Field Trip to Pu'ukohola Heiau

Today the boys' preschool took a field trip to Pu'ukohola Heiau, which we have been to before.  In fact, we have gone many times to enjoy the wonder of Whale Hill (name translation) at Kawaihae.  It is, after all, part of the National Park Service, which appeals to my inner nerd.

Puukohola was built in 1790 by Kamehameha I (before he set out to conquer and unite all the Hawaiian Islands) as a gesture to the war god Ku.  The restoration work that has been done on this site is nothing short of incredible.  All the rock walls have been restored using traditional method (no mortar) and if you have ever been to any other heiau, you know that most of them are just sparse rock piles out in a field.  This is like the Yorktown of Hawaiian temples!  

The boys had fun, although Koa wasn't exactly being cooperative about walking or sitting in his stroller.  And it was hot as Hades.  I always complain about it being freezing in Waimea...until we go down to the coast and I'm hot/sticky/sweaty.  Ugh.  Anyway, there is an underwater heiau called Hale o Kapuni, which is dedicated to the shark gods and we saw a few shark fins swimming around in the bay.  Its also whale season so we got a great view of humpback whales breaching (and some mean waves/people surfing)

They were showing a History Channel video about Hawaiian warriors and Ikaika thought that was super cool.  Opa had actually taped that exact episode and I thought we had all watched it together, but apparently Ikaika was asleep.  I'll have to see if I still have the tape and maybe we will watch it tonight. 

Here's Ikaika just bein' silly.  Crazy kid. 


Waking Up

I am a heavy sleeper.  Once I'm asleep, you could drive a Mack Truck through the room and I wouldn't stir.  Needless to say, I am not a morning person.

Alas, people need routine.  Sleeping in until 10 on the weekends, however grateful I may be for the opportunity, is extremely unhealthy considering I wake up on the weekdays before 8am.  Some nights I will go to sleep after midnight and some nights we are in bed before 10.  Maybe that's why my body is so tired all the time.

I was telling Mr A last night that I need to pick a sleeping routine and stick to it.  Ideally, I would like to wake up around 6am because that gives me time to write or run before the kids wake up (and once they are in school, they will need to be awake by 7am).  That would put me in bed around 930/10pm, which gives me time to unwind and fall asleep...or whatever *wink wink*.

No need to be so ambitious right away.  Besides, I close shop 3 nights a week, which sometimes puts me at work until 11pm.  For right now, I am going to shoot for awake at 7am, in bed by 1030pm.

The goal is to be doing that 7 days a week, not just on the weekdays.  This would not only help regulate my sleeping (giving me more energy), it would also make the transition to Ikaika going to school less stressful, going to Sunday morning church service a possibility, and eating breakfast with my husband during the week a reality.  Healthier, happier, less sleepy, more productive.    


Koa's Baptism

Earlier this month, during my family's yearly visit to Hawaii, we had my youngest son baptized at the Catholic church. It was the epitome of “low-key”. We didn't send out invitations or take group pictures. Koa wore jeans, the godmother wore flip-flops and a hoodie. His baptism was followed by a typical Sunday at the beach.

However, far from being perfunctory, Koa's baptism was an incredibly profound moment in our life as a family. The sacraments (baptism, marriage, anointing of the sick, etc) are defined in the Catholic church as times when we actively receive God's grace. I think these are also times when we experience “spiritual intimacy”; when we are drawn closer to each other by being closer to the Lord

I hardly remember my own baptism (I was 2), but as an adult I made the decision to get married in the Catholic church. Standing in front of the Church before God, our friends and family, we exchanged vows to love each other completely and “become one flesh”.  We welcomed Jesus into our marriage.

Standing up next to the baptismal font, I took hold of my husband's hand and smiled. Here we were again, before God and our family, living our life as one flesh. We were committing ourselves to our son, being stewards of God's gifts to us.  We now welcomed Jesus into our life as parents.  I felt the same rush of love and grace that I felt standing on the alter with him 5 years prior.  

I'm not trying to give Koa the golden ticket to Heaven. I'm not even guaranteeing that he will be Catholic as an adult. Through his baptism, my husband and I are welcoming Koa into our family, symbolically making him a part of the larger community of faith, and publicly acknowledging (along with my sisters and my husband's cousin) that it is our responsibility to teach him about God.

