Ode to Rural Living

This picture has nothing to do with the content of this post, but it was cute and I wanted to use it somewhere!

Anyone who knew me 10 years ago would probably be surprised by my current lifestyle.  The life I imagined for myself was very urban, very modern.  I would be living trans-continental and married to my work.  Maybe saving the world teaching in a jungle somewhere or making art for the betterment and preservation of our culture...or something else.  But, whatever the specifics, I can assure you that none of these dreams involved a family or a town with farmland.

So how did I stray so far from what I thought I wanted?  Was I always destined for this?  My parents spoke openly about their wish to leave the city and return to the Midwestern farming communities they came from.  Perhaps, I unconsciously agreed.

All of these things - marriage, children, rural living - happened without any "plan" on my part.  Everything just clicked together, piece by piece, until one day I looked around and realized that this is good.  Only recently have I been able to let go of the image I held onto of myself, worldly and independent, and truly accept the reality that here I feel fulfilled.

All the years I spent living in the city and chasing after my imagined self, I felt excited but never complete.  I don't know if that ever made me happy.  In the city it was so easy to look outward for satisfaction.  With endless options for shopping, entertainment, etc. emotional voids can easily be filled with quick fixes.  The isolation of living in a rural community has forced me to look inward for comfort.  And that has a made a huge difference in my life.

I still love the city.  The lights, the museums, the skyscrapers!  But, inevitably the charm wears off and I am exhausted, overwhelmed, and ready to return to my quiet little town where I can hike a trail, snorkel in the ocean, or play cards with my family over a hot cup of tea.


Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Christmas Eve this year did not disappoint.  We started the morning with some volleyball and beach time down at Kawaihae Harbor.  Nothing says "mele kalikimaka" quite like 80 degree weather, sand and surf.

Then we ate lunch, took naps and unwrapped a few preliminary gifts before heading out to Children's Mass.

During church service, Ikaika set a new standard for embarrassing family moments by setting off the fire alarm right before communion.  Lights flashing, recording saying "please exit building", Mr A desperately trying to push the white lever back in, the priest frantically calling for someone to call the fire department and let them know not to come - it took almost 3 minutes for the entire fiasco to end.  Then Father Bob announced it again at the end of service, and many a middle aged man clapped Ikaika on the back and told  him "I've wanted to do that my whole life.  You are my hero."
Certainly a Christmas memory that we will talk about for years to come.

Koa still isn't quite there with the holidays.  He picked at some wrapping paper and seemed to like his gifts, but it wasn't the sheer, unbridled excitement of his brother.  Ikaika is a Christmas fiend.

Granny's gift theme this year was Transformers.  After dinner and the rest of the gifts, we snuggled down on the couch in our new jammies (hat, gloves, slippers, underwear, and socks) to watch the Christmas movie.  This year, I chose Miracle on 34th St. complete with hot chocolate and Grandma Liz's frosted molasses cut outs.

I have a feeling that as the boys get older, Christmas is only going to get more fun.  Its hard for me to believe that this is my family.  I'm at the helm of this ship!  I'm doing all these things that will shape who my children are for the rest of their lives.  I've been blessed with such an amazing family - my guys are so cool!

Oh the family picture that would have been so cute but just wasn't meant to be...
Note to self: always ask people to take two, just in case.  Because asking Mark if it 'turned out' was clearly not direct enough.


Holiday Cookies

Growing up, holidays meant tradition.  More than doing the same thing the same way year after year, we relied on certain things that were only done during the Advent season.  One of these traditions is my great-grandmother's molasses cut-out cookies with hard sugar frosting. 
My sister and I used to paint them with colored frosting and cheap plastic paint brushes.  It was a highly anticipated project that we did with Granny.  Last year, my older sister made the cookies while we were all home in Seattle.  This year, I made them with Ikaika.

