Warrior Mama

Variety SchoolWe were accepted into The Variety School of Hawaii this past week. Needless to say, it’s been quite a summer. From getting her diagnosis, to applying to The Assets School and then getting referred to The Variety School, it’s been a whirlwind. And here I thought I’d get to relax while she went to camp!

School starts for us next week & as much as I thought she’d fight us on it, because, lets face it, what kid doesn’t love getting to sleep in, she’s really looking forward to it. She’s counting down the days, looking longingly at her pile of supplies on the table that used to be our homeschool table, and talking about what she might do at her new school.

While we’re very excited that she’s going to be in a great place where she’ll fit like a hand in a glove, we’re more than a little concerned about the financial aspect of the whole endeavor. For a child like Aidan on the ASD, tuition is $28,500/year. We were able to get grant-in-aid funds to bring it down to $19,150/year. We’ve enrolled in Tricare-ECHO like good little lemmings. The school is great. They provide individualized instruction, speech therapy, occupational therapy, adapted PE, remediation where needed, enrichment where needed. Really it’s everything she needs. But, because they don’t provide ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy, & therefore aren’t considered “approved ECHO providers”, ECHO won’t pay one thin dime. Of course.

Excuse me ECHO, I don’t want her behavior modified nor do I want her “cured”. I happen to like her just the way she is. She is incredibly gifted and if this school can remediate her working memory and her processing speed (& maybe as an added bonus, develop a few social skills) her IQ will be off the charts and she can talk to people about what she knows without scaring them off.

So the $64,000 question is this, to whom do I appeal this arbitrary decision? Surely I don’t take the word of a call center functionary? I know there have been instances of ECHO paying for special needs schools. I need to know who to talk to, how to get a hold of them & just how high this Warrior Mama needs to climb to fight. Because believe me, if there’s money out there that can be used to pay for her education, I’ll fight tooth & nail to get to it. Not just to save our family a few measly ducats but damnit because we’ve sacrificed for it and they owe it to us. She wasn’t even 2 when her Daddy went to Iraq, just a baby. He got home in time for her 3rd birthday. Tell me she doesn’t deserve a good education from her Uncle Sam.

Little Genius

imageSo, like her doctors thought, Aidan has Asperger’s Syndrome (based on the DSM-IV) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (based on the DSM-V). What we also learned (but weren’t all that surprised about) was just exactly HOW gifted our child is. We always knew she was smart. We usually say that she’s “Too smart for her own good.” Based on the IQ tests administered, she falls at the very top of the highly gifted range, about a point from the superior gifted range. To be honest, that kind of blew me away. Because of her Asperger’s she has some issues with working memory & processing speed (typical problem areas for Aspies). But, with some neurotraining & education to develop those areas of her brain & bring them up to the same levels as the other areas, her IQ could go even higher…potentially limitless. I feel like my job as her mother just got a zillion times harder…raising a little genius comes with great responsibility.

Clear As Mud

I wanted to clear a few things up…

We have not received an OFFICIAL diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder for Aidan yet.

imageWe had her tested extensively in mid-June & we will receive the results in mid-July.

Because her psychiatrist & the neuropsychologist both said she presented as a stereo-typical girl with Asperger’s Syndrome, we are acting under the assumption that she has Asperger’s until we learn otherwise. I think it would be counter-productive to do otherwise.

I, personally, do not consider an ASD diagnosis to be a bad thing. For years we’ve been struggling with “what’s going on, why does she do this, why does she behave this way, is it us?” And to be honest, getting a diagnosis that tells us that it isn’t anyone’s fault takes an enormous load off my heart & my mind. We can research & learn how to handle a child on the spectrum.

My mother gave me the best piece of advice I think I could’ve possibly received in all of this. She told me that Aidan is still Aidan, no diagnosis or label changes that & we still love her, regardless. Amazing advice that I’ve taken to heart.

