Raising a Social Pariah

this is what happens when they get treats from Starbucks

I limit things for my children and I do it on purpose.

Mr A and I carefully plan limits for food, entertainment, toys, you-name-it.  We believe these limits are good for them and can only hope we are doing the right thing (since I won't know until its too late to change my mind!)

I was reading an article the other day about parents who embrace "the simple life" and raise their children accordingly.  One teenage daughter pointed out that her parents are raising her for a world that no longer exists.  Similar families have expressed conflicted feelings about their children being noticeably different from their peers and how this affects their self-image.

Because modern consumption-based culture is so aggressive, so all-encompassing, I have found that even with radical values, I can only sustain lukewarm results.  For all my strong feelings to the contrary, my kids still eat chips for dinner and worship Transformers.  Maybe this is good for them, maybe these transgressions will prevent them from becoming social pariahs.  My job is to keep assessing the situation and determine when the limits can be relaxed and when they need to be reinforced.

I'd like to think that this is me, as a mother, taking the middle road.  


Are Reusables Better than Disposables?

So simple, a child can do it!  
*This cup has been used well over 100 times in the 8 months we've owned it.*

It seems logical that an item which can be used many times is more efficient than its disposable counterpart, which might be used twice if its lucky. Perhaps Jeb Berrier says it best:
"Think about it, why would you make something that you're going to use for a few minutes out of a material that's basically going to last forever, and you're just going to throw it away. What's up with that?"
Case closed. Right?

Wrong! In fact, you may be surprised that is a hot topic for debate. I've encountered very few who are staunchly anti-reusable. However, I've encountered more than my fair share of passionate “it doesn't matter either way”-ers. In my line of work, its unavoidable.

I set out to investigate what is the best choice (specifically talking about coffee cups here). Are you concerned with conserving energy? Water? Trees? Money? Are you concerned about food sources? Oceans? Waste disposal? All of these things are affected by the manufacturing and use of cups. But examining all those facets separately won't always lead to one definitive answer. There isn't always a “best choice”.

After poking around online and observing/talking to various subsets of coffee/liquid consumers, my conclusion is that – all things considered - reusables are better...but only if we use them. In order to offset the production and washing of non-disposable options, they must get the mileage they deserve, not sit collecting dust.

Here are some tips for picking out and using a good reusable travel mug.

  • Look for timeless style. If you are getting a season specific design, are you going to want to use it for the next 5+ Christmases? Think about getting a customizable mug and changing the pictures for the holidays instead. You can never go wrong with solid colors.

  • Look for cups with interchangeable parts. There is nothing more annoying than when the lid breaks and it renders the entire cup useless. Having access to a replacement lid is invaluable.

  • Consider your lifestyle. Are you going to be drinking coffee at your desk or will you be hiking through the urban jungle? Do you tend to break things easily? Consider whether you need durablity (like stainless steel) or a cup to simply sit there and look nice while retaining heat (ceramic).

  • Think used first. Thrift stores usually have a vast and varied selection of travel mugs. If you can find a travel mug used, you have just increased the efficiency of your eco-friendly efforts exponentially.

  • Use what you got. If you have a travel mug and it works for your lifestyle, then use it until you can not use it anymore. If it doesn't fit your lifestyle, then find a cup that works for you and stop buying more.

  • Refuse the paper/disposable cups and remember to bring your own! I don't want to have to break it to my children that the reason they have a beach covered in garbage is because me and my friends already filled up all the landfills with important items like paper cups and plastic forks.


Song & Dance

"A'ole!  Noho aha'aha, Koa.  Mommy!  Koa, mai ho'olohe!"
I'm almost used to Ikaika being in preschool.  Almost.  I'm still sad when I have to work at night and I literally see him for 20 minutes all day.  
It's weird that he is doing and learning things that I know nothing about.  I used to be there for all the new songs, stories and games.  Now, even though I drill him every afternoon about the going-ons of his day, things will occasionally slip out and I'll catch myself marveling "how does he know that?!"  It's strange to me that he could learn something without my knowledge/approval.  What a 'mom' thing to say!
So, this is a game that they apparently play at preschool, which I knew nothing about until he started playing it by himself.  I tried to have him teach it to Koa and I, but...well...you'll see.   



Today I became an aunt!

I could not be more excited.  I barely slept anticipating this child's arrival.  So now she is here.  The boys have a cousin, I have a niece and my sister is a mother.  Weird!