He had so much fun rolling and cutting the dough.  He's still too young to decorate the cookies, but someday I will bust out the food coloring and pass that tradition on, too. 
I've been all jacked up about these cookies - they taste exactly the way they are supposed to - and Mr A asked me the other day if they are my favorite type of cookie.

Interestingly, no.  Certainly, they are delicious cookies and, since my fav are ginger snaps, they aren't a far cry from the taste I love.  But, what makes these cookies irresistible is the nostalgia.  If you asked me in December, I would beg for these.  If you made them in July, I could take em or leave em.  Its the tradition I love more than the actual recipe.
**the original recipe calls for bacon fat (I used shortening).  I'm pretty sure that would be amazing and I'm seriously debating making them the authentic way next year (and eating exactly ONE!)

We made a few other cookies (Norwegians, ting-a-lings, choco-oat bars), packed them all in little decorated cans and then took them to the neighbors.  Ikaika seems to be "getting it" more this year, and I want to be sure that he "gets" the giving part more than he "gets" the present part! 


Green Day at Tutu & Me Preschool

Today was "color of the month" day at preschool.  The boys chose green shirts, we packed at bag with holiday makana (gifts) for our teachers, and even got to school on time!  Go Tuesday!


Oh brothers.  I remember doing this to my family members when I was young (practically attacking them with unsolicited and largely unwanted affections).  I bet they miss it now!

Koa was making stacks of blocks.  Although he's becoming more defiant now, he's also becoming more engaged with the things he likes.  I often wonder what he would be capable of doing, what he would be interested in doing, if I didn't have to simultaneously give my attention to his 3 year old brother.

Said brother worked on puzzles.  Of course, I helped him put this together, but he was able to indicate the general area where he thought the pieces should go (based on similar colors, patterns, etc) and fit them together once we found the proper spot.  Here he is answering the question "which planet do we live on" with an enthusiastic "EURFF!"

Getting an acceptable posed picture of Ikaika is near impossible, which - come to think of it - reinforces my choice to not spend money on professional portraits.  I say "smile for the camera!" and this is what I get.

Then I tried to really persuade him by saying "Oma want to see a nice picture, honey.  Smile for Oma!" ...and he gave me this.  So there you go, Oma.  Enjoy.


My Kids + God = A Match Made in Heaven

Why raise kids with religion?  Why am I imposing my beliefs on my children? 

I'm sure anyone that raises their kids to believe in God (esp Jesus) encounters this question at some point.  It's frustrating because an essential characteristic of 'faith' is believing something even without proof, explanation, or reason - which doesn't facilitate "easy answers"

There are a lot of reasons why I chose to pass on Roman Catholicism to my children.  But here's the biggie:

If a parent knows something that has made their life easier, their body and mind healthier, their life richer; wouldn't they go out of their way to pass that onto their children?  I began taking vitamins and eating less processed foods several years ago.  I'm not always as good about it as I should be (or wish I was), but when my kids were infants I began shovelling Shaklee in their little mouths because I believe it's good for them.  I'm going to encourage my kids to go to college because I believe that is good for them, too.  And the list goes on and on...

Why would I sit back and say "oh yes, this thing changed my life dramatically for the better, but I think I'll let my kids figure that out on their own.  I'll just keep taking the vitamins myself and not really talk about it with them or teach them what I know and one day, when they are older, they can figure out what they want to do."

Seriously?  So my kids might grow up thinking that Doritos is a food group since that's what TV is willing to tell them.  I should be willing to speak up and let them know what I know to be the truth about food...

...or God!  There is an entire world out there that is willing to teach my kids about faith if I'm not.  And I don't like what some of those people are saying.  I want my kids to to learn about God and to know all the good things that come from a relationship with Him. 

I don't think that raising children with religion needs to be an oppressive act.  I think it can be spiritually healthy, emotionally enriching and intellectually enlightening.  These are the gifts I should be giving my children to prepare them for the day when they make their own choice.   


