Christmas Bowling!

We finally took the kids bowling.  And its still 2012!  I'll count that as a parenting WIN.

This guy came in third by only 3 pins!
Best part?  Waiting for the balls to pop out of the return chute, of course.
This rack thing is awesome and the bumpers go up automatically!

Getting closer to Nap Time
I kicked Mr A's A$$ at pop-a-shot!


Seiichi Furuya

Today I've been reading THIS ARTICLE

and it's fantastic.  I saw the show in Chicago over a decade ago and reading this, I might as well have seen it yesterday.  This is why I love art.


Merry Christmas

From our ʻohana to yours.


Have Yourself a Mele Little Kalikimaka

Xmas sunset in Kailua-Kona

 Epic Christmas FAIL yesterday :(

This year, my husband and I made the joint commitment to not buy our kids holiday gifts.  Instead, we decided to do a holiday activity.  Something special and memorable.  Like bowling.

I called the bowling alley two days ago and it sounded good...maybe a little too good?  In retrospect, I should have probed the hurried, overwhelmed counter lady for more details but I felt sorry for her when she said there was a line out the door.

Yesterday, we piled in the car and drove an hour to Kona only to find out that the bowling alley was closed for a holiday party.  In fact, as a rather embarrassed manager pointed out, they have been and will be closed every afternoon for the next two weeks.  Nice.

So...now what?

Pull-back truck and costume courtesy of Aunty Beth - both winners.

Luckily, we had opened a few gifts from my family earlier - included Kaika's highly coveted Iron Man costume (with mask), so the boys were only momentarily deterred by the tragic news of the bowling alley.  We took them to a park instead and, although I was down in the dumps, they were ecstatic!

Then we drove around and scoped out Christmas lights.  Not surprisingly, Hawaii doesn't have a huge selection of lit-up houses.  But, we did luck upon this impressive display in the Pualani subdivision.  It even had a fake snow machine.  Probably intimidated by the competition, the rest of the cul-de-sac was not decorated.  

By dinnertime, it was starting to feel like a National Lampoon movie.  Big Island Grill (the one and only place Mr A wanted to eat) was closed.  Of course.  The other place he likes on Alii Drive was boarded up (possibly out of business?!).  We tromped around Ali'i Drive with the holiday tourists and came upon Seiji's Sushi.  Awesome, tasty donburi.  Then picked up some hot chocolates and peppermint mochas for the drive home.

Even though we decided not to purchase gifts, the boys are anything but deprived.  Our families more than took care of that.  There was plenty of paper tearing and bow pulling under the tree.  The next task will be going through their books, making room for the new ones.

One of my favorite gifts this year came from Granny, who gave my mom and I the same book (Secret Life of Bees) so we can read and talk about it together.

Church clothes, from my cousin

Now, its just time to relax, watch some movies, sing some carols, eat some goodies.  We are going to hit up Children's Mass later this afternoon.  I am eternally grateful that I don't have to work for the next two days.


Leading the Way for Hawaiian Language

on the way to our first parent-teacher conference
Today we went to our very first parent-teacher conference.  Its like I'm a real grown up.

Overall, the feedback was really positive.  Ikaika is a very bright boy and though we are still unsure of what we are going to do next year (start kindergarten, stay in preschool, etc) we know that whatever we do he will be in good hands.  He is learning everything so fast - the teacher said his language skills are what she expects from a second year student at the end of the school year...and hes only been there 3 months.

I've been noticing lately that Ikaika is more aware of his language skills and realizing that not everyone speaks Hawaiian.  The other day we were taking cookies over to the neighbors.  I told him, "remember to say 'mele kalikimaka' and give auntie a hug, ok?"  He looked down and said, "I don't want to say that, she won't understand."

Of course, everyone in Hawaii knows what is 'mele kalikimaka' and our neighbor is from a prominent Hawaiian family and works for a Hawaiian organization, so I'm 100% sure she would understand and 90% sure she could knock around some simple ʻōlelo (language) with him.  But it was interesting to me that he had these reservations and I brought it up with his teacher this afternoon.

I love her response.

She said that most people in Hawaii know some basic Hawaiian and/or vocabulary, like Merry Christmas.  But now we are coming into the time for people to really embrace that and move forward.  They might not understand Hawaiian, but now is the time for them to learn.  Ikaika, being that he already demonstrates leadership skills, should be encouraged to be at the head of that movement.  We should be encouraging him to speak Hawaiian with the people of Hawaii, because that will push them out of that comfort zone.  That will force them to ask him questions about ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and he can then be the one who leads them into a deeper understanding.  Really, its part of his kuleana (responsibility) as a child raised in the language.

I think back on how I picked up the language I know.  Some I learned from a book, but most of it was just hearing the words and phrases used around me and accepting them as normal.  When I began dating Mr A, I listened to what he said, occasionally asked for definitions, but mostly just pieced these words - whether it was Filipino, Hawaiian or pidgin - into my lexicon.  It worked because Mr A never changed the way he spoke to reflect the fact that I wasn't local, he simple expected me to figure it out.  And I did.

