31.8.09

Compartmentalizing...somewhat. A New Blog About Hawaii

I started a new blog about Hawaii. Im not completely compartmentalizing my life but I am admitting that it will be too hard and too cluttered to talk about the shirt Im sewing, what Ikaika ate for breakfast AND the park I went to/the food I ate at lunch all in the same forum. Yikes. It makes me dizzy just reading that sentence.

http://explorebigisland.blogspot.com


Hopefully that is going to provide some kind of organization to this chaos. Please bookmark!

Modern Aloha: The 1 year lu'au matching aloha shirts



The story of Mr A wanting matching aloha shirts for Ikaikas first birthday party continues. I have been cutting and sewing during naps and thus far have cut the pieces for both and somewhat assembled the adult shirt.

I finally learned how to use the easy-as-pie buttonhole function on my sewing machine. Unfortunately, I cant find any buttons that I like (theres one more place in town left to check or else Im going to have to order some online) and Im getting nervous about the upcoming hems.

Critiques - the chest pocket came out with strange dimensions. I think its too small. I followed the pattern, but it seems like making the "facing" just made it all goofy. I must have misunderstood Simplicity's clear-as-day instructions.


Arrg! This really bothers me. The seam where the neck of the shirt, the collar and the facing meet is all wonky! Its stuff like this that really jabbers my jowls. I see this and I think "maybe I should have just bought some damn shirts on sale so my family doesnt walk around looking like someone threw their clothes together in the dark. Would have cost just as much and saved me hours of my precious time, which I could use to tweet about the Project Runway website."

Im getting flashbacks to "Twin Tolo 1998: A Pajamin' Night" where I tried to make matching pajama pants, ended up with something insane and having to buy pants at the last minute. God bless whoever was going with me because Im fairly sure he offered to wear them regardless but I couldnt have those monstrosities seen in public (besides, Im fairly sure that they wouldnt even stay up around the waist). How hard is it to make PJ pants? With a pattern?!

I think back to my junior year of high school when I so desperately wanted to sew my own clothes. I had zero direction, an antique sewing machine and basically no clue what I was doing (except for some minor sewing skills acquired in Campfire Girls). I should be really proud of myself for putting this shirt together. Hell, that fact that it even fits onto a human body is clearly a marked improvement from where I was.

I shouldnt get so caught up in the little details that no one (especially not my husband nor my son) will ever notice.

28.8.09

I WANT MY SHAKLEE SOY PROTEIN!!!

There is no happiness in the morning until everyone gets their protein supplement.

And if you think he looks grumpy, you should see his dad!

Change is Tough

Oh man, changing the blog is such a ...thing! I didnt even like the old format, per say, but its just weird seeing it different. I feel like one of those ladies on What Not To Wear who completely freak out about a haircut that looks perfectly normal. Im going to leave this template on for awhile and see if it grows on me.

27.8.09

The Revival of my Sewing Machine

Its been a loooong time since the ole Viking has seen the light of day.

My credit cards and license have been flying around since a tube of lip gloss exploded inside my former wallet so I thought it was time to make a replacement.


This beautiful fabric was formerly a halter top (never gonna wear THAT) from Noa Noa, a company that makes beautiful batik print island-wear. The hot pink thread compliments the colors and really pops. I need to make the zig zag stitches tighter, more of a satin stitch.


The inside got a little crazy. Next time Im going to stick with a dark overall color instead of this insane bee print.

Overall, my cards are cozy, theres a place for bills (god willing I have some) and I now have a wallet that matches one of my favorite skirts!

26.8.09

Making some decisions about renovating the blog...

Its time for change.

Im launching my online store for refashioned/recycled childrens clothes, Keiki On Board, in the next two months. I am linking a blog to the store.

Sooo....

do I leave The Arrayan Baby Blog as it is and continue using it as the baby/living in Hawaii update place and create a new, more crafting-centric blog for Keiki on Board

OR

do I change the format (and URL) of TABB and make it more of a "my life" kind of blog, crafting included, and link that to the store?

Jodie keeps great blog that is linked to her business and she says it best when she says
"My name is Jodie and I am a blogger... I am also a photographer. Oh, and a mom... This blog is not about that, but then it is, and sometimes it isn't. This blog is my life. My kids, my work, my struggles, my joys. My professional blog that is totally personal. And I love it."

