whom I adored and love. That college experience didn’t go to waste after all! God knows what He is doing and my education certainly did NOT go to waste! A couple of decades later I got frustrated with the school system and took my children out of the public schools. I homeschooled them successfully for their last 7 years! What amazing fun we had! I learned a lot right along with them. I actually read everything late at night, made worksheets, and then taught the 3 of them daily as a group in all subjects except for Math (we did that individually). The joy of having 3 kiddies within 4 years shone through in all of our accomplishments. We didn’t have a lot of money for books so we went to library sales and college bookstore sales. So even though the kids were young tweens through teens, many of their Math and Science and History books were college material. If my children would’ve been enrolled in regular (public) schools, they’d have had 5-6 subjects. Mine had 14 annually. We didn’t get up until 9:00- 10:00 each morning, dressed however we wanted without peer pressure, and the best part was that we were able to take our vacations when everybody else DIDN’T! Each of the kids got excellent grades. We went to the theme parks so often that all of them ended up as full-time Disney Castmembers (2 are still there, have been for 10 years), and even though only 2 of my 3 kids have opted to go to college so far….not surprisngly their GPAs are a perfect 4.0!

I think and I wish that our country had an abundance of TEACHER HEROES like Mr. B! Imagine how fun it’d be to go to class knowing that we were going to learn something that we’d actually understand! Because of homeschooling my own children, I still have several Algebra books on my bookcases. Often, just for fun….I take out 1 of those books and a notebook and do a few problems because I like to see if I can still do them. I especially get the biggest smile when doing a problem that takes an entire page! Thanks, Mr. B!

Flower Delivery

protea & other tropicals

My 1st job as a college student in Hawaii was at a boutique-type flower shop making leis and flower deliveries in an upscale mall less than 2 miles from my dorm. It took me less than 15 minutes plus 2 quarters by The Bus to get there, or I could take a brisk walk and make it in half-an-hour. Usually I took The Bus (that is literally the name of the public bus system) because it was handy and extremely efficient. Anywhere on the island of Oahu could be reached by The Bus for 50-cents each way. Although I’d begged my Daddy for a car, when he visited me he went with me to all of the places that I would ever need or want to go to….then he declared that I did NOT need a car because The Bus was well-suited for anything that I’d need it for.

The flower shop owner was, at the time, the top designer in the entire state and was much in demand for weddings as well as office and resort floral displays. This kept him very busy jetting to the other islands, and he was only at the store during business hours a couple of times per week to check on bookings. Those of us working there basically answered the phones, helped the walk-in customers, and constantly made leis of every kind. The boss had several gigantic coolers of beautiful tropical floral displays that were ‘sold out’ daily. Somehow, as if by magic, the coolers were refilled with dozens of new ‘creations’ by the next morning. Our boss was amazing at creating unique designs….the prices were expensive but the guests did not complain.

Our boss also had another business, a limousine service. The fleet of limos only had Silver Cloud Rolls Royces! Part of my job was to make flower deliveries. IF the boss gave me a large delivery AND ALSO had me deliver it by limo, then I knew that the flowers were going to a V.I.P. The limo driver, of course, wasn’t telling me where we were going. Usually we didn’t get to actually meet any celebrities. If the deliveries were made to a luxury hotel, then the flowers and I only made it as far as the Concierge. If the flowers were going to an individual’s personal home, usually a mansion or mini-mansion, then a maid or butler would take the flowers and I’d get a decent tip. I could drive up and down the streets of Kahala and Black Point and Aina Haina; also around Diamond Head and all the way up the ‘Gold Coast’ and point out the homes of every celebrity if I’d wanted to. But usually that didn’t excite me anymore because, with the exception of Cher, most of them were not especially what I would call NICE.

Usually my boss didn’t take me along with him to help set up for weddings and I didn’t particularly enjoy it anyway because of a nasty motorcyle-riding has-been celebrity, whom I won’t name, that made it not at all fun. Besides, I never did like those quickie Hawaiian weddings that folks do on the spur-of-the-moment because it’s not the way I was raised (to honor and sanctify marriage). Naturally, this was a huge money-maker for my boss tho! One of my favorite set-ups, however, was at Christmas. There were dozens of large banks and other office buildings that hired us to totally transform their lobbies into a Christmas wonderland, and it had to be done overnight so that their employees would come in the next day to see the ‘magic’ that had taken place. That was so much fun! My favorite was the 3-story Christmas tree that we erected totally out of red poinsettia plants. It was awesome. Lotsa folks don’t realize that most of the potted poinsettia plants that we buy at Christmastime on the mainland come from flower farms on the Big Island of Hawaii. My boss had a couple of plane-loads of plants for making these trees. The ingenuity and the work that went into making this happen was great to be a part of!