The Wanderer

For the third time in the eight months we’ve lived in Hawaii, Aidan has wandered away from the safety of our home & small neighborhood enclave out to the main road. There’s a large playground near the top of the valley, we think that’s been her aim each time. There’s a creek that runs along side the valley where a lot of wildlife lives. I fear that if she doesn’t go to the playground, she’ll try to get down to the creek. Today was the third occurrence of her wandering and she was gone for at least an hour. If Ryan hadn’t brought her home, my next step was calling the Honolulu Police.

imageShe told me she was going outside to play with her “friends” across the street. I say “friends” because the four kids that live across the street are not nice to her (nor me for that matter), and I really don’t like her playing with them. She’s oblivious to their snarkiness & rude comments but it still doesn’t make it right. Anyway, she said she was going to play, I initially said no, she begged, I caved, she went to play. After about 30 minutes I realized I hadn’t heard much kid noise in a bit, better go check (living in HI, we keep our doors & windows open for ventilation). The kids said she went off “with her friend” (which turned out to be a big fat lie). When I asked who, they shrugged; where, shrugs again. Thanks for the help. She was no where to be seen on the street so I called up to Ryan to come help me look for her. I stayed at the house while he walked around the neighborhood. He finally found her, out on the main road “barking like a dog.”

imageShe had no idea that she could’ve been in any danger. But that’s the thing: children with autism are often the most difficult to teach about the dangers associated with wandering such as drowning, getting struck by a vehicle, falling from a high place, dehydration, hyperthermia, abduction, victimization and assault.

RESEARCH

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an average of 1 in 88 individuals in the U.S. have an ASD that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. These challenges often present unique safety risks, including those associated with a person’s tendency to wander or elope from a safe environment.

According to data released in April 2011 by the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) through the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI):

- Roughly half, or 49%, of children with a autism attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings

- More than one third of children with autism who wander/elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number Aidan knows our phone numbers, my name, Ryan’s name, rank & where he works but has a hard time with our address. We need to work on this.

- Two in three parents of elopers reported their missing children had a “close call” with a traffic injury As busy as that main road is, this is my biggest fear. She just goes off into her own little world, exploring & imagining, not paying the least bit of attention to her surroundings.

- 32% of parents reported a “close call” with a possible drowning Knowing that she has no fear & has none since she was a very tiny baby, we put her in swimming lessons young, the kid swims like a fish. Of course, if she falls or is some how incapacitated, all of those lessons are right out the window.

- Children with ASD are eight times more likely to elope between the ages of 7 and 10 than their typically-developing siblings All of her wanderings have been right in that window…7 & 8 years old.

- Half of families with elopers report they had never received advice or guidance about elopement from a professional Nope, not a bit. All I know I’ve read online from my own research.

In 2012, the National Autism Association found that from 2009 to 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism subsequent to wandering, and that 23% of total wandering-related deaths occurred while the child was in the care of someone other than a parent.

Info from AWAARE – Autism Wandering and Elopement Initiative

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We’ve informed Aidan that she is no longer allowed to leave the house without Mama or Daddy with her. Each of her three wandering incidents have been as a result of us letting her go outside on her own, mistakenly trusting her. Now that we have a better grasp of what’s going on (or, more accurately, NOT going on) in that little head of hers, we’re hoping that prohibiting her from going out on her own puts a stop to the wandering, rather than having to put the whole house on lockdown. We’ve been lucky each time but God knows we can’t press our luck.

7 Schools in 7 Years

I mentioned in my last post that I would discuss our decision to pull Aidan out of the private school we’d found here on Island & begin homeschooling her.  Believe me, it was not an easy decision. No decision about your child’s education should be an easy one.

When we arrived on Island in October 2012, we knew that deciding where Aidan would attend school would be a difficult decision.  Hawaii Public Schools are ranked well below the national average for math & science and it seems as if no one is all that interested in fixing things.  There are a large number of secular and parochial private schools on Oahu to give parents the option of sending their children to one of them rather than to a sub-standard public school (I won’t get into the cycle that creates…THAT’S a whole different ball of wax unto itself!)

