Saturday, July 21, 2012

Makapu'u Tidepools

This morning we went to "Baby Makapu'u" where there are tidepools that are so fun to play in and perfect for the kids.  It may as well be a mom/kids wonderland because the kids were in heaven and the moms were too.  It's the perfect little cove to watch your kids close by and no they are not getting smashed by waves.  And they are endlessly entertained by the fish, crabs, sea slugs, and swimming.  One of the girls brought nets and a fish tank so they kids could catch fish and we could watch them.  So awesome.  They even caught two sea slugs who were giant and slimy.  I'm so glad there is such a wonderful group of girls here to hang out with.  Us moms just need each other, and the kids love to have friends.  Feeling the love Hawaii

Art galore!

 First bus ride ever.  Stoked out of their minds

 Amelie very proud of her clay cookies that later turned into clay cupcakes.  It is hard to pick a favorite between the two.  I totally get it
 Woven trees.  Genius and beautiful
 Working hard with Dad's help
 Of course this is what Oliver picked to have painted on his face.  And don't worry, he was telling the lady doing it step by step the way he wanted it (not like in the picture). 

 So Dr. Suess
 This event was held at the Contemporary Art Museum.  Super fun with lots of activities to encourage kids to do art. 
 Cupcakes with straw candles
 Autograph tree
 We had to put our mark on it
 Some of our buddies were there to party with us

 Right after the art spree, there was another event right after at the Botanical Gardens called "A midsummer night's gleam".  They had tons of art, performances, activities and tons of little paper lanterns were lit at sundown so the place was glowing when it got dark.  Very cool. 
 Amelie working on her masterpiece
 Ollie working on his
 Finished!  Not sure what it is but I'm sure he knows
 Fighting the dragon
 It tried to bite Ollie's head and he turned around with a smile just to make sure this was all a joke.
 Running through lantern laces pathways.  This place was beautiful, smack in the middle of town. 
Ollie and Andrew getting their fencing on. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

An evening nature walk

We went on a beautiful walk last week after being pent up in the house a few days with sick babies.  It was so nice to get some fresh air and remind ourselves how lucky we are to live in this glorious place.  My little kids are getting to be so fun these days.  It's a lot easier to pick up and do fun stuff because they are a lot more independent and with the two of them, they make everything fun.  I am soaking them in at this stage in life.  We have so much fun together. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The 517th Reunion

(I got this email this morning from my Dad and I wanted to make sure I recorded his experience of this reunion he went to with my grandpa). 

