The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Thursday, September 30, 2010

We're "with the crew" now

So, yesterday, they filmed Episode 7 of Hawaii Five-O right on our street.  They were filming at a house down the street from us, but their stuff was spread from one end of the street to another.  It was really neat. The Amazing Amy stayed out there watching for a good part of the afternoon.  And guess what, she gave a boy her phone number.  And he gave her his "Camera Crew" shirt.  How cool is that?  Alex O'Loughlin took a photo with Amy and Meg.  It turned out blurry, but still, it's proof that he's a nice guy.  And he even looks friendly in the photo, doesn't he?

It sort of cracks me up that a "big budget" TV production would have this dinky little sign on a piece of typing paper to alert folks that they have to go to a different bus stop.  This sign is what initially clued us in to the fact that they were filming on our street. 

This is at the filming site, Connor and Meg were just taking refuge from a little afternoon sprinkle.

On other fronts, we have another Harrison living with us in Hawaii.  Seriously, you didn't think I could go a very long time without a pet did you?  Actually, this is Amazing Amy's pet, but she is sharing her with us.  Her name is Hokulani (hoe-koo-la-knee), which means "Star from Heaven."  She's pretty friendly as bunnies go (though most of them aren't big on being held and she's no exception.)  The kids are having alot of fun with her.  It was SOOOOO hard for me.  We went to the Humane Association and I wanted to leave there with about ten of the animals.  But I'm trying to keep it simple here, so a bunny that we can share with Amazing Amy is probably just the right ticket.  Hokulani is sitting in my lap right now as I type this and she's the cutest dang flop eared calico colored bunny you've ever seen.

My dad reports that Vince has loved rides in the back of the pick-up and that he is a true farm dog now... you know, the kind that will sit in the truck and wait for you while you go into a store and get a cold drink.  I never thought I'd see the day, but they could actually do a show about my dad and dogs, he's a regular Cesar Milan.

Sorry I don't have any great photos of sea turtles or other Hawaiian life, we have settled in to the extent that laundry and dishes have kicked in.  Regular life happens, even in paradise! :)  But the boys are on fall break next week and we will be exploring quite a bit so I should have some more exciting adventures to report.

Okay, I'm boring myself to tears.  Hope you are all having a FABULOUS Thursday.

Monday, September 27, 2010

In the "clampets go Hawaiian" category

Yes, I know... I've been all hoity toity about our arrival here, like we haven't embarrassed ourselves or made Tennessee's reputation any worse around the globe, but here's the truth:

1.  How many times can members of one family run through a screen or go head on into a sliding glass door before they start to realize that it's not always open?  We even put stickers on the glass, but it doesn't seem to help.  Meg and Jack have done it multiple times.  Connor and ME once each.  Seriously, both Connor and I have knocked the screen out of the track.  Meg and Jack have both run into the glass so many times we know the sound now without asking what it was.  Let me tell you, it's a shock when you think you're walking outside but are stopped by some semi-invisible force-field.  I know how Luke Skywalker felt now!
1.a. The Amazing Amy has actually run into HER screen door too... which is just a normal old screen door with major black frame around it.  Total Rednecks!

2.  We have successfully seduced the neighbor's cat, Pumba, with cans of tuna.  In my animal withdrawals, I couldn't help myself.  And now he cries outside The Amazing Amy's door at night wanting more food.  The neighbor (who actually owns Pumba) approached us tonight to say that they were worried because they haven't seen him in 2 days.  Had we seen him?  "Yes, he's been at our house.  I can't imagine why he isn't coming home."  Hmmmmmm?  He's some fancy shmansy breed of chinchilla persian.... we don't have them there sorts of cats in TN.... we just have the plain old kind you find on the side of the road!
2.a. Speaking of cats you find on the side of the road, our kitty, Mickey (you know, the one that needed hip replacement right before we left) has been doctored back to health by the fine folks at Battleground Hospital for Animals.  He is walking with a slight limp, but has all four legs and will soon be ready to go home with some lucky family who is willing to adopt him... hint hint friends!

3.  I framed the sign my BFF, Sonja, gave me.  It says, "Think Globally... Act Hillbilly".  I LOVE it... I put it on the porch where I "take my coffee" in the mornings! :)  Yes, I "take my coffee" now.  That's fancy talk for "sit down and try to jolt myself awake with a mega-dose of caffeine as I curse the sun."

