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?