November 9: For Ellie's cute smile, I will always be thankful. Tonight, I was taking a late-evening nap in the recliner and she would come up to me, pop her little head up over the side and say "Hi... Hi!... HI!... HI!!!!" until I would look at her. Then she'd smile, say "Mommy?" and walk away. Over and over again. Toddlers are sweet. None as sweet as my E.
November 8: I'm grateful for my tried-and-true enthusiasm. It was something I was definitely born with, and though I got my fair share of teasing for it as a teenager, it has been my biggest strength. It's helped me get countless jobs, make new friends in absolutely strange lands, and more than anything, it has kept me busy and happy over the course of this deployment. I'm glad that I make the commitment to say "yes." Sure, having a job, going to school, taking care of Ellie, sending packages to Andrew, etc etc etc is hectic and busy and wild. But, I'm happier for it and I'm proud to say we're officially 8 months finished with Andrew's tour in Afghanistan.


Weekend Trip to Cambridge

Ellie loves car rides... obviously.

@ Hemingway's-- a seafood restaurant directly off the Bay Bridge.

The view from our room!

So, our weekend trip was fantastic. I've already written about the memorial, but I wanted to post a little ditty about the fabulous hotel and the beautiful time we had.


Pumpkin girl.

Bubby gets his learner's permit!

After volunteering at the Haunted House

Soccer game @ BW

Western maryland Scenic Railroad

Birthday girl!

Duck feeding

NHS induction!

Halloween costume

Soccer Homecoming

First snow of the year!


Kenan Knieriem: A Celebration of Life

Andrew's PopPop had a brother named John, who after serving in the military in both Germany and Japan, retired in New Jersey and had a family with his wife, Helen. They were parents to John Jr, Guy, Jane, and Kenan. Kenan Knieriem was the baby of the family and was a soccer star throughout high school. When he came to be an adult, he attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland where he played varsity soccer as a Freshman. He won both leadership awards as a senior and is the sixth all-time most scoring player to ever attend the Naval Academy. He did his active duty time at Pearl Harbor and this is when he fell in love with Hawaii.

And Hawaii was where I fell in love with him.

Before Andrew moved to Hawaii in March 2010, Andrew's Dad send an email to Kenan letting him know that a Knieriem was moving to the island. Prior to this email, Chris and Kenan had only seen each other twice in their lives. This; however, did not stop Kenan from picking Andrew up at the airport in the late evening and driving him to base. This also didn't stop him from kidnapping Andrew for a weekend of resort hopping and seeing the best of Hawaii. When I moved shortly after, I had the privilege of meeting his son, Keno, and getting to know Kenan as our Island Dad. Whenever we needed help, we knew we could count on him. He was Hawaii. He was Aloha.

Tragically, he passed this September and I've hardly had a nerve to write about it.

My favorite memory of Kenan was the day Ellie was born. We were 6,000 miles from any of our family members and now had this little stranger to take care of. I was laying in the hospital bed, about 8 hours into EB's life when he walked into the room carrying two dozen pink roses. He kept telling me that "You did it. You deserve all the credit." I kept seeing the glimmer in his eye as if it were his own baby, and I could hear him saying the same words to Judy [his first wife] whenever their children were born. He was the first relative to meet our daughter. He was the first congratulations. I wish I remembered more of that conversation, but the pain from my procedure was outrageous and I fell in and out of consciousness. He would take us on harbor cruises and tell stories about his favorite fishing spots.

I've never fallen more in love with a person so quickly as I did with Kenan. It was instantaneous. He was love.

So, this weekend, we went to Cambridge to celebrate his life with his children, family, and friends. There was a fantastic slideshow and I met many of Andrew's famous relatives. Let me say this, the Knieriem's are a good time. There was a toast with MGD and plenty of hilarious stories, exactly the way Kenan would want it.

But, I woke up the next morning with a broken heart. How can he be gone? He was Hawaii. How can I move back without him there? We'll never take a fishing trip. We'll never go to the Sandbar. My Ellie won't get to see the man that greeted her into the world again.

I don't want to have to miss him every day for the rest of my life.

I just want him to be there. Lei in hand. Smile on face.
November 7: I love FOOD and I'm thankful to have plenty of it. This weekend we celebrated Uncle Kenan and mourned his passing at the Hyatt in Cambridge, Maryland. Besides being a fantastic memorial to a man that I loved very, very much, there was an abundance of fantastic food. I'm talking tables upon tables. Organic bleu cheese, locally harvested honey, fresh breads, crab soup, wild mushroom soup, mini paninis, chutney, brie, and on and on and on. I thought I would pass out. And, then, at around 10PM as I curled into my overstuffed bed in a private, waterfront room, I decided I was hungry and ordered room service. Let's be real: Parmesan truffle french fries are ALWAYS a must. [Did I ever mention that I eat free at Giuseppe's? Talk about more good food!] So, this November, as I eat like a mad woman and gear up for Thanksgiving and Christmas eating marathons, I will be reminded that I am so incredibly fortunate to have food. I've never had to suffer through hunger or worry about my next meal. Thanks be to God.
November 6: I'm grateful for college educations. As I get close to transferring to the University of Hawaii and finishing my accounting degree there, I'm thankful that I've been able to go back to school. I know that I'll be able to open doors for Andrew, Ellie, and I once I finish and I look forward to moving on to my Masters.