I dont know if I have what it takes to maintain two blogs simultaneously. Besides, how can I talk about my crafts if I dont talk about my family and how can I write about my family without writing about Hawaii? Its all too connected to compartmentalize into separate blogs. My designs are inspired by my family, where I live, and the things I do. If I am linking a blog to my store shouldnt that blog give people a peek into my creative process?

What do you think?

25.8.09

Crazy Outfits for a Crazy Climate

My college roommate recently sent me some outfits for Lil Mr A.

For starters, when I took these pictures I didnt realize that the buttons go in the front (please, dont ask what I was thinking) so his clothes are on backwards. I can no longer make fun of my mother for making the exact same mistake.


This outfit brings up two very important issues: fashion in Hawaii and properly dressing for weather in Waimea.

Unlike O'ahu, Big Island is not what I (or anyone else) would consider "fashion forward". Sure, there is the occasional Fendi bag or Jimmy Choo sandal, but the vast majority of people here could give a shit about who they are wearing. Here, its all about comfort. Most folks just throw on some flip flops, shorts & a t-shirt and call it a day. Although there is an inordinate amount of label worship for mainstream board riding companies like Roxy, Quicksilver and Billabong; people going any further into fashion are more likely to be tourists. The Big Island is like a big college campus.

...which is why this outfit works here. Its a little quirky, a little loud, and a little dated. Its like a full-body Aloha shirt. If not from Hawaii, this child would be from that weird, hippy family. Or possibly SE Portland.


The second reason this outfit is perfect for Ikaika is because its the perfect outfit for weather in Waimea. Most people would assume that because I live in Hawaii I am baking in the 80 degrees and balmy breeze 325 days out of the year. Places like that exist, but require 15 minutes in the car. Waimea/Kamuela is a mountain ranching town and, as such, experiences all kinds of weather. A typical day in Waimea will be 75 and sunny in the morning and 65 and drizzly in the evening. Im pretty attached to the idea of layering and sweatpants so I prefer living in Waimea and playing in a more "Hawaiian" climate.

Because forecasting is a crap shoot, this roomy, full body outfit made of light cotton fabric is PERFECT! Its cool enough so the warm moments arent stifling and yet covers enough skin that the breeze wont make him shiver. Its light enough to wear to the beach but still offers generous sun protection (and dries quickly to boot!).

My only real complaint about this outfit is that the legs didnt separate (what an antiquated way to construct toddler clothes!) but thats nothing Velcro cant fix. Thanks again Mel!

24.8.09

Saddle Road and Boiling Pots

Volleyball season is starting which means our family is going to start making weekly pilgrimages to Hilo. For my PT job as a volleyball referee we are required to meet at the director's house in Hilo every Sunday. All the other refs live in Hilo so this doesnt really inconvenience anyone but me. But, since I have to do it anyway, we might as well make the best of it and explore some of the places on the island we dont normally go.


Mauna Kea - the white mountain

This week we decided to take Saddle Road to Hilo instead of the Hamakua Coast Hwy. If you drive the Hamakua Coast you are basically going from Waimea (which is in the middle) and driving along the northern coast of the island and then down into Hilo. Saddle Road is south of Waimea and runs in between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea (it "saddles" the two, hence the clever name).
Mauna Loa - the wide mountain

Although they have repaved a huge portion of the road, the first few miles are still pretty brutal. Potholes and winding hills made the first twenty minutes feel like an old, rickety roller coaster. Barf. There is a military training camp but nothing else. The change from dessert climate to rain forest is dramatic. One minute its hotter than hot on the barren waste land and the next its misty and theres so many ferns and trees you cant see a thing beyond the road.

My big desire was to check out the Hilo Goodwill (Mr A wasnt what I would consider "excited" about this. Despite my enthusiasm for thrifting, he still insists that thrift stores "smell funny") and get a new Snappi from the eco-friendly baby store, Moonsprout. Both were closed at 4pm on Sunday. Arrrg! So maaaaaad!


We capped off the day with a visit to Boiling Pots National Park. Couldnt tell you why its called that but there are some very deep pools of water that could be jumped into from tall rocks. I definitely want to swim there once the kids are old enough not to die during such an activity. For now we had to settle for some amazing views and a photo with a monstrous monstera plant.

