Should I Continue Blogging?

Its been challenging to keep up with blogging lately, especially since both of my main cameras are broken (and lets be real - its not as fun to post if there are no pictures). With my current thoughts being focused on how to simplify my life, I keep coming back to whether or not I want to continue writing this blog.

I have thought about starting a blog that is focused entirely on the boys immersion education experience, not only to give my family better insight into what we are doing, but also to spread awareness about a relatively small program. Wouldn't I rather focus my energies on that pursuit rather than come up with content here (I can only write so much about recipes and doctors appointments).  The point is, if this is no longer fun, should I continue to do it?  I find that I'm usually just stressing out about updating it so my mom doesn't think I've dropped off the face of the Earth.

Looking back, I'm actually really happy that I blogged when my children were small.  Being able to reference those videos and memories has been such a gift. I've spent more evenings than I care to admit just watching videos of 2 year old Ikaika talking. However, moving forward and looking at what is the best way for me to manage my hobbies, I'm not certain that this one makes the cut. Most of my family already has access to these photos via some other social media (and the one who doesn't, I wouldn't mind personally contacting more often anyway).

Ah well, all things to consider moving into the new year.  Until then, enjoy one of the boys favorite holiday songs:


Seriously?  How cute is this child?!


Simple Holidays

This year I have been trying to simplify my holidays. Which means I've been trying not to try so hard. It is so easy to get swept away in all the chaos and expectation. This is something I've been actively thinking about for at least 3 years, and this year is the first time I've felt the fruits of those labors.  I finally feel like I am making progress and it feels so good. I can tell that I am more relaxed and less stressed out. I am enjoying Christmas again.
  • I decorate the day after Thanksgiving with one tub of decorations. They aren't fancy but they do feel festive. The one thing I need to edit from that?  Elf-on-a-Shelf.  I started doing this when I first became a mom and I felt the responsibility of making (forcing?) holiday traditions. I never remember to move it, I hate thinking about it everyday, and life would be just as good without it.  My kids, however, seem to at least appreciate Elfie's presence so perhaps we will keep him around for another year or two. His days are numbered, mwahahaha!
  • Despite not sending out legit Christmas cards for almost 3 years, it somehow always ends up on my to-do list.  With social media making picture sharing easy, I don't think there is as deep of a need for photo updates each year. Not to mention photo paper isn't recyclable and color printing on cardstock is expensive. I need to let holiday cards go. If I send them (esp to people who don't have computers like my mom-in-law) then great, but they shouldn't be something I obsess over come Nov/Dec.
  • Gifts is an issue that might never get resolved for me. My family absolutely won't participate in a "draw a name" exchange so that pretty much leaves me doing things the old fashioned way unless I want to take a stand against what should be an accepted norm (wouldn't be the first time, but I don't want to always be the squeaky wheel). Besides, I like sending gifts. I like knowing that they can physically hold something and open it and know that we were thinking of them and miss them. So I'm a bit torn about the whole thing. The good news is that our inner-family gift giving strategy has been so successful, I credit that change with single handedly turning around the holiday stress.
I've been captivated by The Center for a New American Dream and their Simply the Holidays series.  Everyday on Facebook there is some new and inspiring pearl of wisdom. Not only does this facilitate new ideas for how to relax and enjoy my friends and family, it also gives the encouragement and validation I need to forge ahead against the grain. 


Christmas Pageant 2013 - Parker Ranch Tree Lighting


Alo Kehau performed at the Parker Ranch Tree Lighting ceremony, held at Richard Smart's house (PR historic homes). I'll liken this to a "Christmas pageant". Ikaika is a very sweet little guy and was clearly very embarrassed about singing in front of a roomful of strangers. He mentioned more than once that he was nervous about laughing in front of everyone. His enthusiasm as an entertainer waxed and waned throughout the show and even throughout the songs. I tried to catch moments where he was actually singing on video.

Interesting factoid about Richard Smart.  He used to give a present to every single child in Waimea.  Obviously, that isn't possible now, but a lot of the old-timers do remember this generosity from when they were children.  Pretty incredible guy.  Plus, his house has the most impressive 360 degree view in town!  Everywhere you turn, awesomeness.