My best memory of my short stint working in the flower delivery business was the time when I had to deliver the biggest bouquet of daisies and roses that I’d ever seen. It’d seemed unusual that there weren’t any tropical flowers in the arrangement but this was an Anniversary bouquet for an older couple and supposedly was ‘their usual’ except that every year the bouquet would get larger. The bouquet was soooo big that my boss’ wife was assisting me in delivering it because I couldn’t handle it alone! So we got into 1 of the large Silver Clouds and the driver headed into Kahala. I asked where we were delivering and the boss’ wife and the driver just smiled. I knew then that it’d be yet another celebrity. We pulled into a circular driveway and started to the door with the bouquet. I wondered if it’d be a maid or a butler that answered, as usual. I was surprised when the door opened….I stood there speechless, mouthing words that wouldn’t come out! The older gentleman smiled that familiar-but-devious smile and said “Yes, I am Vincent Price. Do come in.” He laughed THAT laugh as we sat the lovely bouquet on the antique table in his round foyer. He was nicer than any of the other celebrities I’d met while in Hawaii, thus far, and he gave me a $50 tip!

Slow Motion

ImageThis morning I forgot to take my 6 a.m. meds that control my dizziness. I awoke at noon with my head spinning so much that the task of merely getting out of the bed and grasping the walker to go into the bathroom seemed as if it were a monumental undertaking, one that I’d not had to do for many months. But for some reason this morning I must’ve slept through the alarm that was supposed to alert me to take that medication, the first of 10 that I take daily. I’d also missed my 9:00 med plus my allergy pill. I get so frustrated with/at myself whenever this happens but usually it’s only a single pill that gets taken an hour or two late. Luckily my daughter is home today, it’s her day off from work and she’ll be studying for tonight’s class and an exam in another class later this week. So I’m happy to know that someone is at home as I clumsily wheel myself down the hall, banging my walker a couple of times on doorframes, into the kitchen to pour a glass of juice. Knowing that this is going to be a rough day because of my lack of early meds, I warn my daughter as I go back into my bedroom. It’s going to take several hours for the dizziness and vertigo to subside for today so I know from past experience that all I can do is to just take it easy.

‘One of those days’ is what I keep thinking to myself and I just wanna sit here and cry but know that’s not at all what I need to do. I notice a couple of CDs that my daughter had borrowed for me from the library. So I plug in Hank, Jr. and decide to play computer games. But I’m still tooooo dizzy for the games so I figured that it’d be a good time to go through my box of photos…. the photographs that hadn’t made it into any of my albums. It’s always enjoyable reminiscing but not so fun when realizing that the memories are not coming back as swiftly as they used to.

The most pleasant recollections are those when my children were young and also the years that I spent in Hawaii. Still dizzy, I propped myself upon the bed using all of my pillows and my largest stuffed Eeyore to support my back. (I have a LOT of Eeyores!) My dizziness, along with the photos, were carrying my mind to a more pleasant time period. I recalled day after day after day spent at various beaches. I could imagine that my life was in slow-motion and that I was still in that moment. I smiled upon hearing my children’s laughter while chasing the birds and building sandcastles or taking turns partially burying each other in the sand! EVERY time we were at a beach in Hawaii, I’d have some nice and polite Asian tourists asking permission to take pictures of my blonde and redheaded blue-eyed kids. I always got a kick outa that….when I was a teenager and my family came for the first time to Hawaii, it was the American ‘mainlanders’ that wanted to take photos of the Polynesian and Asian folks that inhabited those beautiful isles. Now they wanted to take photos of my keiki (Hawaiian for ‘child’)! Imagine that! So all over another continent there’s also pictures of my kids in somebody’s photo albums….I wonder what the captions say?

3 hours have gone by and I’m really REALLY wishing that I still lived on or near a Hawaiian beach! Florida beaches, especially the Gulf beaches, are a close 2nd and are much more affordable so that’s why I stay here for now. Besides, I have the world’s best Neurologist (in my opinion) and I don’t wanna leave him! He understands  my condition and I trust him….it’s amazing to fully trust any doctors nowadays, and mine is a gem. He’s actually a Neurotologist; he was an Otolaryngologist before specializing further in Neurology so he is an expert in balance and vertigo. I’m very lucky to be here in central Florida….‘right place, right time’, & I’ll add ‘right doc’! These times of having this feeling of being in Slow Motion is kinda par-for-the-course for my illness; that doesn’t mean that I have to like it though, eh? It’s just that I’ll have ‘an episode’ sometimes and have constantly been learning of ways to cope. I just wish I didn’t feel so sorry for myself each time! I reckon that’s another thing for me to work on….ah! Another little goal!