The New Social Network Lets Us Pray

This morning I logged onto Facebook and discovered that a college classmate has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and she was asking that we pray for her and pass it along so more people could do so - the more prayers the better, right?

Katie wasn't my best friend in college; she wasn't a roommate or even a teammate.  But she was active in athletics so I saw her in the locker room and sat with her in the cafeteria.  We had many mutual friends and she was always active in school clubs, programs, etc. There were plenty of opporunities for me to get to know her.  In the time since college, she has moved back to Galesburg, staying closely connected to Knox.  Every year at Homecoming she extends the invitation to her classmates, her friends...me, to come and stay at her house, have dinner, etc. 

The point is, even though 10 years ago I knew her and liked her, we - like most of my classmates - have lost touch.  Without the 'modern miracle' of social networking via Facebook, I probably would not have heard from her about her diagnosis.  Unless she wrote about it in the class update section of Knox Magazine...which she probably won't. 

I'm happy to know.  Despite the scary "c-word", I'm glad that she can call on the support of friends (even if they are friends from another time in her life) to help her in the present.  Sometimes it's comforting to know that you aren't alone, that people are cheering for you, and that is what gets you through the tough times.  No matter how she asks, I would offer that support without question.  So, in that sense, I'm thankful for Facebook.

I go back and forth about how useful social networking is for me.  This is one circumstance where I feel like the pros outweigh the cons.  Please join me in praying for Katie and Cory's (her husband, also a classmate) strength and faith during these trying times.  


Daddy is Old, Koa is Funny

 Yesterday my husband moved me one year closer to AARP benefits.  Mr A celebrated the big 4-9 by going to the dentist, the beach, and the sushi bar.  It was a fabulous day.  

We had a chance to thaw out down at Mauna Kea.  It's been about 60 degrees at best in the evenings, pouring rain, howling winds...combine that with no heating whatsoever and it's been a rough couple of days.  By the time we made it to the beach, it was already late afternoon and there was quite a bit of cloud cover, but it was still 80 degrees so I called it a win.

Mr A wore the new hat I got him.  Theres a hawaiian flag under the bill.  I am an incredible gift giver.

I also wanted to document Koa's maniacal laugh.  Sometimes, its a full on evil cackle - so this is a slightly watered down version.  Boy, does that kid love to laugh...and scream...


Home for the Holidays

Because we decided to stay in Hawaii for the holidays, and because Thanksgiving is pau, up went to the tree today.  I swore I would never do the artificial tree thing, but real trees here are ridiculous both from an economic and an environmental standpoint.  Ho ho ho.  Here it is.



I spent the first half of Thanksgiving working while my boys stayed home and watched football.  After pau hana time, I drove down to Waikoloa and met up with the crew, who were already busy deep frying the turkey.  We spent Thanksgiving with our friends under the promise of being fed "hippie food".  It was a far cry from Tofurkey, but I did bring them a Venti dirty chai to split for good measure. 

Why is it so hard to take a good family photo?  Probably because there are 8 pairs of eyes to worry about.  It just impressed me that families, larger-than-mine families, are able to take Christmas card worthy pictures together.  I find it almost impossible.  Like how I find Ikaika's baby shaka impossibly cute!

After the agave-sweetened, mac nut, sweet potato pie, we all started to feel it.  Deeply.  Karen passed around the digestive enzymes, we cracked open some more Pipeline Porters and things slowly began to settle (I already said this was a "hippie food" Thanksgiving soiree) 
Then Ikaika started eyeing that Holy's Bakery Buttered Pear pie...

Apparently, Koa was content until I arrived then he remembered that mom had been gone for 7 hours and started bawling.  It took about 2 hours before he trusted me enough to be out of my lap for longer than 30 seconds.

As the night went on (and we began ignoring the kids so we could battle royale, Chinese Checkers style) Ikaika gave me this frightening glimpse into the future.  It's a 'play phone' so there wasn't even anything on the screen, but he sat there "texting" like a bored, sullen teenager for almost 20 minutes.