So, I in turn believe that its important for my children to approach others with the expectation that they are capable of understanding.  I don't want him to go full-blown ʻōlelo with my mom (for example), but I do expect him to speak in a way that is natural for him and trust that she will ask if and when she needs help understanding him.  I want them to lead that shift in Hawaii, the movement toward a living Hawaiian language.


These are the Best Days of Your Life

Remember, these are some of the best days of your life.  You will miss these days dearly, you will cherish these memories.  You must stay in this moment and not be a hurry to move on to the next thing. You must have faith that the details and the stresses will work themselves out in due time.  You have to be willing to give up control and simply celebrate the gifts that have been given to you in this moment.  Ultimately, these people and times that are precious, not the things that are annoying or stressful or missing, will stick in your mind.  In 25 years, you probably won't even remember how you balanced that budget or how small things felt like a sacrifice - you will long for their little arms around your neck in the morning.  And you will be happy that you remember.


Allowing My Husband To Be A Father

When Ikaika misbehaves at school and we hear about it from the teachers, my husband brings down the hammer.  Clean the garage when you get home.  You will finish your dinner with no dessert.  No stories at night, straight to bed.  "Sorry you are having a rough night, next time you should listen to your kumu."  Even if they already gave him a consequence at school, the punishment at home is a five hour ordeal.

Last night, I was at work while my four year old was completing acts of penance.  I wonder if he will feel loved even if we are hard on him over seemingly minor offenses.  I worry that he will start to think of himself as unworthy or a failure, even though we both love him very much and think he's awesome.  I know that it will never be "fair" when compared with his brother.  As I steam milk and pull espresso shots, I am internally fretting over my baby's fragile little psyche.

It would be so easy for me to step in and tell Mr A how unreasonable he is being.  It would be even easier for me to intercept the information and then handle it myself, in a way that is more comfortable for me.  A stern look, a short talking to.  You know, reinforce whatever the teacher said.

But is that truly what is best for my children?

I might not agree with my husband's way of handling our son's behavior, but I don't have all the answers either.  We do have the same vision and values, because of this I should trust him.  He might be too hard on them, but that doesn't make his discipline unnecessary or even a detriment to their upbringing.

Last night I thought about all this and realized that my husband is going to have to be responsible for his choices and I will be responsible for mine.  I can show my children forgiveness and acceptance (sometimes too much) and my husband can set boundaries and high expectations (sometimes too high), somewhere in the middle will lie our collective "parenting style".  In many ways, the boys are very fortunate to get both.  Some kids only get one or the other.

I don't know what is going to "stick" with them.  And I can't predict how they will respond to their experiences.  One day, Ikaika might say that cleaning the garage shows we paid attention to him and he learned a lot.  Or he might say that he felt lonely and unloved.  There is no way of knowing how he will process all this.

All I do know is that when he gets in the car and says with big wet eyes "please don't tell Daddy." I have to resist the part of me that wants him to always be happy.  I have to do what is best for him and let him know that we work together and anything I know, Daddy will know, too.  Then I have to suck it up and let my husband be his father.


Mauna Lani Charity Christmas Tree Competition

Today I went down to the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel to set up Pūnana Leo's tree for the charity Christmas tree competition.
The way the competition works is each organization can enter a tree.  People vote for the best tree and each vote costs a dollar.  At the end of the month, the winner, second and third place trees get prize money and the voting proceeds are split among all the other participants.
So everyone wins.  But we want to win BIG! (raising money to build a classroom for the K-3 kids)

I designed the tree with 2 other parents and I have to say that this is really a marriage of all our ideas.  We wanted the tree to represent an ahupuaʻa, which is a pie-shaped division of land that runs from the mountains upland, all the way down to the sea.  The land was governed by a local chief and it was all very sustainable - which is totally my bag.
Rather than use some imported pine tree or plastic look-a-like, we built a wire frame and created a tree from ti leaves.  The red leaves are a lava field that creates a road from the upload to the ocean.  Even the leis are made from shore plants on the bottom and Waimea plants on the top.

Then we needed little kamaʻainas to live on our ahupuaʻa, so here they are!  These little angels are made from protea flowers.  I also can't take any credit for either the idea or the execution, but they sure are adorable!

There's a nice Mauna Kea snow cap up top, too.  The idea is that the tree will change as the month goes on.  The plants will dry up and change color, but we think it will still be beautiful.

See the grammatical error?  I do.
The two things I can take credit for are the display board (which, OF COURSE, has a misspelling right on the school motto.  Like, hello, do you know how to proofread before committing it to Sharpie?  If I had a brain I'd be dangerous) and the strings of lights.
ARG!  No one else seemed to care that they were two different colors and we really only wanted lights to help the tree stand out among all the other traditional sparklers.  But to me it feels like another nail in the "what the hell were you thinking" coffin.

My little fisherman, down in the makai.  And a last minute additional ornament from his brother!

Before we started I said this tree was either going to be totally awesome or a hot mess.  Nothing in between.  Final verdict is crazy awesomeness!  I still canʻt believe how well it all came together and we got one vote before it was even finished!  People kept coming up and saying how great it looks.  Cross your fingers!
Or, better yet, go down there with some dollars and vote!