Happy New Years Eve!

Today is New Years Eve and we have officially been living in Hawaii for a year.

It's hard to forget the anticipation of last year as we set out into the Pacific hoping for something better.  Can I honestly say we found it?

I'm still struggling to solve the problem of being close to my family without living near each other.  It's constantly weighing on my mind how I wish we were together and sharing these experiences.  How will Ikaika ever feel close to my parents and sisters if we continue to live so far away?  Will Skype be able to single handedly resolve these issues?

But Hawaii is always finding ways to remind me that it's a good place for us: weekday afternoons spent relaxing at the beach, walks to the post office where we run into friends around town, and carefree community potlucks after high school football games.  I like small town living.  My idea of paradise includes no traffic and good food.  My idea of a dream vacation is watching a snowfall or a baseball game with brats in Wisconsin.

2009 was one of the most challenging years of my life.  Everything was uncertain.  But, we stayed positive and flexible, and tried to manage it the best we could.  Looking back, I think we did a good job.  Despite the insanity and disappointments, I feel so blessed and thankful for what we have accomplished as a family this past year.  I'm looking forward to an even better year to come!

If 2009 was the year of new beginnings, 2010 will be the year of rebuilding


Handmade Christmas Gifts

Here's a selection of some of the gifts that I made for Christmas this year.  I'm definitely happy knowing that everyone got something unique.

"I Glove Milwaukie" make up bag for my older sister.  She travels a lot for her job and is a die hard Brewers fan.  She picked this shirt out for me to wear to the Brewers game during our visit this summer so I knew she liked the design.  The lining is Care Bears.

Hawaiian print dish towels for my mom.  The fabric is from Vanuatu.  I actually didn't like these very much because I used the wrong color thread and the bias binding looks sloppy (in my opinion). But my mom loves them and can't stop talking about them so maybe I'm just being picky.

Embroidered pillow case for my sister-in-law.  The patterns are from Sublime Stitching by Jenny Hart.  "Moe moe time" means "sleep time" in Hawaiian.  Unfortunately, I only had one pillow case but I guess that just leaves the option open for a companion gift next year.

Satin lined pencil case for my college roommate.  This is actually lined using some fabric left over from my wedding. The outside is a cow print.  She's in grad school and teaching college courses so I would consider this gift somewhat practical.

Hawaiian island chain hoodie for Mr A daughter #2.  I really like this one because the islands are on the front (usually they are always on the back of a shirt) and they wrap around the body.  I also like the way it works with the zipper.  Her Hawaiian name is appliqued down the back shoulder.

Crayon roll up for Mr A daughter #3.  Care Bears fabric.  I got her the jumbo size crayons and, in retrospect, she's a little old for those.  I should have gone with 24 regular crayons instead.  I also think that I made the pockets a bit too deep - but, again, maybe I'm just being picky.
I was thinking today how I should probably make one of these for Ikaika.  It's so much sturdier than those flimsy boxes and they transport easily in a purse or a diaper bag.


Mele Kalikimaka 2009!

Christmas 09 was certainly different from Xmas of the past.  Unable to swing plane tickets back to the mainland, we were stranded in Hawaii by ourselves.  Seems great in theory...but what fun is Christmas without a big family gathering?!  Although Mr A and I certainly made the best of our situation,  my holiday wish is to never have another lonely Christmas!

The only things that kept me going were thoughtful packages of presents sent by family members and friends traveling through Big Island who stopped at our place on Christmas Eve for some holiday cheer (and subsequently stayed for a few more days of said cheer).**  I was also excited about the idea of Skyping while opening the aforementioned presents, but Skype decided not to work on December 24th and I was understandably bummed.

** expect more details on Carrie & Jan's visit later

The show went on and we opened gifts from Oma, Opa and Aunty Beth even though they weren't watching.

Ikaika wasn't terribly interested in picture taking until there was punching involved!

SISTER PRESENT!  Every year, our aunt gets my two sisters and I matching presents.  This year it was a purple Nike hoodie.  I wore it for two days straight and mourned the absence of Beth and Mo!


Surfs Up, Big Island!

Winter is here, which means big waves in Hawaii. Of course, nothing beats North Shore, Oahu. We know that if the waves are pounding on Big Island - North Shore must be nuts! Surfers came out in droves today - lots of college kids home for Christmas break getting their fix of the ocean.

At the beach today, Ikaika played with the regular gaggle of girls (daughters of the other sand volleyball player dads). They shagged balls during warm up and had a silly face contest in the shade.

We headed down to the beach and the girls were impressed with the rough waves.

Ikaika on the other hand clung to my leg and whimpered after one shore break knocked him over.

Although he did get curious enough to relax the death-grip, most of the morning he was either laying in my lap or he was chasing stray volleyballs down in the grass.


The Poop Story

When I gave birth to a baby, I knew this day was coming. I wasn't sure when exactly, but it was in my foreseeable future. 

Friday afternoon I heard Ikaika babbling to himself after his nap.  I cracked the door to his bedroom open and peeked my head inside, cooing at him in a sing-song voice, "where's my precious ba..."

The smell hit me first.

Then my vision returned.

"WHAT THE FAAAAAA???????!!!!!!"