Probably should have had him blow his nose when I took him to pee before the show.  In a way, I'm thankful that I caught this on film.  This video is most definitely coming out again at graduation!


Belated Thanksgiving Update

I should probably stop making lame excuses for the lack of regularity in my blog updates.  I'm working to cut extraneous activities out of my life, but writing/keeping my family in touch with what's going on in our lives isn't one of them!
Our Thanksgiving was fantastic. We went over to Kekoa's godfather's house and had a potluck feast with some of our closest friends on the island. The big joke this year is that all three families made some variation of sweet potatoes. Of course, there was football and cute crockery, like so:

it was full of stuffing, which made it even better in my eyes!

 The boys were playing all day and long into the night. After the football game was finished and the men all went outside to congregate in the garage, we snuggled up on the couch and watched Harry Potter. I feel into a deep but temporary food coma.
Check the current state of Ikaika's hair.  He still refuses to cut it and, to be honest, it looks really cool. But now its starting to get into his eyes and he's been wearing headbands lately to compensate.  Mr A is fine with that (better than barrettes) and his teachers have all started calling him Karate Kid.  I like that he seems to have not only inherited my thick, wavy locks - but also my fearless sense of personal style.


White Road Forest Hike

On Sunday we took a little time to enjoy nature and hike the Kohala Forest Preserve (or whatever its called).  It was cool and dry - amazing conditions that made our walk so much more comfortable.  I always feel a bit of mystery and reverence walking through the Waimea watershed area.  I'm sad that the Waikoloa River no longer reaches the coast and freaked out by the degree to which invasive ginger has taken over the forest.  However, I can't help but fall in love with the fresh air, muddy path, and non-stop creativity that results from playing with broken sticks. 

This is the view that awaited us at the end of the trail, which pops out in the back of Waipio Valley:

the height actually made me a little queasy
waterfalls aren't falling - but are no less spectacular
And who are these good-looking fellas?  The hike took a good three hours round trip and the boys were troopers.  I regret that I didn't bring along a compass and realized too late that our first-aid kit needs to be restocked.  Lots of advil but absolutely nothing to clean a scrape!    

"shaka, boys!" - I get nose picking from one and whatever this is plus evil laugh from the other!
"wish I had a hang glider..."


Black Friday Boycott

Every once in awhile I like to get on my high horse and be ultra critical of something outside of my immediate family..  Today that will be the institution of Black Friday.

Boo!  I really can't stand the whole concept of Black Friday.  Even when I was scouring sales ads (erroneously believing that this was a good way to be frugal), something about this tradition didn't sit right with me.  Consider the following:
  1. The proximity to a holiday - namely, THANKSgiving.  I'm not the first and I won't be the last to notice the irony in that. 
  2. The fact that it now starts on Thursday, not Friday.  This was really the straw that broke the camel's back for me.  Once the frenzy took over an actual family-oriented holiday I knew something was seriously wrong and that I could no longer justify my participation.
  3. The deals aren't that great.  Black Friday is for the "lazy saver" If my grandparents taught me anything its to look for savings all year long. There is no reason to wait in line for 3 hours outside of Target just to get $30 off a camera.  A coupon and/or refurbished model exists somewhere (and it might even be a better deal). 
  4. Corporate big-wigs now want to guilt us into participating.  I read an article today where Black Friday Boycotters were called out for basically bringing down the economy.  Not shopping for one day is the problem? Seriously? If that is true, that is a terrible economic model!
  5. Black Friday is more of an event than a practicality.  It's recreational shopping.  It's loading up in the van with your best girlfriends and, I dunno, running around like a lunatic in WalMart.  Can't you just listen to holiday records and play backgammon together instead?  This would end up saving you more money than Black Friday ever will because it will spare you from impulse buys you don't actually need (everyone is guilty of this, including myself...sales are a blackhole for reason)
Well, that's my little mini-rant for the week.  I'm making 24 Hour Salad for Thanksgiving, which we will be spending with Mr A's cousin.  I plan to stuff myself silly and slip into a football coma by 3pm!