4.  I told the neighbors that we liked to swim before bedtime and we hoped it wasn't bothering them.  The neighbors said, "Oh, we hear you guys!"  Does that mean we are loud?  I guess opening the front door and yelling, "Jack.... Liam.... time for dinner" would be out of the question here.  Even at home it occurred to me that it was a bit "farmish" for me to do that, but that's how I was raised.  I got "called in for dinner" before the days of cell phones and iPods, so every child needs their parents to embarrass them from time to time, just to keep it real, right?

5.  Brian "lost" the keys to his new Jeep.  He bought a Jeep on Thursday and lost the ONLY key on Sunday.  You should have heard the words coming out of his mouth this morning at 6:45 when he was trying to leave for work.  Boy, I haven't heard words like that since I used to play golf.  Anyway, Amazing Amy found them... they were sitting on top of the dust pan in the garage?  Lord only knows.....

6.  I know it's a shock that someone as organized and attentive as me.... oh look, a chicken..... would fail to visit the hairdresser before coming out to another country Hawaii.  But, I did.... and so, my roots were about 3 inches long.  It's not a very good look when you combine with that the fact that I decided to give myself some dramatic highlighted bangs this summer and dissolved half my bangs in the process.  What?  I didn't know that if you wadded up hair when it had bleach on it it would spontaneously combust.  Well, it didn't actually catch fire, but it did get smoking hot and when I unfurled it from it's clip, about two inches of dissolved away in my hands.  What was left was basically clear.  Add that to hair that had already suffered some major sort of paralyzation from the lice treatment we did back in April and you have some not so nice affects.  Anyway, that's way back in June.  Fast forward to September, Hawaii, and ten inch roots.... I, in my infinite wisdom, decided it would just be best to try to skip the whole bleach thing this time around and go with some sort of semi-permanent (something that I don't understand.... isn't that actually an oxy-moron?  I mean, if it's permanent, how can it be "semi") hair color.  I selected a shade called "Caramel" because for some reason, I always love the thought of caramel colored hair.  What I got was a nice shade of lavender.  NOT joking!  My hair was actually a lovely shade of purple when I got out of the shower.  So.... it was either CUT IT all off (think Sinead O'Connor) or go super-dark.  I opted to go super-dark, which explains yesterday's photo at the Bay and the dark hair.  I still may end up having to cut it off because the color is fading suspiciously fast.  I'm reminded of that song, Sunscreen, where he says, "Don't mess too much with your hair, or by the time you are 30 it will look 85."  Yeah, maybe I should have remembered the song BEFORE all the hair drama! :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Say Hello to my Little Friends

We've had a fun weekend exploring the island.  We drove to Pearl Harbor and up to the North Shore yesterday, stopped in Haleiwa and played around in the tide pools.  We had intended to go to Turtle Bay, but we just couldn't get enough energy after our active start.  We spent five hours at Pearl Harbor.  It was great.  It's really something I didn't know if I would ever see or not, but considering my birthday is Pearl Harbor Day, I am really glad I got a chance to go.  We did pretty much everything there was to do there.  From there we drove the Kamehameha Highway up to Haleiwa, the famous surfing town on the North Shore.  The waves were bigger, but not the colossal waves you hear about (those come later in the fall.)  We stopped at a reef where there are lots of tide pools and the kids had a great time picking up little crabs, etc.  It was alot of fun.

Today, Brian and I got up and went to Hanauma Bay. It's not far from our house.  We spent a couple of hours there snorkeling around.  The highlight was the sea turtle that we got to "meet."  He was just a few feet away from us, swimming totally unbothered by the presence of about 5 swimmers that gathered around to get a closer look at him.  Amazing!

I don't want to take for granted the incredible beauty and atmosphere of this place.  I can't believe that God has given us the opportunity to live here.  I don't think that I could ever get sick of or "used to" looking at the amazing scenery and landscape here.  I told Brian this morning that I think God was just totally showing off when He created this place.

Brian and I drove up to the top of Diamond Head last night and looked out over the ocean.  The moon is almost completely full (starting to wane a little) and SO bright.  The past few nights we've had moon-shadows on our patio, it's so bright.  Standing there, on the edge of thousands of miles of water, makes me feel so miniscule.  The island in general creates a backdrop for feeling small.  When you stand on the beach of the mainland and look out at so much water, you don't feel quite so small, knowing that thousands of miles of land stretch on behind you.  Standing on this tiny island, literally just an up-rising of a sea mountain, knowing you are standing on the tip of a mountain (volcano, whatever) and knowing that there is nothing for miles and miles is totally overwhelming and humbling.  I really thought I might feel a bit claustrophobic here, but it's actually just made me realize my humanity and the smallness of me.  It's a great reminder.