The boys and their homegirl Malina played in the yard, snuggled in front of Elmo, and fed eachother leftovers.  We had a blast but by the time 9pm rolled around everyone was zonked.  No matter how badly I wanted that Kindle on sale at Target (bust through the doors at midnight...I promise I won't get anything else...we can sleep for a couple hours in the parking lot...no big deal, right?), I just couldn't do the Black Friday thing.  I only wanted one item, so it would have been a huge time/gas/sanity expense and Karen put it sharply in perspective when she reminded me "a Kindle isn't going to change whether or not you are happy tomorrow."  So here we are, home at 10pm and ready to snuggle up, watch X Files and digest.

FYI: I'm thankful for, among other things, people who actually read my blog.  Thanks!


Wine Class

sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and port

"Swirl your glass, it's time for class"
 When this showed up in my email inbox 3 weeks ago, I was stoked!  My friend from MOPS is a wine sommelier, a viticulturist, a sales rep for a vineyard in California, and an amazing person.  She is so amazingly awesome that she set up an entire wine tasting class for the gals at her beautiful home.

Explaining the ins and outs of wine

This is probably the most fun I've had on a Friday night in years.  She explained the wine making process, answered all our questions, guided us through 6 delicious (locally available and affordable) wines, provided enough cheese and carbs to kill an elephant and did all the dishes afterward.  Did I mention that she is awesome?!

attentive students

One of the main reasons I find all of this so interesting is because I've been embarking on my own journey of coffee appreciation and wine (chocolate and whiskey) tasting is similar in training the brain.  Although during her class we learned that you can identify scents like "petrol" and "cat pee" and it's not a bad thing.  Eww. 
This was 100 times better than going to a winery and now I feel 100 times more confident to stroll into the liquor store, with it's massive catacombs of wine bottles, and pick out something I would enjoy with dinner. 

we are all ridiculously tan but this is Hawaii


Packing Boxes for Operation Christmas Child

Last Friday Mothers of Preschoolers got together and packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  I found out today that all boxes from Hawaii are going to Nepal.  So, some Naplese child is going to be really confused when he opens my box and sees that he got rubber slippers.  Oh well, hopefully he can find some use for them!

At our MOPS meeting today, we talked about holiday traditions.  What we remember from our childhood and what we want to continue or begin with our own family.  Nothing can come close to an authentic Stransky Family Christmas (no substitute for the real deal).  But, this year, I am trying out Elf on a Shelf and I'm putting up a tree (although Mr A says he wants the tree in the office so the kids won't mess with it...or see it, for that matter...). 
Posting these pictures, I began thinking that OCC is something I've done with my kids for two years and it's a tradition I would like to keep.  Since it's my responsibility to set the tone, be the memory maker, oversee the implementation of holiday rituals, I would like to make sure that some of these are emphasising the 'giving' over the 'getting'.  Charity is a value I believe in and want to pass on.


Koa: Talking

During a phone conversation with my mom the other day, she pointed out that although I was seriously concerned about Ikaika's speech development when he was the same age, I hadn't mentioned anything about Kekoa's lack of vocabulary.

I'm sure she was just making about a point about how I was a typical neurotic first-time parent...and she's right.  But that got me thinking about how Koa really doesn't talk yet.  He says "mama" (too often, in my opinion), "dada" and "daida" (Kaika), but other than that, I haven't noticed any sounds that I would ascribe to specific objects or actions.  I know he's communicating because I know what he wants most of the time.  I can usually tell whether he wants to eat or he's sad because his brother took a toy from him, etc.  I'm not sure how I know this - it's probably a combo of events; tone, movements, sounds, facial expressions, mind reading, etc. 