We also knew that whatever school we chose for her, this would be the seventh school she would attend in as many years.  It’s rough being a military kid, being drug from stem to stern (to use a Navy term).  I knew she was getting burnt out on the whole thing so finding a place that would excite her again was paramount.

Ryan was still in-processing, we still only had the one rental car, so after we dropped him off, Aidan & I went exploring to check out the area around Schofield Barracks.  We happened to pass a Lutheran Church & School with a “Now Enrolling” sign out front.  Ryan attended Lutheran Schools & he loved his experience there so I thought it was worth it to look into this one for Aidan.  As it turned out, this Lutheran Church was the same denomination as the one we belong to (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod), the second grade teacher was very big into art, incorporated it into almost everything she did and they were always looking for parents who could substitute.  It seemed like the perfect fit for us.  A school for Aidan, a job for me and a church home for us.

We got Aidan enrolled and I made sure to denote anywhere I could on the forms that she has ADHD, hyperactivity/impulsivity dominant, so the teacher would be aware of what was going on with Aidan from the start.  And, from almost the first day her teacher would either call or find me after school to talk to me about her behavior.  She would make her sit out of recess as punishment, which is just the LAST thing you want to do with a hyperactive child, they need to run that energy out. She would call me during the day to tell me something Aidan was doing or had done, as if I could do anything about it.  Aidan has difficulty filtering out what she needs to hear & listen to from background noises so in a loud classroom she just gets over-stimulated. I know this. I’ve known this for years. I worked in SPED & had several kids like this…it’s not a new concept.  This teacher who’d been in the classroom for 30+ years acted like she’d never seen an ADHD child in her life.  She shoved Aidan off to the side basically saying “I don’t have the time to devote to her” and just let her stagnate.  But, if she acted out, you can bet that teacher was all over her like stink on poop.

After Thanksgiving, leading up towards Christmas, I got a long-term sub job there in the preschool class.  I loved being at Aidan’s school & close to her anytime she needed it.  We’d recently added a 2pm pill to her regimen to help prevent her afternoon crash & I was able to be the one there to coax her into taking it (she is NOT the greatest pill taker…thank God for the patch!).  But, the only catch with the preschool subbing job was, I had to stay until 5-5:30 with the afterschool care group.  They’d come to the room do their homework & talk quietly, then we’d go outside & play & then we go to the computer lab & wait for the last few kids to go home.  Aidan, like her Army Officer daddy, thrives on routine & strict rules, this group was very loosey-goosey. The two definitely didn’t mix & unfortunately, she would act out.  Whether it was yelling “Be quiet” during homework time or smacking kids on the playground, she just didn’t gel with this group.  I can tell you this was one of the most difficult things I’ve done, trying to parent my child while watching 15-20 kids that I’m responsible for out on a playground.  I’m lucky no one got hurt because I wasn’t doing a good job at either.

Shortly before Christmas, the principal & I decided that this wasn’t the best environment for her and to tell you the truth, I have to agree.  I grew up loving school, I STILL love school & would go back for advanced degrees today if I could, but the longer she was there, the more she acted out & showed us that she hated the school & the environment she was in.  I stepped back & thought about this as a teacher…is this really the least restrictive environment for this child?  Is she getting an appropriate education (definitely not free, that one month she was there cost us over $1000)? And the answers to both those questions was a resounding NO.  So, we withdrew her from the school and we began to research & discuss what to do for the spring & beyond.

Ryan & I both came to the same decision independently of one another…homeschooling.  I’m a certified teacher for multiple grades in two states and who knows my child better than I do? No one.  We would save a ton of money by not paying for school but only paying for curriculum, consumables, etc. I can’t say I wasn’t a little nervous but once I put my mind to something, I’m all in…I want my girl to love school, love learning, love books, the way her daddy & I do.  That was my mission.

