Now that is a hot MESS!
 
 
Logan, our oldest, has always had a passion for football. As a military child, he has had the opportunity to play for a variety of teams. He is currently a member of the JV Football Team at Moanalua High School in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Na Menehune football coaches have impressed our family at every opportunity! And, most importantly for us, they have already made a positive impact on Logan. From the beginning of the season, the change in attitude was evident. And the coaches are clearly not merely concerned with their players on the field, but for a lifetime. They have determined that they will have an active role in molding them into respectful young men.

Spending time with the football team on Thursday evenings for Family Dinner Night is inspiring. Food is plentiful, camaraderie is seen, felt and heard and everyone is embraced into Na Menehune Football Family with warmth.

Programs with substance and excellence come at a cost and each player is doing their part to offset the expense. To help Logan reach his fundraising goal for the team, please check out the following link and add Logan Bell to "donate to a player".

Mahalo nui loa!
 
 
    Every once in a while, we are given the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Something that reaches beyond our friends, our family and our own being right into our very soul and touches us so deeply that we are forever changed. 
    I remember where I was on September 11, 2001 when my husband called to tell me about the planes hitting the Twin Towers.   I had no idea just how much that moment would shape my life or the lives of others, I just knew it was big.
    It didn't take long before Mike called back to tell me that a third plane had flown into the Pentagon.  Clearly, America was under attack and the enormity of that realization was more than I could wrap my mind around.  This was the United States of America, for heaven's sake!  Fear flooded me.  Who was doing this and why?  Who and what were the next targets? 
    I had married Mike, an army major, in the summer of 2000.  I enjoyed being the wife of a military officer and looked forward to "seeing the world" as our family would surely move from one base to the next throughout his career.  I realized that he would probably do a few tours overseas without us intermittently, but it never occurred to me that we would become a nation at war.  In an instant, that possibility became a probability and I was terrified.
    While I was cowering in fear on my way to work on that sunny September morning,  firefighter Stephen Siller  had just gotten off the late shift at Squad 1, Park Slope, Brooklyn and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when his scanner told of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. He called his wife Sally to tell her he would be late because he had to help those in need.  He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear, then took his final heroic steps to the World Trade Center.  Reaching the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, it was already closed to traffic .  Undeterred, Stephen Siller strapped sixty pounds of gear to his back and ran through the Tunnel, hoping  to meet up with his own company. 
    
    Because of the heroes who selflessly give of themselves everyday, I can no longer be paralyzed by fear. Today, I have been given the opportunity to serve as the Tunnel to Towers Pearl Harbor volunteer coordinator.  Knowing what I do now about Stephen Siller's life and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and their enormous support of first responders and the military, I am humbled and honored to be a part of the Pearl Harbor run this year.  "The sole purpose of the Foundation is to honor the legacy of love given to us by Stephen Siller, FDNY, who laid down his life on 9/11, by “doing good” in his name.   The mission is to follow Stephen’s footsteps through support of children who have lost a parent, firefighters, and military who have been seriously injured and sacrifice their quality of life in the line of duty."
    Please visit www.tunneltotowers.org for more information and together, "Let us do good."

    To volunteer, please email me at t2tpearlharbor2@gmail.com .
     
 
 
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    Today marks the halfway point of my Efudex topical chemotherapy treatment.  I must admit that I have mixed feelings about the halfway point, however.  On one hand, thank God I'm at the half!  On the other hand, seriously...it's only the half?!  I set a reminder on my iPhone calendar to denote my last day of treatment (as if I would accidently go beyond the completion date!).  Unfortunately, I miscalculated by a week!  I'm not going to lie, I was more than a little disappointed this morning when my Iphone reminded me that I was on my last day of treatment and common sense kicked in and reminded me that I couldn't possibly be foolish enough to believe that two weeks had passed!  Really, sometimes ignorance is bliss!
    As I said in my previous blog post, this is not the first time I have used these topical chemotherapy agents to heal damage I have allowed myself because of my love of the sunshine.  But no two treatments have been the same.  For example, the first time I ever used it, I was a bloody mess.  The second time, in the same area, wasn't quite as bad.  Perhaps I knew what to expect?  The third treatment was just about four months ago and the first week or two passed without much painful fanfare and I began to wonder whether I was just learning how to handle it better.  After all, the dermatologist had switched products to Efudex (current treatment product as well) which he assured me was much stronger and would be more painful and difficult to endure but would also produce better results.  When it hit, it did so with a vengeance! 
    And now, here we are.  My fourth go-round.  What I have learned is that the face is incredibly sensitive!  It took two days (just two!) for the cream to begin "melting" my face. My chest and arms are occasionally bothersome, but my face...YIKES!  It is red and splotchy and at times takes on an "angry" look all on it's own.  It is also difficult to move my lips and mouth (mostly just in the morning, but other times of the day are hit and miss) because of the dryness and heat that flood the skin around my mouth.  Yelling at the children would humor them (since I am yelling with my teeth firmly clenched together and my mouth virtually closed!) if they didn't worry so about the pain it causes me.  And I have taken to telling Mike and the boys when I am smiling at them rather than moving my face into an actual smile. :)  It's hard to believe that this is only the halfway mark...and yet the last three treatments have lasted from 4-6 weeks with this only clocking in at two! 
    I have also learned that my friends, who have always been amazing, are even more amazing than I ever realized!  One of them has cooked meals and altered the carpool schedule to accommodate my moments of agony.  Another has offered to spend time with the children so that I can just "be".  Others have offered to run errands or help around the house.  And perhaps my favorite offer has been from the friend who said that she would run laps around the neighborhood naked if the humor would help me to feel better.  And you know what?  If she thought it would help, she totally would!
    I love you, my friends!  All of you!  Not just because you are so wonderful to me, but because you are wonderful in general!
    XO!