It is funny that I became so uptight about Ikaika's speech development when he was so young simply because a coworker had a son the same age who said "up".  This same child, the source of so much concern, said to my mother on the phone the other day - verbatim - "Thank you, Oma, for the cool Transformers shirt that came in the mail."  No lack of vocabulary in there.

Kekoa will get there eventually.  And part of me wants him to remain my eternal baby, so I'm not in any rush for him to start chatting me up.  Although, I wouldn't be sad if he decided to move forward with potty training sometime soon.     


Kale Smoothie

Oh, Kale Smoothie.  You are, quite possibly, the world's most perfect breakfast.  Full of greens I would never otherwise be able to force down my throat and flaxseeds to keep me regular.  You require only the most minimal of ingredients and you are tasty enough for my children to drink.  You are chock full of healthy, raw goodness.  I love you, Kale Smoothie.  I want to drink you everyday.

1 cup water or orange juice (vitC in OJ helps the body to more easily absorb the iron from the kale)
3-4 kale leaves, spines removed
1 banana
1 Tbs ground flax seeds

Put water and kale in blender and puree until smooth (or smooth enough).  Add banana and flax and blend on high until banana is full incorporated.  Sip and feel virtuous.


More Than Pictures

There are some things about being a mom of young children that pictures can't describe. 

Ok...there are A LOT of things that pictures don't do justice. 

I want to document these moments so that when my boys are all grown up I can lovingly browse this blog (wrapped in a quilt made of their baby clothes,deep into my glass of Merlot as my husband tells me to "just stop crying and come to bed already").  I want to remember these moments.  At least the good/cute ones.

Ikaika melts my heart sometimes.  He is so joyful.  His laugh in infectious and he laughs with his entire being.  Everything, the smallest joke to the biggest trip up, is hilarious to him.  He smiles and laughs and you can tell that he is genuinely happy.

One things I've noticed lately is that he will sometimes - without any context or prompting - just sigh and say softly "I love you, mommy."  It might be on his way to the bathroom or after I buckle him into his carseat.  It always catches me off-guard. I have to stop and reorient myself because the headrush makes me dizzy.  My child loves me.

Koa is the snuggler that Ikaika never has been.  Yesterday, he nuzzled up to me on the couch and absent-mindedly twisted my hair around his fingers.  He pet my face and squirmed a little.  But, as we watched Snowdogs while the smell of Mr A's fried-rice permeated the house, he seemed very content just to be near me.

When its time for bed, I put him into his playpen and he lays there perfectly still.  "Put that blanket over me and kindly turn off the lights on your way out," I can almost hear him thinking.  In the mornings, when I pick him up to take him into the living for a diaper change and breakfast, he doesn't necessarily hug me - but he does flop his body against mine, arms wide open, head in the crook of my neck.  He hangs there, still and lifeless, wanting me to rub his back or say soothing words.  It's not because he's exhausted (he just woke up), it's because he's cuddly.  And I love it!


Being Busy

I feel so overwhelmed.  There is so much to get done and only a few short hours in each day to do it all.  Sitting here, looking at the jumbled scribbly mess that is my calendar, I just want to hole up in my house and never leave.

But, the more I have to do, the more I get done.  Busy people get stuff done.  That's why the PTO president is always a career woman/soccer mom with a clean house.  If I cut back, that just opens up more free time...which I will inevitably spend on Facebook, TV, or something equally mind numbing. 

I want to lead a productive life.  I want to accomplish things each and every day.  Really, I want to be able to look at my calendar and feel invigorated instead of stressed out and overwhelmed.  What I need is to change my attitude.  I have to embrace the chaos and accept that if I crowd my schedule, there will be projects I won't finish and meetings I won't attend and that's just the way it has to be. 

This phase of my life won't last forever.  And getting stuff done is great.  I would rather be busy than bored.  Repeat...repeat...repeat...