I just finished ordering the smallest size gi (martial arts uniform) known to man for Koa.  Mr A has been regularly training them on Thursday nights while I attend parent meetings at the school and we both feel that its time to make this activity official.
There are few things that make me so proud as to watch my husband intentionally pass on the knowledge that was given to him.  Perhaps this is the most joyful and narcissistic part of parenting, where we can ensure that we live on through our children by teaching them what we know.  What is our family, after all, if it can not be defined by certain trades and skills.
Martial arts is the greatest gift, the most important life skill, that was given to my husband by his father.  It has shaped the man he is today and he becomes a better person as he continues to grow through this discipline.  Kajukenbo is a way of life.  It is a responsibility of vital importance that Mr A is able to pass this onto his children.
Of course, this requires a certain level of self-discipline from me.  Kajukenbo - especially the hard-style that is the tradition of his family - requires growth through pain and learning to push past a certain level of discomfort in order to develop personal boundaries.  This may require stern looks, austerity and physical hardships.  It can be fun, but its not all fun.  There are no trophies, no team dinners, no competitions - but I believe it is worthwhile. 
Mr A knows how hard to push the boys and he knows how to love them even when he is not being loving.  We both want the same thing: to have the assurance that our children know how to protect themselves.  That they are able to recognize and listen to their instincts.  That they are strong in their spirit, mind and body.  Martial arts is a vehicle for all these skills and more. 
I'm just thankful that I'm not home to watch it because my "mommy rescue reflex" would go into overdrive at the first sound of tears!  They will get more out of it if I'm not there and it becomes something that they share with him, which is the way it should be.

I just hope that Mr A reciprocates my attitude when it comes time for piano lessons!


Relativity vs Sounding like an Idiot

I drank a Red Bull at 5pm, which in retrospect was a terrible decision.  I've now been sitting up for the past 40 minutes and skimming through the first 6 months of this blog.  Also a not-so-well thought out plan.

If I can't be perfect, then I wish to be a hermit, never having to interact with others.  That way I won't need to fuss over relationships and I can just think and create and be without interference or the resulting insecurities of dealing with the outside world.  My mother thinks this is why I gravitate toward writing. 

A commencement speaker at my alma mater once said
 "Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don't learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us."
And I think this speaks to me somehow, especially when I begin to feel insecure about taking a stand on things that later turn out to seem ridiculous, even to myself.  As I grow older and my desire/capability to peace-keep and pacify increases, I not only abandon my own opinions, I devalue them.  But seeing everything as relative is sort of a cop-out, right?

I've set up camp on sides of arguments that have later seemed immature, ignorant or just plain wrong.  But I cared about something.  I mean, I cared about it enough to express a concrete thought and a definitive opinion.  And that is a good thing, to care enough that it is worth formulating some sort of conclusion.  To think about what is happening around me.  Even if I am wrong, its good practice and it creates space for a productive dialogue (possibly influencing someone else to formulate a better articulated stance).  And, if I acknowledge that the process is flawed, I have the ability to be objective to whatever degree and see my own opinions as a gray area on a vast continuum of morality.
It would be too much to hope that I will always (ever) come off as intelligent, wise or even informed - but I am proud of myself that in whatever small way, I continue to be interested in what's happening around me.  I don't agree with everything I said 5 years ago, but I do think its cool that I, for whatever reason, felt compelled to express those thoughts.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have two sick children who will be needing my attention at 7am.  Time to force sleep!  


Careful Editting

The next step for my novel is editing.  I need to sit down and give it a really thorough look.  I need to be judicious, objective and downright cruel, willing to cut even my most favorite scenes for the betterment of the piece as a whole.  I must evaluate my work with a specific end goal in mind and remove whatever does not contribute to that goal, adding in new content as necessary.

See where I'm going with this?   Can you guess the metaphor coming next?