 
 
      There's good news and bad news...and maybe a combination of the two.  Yesterday was my first dermatology appointment since arriving on the island four months ago.  I was scheduled to have my skin "mapped", a procedure that allows the doctors to follow any "abnormal" spots to ensure that anything that required further attention would be tended to.
     On the way to the appointment, I laughed on the inside as I wondered whether or not I'd be able to look my map up on mapquest and the various routes that could be taken from my nose to my toes.  I wasn't particularly concerned because I had recently cleared my third round of topical chemotherapy for pre-cancerous cells just a week before leaving Kentucky, roughly four months ago.
    Topical chemotherapy?!  I know, I know...poor me.  Not so much!  I have done this to myself.  I have been addicted to the tanning bed (and natural sunlight in a pinch) since I was in high school. (Which is a lot of years ago.  A LOT!)  I can remember thinking how much better my white cheerleading skirt looked if I was able to make it to the tanning bed before the game.  (Seriously?!) In fact, I vaguely remember writing a composition on tanning during my junior year.  (Again, seriously?!)  I made every effort to ensure that I made it to the swimming pool to lay out (seasonally) and/or to the tanning salon on a daily basis.
    Of course my mother warned me of the perils of skin cancer and pleaded with me to stop the madness.  In fact, she offered to take me to the nearest cancer ward so that I could see what it was like to have skin cancer and the misery that accompanies treatment.  Silly mom!  Again, the cheerleading uniform was much better on me if my skin were brown...with just a hint of red.  She just didn't understand.  Parents can be so old fashioned.
    In recent years, I cut back on the visits to the tanning salon.  In fact, I was content to visit the magic bulbs two or three times in a week.  I even went the "healthy route" and hosted a mobile spray tanning (margaritas too, of course!) party in my home at Fort Belvoir!  By this time, the damage had been done and I was being urged to visit the dermatologist at least once a year. 
    Fast forward...As ridiculous as this sounds, (and yes, even a bit twisted) I wish I had known (maybe cared is the better word...) about the aging associated with that "healthy, youthful" glow.  It's naive (a big, fat lie in fact!) to think that I wasn't aware that tanning has an effect on aging.  But the truth is that I arrogantly believed that there would be such advances made in curing cancer and, more importantly to my wayward thinking,  this whole aging thing that by the time I was old enough to care, it wouldn't matter.  It matters.  A lot. 
    As I waltzed into the dermatologists office thirty minutes late (parking in Hawaii is INSANE!) I was oblivious to my reality.  That didn't last long.  Dr. Leu, a very kind and patient dermatologist, did not use scare tactics, nor did she lecture.  She did, however, begin making notes like mad, alternating between my new chart and her prescription pad.  I went from her office directly to the pharmacy and then home to begin my fourth round of  Efudex, a wicked cream in the topical chemotherapy family which is used to treat precancerous cells.  The three previous treatments were concentrated solely on my chest.  This round, however, will effect all skin from my wrists to my hairline which I found a bit discouraging, particularly since I am well aware (too aware, perhaps!) of the agony associated with topical chemotherapy.  The area in misery will be more than twice that of previous treatments.  Yea. Me.
    So, the good news (or the slightly mixed news) is that it's all still in precancerous stages and can be managed with topical chemotherapy agents.  The bad news is that it will be managed with topical chemotherapy agents!  And I must say that I was startled to read that I have forty refills.  FORTY!  Can they really write a prescription with forty refills?!  Perhaps I was in a fog when I arrived home and misread the tube...  
    The bad news is that I will have a very "raw" look (and feel!) on my arms, chest and face.  (It's never good news when the dermatologist says, "You don't have any important functions anytime soon, do you?") 
    And now for the good news...Efudex, or as I refer to it, misery in a tube (among other things, depending upon how far into treatment I am!) is dermatology's "dirty little secret" as are some of the other lotions and potions used to treat various skin conditions.  While I will always be a fan of botox, did you know that Efudex has a documented effect on it's ability to "reverse" the aging process?   While it does not differentiate between "good" cells and "bad" cells and just kills them all, it creates a wound, thereby forcing the body to generate new cells. (Or something like that...)
    I had not intended to share this, however this is my fourth round of treatment and on the off-chance that someone reading this will see their dermatologist for something that looks "abnormal" to the naked eye or, better yet, will spend their time in the sun more wisely than I have (SUNSCREEN, PEOPLE!), I would be foolish to remain silent.
    I guess that the best way to describe the next few weeks for me will be to say that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better!  I am hoping to share the good, bad and ugly (and it WILL be UGLY, this I know from experience!) with you not so that you will feel sorry for me.  Don't.  But because I want you to be smarter than me, particularly in the sunshine!
   