Finishing 1st at the Run for the Dry Forest 5K

#43 on my To Do List got checked off a little sooner than I expected!  Last weekend, I ran a 5K at the Run for the Dry Forest at Pu'u Wa'awa'a.  It was a beautiful trail run (and a benefit for preserving endangered species that grow in the dry forest) with an elevation change of 300ft (bleh!), which is more than I am used to since I typically run on nice, flat road.

One of my goals this year (that I shared at the MOPS steering team retreat in July) was to finish a 5K in under 30 minutes.  So, when I hit the first mile marker and my watch said 11 and change...I was pretty disappointed.  When I hit the 3 mile marker and stopped to walk up the hill, I was super bummed.  When I got within 20 yards of the chute, I heard footfalls behind me and started sprinting - so at least I know that I'm not losing my competitive edge ;)

Pu'u Wa'awa'a in all her majesty

I knew I gave the race all I had because I almost puked all over the finish line.  I also knew that I hadn't made my goal of under 30 minutes.  It wasn't until I saw my time card that things started to look up. 

I took 15th overall (out of 74) and took 9th (of 48) females.  I finished 1st (!!!!!) in my age division, which was the real treat of the morning.  I even got a ceramic trivet (they called it a medallion) to commemorate my win!  The plant on it is the 'a'ali'i, which is one of the endangered species they are working to preserve and was featured on our (surprisingly stylish) Tshirts.


Happy Halloween!

This year I chose to work on Halloween.  I figured we aren't quite at the age for serious trick-or-treating yet and I get to wear a costume to work, so why not?!  But then I started to feel sad and guilty because everyone else was having fun and I was handing out candy and hot chocolates to happy familes.

Mr A saved the day and took the boys trick-or-treating around the shopping center.  They even dropped into Starbucks during my break.  I didn't recognize my own child.  Granted, his costume has a full mask, but seriously - shouldn't I have some kind of mom-radar?  He trick-or-treated from me and I said "oh, happy halloween,  kid..." and had no idea he was mine!  Mr A told me later that Ikaika even said "trick or treat, mommy" and I still didn't pick up on it!  Oh well, must be the bewitching hour...


Fun With Chores - Mopping Floors

This cool idea came from my coworker.  I am awful about mopping the floors.  I hardly ever do it.  If I do get around to it, I think it's miserable work.  Enter, solution.

  1. When you have a big load of towels to wash, lay them all out on the floor (bathroom, kitchen, etc.). 
  2. Set out large bowls of water and toys (bonus for adding soap - I wasn't that brave)  
  3. Undress children. 
  4. Let the splashing begin. 
What I like best about this, besides my clean floors, is that I - the adult - control the amount of water so the fun doesn't reach epic flood preportions.  The kids love the feeling of the wet, squooshy towels.  Their wiggling little feet work like power buffers to lift dirt and grime.  After they were finished, I threw the kids in the bathtub and the towels in the washing machine, stepped back and admired my newly mopped bathroom floor.


Time For A Change

I'm trying something new.  I keep this weblog mainly so my family and friends can follow what is going on with the boys.  One of the big thumbs down about living in Hawaii is being far away from my family - so technology will have to bring us together for now.

But, I also like to chronical my own life (I was blogging long before I became "mom"), so this is me trying to reclaim some of that.  I'm in the process of doing this - Rome wasn't built in a day, people!  I want to give myself more of a creative outlet by highlighting my recipes and crafts. 

This is still going to be about my kids so if you are here for some kind of fix, fear not.  They will still be the feature, I'm just trying something new with how it's all organized. 


Mahalo for the Birthday Love!

Just a little shot of Ikaika enjoying some of his birthday gifts from my family (next time we are in Kona he will be spending his money from Mr As family).  Shirt = Granny, Optimus Prime (who needed to be in the picture, too) = Oma, and NFL pennants = Aunty Beth!  He even helped me hang them by deciding what order to put them in. 

L<3VE IT!!! 