My son was covered - covered - in poop!  On his legs, arms, face, in his hair, on his hands (which were in his mouth....ugggghhhh....).  It didn't stop there.  The poop was smeared into all four corners of the world, smashed into the quilts, suck in every tiny hole of the mesh that lines the sides of his playpen!  The culprit, a discarded diaper, was laying to the side, ironically still clean. 

The baby has taken his diaper off before but wet sheets are usually no big deal.  He doesn't regularly poop during his nap.  Apparently, Friday was the beginning of the end of that.  I should have put a cover over the diaper. I should have duct taped it to his body.

The sight of my child happily licking poop off his tiny fingers was almost more than I could bear.  Normally, I can handle that kind of thing. Watching kids vomit makes me sick but bathroom stuff I can deal with. This was definitely the exception.  I truly did almost throw up.

After a bath and a huge load of laundry I set about the task of dragging the poopy playpen down the stairs of our apartment building and spraying it down with a hose. How gross!  Even though I laughed about this story later (a lot later), I was so traumatized in the moment that I didn't even get a picture!  I really would enjoy having some evidence of this (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event.


What Motherhood Means To Me

While I was sitting on the kitchen floor this morning, my son ran from across the room and jumped in my arms, laughing.  He gave me a huge hug, smiled, wiggled out of my arms and turned around to run back to run back the other way.  When he reached an acceptable distance he turned around and started the whole process over again.

As this was going on I found myself saying aloud, "Ikaika, mommy can't sit here and do this all morning."  But the truth is...I could.  Not only that, I wanted to.  Something inside me twinged when I heard myself say those words.  I instantly knew that they were a fallacy.  They were a reflection of my rational mind, the voice that tells me I have laundry to do, a package to mail, dishes to wash.  The voice that tells me I need to "do something" to succeed.

Motherhood is what makes me certain that sitting on my kitchen floor with no deadline or objective is undoubtedly going to be the most worthwhile and productive part of my day.  It trumps anything else on my to-do list.  If you aren't a mother you may think that statement is sad - I certainly would.  Coming from an insider, I assure you that motherhood is full of richness and happiness.  Every moment of my life has a real purpose.  Even on days when I do nothing, I accomplish something profound.

That is what motherhood means to me.


Stress is a terrible thing.  Take this morning for example. 

The new webcam I got so we could "spend the holidays" with our families is NOT WORKING (Ive reinstalled the program twice and it will work sometimes and not others, which makes it all the more evil).  The baby is refusing to sit on the potty and destroying all the furiniture I spend an hour and a half child-proofing last night (didn't take into account that he was going to attack the exterior with hard objects).  The house is a mess and no matter how many dishes I wash it's not looking any cleaner.  The delicious vegetarian sloppy joes I made last night have given me the worst smelling gas imaginable (did you really need to know that?). 

Granted, these are all problems that will clearly not be resolved by stressing.  If I really want to relax I should just call technical support (which I don't want to do right now so I'm obviously not that deperate for a solution), put a diaper on Ikaika, place all hard objects out of his reach, keep cleaning or possibly go on a walk (so I don't have to acknowledge the mess), and take some bean-o.  There you have it - problem solved.  No more stress.


Feeling Very Discouraged about ECing Full Time...

The diaper saga continues.  Mr A bought a(nother!) pack of disposables.  Sigh...  If they are in the house we are going to use them, which is why I try not to buy them.  But now they are just sitting in the closet, taunting me.

I began reading yet another book about EC titled Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer.

I keep telling myself that I need to make a decision about this.  I either need to move forward with EC or I need to surrender to diapers and just resign myself to the idea of having him in diapers for another year or more (more?!). 

Yesterday I tried leaving him diaper free for the morning and after two misses (and despite two big catches) I found myself all defeated and saying "Oohhh well, this is never going to work.  Back into dipes".
BUT, how can I really say that EC isn't going to work for us if I can't even commit myself to do it for a full week...err...a full day?
 So this morning I tried diaper free (he peed on me) then in a diaper without a cover (he peed in the diaper).  I've caught two half-a-pees in the potty but for some reason this just isn't working!  I feel like I'm just following him around with a towel and cleaning up after him!

He will go in the toilet.  He will sit on a toilet and go, which itself is an accomplishment.  I should be happier about that.  But I want a diaper free baby!  The book says to focus less on the outcome and more on the process.  It should be more about communication and less about elimination.  Maybe the not-instant success is leading me to somehow believe that I'm not "in tune" with my kid (read: crappy mom).

Tomorrow is another day.  Another possibly diaper free morning.  I'm going to go and hunt around the mothering.com EC chat board in hopes of finding an answer.


Waikoloa Holiday Parade!

This Saturday, I tricked out the stroller so Ikaika and I could walk n wave in the Waikoloa Holiday Parade!  MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) was behind my participation.  It was nothing short of wild getting all those kids organized enough to march in a 1.5 mile parade.  Thank you Waikoloa Lions Club for having the "Zoo Choo Train" directly in front of us - almost every single kid took a ride at some point.  Ickey didnt exactly understand the role he played in all this - but I did catch him waving back to people several times.  He even wore the Santa hat for part of the actual parade (although I dont know how he tolerated that thing since it was about 90 degrees out). 