My book is my life.  It is a reflection of my life, it is the primary goal in my mind right now, and it is a little microcosm of where I am going with goal-setting in general.  I need to edit my life.  If I can do it to my writing, I can certainly sit down and evaluate how I spend my time during the day, cutting out the unnecessary.  I know that doing this will benefit my life and make it stronger, the same way this exercise will improve my book. 

Like those paragraphs that are pretty and poetic but make no sense in the scope of the story, I have a difficult time chopping fun/seemingly worthwhile activities from my workload.  Even if those activities distract me from my overall life goal. 

How do you constructively edit your work/life?


Run for the Dry Forest 2013 10K

ran up and down this "hill"
I should probably note that my friend who took second also had time to take all these scenic photographs!
 I like the Run for the Dry Forest at Puʻu Waʻawaʻa (Kona side).  The weather is always nice and the monies go to support preservation of native plants and animals.  Plus the awards are tiles, handmade by the organizer's wife.  So when two of my former coworkers/current friends suggested we run it this year, I was totally game!

At the very last minute, I decided to just suck it up and do the 10K with everyone else.  I was very intimidated because the elevation change is over 1,100 ft and I'm not known for fantastic cardio when it come to uphill hiking.  However, I am super happy that I did it.  The first 3 miles, which were uphill, were awful, but the last three felt crazy fast in comparison.  I paced behind my friend on the right and we made it through together.  Friend on the left took second overall (!!!) so she was obviously nowhere near us.

I took 63 out of 78 overall (so I didn't finish last - hooray!)
and 30th out of 40 women 
I didn't even finish last in my age division (8 out of 12) so, really, what more could I ask for?

My time was 1:29:56 - and you better believe that I was full-out sprinting to get across that finish line before 1:30!  Not bad for my second 10K ever.


5 Year Old Birthday Boy

Five years old now.  In his first year of kindergarten.  Favorite book is an encyclopedia about sharks.  Favorite food is chicken katsu (which we will be having for dinner).  Birthday cake request was carrot cake with cream frosting and blueberries on top.  Told me the other day that he wants to be a writer when he grows up, "but only in Hawaiian". 

How fortunate that Ikaika's birthday this year fell on a no-school Friday!  Over breakfast, we looked at his baby scrapbook and marveled at how much he has grown/still looks the same.  Then we went to the 4-D movie theater and saw "Sea Monsters", which was super cool.  Thanks Aunty Beth.

 After, we enjoyed some mochi ice cream - so delicious on this hot, hot October afternoon!  The guava flavor was...indescribable in its awesomeness.  Thanks Granny.

After, we went to the black sand beach and just enjoyed the cool, clear ocean water.  Thanks God. 

I got a resnap of a picture from 5 years ago.

Our first son.  I just love him SO much.


I Am Forbidden to Publish This

Mr A asked me to NOT publish any of the poetry he writes for me (which he does compose on occasion).  Since I am going through some of my old papers today, I thought I would put a few of my most favorite lines here - you know, for posterity.  Its not the whole poem, so I donʻt think this is really cheating.

"My heart rate doubles with the anticipation
of being in our present combination...
...The Love that I feel,
is most certainly ideal.
with an intimate courage,
of an everlasting marriage."

Isnʻt that sweet?  I mean, seriously...wouldnʻt you have said "real" instead of "ideal", too?  His craftiness blows me away sometimes!  Sure, "intimate courage" sounds wonky, but if you let that one simmer for a minute, it starts to feel darn near profound.

I should make a point to mention here that I used to write my husband poetry often, especially when we were dating.  However, I made the mistake of completely blowing his socks off with the very first one.  I set the bar too high and I have no idea what it is that he likes so much about that particular poem.  Nothing since has been met with a comparable level of enthusiasm and it kind of kills my creative drive.  I do, however, write him letters, which he enjoys.  Far less artsy-fartsy than poetry, but still a nice surprise.    