I am thankful for the adventure of learning a totally new place, new culture, and new lifestyle.  It didn't seem so huge in my 20's when Brian and went to California.  I mean, I loved the change of lifestyle then, but it wasn't such a monumental undertaking.  Now, we get all the pains and glory of growing pains.  We get to navigate this with our children and it helps us not focus so much attention on what's going on with us.  Don't get me wrong, I miss my friends like mad.  Our friend, "Leenda" had a surprise birthday party last night and I really wanted to be there celebrating with everyone.  But I don't get the luxury of focusing on what I'm feeling.  I have the privilege of making sure my kids are emotionally okay.  And that is such a blessing.

Not that we are having anything other than joy and blessings, but the words of James seem to say so beautifully what I am thinking, "Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything."  James 1:2-4  As I said, I don't want to give the impression that we are experiencing "trouble."  Believe me, many people would trade my "troubles" for theirs.  It's amazing what we've been given.  It's amazing the doors that God has opened and the comfort with which He has allowed us to transition (almost better than we have it at home, minus the community of support.)  But still, I know there are lessons, even in this luxury.

This is the green sea turtle that visited us today.

Amy, Brian and the kiddos at Pearl Harbor

On the lookout deck aboard the USS Bowfin

The Amazing Amy at the North Shore

Me, being goofy at Hanauma.  I'll explain the hair another day... believe me, you don't want to know.

See, I told you God was just showing off.  Why else make a fish that looks like a rainbow?

Don't know why the photos are out of order... this is the boys in one of the submarine control rooms.

Brian going through a "door" on the sub.  No thank you to submarine life for me! 

Go figure, all of a sudden, Connor wants to pose at every single photo op.  This is the same boy who never wanted his photo taken 6 months ago. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto!

Oh goodness, some things just can't be explained in words.  The feeling I get when I drive around here is one of them.  I sincerely miss my friends.  I miss them like the moon misses the sun (it can't shine in it's absence) but this place is more of a melting pot than Nashville.  I didn't think that was really possible.  To meet someone who's actually FROM Nashville is a very rare thing.  Almost no one is a native.  But truly, here, there are SO many folks who are here because they chose to come, give up whatever it was they had before, and just make this place home.  It's comforting to drive around and see and know that so many people are just here because they get the privilege to do it, not because they have to.  I think that probably doesn't make any sense... sorry.  But it's just a feeling I can't explain.  It's like you're not alone, even though you don't know another soul.

The one thing that's difficult for me is that I don't think many people here "get" the whole "orphan thing."  I don't even know if they realize there actually IS an "orphan thing", or even an orphan for that matter.  I wear my 147 gear and never get anything but confused comments or wondering glances.  It's a whole different feeling to when I wear it at home and people know my passion, they know my heart, and they know there are orphans.  Okay, God, what in the world are You thinking... seriously, You must know I am NOT the right girl to get any message from you right.  Remember Jonah?  Well, I have a feeling I'll be spending some time in the belly of a whale sometime in this Hawaiian adventure.

On other fronts, I'm pretty much learning a new language... at least learning to read it.  I keep feeling bad for all the times I laughed at tourists who couldn't pronounce "Demonbreun" street at home.  Boy, am I getting my payback.  Try saying Kalianaole and Halemaumau and Kuliouou Streets three times, really fast!

The kids are adjusting as well as could be expected.  Jack says that he likes it in Hawaii, even though he's not totally sold on school yet.  Liam has already made friends and is loving every day.  That's not too surprising because of all the kids, he's the least self-conscious, the least self-aware.  He's not really clued into the fact that he's "the new kid."  In Liam land, kids are kids, and that's really how it should be anyway.  Connor is probably suffering the most.  Not surprising... he's the least flexible of all our kids.  He doesn't really like school, but he's made three friends, nonetheless.

Amy is here with us, which has eased Mommy's transition considerably.  She is leaving on October 24, but we are begging and pleading her to come back.  I will be so lost without her.  Even though she only started babysitting for us in April, she's become a part of our family.  She's so amazing, she fits right in with our family, always has energy for the kiddos, can tutor them, nurture them, and talk them into behaving without them even knowing they are doing it.  She's a dream.  I was way more stressed about coming before I knew she would be with us, and every day I beg her not to leave.  She keeps saying some nonsense about people at home needing her or something, but I'm pretending she has no family and that she has nothing better to do than hang out here with us in paradise.  :)

Okay, a few more photos... our house and a few other fun things.

This is the kids at the top of Diamond Head

Me and Brian, as taken by Connor

We have gotten into the habit of swimming every night before bed.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Back to Civilization....