Afterward, there was a holiday festival at the elementary school complete with a Filipino magician and free pictures with Santa.  I let the baby eat the complimentary hot dog (on a white bun - gag!) because I wasnt organized enough to pack a lunch in the morning.  Stupid mother.  Still kicking myself about that one...


Nuts About the Holidays! Candied Almond Recipe

I love these Candied Christmas Almonds from Super Healthy Kids.com!   Not only are they surprisingly simple to make, they are delicious, (somewhat) nutritious, and they last longer than cookies - which means I can make a huge batch now and have gifts on hand for friends or coworkers as the holidays approach.

Start with all the ingredients above.  I used regular bulk raw almonds - not salted or toasted. 

  1. Mix an egg white with 1 tsp of vanilla and beat it with a fork until nice & fluffy.
  2. Add 1lb (about 2.5 cups) of almonds and mix until well coated with the egg white.
  3. Mix 3/4C brown sugar and 1/4C white sugar in a bowl with 1/2 tsp salt and 1tsp cinnamon (not pictured - oops!).
  4. Mix almonds and sugar until well coated.
  5. Spread evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 1 hour at 225 degrees - stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. Let cool and enjoy!

I love Super Healthy Kids' idea of bagging them in pretzel bags from the candy aisle of the craft store.  They are just the perfect size and can be customized with any type of holiday ribbon.  I had so much fun making these and the whole apartment smelled AWESOME in the meantime!


Lokahi Tree and Bargain Hunting for Kids Clothes

I love volunteering during the holidays!  No matter how broke-as-a-joke I am, I know that whether I am knitting a sweater or serving some soup, I always have time to give. 

Today the baby and I went down to Kona and shopped for our family for the Lokahi tree (a charitable organization that sponsors needy families in Hawaii and provides them with gifts and dinner during the holidays).  I am so excited because I think this family of 4 is going to be really happy with the things I picked out for them!  Especially their daughter who is getting a beautiful bed!...that, and it's always fun to shop, even more so when it's not my money!

Anyhow, so I was finding clothes for their 18month boy.  My kid is nearly the same age and I have a few things to say about finding clothes on a budget.

I shop for a majority of Ikaika's clothes (on the rare occasion when I need to since he is gifted a lot of clothes from family and friends) at the thrift shop, where they are 50 cents a piece. I think this is by far the best deal and most baby clothes aren't worn enough to make a significant difference.

As far as stores, I think Target is far superior to WalMart.  WalMart's clothes are usually cheap (as in low quality) and the sale racks are between $5-10.  Target has some great clothes and their sale racks average $1.50-5, a STEAL!  The secret is to buy things a season ahead.  So when the winter clothes are on sale, you buy the next size up (or whatever size you would anticipate your kid to be next winter).

Although I have to take my hat off to Wally-Mart because today I found a Martha Stewart Scrapbook for $5 and that made me so happy I literally did a fist pump at the checkout stand! 


Fun Food Idea: Taco-in-a-Bag!

Saturday, at the Waimea Town Holiday Craft Fair, I ran into this super cute and fun food idea. 

Behold, Taco in a Bag!

It's so simple - just take a snack bag of chips (they were using Doritos and Fritos but you could use any kind of corn chip), chop the top off, leave the chips in the bottom, and then pile taco fillings into the bag!  Follow with a big dollop of sour cream or whatever and enjoy with a fork. 

I think kids (who are older than mine) would enjoy making these and as a bonus, no dishes to clean up!


Ikaika's First Haircut

Last night, we decided to take the plunge and finally cut the baby's hair....

Ugh!  My hands look old and weathered.  Damn sunshine.

Half way through the cut.

I have never cut hair before and clearly didnt really know what I was doing. Last MOPS meeting, Mindy gave us pointers on cutting kids hair and I think this gave me a false sense of confidence.

Heres the back/top.

And the finished product!

Isn't it amazing how dark his hair is once we cut off the blonde, sun-streaked tips?  I am just shocked at how different he looks!  It has been freaking me out all day.  The weirdest part, for me, is that he looks like "a little boy" and not "a baby". Waaaahhhh!  My baby's growing up!!!

In retrospect, I think the clippers would have been easier than the scissors.  Giving him something to eat was a good idea because it kept him occupied for 15 minutes.  I'm too much of a perfectionist because I was inspecting his hair all morning and kept finding places that are way too long or short. In reality, I don't think anyone (besides me) will notice or care.  I'm glad we decided not to give him a mohawk (Mr A and I were seriously discussing the option).


Knox College Class of '33

Although I would never force him to choose the path I chose, its not like I would be upset if my son decided to attend my Alma Mater.  And I'm not going to purposely not talk about the good ole days, the special friends and wonderful memories; professors I will never forget, afternoon coffee on the Gizmo patio, walking in the freezing darkness back to Post after lacrosse practice, for fear that it would somehow be misinterpreted as "pressure".  Maybe he will hear those stories and realize what college is all about, just as I did listening to my dad prattle on and on about St Johns throughout my entire childhood.  Maybe he will hear those stories and want that for himself.  Something more than just an education, something more than a diploma.  To be a student, an athlete, part of a community, part of something small yet bigger than yourself, submersed in a world where the people around you share your values and ideals.  Its a great place.

btw ruth thanx for the shirt


Communication Development Concerns

When the baby took his first steps at 8 months, I prepared myself to wait for his first word.  I looked at motor and communication skills as somewhat of a trade off.  He was obviously focusing his time and attention on walking so it was unreasonable to expect him to pick up talking too.  We read and talk often so I know he is being exposed to language.  So, 5 months later, whats the hold up?!