Grandma Olive's Dress

I know I'm depressed and overwhelmed lately because I've recently become obsessed with my wardrobe.  Project 333 was a draw (quit a month early, but got rid of almost 1/3 of my stuff) and I've since been scouring Ebay and thrift stores to build the perfect collection of clothing...as if such a thing even exists. 
When I start getting focused on material things, especially something as ridiculous as clothing, I know there is something lacking elsewhere in my life.  I probably have spread myself too thin and now I am in a state of anxiety/paralysis realizing that there is no way I can get it all done.  So, instead, I spend hours and hours searching Ebay for items like "maxi skirt" or "puffer vest" in particular colors or patterns, holding onto the belief that these things will not only round out my wardrobe but somehow settle the chaos in my life.  Its silly, actually.

Anyhow, I've been hunting for the perfect long dress or skirt.  The other night I remembered that I still have the dress my grandmother wore to my parents wedding.

Nevermind that I clear her by nearly a foot, check out this dress!  My first thought was to modify it/modernize it somehow since the colors are about right for my closet.  Then, I realized that would just be adding another heap of steaming "gotta do it" on what is already turning into a formidable pile of worry.  Besides, the ruffle at the bottom is gargantuan, which means there is a ton of fabric and the dress itself is quite heavy.

But this material (however polyester it may be) is totally vintage, which I dig.  The original thought was to make purses for the women in my family out...perhaps that will have to be its final destination after all. 


Happy Belated 3rd Birthday Celebration, Kekoa

It took awhile, but we finally made it to Hilo.  Huge mahalo to everyone who contributed some moo-lah to Kekoa's birthday fund.  We got a year-long family membership to 'Imiloa Astronomy Center aka THE MOST INTERESTING PLACE EVER! 
We started with a show in the planetarium called Seven Wonders (about the 7 wonders of the old world, of which only one is still standing...Mr A calls shenanigans) then headed out to see the canoes which had been brought up for the Wayfinding & Navigation Festival.  Last, we blasted through the exhibits inside.  The boys were so overwhelmed with the newness of it all, they were just running around and touching everything.  Maybe next time they will take a moment to like, I dunno, actually read/listen/do some of it.
Something I LOVE about 'Imiloa is that all of their exhibits are in both English and Hawaiian.  Ikaika was pumped to see a giant picture of his school principal on one of the displays (the exhibit was about Hawaiian education).  I'm excited to see every single planetarium show on the menu.    


Sick Days

Last week the boys both got sick but on separate days.  Koa ran a fever one day, which we happily burned off while drinking coconut water and watching Pokemon.  Ikaika came home from school and sat quietly with him watching TV (unheard of on a school night but I didn't have the courage to turn it off).  Two days later, I got a call to pick up Kaika from school because he was running a fever.  When I got there all the kids were eating lunch outside and he was laying on the floor in the middle of the classroom.  I could hear his snoring from the doorway.  He hit the couch hard and slept all afternoon.  Koa, rather than being quiet and cooperative, ran around like a maniac and did everything in his power to make the afternoon as miserable as possible.  I felt awful - I wanted to care for Ikaika, but I ended up mostly ignoring him because I was dealing with Koa's madness! 
Kaika is a very tough kid.  When I was small (and even now that I'm an adult), when I threw up I would panic and cry.  He just puked and said in a quiet voice, "I kind of feel better."  People always told me that my own child's vomit wouldn't bother me (I usually get all queasy), and I guess its true!  Maybe its because Mr A wasn't home, but I just cleaned him up and moved on like a champ.  It was a total breakthrough in my parenting.  Then again, I also used the television to placate my children for almost 4 days straight so they would just sit still and let their bodies rest.  Didn't think that would ever happen either - busting through the barriers between fantasy mom and reality mom!


Aloha Paikau 2013


I was planning to blog about something else today but when I uploaded the videos from my camera, I saw that not only did Mr A get Ikaika to the Aloha Week Festival Parade on Saturday (while I was at the Hawaii Women of Purpose conference in Kona), he also TOOK PICTURES!  That man never stops surprising me.  I love him.

Check out that sign!  We are such a legit kula!
Ikaika's kumu (teacher)
he was practicing his chants all week!


Opposites Attract

Oh man, I don't spend nearly enough time on here complaining about my husband.

As I was making my lunch and searching the cupboard for something to sprinkle on my halibut before subjecting it to the steamer, I came across this...