Ahhhh, I feel like I have just gotten my life back... sad how dependent I am on the internet!  I kept telling my kids, "we can do that when they get our internet connected."

You don't care about that rambling.... I know, you just want photos!

Remember the Clampets?  Have you ever seen so much luggage?

The joys of underwater photography.... Jack has taken about 55 photos of himself with the camera under the water. 

The beach just down the street from our house...

The novelty of pool chores hasn't worn off yet, thus the smiling face. 

"From Here to Eternity" beach.  

We are pretending to be pet owners with the neighbors cat.  It's working out pretty well, all the fun, none of the responsibility!  This is Keisha.  I know my mom is loving this cat, she loves Persians.

The joys of GIANT snails.  That's an extra large egg next to the snail for some perspective.

Connor found a coconut on the beach.  We brought it home, cracked it open and ate it! :)  And then he made himself a China-man hat from the shell.... of course!

This is Hanauma Bay.  We had a 1/2 day at school yesterday so we took the kids snorkeling.  They all loved it.  Thanks for the recommendation, Alan Hall! 

I have a feeling this underwater camera thing is going to come in handy.

That's it for today.  I have tons to tell, but right now I have to get busy writing some more checks.... whew this place is E.X.P.EN.S.I.V.E.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Are my thoughts prisoners of Christ?

I read My Utmost for His Highest this morning.  I often start or end my day with this devotional.  And I had to sit with it for a while and ask myself some tough questions.  Paul said, according to the Moffatt translation of this verse, “. . . I take every project prisoner to make it obey Christ . . . .”  Hmmm, does that describe the way I have processed this move?  Does it actually describe the way I do ANYTHING?  I don't think so.  I am more blown about by my own human nature, often attributing my whims or instincts to Christ's leading.  In fact, that idea or urge may have been a seed or nudging from God, but that is where I start to move dreadfully off the path of bringing my projects prisoners to Christ and veer wildly onto the path of human nature.  The idea itself is not where God should be ending.  That's where MY obedience starts.  That's where Christ's discipline starts, right?  But wait, how do I do that?  This is my more typical response:  "Then compare this with what we do— we take “every thought” or project that comes to us by impulse and jump into action immediately, instead of imprisoning and disciplining ourselves to obey Christ."

So I guess what I really realized in reading through this today is that not only am I falling short of bringing my thoughts under control, like unruly children, they are strong willed and running amok.  But also, I don't even know how to begin to make those ideas fall into line with the heart of Christ.  Which begs the question, "Do I even understand the heart of Christ to start with?" And if the answer to that question is no, then it is my fervent prayer that God will take this time of isolation from my "busy" life and "full" and "fulfilled" life and beat the world out of it and show me His heart.  I want my life to be subject and given freely, less of me, more of Him.  I have been raised in the church, I know how to speak the speak and walk the walk, but I want my heart to feel the feel that Jesus feels when He looks upon the world.  

I read this paragraph several times today, letting it fully sink in and admit to myself and God that this, in fact, does very accurately describe my approach to life:  "Practical work for Christians is greatly overemphasized today, and the saints who are “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity” are criticized and told that they are not determined, and that they lack zeal for God or zeal for the souls of others. But true determination and zeal are found in obeying God, not in the inclination to serve Him that arises from our own undisciplined human nature. It is inconceivable, but true nevertheless, that saints are not “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity,” but are simply doing work for God that has been instigated by their own human nature, and has not been made spiritual through determined discipline."

Romans 12:2
'2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.'

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Need a laugh? 'Cause I sure do...

Okay, seriously, this may be one of the FUNNIEST things I have ever actually read. I hesitate to post this here because I am afraid that if you haven't visited in a while, you will miss my last post (from yesterday) which showcases the absolute beauty of my niece, Ensley. So if you didn't see the post yesterday, please do scroll down. But I couldn't keep this to myself.

I follow The Pioneer Woman, which is sometimes a real problem because there is SO much stuff on her blog that I love, I sometimes get stuck on the prairie and forget that I actually have a frontier of my own. But that's another story... those of you who are ADHD are with me here, I feel your support. Anyway, today, in an effort to be efficient in packing and planning for Hawaii, I went over to look at PW's facebook, rather than her blog, because I figured I had time for a blurb, right? Wrong! Of course, it just lead to an entire thread of posts that I followed straight to the funniest thing I've ever read... seriously I have tears! You can really skip all the mumbo jumbo about her phone phobia, it's irrelevant and I'm afraid you'll get discouraged before getting to the funny stuff. Just start reading after the photo of her daughter.... and be prepared to split your gut and slap your knee. Unless maybe I just have some sick sense of humor or you do, and you don't find it funny.