Now he is 13 months and I am starting to wonder if something is wrong.  I spoke with a friend yesterday who's son-of-the-same-age has a working vocabulary of not one, but several words!  My kid certainly babbles and seems to understand things that are spoken to him - but talking?  Not so much.  I do not even get a "mommy" with any kind of clarity or consistency! 

The problem with this is now that Ickey has all kinds of wants but lacks any kind of vocabulary, requests are given through whining and screaming.  Its hard for me to enforce "use your words" when he has no words to use!  And, its not just vocabulary, its all forms of communication.  He does not point, sign, indicate, nothing.  I feel like the only reason I know what he wants half the time is I know him.  Its prediction rather than interpretation. 

Predictably, he is starting to use his gross motor skills to let us know what he wants.  He physically climbs up our leg or into our lap, he will bring a book to us, or reach for a cup.  I need to figure out a way to teach him to use the skills he has to communicate his needs so he doesnt grow up to become that kid who screams for something instead of just asking. 

Are there ways that we can help our kids develop vocabulary or do they just pick it up and use it when they are good and ready?


Baby Soup

I found 2 baby gates for $4 at the thrift store this week which means I can start blocking off the kitchen (Ickey can nearly reach the top of the stove now- super not safe!)

But, I'm going to miss moments like these...


Disciplining Your Strong Willed Child

Today, during my Mothers of Pre Schoolers (I heart MOPS) meeting, we discussed discipline and the "strong willed" child.  Although Ikaika is still too young to acurately categorize his personality, Im starting to detect very authoritative undertones in his behavior.  Because I suspect that a year from now this topic will apply to me, I was sure to listen intently during todays presentation.

Lani, a pastor and grandmother of 8, explained to our room of eager moms how our little monsters are actually tomorrows leaders.  Isnt that an encouraging thought?  Stubborn, pain-in-the-ass kids grow up to be our bosses...anyone else not surprised?!

Seriously though, raising strong willed kids can be a real challenge, especially if you are a strong willed adult.  Lani pointed out the difference between defiance and irresponsibility. And I made sure to take notes.  Defiance needs to be met with discipline.  Irresponsibility need to be met with correction.  Notice the difference? It makes sense, but requires the clarity of mind to determine which is which (not always easy in the high stress, frustrating conditions under which these things usually occur).  It also requires a working knowledge of age appropriate behavior - something I just realized Im lacking!

Lani suggested using a "pa'i stick", a designated object for smacking your children ("Target has some good ones") because "hands are meant to hug and love".  I chuckled when she was explaining the pa'i stick because it sounds exactly like Thai Teachers Guide to Discipline and I know that if she had been doing this presentation in Portland, Oregon at least 4 mothers would have stood up and walked out!

With strong willed kids, I was told that its important to "shape their will without breaking their spirit".

Sigh...all this just makes me wonder how I am going to survive raising my kids! I already know that Im going to make a ton of mistakes.  I know Im going to try a hundred techniques before I find one that works.  Can I shape without breaking?  Its as if my mind - my rational logical mind - KNOWS what to do.  I know what the "right" thing is.  But can I do that as a parent?  ...err...can I do that at least 60% of the time (that sounds like a realistic goal, right?!)

What kind of discipline do you use and does it work for you?


Happy Birthday to You...yesterday

over the hill, but not above a sense of humor


Happy Thanksgiving Menu

Its Thanksgiving, the day of food and football.

This is our first Thanksgiving alone and, unfortunately, we must rely on ourselves for food.  In the past, we contributed a dish to the family dinner and then reaped the benefits of leftovers.  This year, with no family to speak of and a free 20lb turkey from the DOE, its up to us to cook a meal worthy of this most sacred of holidays.  Ideally, this dinner will be epic, but I will settle for edible.

Heres the menu

  • Roast Turkey from Simply Recipes.  However, I am roasting my bird breast up because thats where the pop up thermometer is.  Also, both grocery stores were completely out of rosemary and thyme so I used Da Salty Lady's Hawaiian Poultry Salt Seasoning instead.  Perhaps doing my shopping at 8am this morning was a poor decision.
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes thanks to the Food Network.    
  • Arrowhead Organic Stuffing
  • Green Beans (Ive got em - just sure what to do with em.  Boil?)
  • Pumpkin Pie - the one thing I am 100% positive I can make and it will turn out awesome.  No raisins this time though!

Thinking back to our pilgrimage earlier this year, I am absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude.  Life in Hawaii is so full of love and happiness. I am very thankful for my family and especially my kid.  Ive heard people say it and figured it was lip service, but its true - he is such a blessing in my life and I am truly, genuinely thankful that he's part of our family.  I also know that someday soon we will be able to spend holidays together with our entire family instead of having to rely on google to roast the turkey!   