We began the adventure in January and while it wasn’t without its hiccups, I must say, our first semester was an unqualified success.  We originally started out using the “Five in A Row” Curriculum until I discovered that Aidan was getting bored with it.  So, I sold FIAR & we spent the majority of the semester doing student-led unit studies.  For example, Aidan LOVES LOVES LOVES kangaroos so when Australia Day was approaching, I culled the internet & put together an Australia Unit Study.  When my parents, her grandparents, came to visit & we went to the Big Island to see Volcanoes National Park, we did a study on Plate Tectonics, Volcanoes & Seismology.

There is a large contingent of homeschoolers here on island and we run into them all the time in our extra-curricular classes.  She took “Exploring Art” at the Honolulu Museum of Art Academy last semester & won a full scholarship for next fall.  She also took a musical theatre class at the Diamond Head Theatre in Honolulu.  We’re blessed that Hawaii embraces homeschooling & so many places offer classes for homeschoolers.

I never thought I’d be a homeschooling mom.  I always pictured them with half a dozen kids or more, wearing a long denim skirt & hair in a bun…Michelle Duggar, I guess.  But when push came to shove, I did what I needed to do for my girl.  She really does love homeschooling & I can’t imagine not homeschooling her.

Not Less, Just Different

It’s been awhile since I last posted & a lot has gone on. Lets bullet point the past few months to bring us up to date.

  • We found a house in a valley in Mililani, very close to Ryan’s job.
  • Had our first Tsunami scare, appropriately enough, Halloween weekend.
  • Enrolled Aidan in a private school in nearby Wahiawa.
  • Pulled Aidan out of the private school (long story that will have it’s own blog post).
  • Celebrated our first Thanksgiving & Christmas in Hawaii, on our own, away from family.
  • AbbeyAbbey Dog arrived from the mainland.
  • We began homeschooling Aidan.
  • My parents came to visit, we hiked Diamond Head, ate Kahuku shrimp and then Aidan & I went with them to the Big Island for a few days where we saw a black sand beach, learned about growing & roasting Kona coffee, and we went to Volcanoes National Park, saw the lava fields and Aidan “woke” up Pele by yelling “Huka Pele!”, then we saw the caldera glow that night.
  • We finished our first semester of homeschooling without killing one another & we’re pretty sure we’ll do it again this fall.
  • Aidan started summer day camp where she is able to explore nearly everything Hawaii has to offer.
  • Monk SealWe’ve seen a number of Hawaiian creatures lately, a Hawaiian Monk Seal came up on a beach where we were swimming/surfing.  Another seal was beached down the shore, and this seal swam along the surf seemingly looking for his buddy. Later we saw a large number of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles when we were learning to stand-up paddleboard up the Anahulu River. Aidan & some of her fellow campers found a baby octopus at Ala Moana beach which they promptly named “Ocho” (one of her counselors took it home).

And that pretty much brings us up to today…

Today we began the process of having Aidan assessed for Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Since we’ve been on island, she’s been seeing a great child psychiatrist at Schofield, primarily to sort out her ADHD meds.  Her weight/BMI more or less bottomed out not too long after we got here and her pediatrician was concerned that it was mostly due to her meds. During an appointment shortly after the beach excursion where we saw the seal (and had a meltdown of epic proportion), Ryan was able to come along and ask some questions of his own.  He said something like, “…if it were something like autism, I could wrap my brain around that…” and Aidan’s doctor said “Oh yeah, I see a lot of things in her that might put her on the spectrum.” I had to do a double take.  We’ve been seeing him monthly since November or December and this the FIRST he’s mentioned this?? You’ve GOT to be kidding me!!  So, in typical Mama style, I went home & began to over-educate myself about ASD & Asperger’s Syndrome.

We’re very blessed in that Tricare covers as much autism care as it does.  Just the assessment itself is over $3000.  If it turns out that she is on the spectrum, we’ll enroll in Tricare ECHO (Extended Care Health Option) which will provide funding & services for private schools (if we so choose), skills trainers, therapy, more testing, etc.  I know that it doesn’t cover everything & you can bet that I’ll be banging down the door to push for additional funding for the children of active duty servicemembers with autism.