Kohala Mountain Pumpkin Patch

Today, we went up Kohala Mountain Road to search for the perfect pumpkin for our Autobots jack-o-lantern.  This little patch (Kohala Mountain Farm) had a great selection and the pumpkins were only 75 cents a pound!  The boys had a great time hunting - we ended up with one large J-o-L and one small sugar pumpkin.

Last year we went to the HPA patch but it's more like a carnival - with games, treats, climbing walls, bounce houses, etc.  In fact, by the time I got there - there was very little in the way of pumpkins.  Perhaps it's my Midwestern upbringing, but I'm more of the "get there, pick your pumpkin, go home" kind of lady. 

Although, it is nice to sample fresh farm produce and if they are offering warm, tasty spiced beverages, I'm game.  Sadly, since it was about 85 degrees, there was no need for hot apple cider.  

This made me wonder why it's so common to harvest Halloween pumpkins directly from a farm, but almost unheard of to visit farms otherwise.  Farmers markets are a happy medium.  I wish that farms would just open on weekends and we could mosey in there and start reaping.  I never got into the summer berry picking when I lived in Oregon.  Now that it's unavailable to be, I desperately want a roadside pick-by-the-pound berry field!   

Koa liked these rabbits.  I had to let my children know that their dad is allergic (I learned this the hard way) and if we got a rabbit it would live outside and we would eventually eat it.  Ikaika said, "Noo-hohoho! Mommy!  ...you silly..."

101 Things to Do

1. reverse Oregon Trail road trip

2. finish a marathon

3. go back to Japan during sakura season

4. tour Germany

5. attend Mass at the Vatican

6. write a book

7. get masters degree

8. learn some basic Latin

9. hike the grand canyon

10. see Niagra Falls

11. take a photo walk

12. paddle in a real regatta

13. take the family to Wash DC

14. pay off all debts

15. own a house outright

16. knit an adult sized sweater

17. donate money to Knox for 10 consecutive years

18. visit Knox for Homecoming

19. speak to a large group of strangers (maybe at a convention?)

20. wake up at 6am regularly/become a “morning person”

21. keep a minimal wardrobe/house

22. fill an entire notebook with sketches

23. read Pride & Prejudice

24. read Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit

25. rewrite my senior thesis

26. learn how to make really good laulau

27. do a complete candida cleanse

28. fast on Sundays for an entire year

29. re-cover my couch

30. finish scrapbook from Japan

31. take each of the boys on a “date”

32. snorkel at night

33. tour the telescope on Mauna Kea

34. hike in Waipio Valley

35. visit 6 main Hawaiian islands

36. have a conversation completely in Hawaiian

37. take a trip with just me and Mr A's daughter(s)

38. complete Confirmation

39. have my children attend CCD

40. green belt in Kajukenbo

41. see the Great Wall of China

42. take boys to Bruce Lee's grave

43. place (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) in age division for a 5K race

44. move all my stuff out of my parents' house

45. attend a reunion

46. take the entire family snowboarding

47. volunteer at Ironman

48. spend a romantic weekend with Mr A

49. brew my own beer

50. go to Oktoberfest

51. pick berries at an all-you-can-pick farm

52. join a CSA

53. get really good at one video game

54. join a protest (hold a sign)

55. go to Cebu, Philipines

56. complete a family tree - 4 generations

57. speak conversational German

58. camp on a beach in Lana'i

59. get a Brazilian bikini wax

60. own a Louis Vuitton bag

61. have a garden that produces edible vegetables

62. have a chicken coup that produces eggs

63. fill up my Passport before it expires

64. design an awesome, spot-on Halloween costume

65. attend ComicCon (also in costume)

66. compete in a beauty pagent/body-building contest

67. submit an entry to a writing contest

68. attend a “couples retreat”

69. drink cafe au lait in Paris

70. take a ballroom dancing class

71. do the splits

72. change the oil by myself

73. make a painting/drawing/picture of Holy Family Church

74. renew vows at church over Waimea Bay

75. experience a real Midwest winter with Mr A

76. visit Grandpa's farm in Wasaukee

77. do The Rocky Horror Picture Show

78. swim with sharks (in a cage!)