Why, Husband, must you shop at Costco for seasonings?  Was it the "organic" label that immediately hooked you, rendering you helpless to resist the temptation of buying a JUG of mystery spice?  What is this stuff anyway?!

This drives me bonkers for multiple reasons.

  1. this has been in the cabinet for over 2 months and we, predictably, have barely put a dent in it.  
  2. I have never bought "no salt seasoning" in small quantities (ie. we don't regularly consume this product, let alone plow through a gallon of it at a time) 
  3. I have no idea what to do with this.  
  4. even if I did, I guarantee we would get sick of it long before we could see the bottom of the container.  
  5. it takes up prime real estate in my very modest pantry!

So I sprinkled this on my fish and shook my head at the hilarity of my husband's logic.


ʻAkolea - a Cloud Forest Watershed

Sunrise over Waimea town
Waikoloa River
On Saturday we hiked up Pu'u Ao'aowaka - the hill that is directly in front of our living room window (for those who have been here - its the hill next to the one with the trees in the shape of a "P").  Even though I look at this hill everyday, I realize now that it is a stranger to me.  We met for the first time this weekend.

Behind that hill is 'Akolea, a beautiful and rare cloud forest watershed, which supplies fresh water to Kohala.  Families from the school went up to kill the invasive ginger species, which is taking over the forest and, of course, causing all kinds of problems.  For the first time in a long time, I really appreciate how delicate an ecosystem truly is.  Even the Waikoloa River, which used to flow over the dam (built in WWII), is now so clogged with invasive plant life that it no longer reaches down to the ocean.  With that chain broken, 'o'opu and 'opai (goby fish and shrimp) can't complete their life cycle in these waters anymore. 

I don't quite know how to explain it, but I'm thankful that my children are being exposed to this at such an early age.  Native Hawaiians, simply by nature of who they are, are environmentalists.  Its not a label - its just an alignment of core values.  My children are being taught that when we take care of the land, we are really taking care of ourselves.  We don't exist outside of nature, we cooperate within it.  I hope they become familiar with all the hills and valleys of their homeland, instead of passively enjoying them from a window.


Take the Time to Make the Time

Today I ran across a picture on my friend's Facebook page (thanks, Cort) that spoke the truth in big capital letters: STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY!

Oh man, how I struggle with that.  I whip up a mile long to-do list everyday.  I want other people to look at my life and think "how does she do it?" rather than "what does she do all day?" But is that making me happy or making my life more fulfilling?  The most honest answer would probably be no.

This year was supposed to be a nice transitional year.  Things are more stable now than they have been in a long, long time.  In April, I dreamed about what I would do with all this free time.  Write another book.  Give Ikaika piano lessons.  Maybe get more involved at the school, take some time to really learn Hawaiian.

Unfortunately, as it is, I spend a lot of time thinking about the pile of "things" I have yet to do.  I feel obligated to keep busy, but the truth is, someone else should coach the soccer team.  And someone else can attend the seminar in Kona.  By not jumping on every opportunity that presents itself, I am actually allowing other people to assume a leadership role that might change their lives.

Someday I hope to find the correct level of 'busy'.  I hope to be active and involved while still having enough free time to focus on the moments that matter in between.  Maybe all I need is an attitude adjustment?


Authentic Assessments and Immersion Schools

The Hawaii Tribune Herald came out with this article last week, which shares island-wide school rankings under the new Strive HI performance standards. According to the Deputy Superintendent, Hawaii State DOE is

"valuing more than just test scores, we are taking a comprehensive look at the successes and challenges of schools...this wealth of data will allow educators, school leaders, parents and the community to have meaningful conversations about what is working and where they need to improve to prepare all students for college and careers." 
 The only problem? Stand outs in the bottom tier ("Priority Schools") include not one but two language immersion schools - Ka Umeke Kaeo and Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki. I can't speak for Ka Umeke Kaeo, but I can certainly testify on behalf of Nawahi since my child is a student there.