Just getting the text that she was in labor brought back a flood of memories from when my own children were born.  I liked being pregnant.  Even giving birth was strange, exhilarating and (almost) enjoyable. A small part of me was jealous.

That phase of our life as a couple is over now.  I know that its the right decision.  Its pragmatic.  Its a decision I made with my head.  But, my heart...oh my heart...my heart yearns for that sweet moment of introduction.  Those long, head-spinning hours of anticipation.  My exhausted arms want to curl protectively around a helpless little baby.

Welcome, Norah.  We are all a little weird (but only enough to be mistaken for charming), we all live much too far away from each other (although I have a feeling like you might win Oma and Opa over to your corner of the world), and even without seeing you I love you more than anything I write would ever hope to accurately describe.  


Writing a Resume STINKS!

I blog, so it's obvious I like writing.  

But writing a resume sucks.  I hate doing it.  Every brutal minute is spent hemming, hawing, groaning and moaning.  

The reasons I dislike it so much are plentiful.  The nature of it is totally pretentious.  It requires that I qualify everything I've ever done through arbitrary, yet ridiculously specific numbers (as if anyone tracks that stuff on a regular basis).  The way you write it can make the exact same work appear either obscenely profound or completely mundane.  It makes me realize that having 10+ jobs in the past 10 years is a huge no-no/pain in the ass to talk about.  And it's boring.  It's a boring thing to hammer out in Microsoft Word.

I've done a great many things in my adult life and participated in a great many activities both paid and volunteer.  One would think this is spectacular thing, but when it comes to writing a resume, I probably just come off as completely scattered and non-committal.  

Please, please, let this torture be over soon...


Aloha Kakahiaka!

Good morning!  

Our mornings look like this: drop off dad, drop off Kaika, do chores, do whatever, take nap, pick up dad, pick up Kaika.
After 4 years of systematically shaving down on routine car use, I am now driving twice a day everyday.  The other day I looked down at the gas gauge and was blown away. Refill already?!  Yikes.  I wish there was some way to avoid it, but the preschool is just far enough out of town to make walking (on the highway, no less) unrealistic.  I'll just consider it a win that we continue to be a single car family.

I was told to post more pictures.  I haven't been taking any pictures recently and this is hard evidence why.  Not only are these pictures boring (hanging out in the car), its also terrible in terms of lighting, focus and composition.  I swear I used to be good at this kind of stuff...


Family Tree

Our first lesson, as parents at the Hawaiian immersion school, was in genealogy.  We learned about to say introductions, the difference between where you are from vs where you were born, and the role family lineage plays in all those things.

Our first homework assignment was to write out a genealogy - mother's side and father's side - going back four generations (great-great grandparents).  I've always been somewhat interested in family trees and even I couldn't fill-in all the blanks off the top of my head, much less recite it in chant form the way the kumu (teacher) did!

So whats the big deal with lineage?

The simple explanation is that in social settings it puts you on a level that is equal to people of different generations.  If a child asks "who are you?", it's unlikely you will respond, "I'm Jane Smith."  You will probably say, "I'm Timmy's mom."  Similarly, if an elderly person asks "who are you?", they don't really care that you are Jane Smith.  They want to know who you are in relation to them - their generation.  Hence, reciting your genealogy.

for example: "Bob Smith from Waimanu and Sara Kanu from Honolulu came together and had a son Steve Smith.  Steve Smith from Honolulu and Tracy Chapman from Oregon came together and had a daughter Jane Smith.  That's me."

Oh, ok.

I'm proud to teach my kids about their relatives.  And I like the concept of teaching them who they are in relation to their family rather than the other way around.  It keeps the focus on them being a contributing member of a larger whole, rather than the world revolving around them.    

Genealogy is also really fun.  I like knowing where I come from and something about the people who - in whatever small way - contributed to me being who I am.  I like the strange names that run in a family and I often wonder why certain names (like Adolph) were chosen.  I like the weird coincidences, like how both my mom and dad's families came over to the US in the same generation.  I haven't found any royalty or distant cousin celebrities, but coming from dairy farmers isn't all that bad either.


Getting A Real Job

Although I love my job at the coffee shop - meeting almost everyone in town, unlimited hand-crafted beverages, and being able to work nights - lately, I've been feeling so down about it.  I just don't find it fulfilling or meaningful.