Just as my husband and I once stood in front of the Church and made these promises to each other, now we stand and make these promises to our children. Even though Koa's baptism was “low-key”, it was a rare moment in a busy, modern life. It was a moment of quiet spiritual intimacy, where we were drawn closer together as a family and closer to our Creator. 


Bathroom Essentials vs Clutter

In my never-ending quest for frugality, I seem to have forgotten that saving 50 cents on stuff I don't actually need is, in fact, wasteful (read: NOT frugal).  Also, this accumulation leads to a bathroom cupboard full of trial sizes and half-full bottles that seem to remain there for years. 

I was pawing around my bathroom yesterday trying to figure out just what I would define as an essential and then emotionally eliminate the need for all the other junk. 
Just eyeballing this picture, I can tell you that about half the things in this cabinet will not need to be replaced once they have been used up.   (and a fourth of these things have been in my possession for over 2 years)

Moving on to the bathroom closet and, sadly, its not much better on the other side of the room.  This closet is full of hair products I never use and a plethora of lotions that have been hanging around since the dawn of time.  To illustrate this point, allow me to point out the EIGHT (8!) bottles of sunscreen.  Some have maybe 4 applications left in them, yet they remain in this closet and new ones keep showing up.  The very definition of clutter.


I came up with a list of the things I consider "essentials" (disposable/consumable items that, once they run out, need to be replaced).  I will keep this on-going inventory and try my best not to introduce anything new until the original product has completely run out.  Then I need to let go of my perceived need of all the other crap.  Last night I even used up some samples Ive had lurking around. 
Of course, "essentials" is such a relative term, the list will look different for everyone.  But, for the sake of this post, I'm sharing mine.
  • toilet paper
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • soap
  • facewash (debatable - this could be combined with 'soap' depending on what kind of bar I'm buying)
  • face lotion (night)
  • face lotion with SPF (day)
  • body lotion
  • sunscreen
  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • kids shampoo/body wash
  • clay (for masks)
  • eye drops
  • analgesic balm
  • first aid kit (bandages)
  • floss
  • Q-tips
  • hydrogen peroxide


Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

I was poking around over at The Non-Consumer Advocate and came across this post idea.  Enjoy!

The morning was spent walking with the boys around town completing a long list of chores (bank, post office, another bank, grocery store, library, etc) - our first outing with the stroller since the weather has changed for the beautiful.  Then I worked (bar side!).  After work I played Hawaiian scrabble with Mr A.

I took the boys to Tutu & Me Preschool, again walking with the stroller.  Now I am going to catch up on some reading and hopefully get a quick run in before we hit the HPA basketball game tonight.

MOPS in the morning and then writing in the afternoon.  Get my coupons and shopping lists ready for our next trip to Kona.  Probably rent a movie (I'm thinking The Help)


No Love for Facebook

Facebook = Giant Time Suck.

About a month ago, I officially deleted my Facebook account. 

The reasoning behind this was simple.  That book I read about branding and marketing made me realize that the people behind Facebook already knew I was addicted and were now trying to find ways to keep me on there longer in order to show me more advertisements.  (BOO!)  Even though I was keeping up with friends across the world via the miracle of modern technology, I was also sacrificing real connections in lieu of status updates.  (DOUBLE BOO!)  The worst was when I noticed that I was ignoring my kids saying "mommy, come read to me, play with me" because I was checking Facebook...again... (SUPER BOO!)

The fact is, I loaded my plate this year.  Besides my New Year Resolutions and my To-Do List, I also have both my husband's and my children's commitments to honor and support.  Phew!  I can't be doing all that PLUS managing my life if I am constantly distracted and wasting precious hours here and there living in the fantasy world of Facebook.

It's a time suck and I don't need it. Besides, I have this blog to satisfy my need for online narcissism. 


8 Months Until I See You Again

Tomorrow morning my parents board a plane and return to the Northwest.  I am sad.

When family gets together there are always moments of such unbridled happiness we wish it would never end.  There is the inevitable freak-out where we wonder why we even bother visiting each other in the first place.  There always comes the moment when I ask my mom if she wouldn't seriously reconsider just staying - forever.