21.8.09

50 years of the 50th state

Today is statehood day. In 1959 Hawaii the island territory became Hawaii the state. The statehood celebration has been the subject of expected debate from Hawaiian sovereignty groups and local residents alike. But school is out and there are some great state history documentaries on PBS so all in all, I think statehood day is a winner.

I try to keep the fare on this blog light, but since Stephanie decided to address the issues of racism in Japan, I thought I would go out on a limb today.

The mounting tension in celebrating a somewhat reluctant introduction to statehood has made typically kapu subjects more common in the public media. The Kona Blog wrote a post recently that touched on the issue of racism here on the Big Island. I think that racism and racial discrimination is fairly common in Hawaii but its not something most locals are willing to discuss seriously.

Recently, we were at a BBQ with friends and I brought up the fact that as a haole I will never feel truly included into local culture. You would have thought that I had sprouted a second head! Here are my friends, who are all either hapa or Polynesian or Asian of some sort, and they are like "what are you talking about?" "I dont see that" "this is the land of aloha!" In fact, the idea of "inclusion" and "diversity" is so deeply ingrained in the modern Hawaiian psychology that it is impossible for them to acknowledge I would feel even remotely left out. And certainly Hawaii is a melting pot - but then again, so is most of America. Im just saying, its interesting how a half Japanese with the right attitude can seamlessly integrate themselves to Hawaii and become a "local" ...but haole runs to the bone.

I have read that historically, since there were so many different races sharing such a small space, Hawaii used humor to cope with the natural racial tensions. My husband still thinks that Mr San Cho Lee (from Hanabata Days) is a totally appropriate ice breaker for a backyard BBQ. And certainly the haloes arent underrepresented here, last time I checked the population was about 45% haole and growing. But I still dont think the image of being haole is either positive or even neutral.

My sister sent me an article from the New York Times that somewhat touched on this idea. Last night as I was laying awake unable to sleep, I asked my husband what he thought. Was it the Hawaiian renaissance of the 70s that caused this exclusive attitude? People are so much more proud of the heritage now and in the same sense, desperate to protect it. Or is it mainland political correctness that is causing tension between the races of Hawaii? Maybe Hawaii lost its sense of humor and thats why the locals, who rely so heavily on humor and a lighthearted view of life, see haoles as the most accessible target for their frustration.

Ive done my fair share of travelling and have been in countries where being an American wasnt exactly a desirable quality. But Ive never been anywhere where being white was viewed negatively. Certainly, most of the animosity towards haoles is unspoken and unacknowledged. Hawaii is nothing if not polite. But I know that "haole" is typically equated with tourism, greed, insensitivity, rudeness, etc. I dont believe I have ever heard the term "haole style" used to describe the way I cook brats and sauerkraut!

In fact, my husband unknowingly reaffirmed my suspicions when he kissed my forehead sleepily and murmured, "its alright honey, youre Hawaiian too." I know he meant that Im not a money mongering exploiter of indigenous peoples and that Im included here, but still I dont need to be Hawaiian to know that!

Its challenging living in Hawaii and raising my hapa kid with my local husband. Its hard to not lose the haole part of our life. Its hard to stay in touch with the traditions and values that I was taught growing up in the mainland. Its hard to remember that those parts of our combined culture are just as valuable and important. Part of the reason I wanted to live here was so that my children could understand their Hawaiian heritage, but at the same time I dont want them to forget that they are also haoles and should be equally proud to say it.

Happy Golden Birthday Hawaii State. I look forward to celebrating many more with you in the future.

20.8.09

Your Baby Can Read! ...but sadly, mine cant.

Mr A was telling me about infomercial he saw the other for the Your Baby Can Read! DVD series. I found this so fantastical that when I saw one of the videos at the library I had to check it out.

Now the very nature of this is competitive, which irritates me. I believe one parent said it best when she said "I love telling other parents that my child can read. You should see the looks on their faces!" *my head is shaking slowly*

Why is it that the latest trend is to breed a super baby or feel like crap because you are forsaking your kid to be a dummy? What I find particularly annoying is parents who spend the first five or so years doing everything in their power to foster their childs inner genius but, when these same kids reach high school they are usually on their own, academically speaking. Who cares if your toddler can count to 30 in Spanish if by the time they are a junior in high school they cant figure out how to turn in their homework consistently enough to pass Geometry?