Mahalo i ka mea loa'a!  Be thankful for what you have!


Life might be easier if I had...

rechargeable batteries (notice how I havent posted any original pics lately because I am out of batteries - AGAIN!)

a lock top rice cooker with a timer

a computer desk

a hand mixer

a bidet.  Life might be easier with the hose kind because that can pull double duty as a diaper sprayer - but these are cute too.


Frugal Gifting

Ive been giving Holiday gifts a lot of thought lately. I dont want to be caught off guard - making rash purchases at the last minute - so I have been carefully planning my holiday gift giving for the past few weeks. Being that we are on a tight budget, I thought I would throw out some tips today for pinching pennies while still giving quality gifts.

By the way, shop at my store for the holidays!!!

  • For starters, plan ahead. I make a list every year of who I am gifting to (surprisingly, its not always the same) and then I jot down some ideas of gifts that might be appropriate for them. I have two lists on the fridge right now, just to remind me how far behind I am.
  • In order to save sanity, I dont usually ask people what they want unless Im stuck for an idea of what to get them. Meeting requests is a sure-fire way to deviate from a budget!
  • With that in mind, I keep a careful ear to the ground for any hints my loved ones may drop as to their hearts desires. Its not always necessary to hit a bulls eye but its nice to at least shoot at the right target!
  • Making a budget should be a requirement for frugal gifting, but its the one thing I almost never do. Unfortunately, both my husband and I are extremely generous (to a fault) and going rouge with holiday spending is potentially disastrous! I would highly recommend setting a monetary limit on each person and trying to accomplish your giftgiving goals within that limit.
  • Homemade gifts arent necessarily cheaper gifts. Yarn costs money, as does fabric, notions, paper, picture frames, etc. Crafty gifts are a nice touch - but dont expect to automatically save money that way. Try to utilize your stash before heading to the store.
  • Thrift stores are a frugal gifters paradise! Giving second hand goods as gifts?! Not exactly. A good hour in a thrift store will often turn up some amazing treasures that can be incorporated into gifts you are already planning on giving. You can make a beautiful cover for a second hand book or repaint a picture frame for a family photo. Some discount store goods are spectacular enough to stand on their own, but most will need your loving touch before hitting the wrapping paper.
  • Hit the sales. This seems so obvious I hardly think I should write it, but combing through sales racks can turn up some pretty amazing deals!
  • When in doubt, turn to Ebay. If your family is anything like mine (with a strong affinity for the strange and rare) then Ebay is just the place to find it. Last year I received a compact that was cross stitched by the needlepoint queen of the Czech Republic, who consequently shared our last name! Best gift ever.
  • Etsy is just as good, but probably wont turn up the kind of deals Ebay does.


Christmas Rush and Crafty Craziness

I started my holiday crafting last week and I am now thinking I should have started it last month.

Because the move, the baby, and a slew of other reasons, money this year is tight tight tight and I am trying to craft as many gifts as humanly possible. This means that every free moment of my day is spent with knitting needles in hand and/or hunched over my sewing machine. Ive learned what I can and can not do when Ickey is awake (knitting = no, cooking = yes, sewing = sometimes), which has dramatically improved my time management. Despite my dedication, I still have the vague feeling that I wont be able to finish it all in time, especially considering all these gifts have to be shipping which cuts my time by an entire week!

Arrg! Im also annoyed that I cant share/brag about any of this stuff until after Dec 25th since I dont want to spoil the surprise for my loved ones. All that work and I cant even blog about it?! DENIED!


Why Week: Why Keep a Blog?

"Why Week": the week where I rationalize all my crazy behavior.

I love blogging. I love to read and write all different kinds of weblogs. Blogging has been such a positive and enriching experience for me. Everytime I read a great post, I feel so thankful to that person for sharing their knowledge and insight with me. Here are the reasons I keep a blog and you should too!

  1. Blogs cultivate a sense of community. The blogosphere reaches far and wide. We can connect to people around the world who share our passions and interests, whether we are moms, military families, knitters, scientists, or mechanics. There is a niche in the blogosphere for everyone. Not something that is always easy to find in our hometowns!
  2. Blogs exercise your creativity. Sky is the limit when it comes to what you can do with a blog. Pictures, text, video, audio, any type of media is fair game. Being an artist, I think that flexing your creative muscle is not only fun but necessary for a low-stress, fufilled life.
  3. Blogs keep you connected. I orginally began blogging to stay in touch with my family and, to that extent, this blog has been very successful. But, blogs can also be used to stay connected to your interests. You are not only able to access up-to-the-minute news on any topic, you also have a forum that allows you to contribute to the progress of knowledge. How cool!
  4. Blogs inspire. I love reading blogs that inspire me. I can always find some amazing idea about what to make for dinner, an activity to do with my son, a christmas gift to make, a movie to watch, what color I want to paint my kitchen, etc. I also love writing posts that I hope will inspire others! When I have thought of something particularly clever, or I find an idea that is cherry, I love posting it here knowing that the knowledge will be passed on to someone else who is looking for inspiration.
  5. Blogs teach. Anything you want to do - there is a blog about it somewhere. Usually, authors like answering questions about their posts - so its easy to get advice and tips directly from real people with real experience.
  6. Blogs are simple. It is so easy to create and manage a blog, anyone with enough computer know-how to be reading this should be able to keep a blog! Word Press, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad...the software is easy peasy.
  7. Blogs are relaxing. I love keeping Keiki on Board. I usually write when the baby is taking his morning nap (unless there is a pile of dishes or a mountain of laundry) and I think its so much more relaxing then vegging out in front of the TV. I feel like Doogie Howser.
  8. Blogs are free.
  9. Blogging keeps the mind sharp. When you know the world is going to be reading your writing and looking at your photos, it makes you want to put some genuine thought into the content of your work. Writing helps me stay on top of my spelling, vocabulary and compostition (although its always a work in progress) Blogging also allows me to keep up with basic advances in technology and the internet, something I find I have less and less direct interest in as I get older. I dont have an IPod and couldnt tell you how to use one - but I can write basic HTML codes!!!
  10. Blogs (especially mine) are cute! And in the end, isnt that what really counts?