The DOE claims that they are looking at more than test scores, but almost all of their information (including student tracking) is coming from the Hawaii State Assessment (HSA) test.  Aside from that, they are looking at graduation rates, which don't apply to an elementary school, and SIG grants, which Nawahi doesn't receive.  So, in reality, these rankings are based solely on the results of standardized testing.

Despite the fact that the Native American Language Act (NALA) is supposed to protect indigenous peoples right to use their own language for education and Hawaii is unique in that Hawaiian is an official and legally recognized language of the state (along with English) - the Hawaii State DOE is still demanding that children who are educated in Hawaiian be tested and ranked using English assessments!  Its not only absurd, its illegal.

And how does this false and prejudicial information help us exactly?  How are we having "meaningful conversations" with immersion schools when this blatant disrespect for the validity and viability of their unique educational environment is published in a worldwide forum?  Is the DOE honestly taking a "comprehensive look" at these schools when they choose to ignore Nawahi's graduation rate (100% - far above state average) and college attendance rate (80% - also well above average)?  Not to mention the wealth of curriculum based measurement (CBM) data the school can provide, but the DOE chooses to ignore.

Historically, the parents of Nawahi have boycotted the HSA.  However, the process to opt out can be complicated and even one test score will become a reflection of the entire schools performance.  Even if the students, who are not explicitly taught English (as a foreign language) until 5th grade, were to take the assessment, the content would be inappropriate, as these students are taught to view the world, including the world of academics, from a uniquely Hawaiian perspective.

The consequences of this article stretch far beyond parental outrage.  False representations such as this can cause a community to lose faith in these schools, whereby the schools lose funding and enrollment.  Furthermore, to discount Hawaiian medium education as somehow failing its students, when in fact the exact opposite is true, is a disservice to Native Hawaiian families.  According to UHH Professor Pila Wilson, "the outcomes of such invalid and discriminatory assessments subject a school community, such as that of Nawahi, to punitive actions by the state and federal goverment...including a change in curriculum, dismissal of staff, school restructuring, closing of a school, and takeover of the school."

The DOE used to offer a Hawaiian language version of the test, but the translation was very poor quality with numerous errors, misspellings, etc. (the USDE took out a craigslist ad in Washington DC for a translator).  The schools would like to see a comparable assessment in Hawaiian language that tests similar academic skills but is based on Hawaiian curriculum, however neither the state nor the schools have the funding to create such a thing.  Clearly, a solution for authentic assessment needs to be found so Hawaiian-speaking educators, parents, school leaders and communities can benefit from the same meaningful conversations being offered to their English-speaking neighbors.  The Department of Education needs to stop marginalizing Hawaiian medium schools and begin finding fair and viable solutions that benefit everyone involved.  Erroneously besmirching a schools reputation in the daily newspaper is not a good way to start.


Project 333 and My Wardrobe Revelations

This new round of Project 333 isn't going quite as smoothly as before.  I've learned 3 things thus far:
  1. My camera phone takes pretty low quality photos for boasting such high megapixels.  Clearly, I need a flash and something above a 5 if I am going to replace my trusty little handheld for good.
  2. Post-pregnancy hormone imbalance did not claim the bulk of my hair (hooray!), which makes the  heavy bang grow out painfully mopish (boo!)
  3. I probably only like two thirds of the clothes I picked and some of the things I want to like best, things that were my staples last round (american apparel le sac dress) I am intending to wear then skipping over - every. single. day.  Logic would demand that I just Ebay the darn thing already, but...I don't know.  I'm in love with the idea of it. 


Keeping a Modern Household (aka Housekeeping for Dummies)

I want to begin this post by pointing out that I, like most women, wrestle with the concept of being a homemaker.  I assign more value to my work outside the home because I associate that work with a paycheck.  But I find more creativity and fulfillment within the walls of our home.  I think both can be done properly, but it's most important to have a good balance between the two (never forsaking one or the other).

Life for a modern homemaker has never been more polarized.  In some ways it is exponentially easier and in others it is excessively (sometimes unnecessarily) complicated. 