PS. Like I said, I’ve over-educated myself on the topic & I hate the idea of my child being a “problem to be solved” thus, I hate the puzzle piece logo of most Autism Groups.  However there is an alternative group that embraces the idea of “Neurodiversity” and, like me, shuns the idea of the puzzle piece representing them.  I plan to write more about the idea of Neurodiversity in a later post.  Just know, I don’t like the puzzle piece.

We’re Here!

We’ve been on island for a month now, I figured it was about time to finally update the old blog!!

- Trying to get our dog Abbey shipped to Colorado was a mess. Temps in Dallas on the original date we booked were too high so we had to rebook her for a later date.
- That, in turn, affected Ryan going to San Diego to ship his truck. Instead of driving out on Thursday, spending the night, turning his truck in on Friday & then flying back that night, he was forced to do it all in one day. Yup, he drove from Sierra Vista to San Diego, turned in his truck, got on a plane & flew back that night. He was exhausted.
- We finally got Abbey Dog shipped out to Colorado the Tuesday after Columbus Day. If you’re military & need to fly a dog during non-summer months, go with American. SERIOUSLY cheap rates. If it’s during the summer, look elsewhere, all cargo on American goes through Dallas & if temps are above 85, they’ll cancel the flight.
- Movers for our HHG were supposed to start on the Friday before Columbus Day, but someone somewhere dropped the ball. Luckily the moving company was able to get someone out on Monday (Columbus Day) to start packing.
- My “big folder o’ important PCS info” got inadvertently packed twice. My iPad got packed once. I learned NOT to put things down. Our movers weren’t playing around! Luckily I discovered the missing items early & was able to rescue them. I eventually just put them in my car for safe keeping.
- While driving to Tucson, it dawned on us that we’d need a rental car, and one big enough for all our luggage. Oops!! This is definitely something you plan & make reservations for AHEAD OF TIME. I flat out dropped the ball. Too much other stuff to worry about. I found a great deal through a local discounter on the Internet with Thrifty.
- We arrive on island, Ryan goes to the military desk, instead of reporting for duty on Nov. 2, like his orders said, the NCO at the counter wanted him to sign in off leave right then & report for duty Oct. 22. So Ryan took his paperwork back & said “I was never here.” As it turns out, the Army won’t let you start drawing HI BAH (basic allowance for housing) or TLA (temporary lodging allowance) until you sign into your unit. We didn’t know this.
- We catch the shuttle to the Thrifty lot & I went in to get the 4-door Jeep I rented for us. WRONG-O!! Because we have no return flight info, we have no car. Did the local discount place I talked to on the phone last night ASK me about our return flight?? HECK NO!! I go back outside where Ryan is waiting with an extremely antsy Aidan & explain. I tried calling the discounter, it goes to voicemail FOUR times. So off I go, trudging down the road to Advantage, who, apparently doesn’t need a return ticket or major credit card. Y’all, never, ever rent a car straight from the counter. Talk about getting SCREWED!! I got a 2011 Nissan Rogue for $723, for a WEEK. I have a 2011 Nissan Rogue & I pay less than half that per month. I thought Ryan was going to bust something in his head.
- We have transportation now & head over to Schofield Barracks so we can get what we need so we can check into our hotel. There is a hotel on post, called The Inn at Schofield, but they had no availability, so we could stay at our choice of designated hotels in Honolulu/Waikiki. But, as it turned out, the whole “Ryan not signing in” thing at the airport came back to haunt us. TLA was supposed to pay for our lodging costs but if Ryan wasn’t signed in, we had to eat it. That would not work at all because hotels are $150-$200/night & we were looking at staying for 2-3 weeks!! Plus, he needed to start drawing HI BAH as soon as possible so when we got into a house, it would be available. So we drove all over post looking for a CQ desk where he could sign in. Nope, looks like we’d have to go back to the airport.
- Back at the airport, the desk was unmanned. They’d taken a dinner break & gone back to Schofield. By about 8pm HI time, which was nearly midnight AZ time, he signed in & we could FINALLY check into our hotel. We stayed at the Aqua Lotus Hotel on Waikiki (the quiet end of Waikiki, down by Diamond Head) and the views could not be beat!
Thus ends part 1. Stay tuned for part 2 (which I SWEAR won’t take a month!)