Why Week: Why Cook Meals at Home?

*Why Week: the week where I rationalize all my crazy behavior*

Almost anything you want to eat, from graham crackers to potstickers, can be found fully prepared and ready to go. Food has become accessible and convenient in all senses of the word. Life with kids is jam packed enough, so why should we spend our precious time making foods we can just buy at the store?

  1. Knowledge is power. Sure, you can read an ingredients label, but do you really know what "spices" means? Food manufacturers are regulated by complex laws that allow them to fudge on their descriptions, so its often difficult to know whether whats on the box is whats really going into your mouth. Making foods at home allows you to be fully enlightened when it come to what you eat.
  2. The ingredients can be modified. Dont want sugar or oil? Foods made from scratch can easily be modified and ingredients can be substituted so you are in control of what goes into that muffin. You can beef up the nutrition of favorite recipes by adding things like wheat germ, flax seeds, etc. You can customize your favorite foods by adding more of your favorite foods and less of the stuff you dont like.
  3. Its not as time consuming as it seems. I guarantee that you wont be slaving in the kitchen all day everyday. Because God gave us the freezer, we are now able to spend one day a week power-cooking and the rest of the week enjoying the fruits of our labor. Seriously, a few carefully planned items will go the distance and make a big difference for your health and taste. Like anything else, once you find a routine that works for you, whipping up homemade goods will seem as benign as folding your own laundry.
  4. It can be healthier. This is one of the main reasons I made things I could buy instead. When it comes to the babys food, knowing how much sugar, salt, etc. goes into his meals is critical. I can buy muffins but they are usually made with white flour and loaded with sugar and oil. I could buy ramen noodles but 99% of the time it comes with a side of MSG (Asian food lovers beware: label read carefully because MSG is in practically everything and you dont want to be eating it)
  5. Making food at home is fun! This may be a matter of taste, but I love the challenge of cooking something. If its edible - I win! Maybe you want awesome cupcakes like these vampire cupcakes at your New Moon premiere party (dont deny it). Or you could go for the zombie ones - but I dont think an English walnut came out looking too much like a brain. Whatever. Cooking, creating, its fun and it should be enjoyed!


Eccentric Baby Dancing to Reggae Music

Since no post yesterday, you get 2 for the price of 1 today!

Here is my son - in batman PJs and a necklace I never wear (hes starting to get into dress up) - getting lost in a dance trance. Please appreciate the "wing flapping" in the second video. He stole those hot moves from his mother!

Why Week: Why Use Cloth Diapers?

"Why Week": the week where I rationalize all my crazy behavior

When one thinks of babies, three words typically come to mind: food, sleep, and diapers. How do we chose what is right for our baby? Breast or formula? Crib or co-sleep? Decisions like these plague the minds of expecting and new mothers every day.
Luckily, advances in technology and lifestyle mean there are more choices available than ever before, especially concerning diapers. Cloth diapers are often thought of as an antiqued technique that was replaced by the "better" modern disposable. I disagree! Yes, there are drawbacks, but no system is perfect. Here are the top 5 reasons why I use and love cloth diapers.

  1. Cloth Diapers are GREEN. There is no waste (after you are done using them for diapers, use them for rags), there are no questionable chemicals, and there is little manufacturing (esp if you use dipes from repurposed, recycled, and/or organic materials).
  2. Cloth Diapers Encourage Cleanliness. There is no putting off changing a cloth diaper. If it is wet or dirty, you are going to know about it right away and you are going to change it. Using cloth diapers usually encourages thoughts of moving on to the potty (for both child and parent!), which is the ultimate clean convenience. Also, solid waste is not meant to be thrown into a landfill. Using cloth encourages proper and hygienic waste treatment because no one wants their own washing machine full of crap.
  3. Cloth Diapers Are Safe. If I caught Baby Ickey chewing through a 'sposie I might have to call poison control. If I caught him chewing on a prefold, I might have to chuckle (depending on the context). Futhermore, I chose what products I use to wash my diapers, so I know exactly what is making contact with his skin.
  4. Cloth Diapers are Convenient. It may take a month or two to develop a system that works, but the rewards are well worth it. I always have diapers. Sure, I had to use the occasional emergency dish towel here and there, but I have never had to run to the store in the middle of the night. This is the diaper shelf in our linen closet and I keep a plastic bin/diaper pail on our lanai (porch). Simple.
  5. Cloth Diapers are Cute. We arent relegated to Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh, with cloth the options are virtually endless. And in the end, isn't that the most important part?

    these cutie diapers are from Starbunz!


