Nature vs Science

Last week I went to an Arbonne party.  We did facials, snacked on healthy grub, and discussed my recent obsession with tiny houses.  It was super fun.

However, I couldn't quite figure out why I had been invited.  Not only am I flat broke, I avoid packaged and/or superfluous beauty products on principle.  Maybe it was just my charming personality?

The entire evening got me thinking about nature and science and how the two relate to us as consumers.  Perhaps my friends thought this product line would appeal to me because it was "safe, natural, and beneficial"  I don't doubt the quality of the products, but I began to wonder if I was the only one picking up on the looming irony.

Oftentimes companies (and Arbonne is not alone in this) will market how "natural" their products are as a way to entice us and earn our trust as consumers.  So, if we are looking at beauty products as part of a hierarchy (where certain products are better than others) rather than a spectrum (where they are all equal though different), it is safe to say that cosmetics closely derived from nature are the best of the best.  At least we as consumers believe that....right?

Apparently not.  I find it strange - ironic even - that women (self-proclaimed frugal women) are willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for cosmetics based on how safe and natural they are, when nature has already provided them with some of these very same products, most of which cost close to nothing!  If Arbonne is selling something that is so close to nature (with the implication that their products are near the top of the hierarchy), then shouldn't these women be tripping all over themselves to scoop up some coconut oil...at $20 a gallon no less?   Isn't coconut oil at the apex of the "safe, natural, beneficial" pyramid?

My theory is that the answer is just too obvious.  We have been conditioned as consumers to believe that the solution must come in the form technical innovation.  If we search long and hard enough there will be some miracle cream or powerful potion that will alleviate our anxiety.  The idea that we already have all we need to keep our skin, hair and nails healthy (and its most likely already sitting in our kitchen) is just too simple.  So simple, in fact, that it becomes difficult to accept as true.

It's time to take the mystery out of our daily lives.  There's nothing so magical about lotion, toothpaste, exfoliating stuff, etc.  Hell, simply drinking more water everyday will go miles toward improving the state of your superficial self!  I, for one, refuse to be tricked into thinking that I need a lab coat to formulate a high quality and effective beauty routine.


Easter Egg Hunting

This weekend we attended an Easter Egg Hunt and potluck at a friend's house.  It was a fantastic time of family, friends and food.  I prepared my Grandma Ethel's 24 Hour Salad.  Tasting the marshmallow/pineapple goodness took me right back to holidays spent at Granny and Grandpa's house in Olympia.
Ikaika is such a sweet and caring little guy.  The rules of the egg hunt were that every kid was to get at least a dozen eggs, so if you ended up with more you had to share.  Ikaika took the liberty to count both his and Koa's baskets then redistribute the wealth.  He walked around and found barren baskets to fill.  
He also, without any prompting (if you can believe it) took almost all of his candy and gave it away, asking each group he came to if they wanted the treats.  Most of the eggs were filled with stickers, small toys, dollars (?!), etc.  But I was still impressed when he parted so easily with the sweets, explaining to us that "candy makes you weak."
Besides, I suspect that he really wanted to eat the cheesecake inside ;)  

Happy Easter!  May the Lord continue to bless you and your family with the endless bounty of happiness.


Hiking Into Waipio Valley

view from the top

view from the bottom

After 4 years, we finally hiked down into Waipio Valley!  It was spectacular and scary (25% grade) and awe inspiring in the end.  As you can see from the picture of the mangled car, it's 4-wheel drive ONLY!  No cheating on this one.  We ate a picnic lunch, the boys frolicked on the black sand beach, and we even managed to get a ride up in the back of an acquaintance's truck.  Lucky thing...the people coming up looked super miserable!  
Activities like these might just persuade me to consider a second (more rugged) vehicle.  


Summit of Mauna Kea

It's Spring Break all week long!  Today we woke up early and watched the sun rise from the summit of Mauna Kea.  While there, we also checked out the telescopes.

 My children were very excited about the snow, but bitterly disappointed one they figured out that it wasn't the right quality for building snow men.  Ikaika threw a few fistfuls of ice in a feeble attempt to start a snowball fight.  God bless TV.

We drove to the summit using our 2-wheel drive and without stopping for the recommended length of time at the Visitor Information Station.  I can not recommend either of these decisions and, in retrospect, seriously question my "good judgement".  The altitude combined with lack of sleep/gallon of morning coffee almost made me puke.  Luckily the conditions couldn't have been better.  Very clear, very dry, very beautiful.

The views were amazing and the telescopes are incredible in both their size and grandeur.  We technically missed the sunrise, our view being obscured by a little hill.  By the time we made it to what I assume is the "sunrise lookout point", the sun had already popped up over the horizon.  Both Mr A and I agree that Hilo is probably a better place to watch the sunrise (and you don't have to worry about oxygen deprivation, so that's a bonus).