I can't image what it was like for my grandmother to be a homemaker.  I have unlimited access to a treasure trove of other women's ingenuity via the internet.  I don't have to put effort into friendships in order to glean helpful tips from experienced mothers.  If I want to know how to cook dry beans in my crock pot (can I freeze them?), I simply turn to Google and read what hundreds of other moms have chosen to share with the worldwide collective of homemakers.  My grandmother either had to find someone who had done it or figure it out through trial and error.

Pinterest is great for stealing ideas from people who are more creative.  I can find instructions for how to cook, fix, clean, build and make just about anything.  I can even find how to discipline my children, bestow values upon them, and record their memories in tidy little scrapbooks.  The high-quality professional pictures inspire at best and, at worst, breed an unhealthy level of competitive one-up-manship between online moms.  However, I am willing to risk it (understanding that most of these photos are like advertisements and are meant to attract/mislead/intimidate) because I don't want to fut around with my crockpot and ruin 10 batches of beans before getting it right!

One downside to this technology is that modern homemakers can feel overwhelmed by the amount of choices.  The virtual clutter begins to fill our heads and we are crippled by the paralysis of indecision.  We end up pinning 250 DIY projects for the house and end up making almost none of them.  This usually leads to a sense of guilt and/or shame, as if we aren't good enough because we can't do it all.  A healthy ratio is about 80:20.  80% of the time is spent doing/making something.  20% of the time is dedicated to thinking/planning.  I find that whenever this ratio gets out of whack (when I spend 5 hours looking at knitting patterns online but only 20 minutes working with actual yarn) I feel most distressed and negative toward keeping my house.

Being self-sufficient and maintaining a high functioning, clean and lovely home is a blessing and a virtue.  Although no one is going to assign any monetary value to my work, I still find it worthwhile and am proud to see what comes to fruition at the end of the day.  I rely heavily on Pinterest, but am open to hearing about any other sites that might make my life easier...   


Ikaika's First Day of Kindergarten

Today was Ikaika's first day of school.  Yep, that's right.  I haven't even fully recovered from the trauma of delivering the kid and I'm already sending him off to kindergarten.  To be cliche - it goes by so fast.

It was very clear that Ikaika has been out of school for awhile.  The language was slow-coming today, he seemed uncomfortable to the point of embarrassment at times and was invariably preferring to speak in English whenever any adult would allow him to do so.  But, he made it through the piko (morning gathering) and assembly with no major issue.  

Even appropriate standing-in-line behavior came back to him after awhile.

One thing that Nawahi (the main school in Hilo where we went today) does that I just love is after piko all the teachers and staff stand in a line and greet each of the children individually.  This is standard piko stuff and part of Hawaiian cultural practice, which I have seen before, many times, on a smaller scale at our own school in Waimea.  However, today there were so many people that it reminded me of "pump handle", a tradition at my college where the entire school, students, teachers and staff, greet each other at the beginning of the school year.
Seriously, can you think of a better way to start your year than getting a hug/kiss from every teacher?  This picture is Ikaika with the principal.    

We took a tour of their amazing campus, complete with a beautiful garden and...pig pen!  Enormous, noisy sows.  But, I guess there has to be something to cook in that high-tech imu (pit oven)

It was just a wonderful day and I'm so excited to see how this school year goes.  Here in Waimea, we have many, many options for where and how to educate our children.  Today really drives home for me that we have made the right choice for our family.


Project 333 - Round 2

The 33 winners!

My friend recently proposed that we both complete a round of Project 333.  I'm super glad she suggested it because I have a ton of new clothes!  Trips to the mainland always mean deals at Goodwill and sister clothes swaps, which equal an onslaught of new garments that might get lost in the shuffle.  Spending 3 months wearing some of these new pieces will help me decide if I actually love them...or if I just got caught up in the fun moments of our trip (sister swaps usually include beer!)

I will be posting my daily look on Instagram (daintydoughnuts) so my friend can critique each look - and probably scold me for whatever "mom pants" or "mom shoes" du jour.  ;)  Will black cords work in Hawaii?  Will they still be fun to wear after air-drying?  Only time will tell...let the Project begin!

clothes and shoes that didn't make the cut - packed up safe until November