79. skydive

80. play poker in a casino

81. ziplining

82. attend an NFL game

83. see lava flow at night

84. fly in a helicopter

85. go on a church mission trip

86. go on a cruise

87. wear my wedding dress again

88. see The Nutcracker ballet

89. go crabbing (“crab fishing”???)

90. summit a mountain – bonus points for Mr Kilamanjaro

91. go on an African safari

92. hear a US president speak in person

93. wear a sari to a wedding

94. have something published in a national publication

95. see a tornado - storm chasing

96. see a legit drumline perform live at halftime

97. take a family picture wearing matching Hawaiian shirts

98. get a picture of all Mr A's kids together

99. half sleeve flower tattoo

100. attend the live taping of a game show or talk show

101. make quilt out of the boys' baby clothes


Ikaika's 3rd Birthday

Ikaika's 3rd birthday came and went without too much fanfare.  Earlier this year, I came to terms with the fact that I'm not a "child's birthday party" kind of person.  Because of this, I won't be doing any birthday parties until my kids are old enough to beg for them. 

I did make legit cupcakes for his little friends at Tutu & Me.  I got a box of cake mix and added in some canned pumpkin to ease my guilt.  I let him pick out a tube of "frosting" and he chose hot pink.  I hope I don't totally give up by the time Koa turns 3 (giant Betty Crocker devil's food cake topped with a tub of buttercream).  Mostly, because my kids wouldn't really be eating these (Ikaika had one, Koa didn't have any), I didn't want to waste the time/money on making "good" cupcakes.  Is that rude?  I feel bad admitting that!

Here is everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to him - once in English, once in Hawaiian.  There were some cards and gifts at home from friends and family.  Despite the lack of a formal celebration, he had such a good time that he wanted the next day to be his birthday, too!

He's already trained to answer the question "how old are you?" with three fingers and a resounding "THREE!"  



Starbucks for Kids

Now that I am working part time at Starbucks, Ikaika has been wild about the whole coffee shop thing (which is so awesome because on my days off there is nothing I would rather do more than hang out at work...). 
I'm not about to set my 3 year old loose on whole bean coffee, so I'm thankful that Starbucks has many wonderful options for the discerning toddler pallette.  Here are Ikaika's favorites:

  • Tall (12oz) strawberries and cream frappuchino with no base and no sweetener (strawberry puree blended with some milk and ice)
  • Any of the Vivano smoothies - although they only come in 16oz size so I split those with him
  • Short (8oz) apple juice (half juice/half water) with ice
  • PASSION TEA - he's totally obsessed with it.  I water it down at home and add stevia to sweeten.
HOT (all drinks are steamed to "kids temp" which is about 120deg)
  • Short steamed apple juice (again, watered down) with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Alternately, the barista can add cinnamon to the steaming pitcher so it blends into the juice.
  • Short steamed milk with ONE PUMP of flavored syrup.  I figure he can either have a pump of syrup OR whipped cream, but not both.  Carmel steamed milk is awesome.
  • Short hot chocolate with ONE PUMP mocha and a HALF PUMP of vanilla.  
  • Short hot chocolate with ONE PUMP of mocha and soy milk - because the soy is already sweet/vanilla flavored (bonus: it's organic) 
  • I should also add toasted multi-grain bagels with reduced fat cream cheese because he loves em!

I have so many good memories of time spent in coffee houses.  Great conversations with friends, productive nights of studying or finishing homework, relaxing by myself and reading a good book with a hot cup of joe.  I love coffee shops and maybe the simple act of sharing this with my kids will mean that they, too, one day will be totally addicted to the sound of an espresso machine.  Maybe they will even do their homework!  Dare to dream... 

Aww!  Koa is sad because his brother drank it all!