Now, that being said, I do think its cool that babies have the capability of learning so much. And theres really nothing wrong with wanting to give your kid the best start possible. And...I must also admit that perhaps I feel peeved by baby-genius-makers because I am just so darn bad at doing these kinds of things myself.

I feel a twang of guilt every time the doctor asks me one of two questions - "are you brushing his teeth?" and "do you read to him?" I love reading and before Ikaika was born I had fantasies about reading to him before bedtime like Granny used to do for me and my sister. I collected books that I knew I wanted him to enjoy because I loved them (including Pat Boones Bible Stories and A Chocolate Moose for Dinner). But then I had this baby. Maybe its because hes young but he doesnt just relax and kick back for a story, he tries to eat the book or crawl on my face or he just wont sit still. So I have almost completely stopped reading to him.

And now this damn DVD has got me feeling plenty more guilty than the doctor ever did. Babies in this video are like pointing to body parts or imitating sounds - my kid cant do any of that! He should be communicating in sign language by now! Sure he can practically run at 10 months, but if you ask him where his head is he just drools and looks for food! Obviously, theres a reason we didnt name him Akamai.

The bottom line for all this guilt, and the reason for these infancy learning programs being such hot sellers, is the burning question "what if my kid turns out to be a dope and its all my fault?!"

18.8.09

DIY: Modern Aloha

Mr A flew to O'ahu for a funeral in May. Upon returning home he pulled a folded piece of paper from his back pocket, smoothed it out on the counter and said, "can you do this?" It was an article from the in flight magazine that was highlighting some of the new Aloha wear designers in Hawaii. The photograph was of a man and a boy (father/son?) sitting on a wall (or a jetty?) wearing matching aloha shirts. The design was really nice, a subdued maroon color with white silhouettes of people racing canoes. It was kind of cute that Mr A was so touched by this picture from a magazine. In fact, I wish I could find it so I could post it here. I hung it on the fridge/inspiration board but took it down one day and now its missing. I tried to google for something similar but all the results for "matching aloha shirts" were expectedly cheezy.

Anyhow, so this project has been on my mind for awhile. The other week while we were down in Kona I found a fabric remnant that was almost 3 yards! And Mr A considered the design to be acceptable. This is the print and I already have the pattern. Now I just need the motivation to actually sit down at my sewing machine and bust it out!


Th

17.8.09

9 month checkup

Ikaika will be 10 months tomorrow, but that didnt stop me from scheduling the 9 month check up for today. What can I say - Im a rebel.

"Ooo...thats more than a bag of rice!"
-the nurse while weighing Baby Ickey

Hes 30.3 inches and 22lbs 11oz.

We also got a blood sample taken to test for lead and iron levels. I thought I was going to pass out sitting there in that little lab chair with my son in my arms as they strapped a tourniquet on his arm. I had visions of my child screaming and thrashing in my arm as that needle approached his almost invisible vein. I imagined them "missing" and having to redo the whole thing four times (ala his newborn jaundice poke). He literally just sat there. He didnt squirm or squeal or make any time of noise or movement. Mr A, who had a better view, said that his face winced slightly.

The lab technition looked at me, smiled and said, "hes not ikaika for nothing!"

16.8.09

Establishment Day Festival: Part Two

The final day of the 37th Annual Establishment Day Festival at Pu'ukohola Heiau (temple on the hill of the whale). We made sure to get down there early and even packed a lunch so we could picnic on the beach.


This picture has the heiau (temple) in the background. They have been working on this thing nonstop for the past few days, restoring it and repairing damage from the earthquake in 2006. FYI: Visitors arent allowed inside the temple grounds, only native Hawaiians practicing religious ceremonies. They do have a visitors center for all the haoles!

All the stones are set without any mortar (the wall narrows towards the top) and historians speculate that the stones were passed by hand down a chain of thousands of workers from as far away at Pololu Valley (30+ miles)! King Kamehameha built the heiau in order to fulfil a prophesy that said if he built a temple to the war god Ku at this spot in Kawaihae, he would gain full control of Hawaii and unite all the islands. And he did. So it must have worked!

Also highlighted in this picture is the haku lei I made out of ferns and a'ali'i flowers. Basically, you take a ti leaf and wrap raffia around it to secure the flowers. Sounds simple but its not ...and for awhile there I was getting nervous that lei making was not in my future!


Heres the canoe, seen from the hill.