Trying My Patience

There’s a WHOLE lot of hurry up & wait in military life.  When Ryan came home & announced that we’re moving to Hawaii, he had only received an RFO from HRC (in English: Request for Orders from Human Resources Command).  Once  we knew where we were going, my life got shoved into hyper drive.  There are a few things that have to happen quickly when you’re PCSing OCONUS (permanent change of station out of the continental United States), especially if you have kids or a pet.

I had to do a lot of research to get all the details on bringing a pet onto the Hawaiian Islands.  Long story short, it’s a rabies-free state, pets have to have two rabies shots and a blood test (called the FAVN-OIE Rabies Antibody Test) and then 120 days after the blood test has been sent to either a lab at Kansas State or Ft. Sam Houston, they’ll let your pet on island.  If you don’t follow the protocol, your pet has to spend the 120 days in quarantine at the Honolulu Airport…not fun, for you and definitely not good for your poor pet (plus it’s EXTREMELY expensive to quarantine your pet at the airport).  It’s much better for your pet to spend the 120 days with you at your mainland home than in a tiny cage at an airport.

If you’re PCSing to Hawaii, here’s the official site with info that I found.  Since Abbey is still a puppy, we had to get her second rabies shot.  At that vet appointment I found out that we have to wait 21 days after getting a rabies vaccination to do Abbey’s FAVN blood draw.  So, for those of you playing along at home, Ryan got his RFO in mid-August, is due to report for duty in early November…that’s less than 120 days already.  Even if we’d done the FAVN test the day we got the RFO, her 120 days wouldn’t have been up until December.  Now, with the 21 days added on, her 120 days will be up in January.  So, Abbey will stay in Colorado with Ryan’s family until her 120-day sentence is served.  See what I mean about hurry up and wait?

The other thing you have to hurry up and do?  Overseas medical screenings.  Aidan and I had to go to the Exceptional Family Member Program Office and get medical screening forms, then get appointments with each of our primary care managers.  Luckily, Ft. Huachuca is a small post so it was easy to get into see our PCMs.  I can only imagine if we were still at Ft. Sam Houston & trying to get appointments at BAMC!  I also had to fill out a questionnaire about each of us, our health, what medications we’re taking, our medical history, etc. and then when I turned them in, the EFMP nurse questioned me about everything.  Ryan has to fill out a DA-5888 which is basically the same thing but for the servicemember.

I’ve gotten all of this done in about two weeks.  The thing that’s trying my patience?  We’re STILL waiting on orders.  I’ve done everything I can do without a set of official orders in my hand.  Normally, with a CONUS move (a move within the lower 48 states or Continental United States), it’s fairly easy for the transportation office to contact movers, set a date & get things done.  With an OCONUS move, things have to boxed AND crated to be shipped overseas (involving two companies or more), our vehicles have to be shipped, his has to be driven to San Diego, mine has to be scheduled with the autotransport company to be picked up here, driven to San Diego or Long Beach, put on a ship to be taken to Honolulu.  On top of all that, Ryan has to put in for leave 30 days before the day he wants it to start (which was September 3).  He can’t put in for leave without an itinerary. You can’t get an itinerary and plane tickets from the transportation office without…you guessed it…ORDERS!!!  So you understand my frustration, right?  I can’t even tell potential landlords/real estate agents when we’ll be on island so we can set up showings.  Ryan said when they DO finally arrive, HRC can expedite his leave form and speed other things along as well (we shall see).  Lets all cross our fingers that the orders come soon.

Nevertheless, we’re still excited about moving to the islands! Aloha!!

Aloha!

Yes, you read that right, I said Aloha.  In just a few short weeks, the Burkholder family is picking up stakes & moving to Schofield Barracks on the Island of Oahu.  I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this.  I grew up in the same town my whole life, from age 3 to age 18…same house, same schools, same friends…never moved.  I crave change, I love searching for new houses, figuring out how to arrange my furniture, learning the streets of a new city.  It all appeals to me & my insatiable wanderlust…it must be hereditary, my mom has it too.  She & my dad travel like crazy.