It's difficult, if not impossible, to gain any real perspective on people close to you.  Real connections, real relationships in life, have nothing to do with frequency or proximity.  Moments come and go, but the choice to savor that moment is what counts.  Enjoying the people around you to the fullest (even if that means having it out with them in the middle of the dolphin habitat!) and continuing to value their presence.  Making the choice to bridge that gap, even if the act of building that bridge is challenging. 

When we chose to establish our life, our family, in Hawaii, we both knew we would be giving up easy access to our extended/original families.  I'm thankful for trips like these.  I'm thankful that my family makes the effort to get together at least once a year.  I wish I could reciprocate more often.  I wish airlines would embrace kamaaina rates.  I wish Wisconsin would mysteriously drop down in the middle of the Pacific, preferably somewhere off the Haumakua coast. 

But mostly, I wish I could hire someone to come and restore my house to the condition it was in a week and a half ago!


Too Cute to Spook Gnome Costume

A Christmas present from Aunty Lulu. 


A Beautiful Week With Family

 Today we are concluding a wonderful week of Stransky family reunion.

Among other fun activities (like eating and watching sports together), we toured and Big Island and saw such scenic wonders as:

Halema'uma'u at Kiluea Volcano (Volcanoes National Park)

 Sharing the mana'o

Waipi'o Valley (Valley of the Kings) on the Haumakua Coast
*this* is my little sister's "goofy" face!

Carolyn's boyfriend and Ikaika were pretty much inseperable the entire trip.  They kept busy doing, you know, manly things.

Beth and I hiked the hot, hot Kona Coast.  Ikaika said he also wanted to hike.  Turns out what he meant was "ride along".

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (City of Refuge).  The unanimous, hands-down favorite spot on the island. 

More than enough brotherly love to go around.

A sunset from Mauna Kea beach.

View from the Four Seasons Hualalai - a place that not only looks 'totally beyond my price range' but also inappropriate for where I'm at in life (we are more 'Hilton Waikoloa' right now!)


First Real Sleep Over

Ikaika is having his first real sleep over tonight.  My parents are staying in Waikoloa, which is a good 30 minute drive from where I live.  Tonight, when we were exploring Volcanoes National Park and eating ono good at Ken's Drive-In in Hilo, Ikaika pleaded his case for staying at Oma's house.

I made it perfectly clear that neither I, nor Daddy (nor Koa) were going to be there.  Just him.  We all clarified that I would be at our house in Waimea while he was in Waikoloa.  And after he left, there was no turning back.  Still, he insisted.

We got to Waimea and as my sister loaded him back into his carseat (freshly jammied with teeth brushed) I was sure he would say "no no, I want to stay with mommy!" ...but he didn't.  In fact, he was all excited to go and even kissed me saying "goodnight mommy, I love you.  See you tomorrow!" 

I attribute this precociousness to several factors. 
1) he loves my parents and my sisters and has slept at that house before (not by himself, but he's familiar with the territory)
2) he's a pretty independent kid and rarely gets anxiety about being away from us (for example, going to childcare during MOPS - he's almost always cool about it)
3) he's probably banking on Oma letting him watch movies all night and isn't thinking ahead to the actual "going to bed" part.

I'm incredibly interested to hear about how this goes.  I know my family can handle it (nightmares, tantrums, delirious cries for mom or whoever) and I highly doubt I will get a 3am phone call, no matter how crazy he gets.  I feel strangely nervous about him sleeping away from me, knowing that I won't see him until tomorrow.  I'm anxious, but not exactly for him.  In fact, it's weird to admit, but I'm a little sad that at 3 years old he could be so casual about leaving me!


Oma and Opa Visit Hawaii

Thursday we drove to Kona and picked up my parents from the airport.  Ikaika was so excited he hardly slept on Wednesday night - it was the second coming of Santa in more ways than one!

We parked the car and waited outside the gate.  When the doors burst open and my mom walked through, he screamed "OMA! OMA!" and ran to her, knocking through a few people on his way.  She said it was quite a reception ("how come my own kids never get this excited?")

And last night both my sisters arrived, along with little sister's boyfriend.  They are staying at a nice rental house in Waikoloa Village - that has a huge flat screen TV - so there will be plenty movie nights and BBQs at dusk in the coming days.  However, right now we are all recovering from travel (Mr A was on Oahu this weekend for school) so everyone just wants to take a nap!