 
 
    We've all done it.  Our kids wait until the last minute to start a school project and out of sheer frustration, or maybe because we think we can get them a better grade, we get involved.  Let's be clear about this.  We were already going to be involved.  What I'm talking about here is getting INVOLVED.  Not EXACTLY doing the project for them.  But not quite encouraging them to turn in their own work.  However good or bad it is.  However on time or, more likely, late.
    One of our boys has had the paperwork for his science project on my desk since the first of September.  He's got his plan all figured out...in his head.  Nothing is yet on paper, though the project is due on Friday.  More specifically, the science project is due by 9a.m. on Friday, no late acceptance.
    His science teacher is very specific about her expectations, which is a good thing.  A very good thing.  I've read through the five pages of instructions and I think I've got this.  Which is fine, except for the fact that it is my son who needs to "get it".

     I was the one scrambling from store to store yesterday looking for the right kind of poster board since we have four of the wrong kind!  He doesn't seem jazzed at all about the project, though I'm starting to sweat it a bit.
    In fact, I've started jotting down notes for him to consider as well as ideas that I think that he should implement.  I've even consulted in a "science expert" (you know who you are!) and we have collectively formulated hypothesis, questions, control factors, etc.
    In my mind, I can visualize the final product.  The tri-fold poster board is a spectacular and colorful creation of science wisdom and knowledge and facts...and stuff.  And I'm looking forward to the A (PLUS!) that I fully expect to receive for all of my hard work and the hours dedicated to this assignment.  I can only hope that my son is as excited as I am...

   
 
 
    Every year at this time I am convinced that there has to be a better way.  A more systematic approach, if you will.  Inevitably, signing up for sports and school occur at nearly the same time and I am always left wondering, "why all the paperwork"?
    Of course it's necessary that basic information be provided.  After all, I would hate for you to not be able to make a doctor's appointment in case of an emergency!  Come to think of it, when sending the boys home sick, why do they call me without having called to schedule a doctor's appointment first?  Why not call the doctor and make them an appointment for me while I hop in the car to pick them up?    And really, is it terribly important that every teacher, coach, school nurse and administrator know not only all of the races/ethnicities that make up our children, but which one of them is dominant as well?!  Surely not. 
    I am convinced that on occasion the powers that be look at the amount of paperwork to be filled out and find it lacking in volume.  Thus, some poor underpaid secretary is inevitably tasked with providing more questions to be answered by time-challenged and often weary parents and guardians.  The question I lob back is this: Do you realize that approximately 70% of the questions on this next-to-last page were answered on pages one and two of your questionnaire???
    And at this time every year I think to myself, "if only I knew how to create the software to store all of this data in a central location I would be set for life"!

 
 
    After a month-and-a-half of roughing it in a hotel on Waikiki Beach, our house on Fort Shafter is nearly ready for us.  In just ten more days the movers will begin carting crates filled with our life up the driveway and into our home on Simpson Loop.  As anxious as I have been for that day to come, a funny thing has happened.  I suddenly feel the urge to hurry up and live like a tourist!
    We have spent a great deal of time at the swimming pool and sampled a few of the many beaches, we have driven H3 and marveled at the breathtaking views from various scenic points throughout the island.  We have also been to the Honolulu Aquarium and Sunset on the Beach as well as walked an endless footpath up and down Waikiki.  And still I feel as though we have yet to scratch the surface!
    I realize that we have three years here during which we will have the opportunity to see and do things that we would only otherwise dream about.  But once we move into our home, real life will also kick in.  There will be family obligations, school, work, sports, appointments and other everyday tasks that must be completed.
    My sincere hope is that rather than living like a tourist in the next week or so we will take time each week to do something remarkable.  That we will indeed leave the island a few years from now having learned to surf and standup paddle board.  And that we will have experienced more than we could have ever imagined!