But I digress…I’ve been looking for homes, looking at maps of the island, learning the geography & figuring out the best areas for us to look when we get there in October.  It’s a bit of a puzzle…I have to factor in commute to Schofield, which is in Central Oahu, finding the best school for Aidan (which is laughable because schools in Hawaii are pitiful unless you want to pay through the nose for private, it reminds me a lot of Louisiana), safety & upkeep of the home itself & the neighborhood in general and the aesthetics of the house.  I’ve gotten kinda picky about houses since this is our fourth duty station…I’ve seen a lot!

Here are two of my biggest turn-offs (inside a home, at least):

These hideous cabinets, straight out of the 1980s. I lived in a townhouse with cabinets like these when Ryan & I were expecting Aidan.  They’re made of particle board so if they get wet for any extended period of time, they’re done for.  They puff up & swell like a sponge.  The white laminate on them also stains like crazy.  They’re just the cheapest, ugliest things you could ever possibly put in a house & if I see these in a listing, I move on.  Picky?  Yes.  But Oahu, especially the areas right around Schofield/Wheeler are very transient, so there’s always something new coming onto the market.


The next offender are these awful little 4″x4″ white or off-white tiles…also from the 80s. You can usually find the cabinets & the tiles together, they seem to go hand-in-hand. Not only are these tiles ugly, they always have black or dark grey grout, or is it that they didn’t seal it properly and it’s gotten filthy over the years, but they’re dangerous as well. They have no texture at all, get a little bit of water on them and it’s slicker than ice. In that same townhouse I mentioned with the cabinets, we had those tiles in the kitchen, entry hall & the 2.5 bathrooms…pretty much anywhere there could be water, we had those tiles. SO ugly & so not safe. Again, if I see those hideous little buggers, good-bye listing!

Other little real estate things I’ve noticed…

  • “Section 8 OK, No pets”…this just seems weird, is it just me?
  • Little old lady window coverings left up…I know they cost an arm & a leg, but so do Plantation Shutters & those look SO much better and fit with the aesthetic of the area!
  • Not posting photos of the home you’re listing…how is someone supposed to be interested in a home if you don’t even post a photo of the front of the house?
  • White, white, white, white…I get that you’re supposed to make your house neutral so someone can imagine themselves in your home but completely sterile is another thing. Pleasant neutrals can go a long way!
  • Open toilets (some with the seat up!), photos of the floor, blurry photos…do these real estate agents not look at their own ads? Oy!  I’ve found that owners usually do a better job advertising their own houses.

All kidding, joking & grousing aside, we really can’t wait to get on with the show & get over to the islands!

Aloha!

School Days

Today is the first day of second grade for Aidan.  I truly cannot believe that she is in second grade already.  When I taught in Georgia at the little Catholic school right off post, one of my best teacher friends was the 2nd grade teacher.  Her name was Mrs. Zimmermann, but Aidan, who was 3 at the time, called her “Mrs. Cinnamon”.  Aidan went to Pre-K there at the time and after school, I’d hang out in Mrs. Zimmermann’s room, talking about the Journalism team (I helped her run the team since I was the technology teacher).  Aidan would play with her daughter, drawing on her whiteboard, spraying it with water, erasing it and starting over.  Mrs. Zimmermann’s daughter was in 2nd grade then and I remember thinking how big she seemed and how little Aidan seemed.  Now Aidan is that age.  Time goes by so quickly!

First Day of Second Grade

First Day of First Grade

First Day of Kindergarten

First Day of Pre-K

She’s grown up so much from age 4 to age 7! I guess I don’t see it because I’m with her everyday but when I look at pictures like this, it’s so obvious! My baby is growing up into a little girl!  Before I know it, she’ll be asking for car keys and going off to prom!

Edited because I found the real photo from her first day of Pre-K.

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