Being that I've usually worked with schools and non-profits, I've come to expect a certain level of do-gooder type satisfaction from my job.  I'm not getting that from being a barista.  Sure, it helps to pay for car insurance and Ikaika's preschool (which is going super duper, by the way), but I'm not terribly keen on trading my time and talent for money alone.

I've come to a point, again, where I'm starting to feel antsy about going back to work for real.  Next year both the boys will be in preschool and I can start working during the day, which means my options for employment will open up considerably.  I find myself day-dreaming and fixating on this as I ho-hum through my nights at work...must I really be so impatient?

I'm caught in the classic trap of comparing apples to oranges.  I'm assuming that my job at the coffee shop is my "real job", when it's not.  That type of employment is just a way to make ends meet every month.  My "real job" is being a mother, a wife, a keeper of the house.  I am the accountant, nanny, personal chef, nutritionist, religious leader, tailor, dictator, all-in-one.  The coffee shop is like my hobby.

As the time approaches for me to start filling out applications for programs that begin next fall, I should take a moment to sit back and appreciate all that I've done in my 5 years of housewife-ing.  I do have a meaningful job, the most meaningful job I'll ever have.  I should do it to the best of my ability and at least try to lay some groundwork so that it doesn't all fall apart once I accept a more time/energy consuming position in the years to come.


Happy 2nd Birthday Kekoa Boy!

This is how we celebrated Koa's second birthday.  It probably would have made more sense if we used 2 pints of Ben & Jerry's, huh?  Oh well.  He sampled each flavor then Mr A and I split the rest.  Nom nom.

Sure, its simple and reflects a complete lack of effort on my part.  But, I would rather save my energy for the birthdays he will remember.  Ikaika is already planning his birthday (wants to go to the zoo) so I will indulge those wishes.  But this guy...he was clearly okay at home, celebrating with ice cream and a decorative candle.

So many friends and family, near and far, who thought of him and (unlike his mother) got him gifts.  Many heartfelt thanks.  Its been duly noted in the babybook.


Ikaika's First Day of School

"bye, mom!"
Yesterday was Koa's 2nd birthday and Ikaika's FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

Pardon me if it seems I'm playing favorites, but I was much more consumed with the later event.  The birthday hardly blipped on my radar.  Frankly, he's 2.  He doesn't know or care and I we don't eat cake anyway (although tonight I agreed to sing and eat ice cream, per request of his father).

Ikaika did awesome.  He even offered a consolatory hug to his brother, who was broken at the thought of leaving his compadre.  This morning we had a few fat tears and "...but you're leaving me!"-s, but overall he seems to be enjoying the experience and his teachers have nothing but positive to report.

Incidentally (since I'm in full bragging mode now) I also got hold of Kaikas pre-reading vocabulary test results and he scored in the 99%.  That's my boy!


Project 333 - A Wardrobe Breakthrough?

I came across Project 333 awhile back - the idea to is pick 33 things and wear only that for 3 months.

Its no secret that I've been frustrated with the state of my wardrobe.  I want to keep a minimal closet but I've already gotten rid everything that I either don't like, don't fit or can't fix.  So...now what?  I still have more than I need and dressing in the morning hasn't gotten any simpler - everyday I stare at the closet and think I'll just wear a Tshirt (or, more realistically, I'll just stay in my pajamas until I go to work).

So I re-read the Project 333 site last night and a little light went off.  I don't have to get rid of anything!  I just have to chose to only wear whatever for a short period of time.  It's like the perfect way to see if I actually like the DKNY Cozy or if blazers are good for me and I'm not just chasing some trendy pipe dream.

I feel like I hold onto certain pieces because I like the idea of them, but I don't wear them very often.  If I force myself to try wearing something regularly, then I can decide if its earned a spot in my closet or not.

I like how the rules allow for PJs, work uniform, and workout stuff to be counted separate from the total 33 items - BUT you can't wear them for anything but their expressed function (ie. working out).  This will hopefully help my "Tshirt Just Because" attitude.

I won't bore you with my entire list but I will say that I chose:

  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • 3 pieces of jewelry
  • 2 purses
  • 4 other accessories (scarves, sunglasses, hat)
  • 5 bottoms   
  • 2 coats
  • 3 dresses
  • 4 sweaters
  • 7 tops

The rest of my clothes/shoes/accessories got put into a nice little box that went into the kid's closet and will hopefully not see light again until October.  I understood that if I wanted to add something new I would just need to switch something else out - but I think this would be better enforced if by "take it out" that means "give it away".