Phew!  That was a crazy early morning adventure.  To reward ourselves, we went to the other Mauna Kea in the afternoon for a little 80 degree boogie board action.  Only on Big Island!


Consumer Fever

It's been almost a week and my Honolulu consumer fever is finally breaking.  During my 3 days on O'ahu I was bombarded with consumption; at the malls, in the boutiques, on every street corner!  I thought I was pretty solid in my resolve to live simply, I thought that I loyally embraced minimalism/anti-consumerism.  But the lure of these temptations is so strong and so subversive.  I didn't even realize I had the fever until yesterday!

Immediately after my return, I was obsessed with getting a decorative dust plug for my smartphone.  I also felt a strong need for a new phone case (though my old one is still technically functional, it looks shabby and I'm bored with the design).  I added a few items to my Ebay watch list and let the thought simmer, a behavior I use to prevent myself from impulsively wasting money.

I even went so far as to briefly rekindle my long held predilection for Louis Vuitton bags!  Rationally, I already know that I don't want a LV purse.  If I want a well made, artisan crafted handbag, I can easily procure one from numerous reputable Etsy stores for about one-tenth the price.  Despite the argument that can be made for designer quality, I am fully aware that carrying a LV makes me a walking advertisement for a billion dollar corporation.  I neither agree with nor desire to support the image I am fully aware that logo projects.  

Well, be that as it may, I left Honolulu kind of thinking that maybe I did want a Vuitton someday afterall.  This is the power of consumerism.  It scares me to think that outside of the protection of my rural life - surrounded by people who don't care what I wear and removed from the convenience of accessible shopping - I can so easily fall for these empty desires.  Would I be able to maintain a simple lifestyle on O'ahu?  Or would I become sucked in by trends and passing fads?

So, I'm now laughing at myself for getting so worked up over a dust plug.  I tagged a couple on Etsy that I could at least argue support some humble artist.  However, the reality is that its a small piece of plastic, probably made in an unsustainable way, that will most likely end up in the landfill.  Isn't the consideration of all these aspects of our purchase what defines us as conscientious consumers?  They are super cute to look at and, though I like them, I think I will have to pass.


Weekend in Honolulu

An incredible toy made of wooden blocks connected by elastic.
Anyone know where to buy something like this?
I spent the past weekend with my good friend in Honolulu.  A delightful time full of coffee shops, beaches and Korean food.  Sometimes I forget how "country" we are here in Waimea...then I visit Oʻahu.  Mind blown.  I was told that I wear "mom pants", but I'm pretty sure they are just regular people pants.  Those city folk are terribly posh!
This particular friend and I met while studying abroad in Tokyo.  Not only was it during the height of our super annoying selfish young adult phase, it was also in the epicenter of the world's largest metropolis.  Our friendship was solidified through wild all-night karaoke rage-fests.  Now, we are 30 and have children.  The clock barely struck 9pm and we were both like "dude, let's just lay here and let our eyes be heavy."  We will probably never be as cool as we once were, but at least we know what the other is/was capable of!

Then I came home to this!  Ikaika wrote me this letter all by himself with absolutely no help or prompting from anyone.  Aww!  It says "Māmā, kēia koʻu māmā." ("Mom, this is my mom.")


Splashing in Puddles and Nice Weather

After a few (seemingly endless) weeks of terrible weather, we are finally enjoying a reprise.  The damp, misting rain, the bone-chilling wind, the bleary gray skies...it's like we never left the Great Northwest!  More than once I joked to Mr A, "I'm over this weather, let's move to Hawaii!"

Of course, we live in elevation and that is part of the deal.  Our sweeping mountain landscapes and cool breezes are welcome after a long day of baking in the beach-side sun.  The access can't be beat, Waimea has all the amenities of a thriving community (schools, library, shopping, jobs, etc).  But, man, it's tough to remember the good points when I'm shivering in my bathroom in the morning, watching puffs of my own breath while I brush my teeth!  (think low 60s/high 50s with no central heating)

 Then, as quickly as it comes, it passes.  And when the weather is right, this place is paradise.  Today Koa and I washed the car then enjoyed some mud puddle splashing in the warm, still sunshine.  ALOHA!


My Lil Baby

Koa is 120% not a baby anymore.  However, he will always be my lil guy.
He's so much smaller than his brother, both in comparison and in retrospect.  Lately I've been noticing that Ikaika is getting huge.  He's very sturdy, almost too heavy for me to comfortably pick up and carry.  Today, when dressing for school, I had to crane my head up just a little bit more than usual to talk with him.  Koa is still well below eye level and I can (and do) still carry him around the house.  Once his size surpasses my physical capabilities, I am going to have to get a puppy.

...and, on a side note, I finished the Harry Potter series.  I can officially have my life back!