This is what the ipu (gourd) looks like before its been cleaned, polished, etc. Theres a picture of a finished gourd in my previous post.

Heres Mr A learning about his heritage by getting a lomi lomi massage. Anything for cultural preservation, right?!

Braddah Kama (man with the apron - he teaches at Waimea Middle School with Mr A) sharing the mana'o (knowledge) of coconut frond weaving. Isnt my little basket cute?! Perfect place to put my keys!

Next year is the bicentennial of the Kingdom of Hawaii and I heard that the festival is going to be off the chain. Entertainment, hula, crafts, activities, booths, games, possibly even a battle reenactment! So if you are planning on coming to the Big Island next year and you want something super fun and free to do - come in mid-August!

15.8.09

37th Annual Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival

This weekend there is a Hawaiian cultural festival at Pu'ukohola Heiau (temple on the hill of the whale), which happens to be 10 minutes from our house. There are dozens of activities, games and crafts celebrating Hawaii and the Hawaiian people. The festival is also a time to work on improving and restoring the rock walls of the heiau and perform ancient ceremonies on sacred lands.

The best part is that absolutely everything is FREE!


HPA Football season started today at 2pm so we didnt have a ton of time at the festival, but I did have time to weave a lauhala (pandanus leaf) bracelet and make an ipu (gourd used like a drum during hula for ancient chants and dances).


Making the ipu was serious work! We used coconut husks to rub the gourd with wet sand until it was all brown, smooth and clean. I would say it took about 20-30 minutes. Phew! 15 minutes into scrubbing I began to seriously question my decision on gourd size. But the results are well worth it. It can either be maintained by rubbing periodically with coconut oil or by coating it with varnish. I will eventually varnish this one.


The plan for tomorrow is church is Puako and then back to the heiau for lei making, basket weaving, tapa pounding, net making, canoe paddling, and spear throwing (Mr As one activity request). Finish the day off with a tour around the temple and a rousing rendition of Aloha Hawaii!

6.8.09

Walking For Real Now

video

I think its fair to say that he is officially walking at this point. He will regularly crawl about half way, stand up, and walk the rest of the way to his destination. He also grabs onto stuff for balance, like hes doing in the video, and occasionally falls on his face. But hes trying!

Hes walking around right now dragging Mr As golf club behind him. Its tres cute.

5.8.09

Catch of a Lifetime!

Mr A made the most amazing catch of his lifetime today down at Mauna Lani.

We had been walking along the shore for 2 or 3 hours and hadnt done much except chase the fish (Ikaika and I had collected some shells but nothing too exciting). He decided it was time to head back and see if the guys were still at the sand vball courts.

Suddenly something caught his eye in the water. Excitedly, he asked me "woah! do you see that uhu (fish name)?" I saw a flash of red and white in the water and also became very excited thinking about how delicious that guy was going to taste when he was stuffed and steamed in my oven. Normally Mr A catches lots of small fish in his net and we fry them or steam them. Its yummy, but a pain to pick out all those tiny little bones just to get to the meat. I have long desired a huge hunk of fish flesh.

Now Mr As net has oddly tangled. Like a weird tangle that isnt common. By the time he untangles the net the uhu is gone, but there is something else there. Bear in mind here that the fish is right on the shoreline and Mr A has spent the better part of the morning getting blasted by waves while duck walking across the reef.

He walks up to the shore and throws out his net. And Ill be damned if there wasnt a HUGE school of HUGE fish called kala! Now Im no fisherman but Mr A swears that he has never seen fish like this on the shore and hes certainly never caught one in his net, let alone five! Its well over 25lbs of fish! Of course, Ill be paying the price for netting such large fish - Ill be spending the majority of my weekend patching holes in Mr As net!


We were both just jumping up and down on the shore screaming and laughing! Luckily, we were the only people around.

The red and white uhu got away. Mr A said that the uhu was an aumakua, or guardian spirit, whos purpose was to show him the school of kala, not to be caught himself. We decided to freeze the fish and save it for Ikaikas 1st lu'au. But, I cant be left so unsatisfied (the sport of catching it isnt really why I like fishing anyway) so we are going to grill up the smallest one tonight, just to make sure its tasty!

4.8.09

Learning to Walk

video

Ikaika is starting to embrace the concept of standing on two feet and walking. Hes almost fully evolved now.

Here are some videos from the other day. Mr A is using a chapstick tube as "bait".

video