    Why Week: Why Pack Bento Lunch Boxes?

    "Why Week" - the week where I rationalize all my crazy behavior.

    Some days (more than others) I feel I should have been a Japanese housewife. I think I would thrive on the competition. After all, I am able to find a great deal of satisfaction in cooking a meal from scratch and I believe the kind of writing utensil you use says a lot about you as a person.

    My newest housewife obsession? Bento box lunches! These culinary darlings are Asias adorable answer to "brown baggin it" and here are 10 reasons why you also might want to consider the switch.

    1. Bento are healthy. Any way we pack a lunch for our kids, it all boils down to the nutritional content of the food. Bentos are arranged with dietary needs in mind - 3 parts carbs, 2 parts veggies and 1 part protein. Because everything has to exist harmoniously in one box, candy, treats and snacks are going to get the boot first!
    2. Bento are fun to eat. Even the pickiest eaters will eat vegetables if they look like a robot! Although complex and highly artistic (re: time consuming) kyaraben style bento are popular - even the simplest bento can be made fun with a few quick tricks. A humble octo-sausage or rabbit apple can really spice up an otherwise ordinary lunch.
    3. Bento are convenient (to use). Bento are compact, easy to use and easy to clean. All you need, including utensils, are wrapped up in your furoshiki of choice.
    4. Bento are convenient (to make). That Japanese housewife slaving away at 5am making intricate 3-D edible sculpture need not be you! Modern conveniences like the freezer and the microwave mean you can prepare a delicious bento with a variety of foods in about 15 minutes. Its usually a matter of learning how to stuff the box properly.
    5. Bento are green. Almost every part of the bento is reusable. Because there are no plastic baggies or wrappers to throw away, the chances of accidentally losing a lid or a fork in the rubbish bin are small. Less waste = happy planet!
    6. Bento are tasty. Oishii!!!
    7. Bento are compatible with your eating habits. You dont need to eat rice everyday to have delicious bento box lunches. Western lunch favorites - including sandwiches, spaghetti, salad and chips - are all perfectly suited for the box lunch. Sometimes its a matter of preparing your leftovers in a way that makes them easier to box up, but in the end you can eat what you like and still experience the benefit of...
    8. Bento are ideal for portion control. There is only so much you can fit into a box. Japanese theory is that the amount of milliliters your bento box holds is about the same as the amount of calories. Fill your 600ml bento to the brim and you've got yourself a 600 calorie meal without the guess work. Considering how shockingly out of whack restaurant portions are nowadays, this fact alone makes it worth 15 minutes of your time.
    9. Bento are available in a wide variety of styles. Thomas the Train to Hello Kitty and back, there is something for everyone in the world of bento. Newer products like the Laptop Lunchbox take the bento concept of compartmentalized food and make it more user friendly for those of us who might be scared off by the teeny tininess of the Japanese bento box.
    10. Bento are cute. And isnt that the most important part?

    so classic - reminds me of Kyoto!

    This is ideal for Mr A because he eats a lot of sandwiches. But I cant figure out where to order this model - it seems like the sandwich thing is always separate.


    Study Skills: Organizing Your Time Effectively

    Studying is difficult when parenting a small child. Getting anything done is difficult, but studying is particularly challenging because it requires a systematic approach and a focused routine - things that typically dont jive with a toddler.

    Mr A is taking the PRAXIS in January and needs to pass on the first try. In my (professional) opinion, this is going to require diligent preparation and a consistent study plan. Behold, my study guide!

    I organized important dates, reading goals, practice tests and everything else so he has attainable daily goals. In theory, this should take about 10-20 minutes a night. Its color coded, too. How fancy!

    A calendar like this takes a larger goal (passing the PRAXIS) and breaks it down into daily goals (Read pages 10-22) that move you towards the larger goal. The key is to make the daily goals something that you can realistically finish during the day. Some things a format like this would work for:
    • Diets/exercise plans
    • Home based business
    • Christmas shopping/decorating
    • Party Planning (weddings, baby showers, etc)
    • Children's study schedules


    Reading Video: someone get this boy a dog!

    It is almost as if he is trying to will that dog off the page ala Inkheart...


    Fireproof: A Movie About Love and Marriage

    Fireproof is a movie about marriage, God, and unconditional love.  Caleb is a successful firefighter but his seven year marriage to Kathryn is falling apart.  She serves him with divorce papers and it seems there is no hope for either of them.  Caleb's dad challenges him to hold off on the divorce and do "The Love Dare" - a 40 day activity meant to teach him about unconditional love.  In the process he learns about faith, God, and what truly loving someone means.

    Last night, Mr A and I put the boy to bed, snuggled up on the couch with hot tea, and watched this together.  We were both choked up at the end and we were still talking about it over breakfast this morning.  Fireproof is faith-based without being preachy and at the same time humorous without being corny.  This movie was not only inspiring, but very thought provoking about a number of topics.