Dear Kids,
I wanted to share with you the experience of attending the 517th Airborn Regimental Reunion with my Dad in Kansas City while it is still fresh in my mind. It's been quite a remarkable few days. I have learned and observed a lot since arriving, discovering some things I didn't know about the 517th and deepening my appreciation of the sacrifice of these wonderful men.
We had 13 veterans that attended the reunion -- there are about 40 men from the 517th still alive, but only 13 were strong enough to travel here -- highlighting that fact, a 14th member died on the way to Kansas City. These men are between 88 and 94 years of age (interestingly, only 3 came with spouses -- the rest are widowers). It is pretty remarkable being in their comany. Dick Spears, the last surviving Battalion commander attended -- he is 95 years old. After serving as a Captain over the 3rd Battalion, he went on to become a Two-Star General in the army.
The first night of the reunion, I struck up a conversation with a tall, fit man in his early 20's who I assumed was a family member with one of the veterans. It turned out, he was an Army Ranger who was home on leave in Kansas City and had heard the 517th was having a reunion. I told him that it was nice of him to make the time to come to the reunion and that I was sure the veterans appreciated his willingness to be there. He responded, "No, you don't understand. Within the Army Special Services, the 517th is legendary -- it is the most decorated regiment in the Army -- we studied them at West Pointe. I couldn't pass up an opportunity to meet these men. They're heroes to me."
The first night, we watched a documentary on the 517th -- similar to the type of interviews that were done with the men of Company "B" after the Band of Brothers series. It was really moving.
A lot of us were excited to see the premier of the new Soldiers and Saints movie the following night, but for me, the highlight was this documentary -- I am bringing a copy of it home with me. The new Soldiers and Saints movie, by the way, was terrific -- much better than the first movie. It is about the 517th's jump into Southern France (Operation Dragoon). I can't wait for you to see it. It was not only about the paratroopers of the 517th, but actually about members of the First Battalion, which was my father's unit. It was very moving. But again, for me the documentary was the best. I was very moved when I saw the Soldiers and Saints movie, but wept when I saw the documentary. You'll understand when you see it.
Some observations --
I was touched by how deferential the other veterans were when they learned that Dad had been the Battalion Staff Sargeant for Captain ("Wild Bill") Boyle, who led the First Battalion (think Captain Winters in Band of Brothers). They were really close and Boyle was considered to be a legend in his own right (receiving the Distinguished Service Cross - the Army's second highest medal after the Battle of the Bulge). Boyle died 5 years ago, but his wife and five of his 10 kids were at the reunion. It was pretty emotional when Dad talked with Babbie Boyle and shared with her the admiration that he had for her husband and what they meant to each other. She responded that she had heard a great deal about Sargeant Kelley over the years, and how thrilled she was to meet the man who had saved her husband on more than one occasion.
The final night, our keynote speaker was the Lieutenant General of the Army over Special Services. I learned some things about the 517th that I hadn't known:
* During operation Dragoon in Southern France, the 517th engaged in front-line combat for 93 consecutive days -- an Army record that to this day has never been broken.
* The 517th had the highest "kill rate" among combat units.
* The 517th's reputation was so lethal that the Germans simply referred to them as "Devils with Baggy Pants" or "Big Pocket Murderers" (referring to their jump suits and their practice of never taking prisoners -- Since the 517th always fought behind enemy lines -- they had no provision for taking prisoners. If you encountered paratroopers from the 517th, you were as good as dead). They were more feared by the Germans than any other Allied force.
* The 517th was among the most highly decorated regiments in the history of the Army. Following the Battle of the Bulge, the entire regiment received a Presidential Commendation for bravery in the face of daunting risk (no, Dad never mentioned that to me).
* The 517th suffered a casualty rate of 89.1% -- at the end of World War II, it was permanently retired (having literally run out of men) Despite that high casualty rate, eight of its members went on to become Army Generals (also a record).
The general told the story of the 517th's final battle in Belgium -- which was the battle in which both Dad and Captain Doyle were gravely wounded. In order to cut-off the retreat of the German Army, the 517th was ordered to seize and control a key position behind the enemy lines. Holding that position until the regular Army could relieve them. Despite being hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, and squarely in the path of the retreating German Army, the 517th would not "quit" the field. In that last engagement with the Germans -- the 2nd Battalion was pinned down and nearly wiped out -- only saved when Wild Bill Boyle and the 1st Battalion's HQ Company (my Dad's company) flanked the enemy and drew their fire. At the end of that final day's engagement, over 500 men of the 517th were killed (about half the remaining regiment).
Unlike many veterans, Dad didn't stay in touch with many former comrades after the war. That had always puzzled me. I now appreciate the reason for that -- he lost most of his friends in the Bulge.
My Dad tells the story of how when the 517th returned home, Life Magazine flew the men back to Georgia where they had done their basic training and had them line up in the field where they had taken their original regimental photograph before shipping off to Europe -- with each man standing in the same spot as in the original regimental photo -- to demonstrate how many men the regiment had lost. Apparently, the resulting photo was so stark and bereft of men that the Army refused to let Life Magazine publish the photo -- it was just too painful to see it. I think I now better understand that decision.
This will likely be the last national reunion of the 517th Airborn -- the veterans are getting too old to make the trip. It was an honor being here. I fear that with the passing of this, the "Greatest Generation," we will not see their like again.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July!

Fireworks at Turtle Bay!
 It started pouring rain 5 minutes before the show started and there was a break long enough in the rain to watch the fireworks.  Classic Hawaii
 Ryan and Amelie getting snuggly
 We've got pride for a lot of cultures here in Hawaii:)

 The setup at Turtle Bay with lots of music, food, and games.  Super fun, even with the pouring rain:)

 Ollie stoked to be on the blow up shark slide.  Amelie refused to participate on this one.
 We spent the day at Kalamas with some friends.  It was perfect beach weather and we all got way too much sun
 This is Oliver's "surfer boy" face. 
 I love a boy who can be so hard core in the waves but still have a lover face like this:)
 Playing puppy with Dad.  Ryan will go along with basically any game Ami wants to play.  The man knows how to be silly and his kids love him so much for it.
 Time to fetch the water!
 Amelie has been going through a major mom phase (lasting about 8 months now) and I feel like we are starting to break out of it, thank goodness!  I'm glad she's starting to realize that Dad is way more fun than mom.  I can only handle playing puppy for 5 minutes:)  Friends forever, these two. 

I finally got some cute videos of Ollie surfing.  We forgot his surfboard this day but he was ripping it up on his boogie board.  He is seriously amazing.  Can't wait to get Amelie swimming so she can get out there too!