And in case you're too busy laughing to scroll down to my post from yesterday.... here's a reminder!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

We break from this regularly schedule island adventure to introduce....

the most perfect child in the world!

This is my niece...

Her name is Ensley Kate

I totally stole the idea for this photo from "A Thorn Among Roses" (over in the sidebar)

She's gorgeous and perfect, in that new baby kind of way....

In that new baby that  belongs to me sort of way.... where no flaws exist....

Where you are absolutely sure beyond a doubt that an unkind word will never cross her lips and she will never do anything wrong!

She's perfect in that, "I can't stop staring at you" kind of way....

In the intoxicating way that babies (particularly babies to whom you have a very deep emotional connection) draw you in and force you to drink of their love elixir.  

And smart girl that she is, she's already looking around for her "Mo" when she can't see me.  She knows who has all the good duds! :)

I'd say her mama is pretty drunk on the Ensley wine too, wouldn't you?

And if you think this isn't one of the hardest parts of leaving next week, you're out of your mind!  

Every good and perfect gift is from above.... the Book of Samuel!

Monday, September 06, 2010

My first race ever....

I ran a 10k today.  I was SO excited that I even finished it.  My gun time was 102:47, that's just seconds over a 10 minute mile, but I was actually a tad faster because I was in the middle of the pack so I didn't start right at the gun.  It was such a neat experience.  I had no idea if I could even run 6.2 miles.  I had run 6 before, but never without walking at about the 4 mile mark.  I ran with my friend, Mary, and we just chatted and ran like it was any other day.  It was great.  And I didn't even have to walk at all.  I think one thing that helped was all the other runners around me, you sort of run on their momentum.  It was fun and I think I will do it again! I have to brag on Brian a little, he finished in under 50 minutes! :)  I'm so proud of him.  His goal was 56 minutes so he beat his goal.

I know that I have been silent since the whole house hunt thing, but I landed after the Wednesday red-eye and haven't stopped for a moment.  My mother-in-law was here and can I just say that she is a SLAVE DRIVER!!!  She definitely gets some work done.  She would not tolerate a break and even made me eat PB&J one day so that we didn't take too much time for lunch.  :)  She's my kind of gal.  We got almost everything packed, we got my closets and drawers cleaned out, clothes put away for the new tenant, boxes packed with toys and such, ready to ship.  We even have one box already addressed and ready to go.  My only oops is that I have misplaced my new house key and I'm HOPING it's not packed in one of those boxes that I am shipping.  Ha!  That would be so like me.

The house is great.  I love the house we will be in.  It was just the right one.  I think it was a God thing, it was the house we were meant to be in, for sure!  It's got a pool, a perfect amount of bedrooms, and enough space for us to take our sweet sitter, Amy, with us to be our nanny.  She is 23 and majoring in Elementary Ed, but she wasn't in school this semester so it's a win for her and us.  Oh, what's that, I forgot to mention the best part?  Amy is going with us!  I am beyond thrilled, let me tell you.  I was so stressed about how I was going to manage with no "back up plan" and now I have one.  I was worried about the kids not having a tutor in place and me not having any help if I got stuck somewhere in traffic, etc.  Not really being able to estimate how long things will take, it was worrying me that I would get to Target or something and not be able to get back in time, not knowing how long I would have.  I mean, don't get me wrong (I know I'm totally spoiled by the community of friends I have here) I could obviously plan my days where I did all the running around first thing in the morning until I learned it all. It's not that it can't be done.  I mean, people do this all the time without help, so please know that I realize I'm ridiculously spoiled by my lifestyle and I don't take it for granted.  But it does put my mind at ease to know that if I leave to take the boys to school and Meg's not awake, I won't have to get her out of bed and dress her, I'll just leave her there with Amy.  Anyway, I'm debating just deleting this whole part from the post so I don't appear to be a brat.  But at some point, you're going to be seeing alot of photos that include Amy so I'd have to explain at some time, right?

Anyway, we have ten more "sleeps" in our house before we head off on our island adventure.  I'm feeling so much better since we got all the stuff packed and we have a house and school, etc. It is way easier to leave, being able to picture that we are going to be okay with our living space, etc.  I know Brian is getting nervous about the work ahead of him.  I think it's going to be a hard project, which was one of the reasons I really wanted Amy with me, he tends to work long hours when he gets on these big stressful implementations, so this will be a nice safety net for my sanity.  I won't have my girlfriends, so I'll have another adult along to keep me company.  And we'll be living in a gorgeous house, very close to the beach.... yep, I'm ridiculously spoiled.