    I have to ask myself - am I working on a daily basis to strengthen my relationships or am I doing just enough to get by?  Am I loving my family because I am comitted to loving them unconditionally or am I loving them if and when I think they deserve it?  Of course, the basis of all faith is forgiveness.  So, Im not expecting perfection here - just effort and self awareness on my part.


    Bilingual Children Without a Bilingual Parent: where to start?

    On any given day in our house you are likely to hear English, Hawaiian, Filipino, Thai, or Japanese.  We, like most people in Hawaii, pepper our speech with words, phrases and expressions from other cultures.  Although Mr A and I speak only English fluently, we both have a basic understanding of at least one other language.

    Being a student of language myself (a student who regretfully has yet to attain the level of mastery she desires) I strongly believe that a more systematic approach to communication is going to prove to be the most fruitful for my children.

    Take my husband for example.  Raised in a similar environment of synthesized speech, he has an impressive vocabulary of about 500 non-English words and phrases.  However, he doesn't have enough command of the grammar to use any of these in a non-English speech pattern (unless its HAE/pidgin English, which is grammatically closer to Hawaiian).

    Living in this house, its a given that our kids will pick up the vocabulary.  I want them to also be able to communicate (speaking and listening, reading and writing) in another language. But I dont even speak Hawaiian!!!  So where do I start?

    1. First things first, pick a language.  For the purposes of our house we have picked Hawaiian - something that is culturally significant to us and has available resources in our community to supplement our lack of knowledge/fluency.
    2. Read books in your language of choice.  You might not understand what you are saying, but to a baby its all the same anyhow - besides, reading aloud is good practice.
    3. Watch movie or listen to music/stories in language of choice.  It helps to familiarize you with the speech patterns and pronunciation, not to mention gives your kid an opportunity to hear some native speakers.
    4. Learn some basic phrases and commit to using those phrases in your second language only.  Things like "come here" "stand up" "sit down" "be quiet" "what's this/that?" "good job!" are all good places to start.
    5. Take a class or find a language immersion play group. Aha Punana Leo (the Hawaiian immersion school) offers free Hawaiian language classes here on Monday nights.  I went last night for the first time and it was good fun!  The more native speaker you can interact with, the better!
    These are just a few ideas for how to get started introducing another language to your infant or toddler, especially if you aren't bilingual yourself.
     My guess is that I am going to get out of this what I put into it.  So, no mo' hilahila (shame) - dive right in and start speaking today!


    Green Cleaning Routine for Kid Safety

    I take my cleaning products seriously.  I am the lady who litterally stood up and cheered when her favorite company came out with dryer sheets made from vegetable oil.

    And this is not without good reason!  We play on the floors, sleep in the sheets, and breathe in the air in our house - its only natural that we would ingest a large amount of whatever product we are using to clean.  My place has an extra set of super small hands that pry into everything and want to taste whatever they touch.  It's critical that my household cleaning products are safe before, during and after application.

    Pictured here are the cleaning products I use for our two bedroom apartment.  With the exception of laundry soap and a few essential oils (not pictured), this is it.  One of the best ways to green your cleaning routine is to simplify.  Gentle, multipurpose products not only go the distance dollar-wise, cutting down on the number of products around the house cuts down on opportunities for accidents.

    My favorite of these is Shaklee Basic H.  This product can clean ANYTHING in a pinch.  Mirrors, counters, laundry, dishes, floors, carpets, cars, people, there is almost nothing this product can't tackle.  The formula is super concentrated (two drops with 16oz of water = window cleaner) so it lasts forever.  The best part is that if someone should happen to drink the concentrate, the worst you could look forward to is a bad case of diarrhea.  A superior quality multipurpose cleaner and a few spray bottles can replace hundreds of bottles of conventional cleaning product.  Its well worth the $10 investment!


    Healthy Eating Rampage

    I love this woman's blog, her recipes are always fantastic, and she is really good about answering any questions.  Its just a great resource when cooking for older children and adults rather than infants.

    I dont know if its fasting or what, but Ive been cooking like a maniac.  Heres a brief list of whats been pumped out of my kitchen in the last 48 hours:

    A large majority of this is going into the freezer, which is fantastic for quick and easy meals.  Its especially important to have a stock of things for the baby because otherwise I end up feeding him junk.

    The pancake mix is really my pièce de résistance because we have been looking for something here in Hawaii that could replace our much beloved Trader Joes MultiGrain Pancake Mix.  If I had known how simple it is to make my own I never would have thought twice about leaving TJs behind!  And this way I can pack it full of any other goodies or extra healthy bits I desire!  Long live the pancake!

    For those of you who think Hawaii is always palm trees and balmy breeze, check out my view yesterday.  Bleh!  This also may have been a contributing factor to my insane cooking spree.


    Inflatable Toys - FOR KIDS!

    My wonderful and always creative sister managed to get the baby something I would never have thought of -but wished I had- for his birthday. Meet the Seahawks Tackle Buddy (who constantly startles me by lurking around in the darkness).
    The boy loves his Milwaukee Brewers blow up baseball bat, so it would seem only natural that he would enjoy this. I also dig inflatable toys because they can deflate to 10 times smaller and easily be put away/hidden.  

    There has been a little injury and a lot of fun! *I know this video is quite dark, sorry*