New Year Resolutions

A few new years resolutions I cooked up the other night at work.  If I've learned anything from Mr A's classes on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), I learned that goals - good goals - should be measurable and achievable, which is why I think all of these are realistic for the coming year of my life.  The only one that's questionable is starting confirmation classes, because sometimes I feel like I'm already way overcommitted and I'm not sure how I would work that around my work schedule.  I'll have to look into that more.  But everything else, I already have a plan! 

last sunset of 2011

Finish the Kona Marathon
This one has been on my mind since June, but I haven't really dedicated myself to training yet.  Now that the race is about 6 months away, it's time to start bucking up and sticking to the plan.  I am going to use Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide: Novice 1 - a woman I know who recently ran the Honolulu Marathon recommended this to me.  If I don't start in January, then I absolutely must be in February. 
I also think that running in the early morning would work best with my schedule, so this might help realize another goal I have of becoming a "morning person"!

Take the PRAXIS I
I took the GRE last year thinking I was going to apply for traditional grad school, but my thoughts return to teaching.  Therefore, since the information is fresh in my mind (thanks to Mr A) and since I'm not under any pressure or time constraints, I think it would be wise to take the PRAXIS I and get it out of the way...just in case. 
I will start seriously looking at graduate school options in the fall of 2012.

Finishing writing my book
I've been doing well with this.  I'm about 30,000 words deep right now.  The more I write this story, the more I question whether or not this is really the right story to send to a publisher.  But, the important thing is that I learn the discipline of writing a novel and that I have a solid draft done by the end of the year.  If nothing else, it will provide Granny with some reading material.

Read Pride & Prejudice
Speaking of reading material...
I downloaded this onto my kindle last night.  I'm on chapter 6.  So hilarious.  And a surprisingly easy read.  For some reason I thought this was going to be Dickens or Tolstoy and I was going to be muddling my way through each page.  Not even.  I will never doubt Ruth's recommendations.  I can't believe it's taken me this long to start.

Be a Coffee Master
This is a program through Starbucks which will make me a coffee sommilier of sorts.  I think it's fun, challenging, and it gives me something creative to focus on at work (which, because of the nature of a barista's job, can tend to get monotonous)

Start confirmation classes
I've now come far enough in my spiritual journey that I am ready to recommit myself to the Roman Catholic Lord I love.  I didn't do it in high school because I wanted to wait until I was sure.  Now that I'm over my obligatory crisis of faith, it's time to seal the deal.  But, the classes take two years and (like I said above) I'm not sure how it will work with my already crazy schedule. 
I know...I know...God should be first priority!  The guilt alone will probably force me to make it work!

Call or write my cousin at least once a month
I've been so out of touch with my cousin Amber lately and even though I think about her all the time, I rarely take the time to reach out and connect with her.  In light of recently deleting my Facebook account, I know that I need to go the extra mile for our relationship.


Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

 We said "aloooooha" to 2011 at our friend Steve's house.  Mr A took care of the BBQ, as always.

Even though the last few days have been beautiful, we brought all our warm clothes to brave the "green side" of Waimea.  We also brought hearty appetites for the garage length buffet!

Last year, because I was running a 5K the next day and we were in the Northwest, the family didn't do much celebrating. This was Koa's first real New Years fete.  He wasn't so sure about all the loud noises, but from 10pm on was able to sleep through warfare right outside his window.  Amazing.  I was jealous.  Despite going to sleep around 4am, I worked at 9:30.  My first new years resolution?  Never do that again.

Of course, Ikaika showed him the ropes.  Ikaika was VERY into the fireworks this year.  Daddy and Uncle took him under their wings and schooled him in the way of questionably responsible Hawaiian pyrotechnics. 

The sheer joy is ridiculous.  Between him and his father - I am in trouble (and so are all the flammable structures on our block)!

And here he is dancing.  Notice how he doesn't lose his groove despite the noise drowning out the actual music.  That's my boy!

At midnight, the men rigged up the 10,000 string of firecrackers with three bombs at the top and we counted down the New Year by going deaf (temporarily).

The string of fireworks hangs from a large pole somewhere in the yard.  Steve had this fancy bamboo pole that he cut down from the lot across the street and they propped it up on the basketball hoop.