Thursday, May 31, 2012

How Homeschooling is like the Circus Bus

In 2001 I had the enlightening experience of traveling through Southeast Asia with a couple of friends. The three of us started off in Bangkok, Thailand, then migrated south over the borders of Malaysia. Next we took a ferry across the Indian sea to Sumatra, Indonesia, where we spent about a week backpacking up to the Northern province of Banda Aceh.(this area was hit hardest by the tsunami in 2005, thank goodness I wasn't there)
As typical foreign travelers we stood out like sore thumbs amongst the Asian people. With our large backpacks full of clothing and supplies, and our passports close by our sides, everyone knew we were vacationers on holiday.

It was easy to spot us, but not so easy for us to evade the sales pitches made by almost every street seller in every town. Every time we got off a bus somewhere, we were literally swarmed by people trying to sell us their goods and wares. Among the street vendors there were also a handful of tour guides, ready to sell us the next bus tickets to our next location. Each tour company rivaled the next in comfort and luxury. They would surround us, each boasting of air conditioned seating, large, comfortable chairs, shaded windows, and American music playing in the overhead. They would hand us our tickets and promise us a very special price for our very special vacation, in the luxury of one of their large, expensive, tour buses.
We watched as the other tourists quickly bought up the seats, happily securing their place to the next city, with one of these fine tour companies. We knew those folks would sit content in their large chairs, watching the views pass by out their shaded, air conditioned windows. We had been on one of those buses, and knew how comfortable they could really be.

However, we felt that there must be another way.
After the first few days of this we began to feel annoyed that these companies would just assume that we wanted to ride their buses because we were foreigners. We started to question the monopoly they held over our traveling monies, as they had already predicted we would be purchasing their bus tickets. We felt hustled and slightly violated that just because we were American, they assumed we had loads of money to spend on fancy bus tickets. Last of all, we started to feel angry towards the swarms of sales pitches, and demanded they leave us alone to fend for ourselves.
We pushed passed the crowds on our next stop and began to search out other options. Many of the tour guides lied to us and told us there was no other way to travel, that we would be stuck there forever if we didn't buy their tickets. Some of them even told us that we were not allowed to ride the local buses because we were foreigners or there would be no room for us on other buses. However, we knew that there must be another way; that in a city full of thousands of people, there must be a local transit system in place. So we set out to find it.

By this time we were in Malaysia, heading south towards the ferry. We needed to get from North Malaysia to South Malaysia, which would take about a day. After asking around, we finally found the local travel system. It was a small building in the heart of the city, surrounded by the real working class peoples of Malaysia. We lined up with the local men, women, and children, and didn't bat an eye as everyone stared at us in wonder. We were intent to purchase tickets just like everyone else, and to travel in this country, just like everyone else.
We excitedly bought our tickets, and secured our places, happy that we had finally found a way out of the tourism monopoly. The tickets were 1/3 of the price of the fancy bus tickets, and promised to take us where we wanted to go. Little did we know how truly interesting this decision would turn out to be........

The local buses were crowded. Our backpacks were thrown onto the rooftops, and our bodies were stuffed into small, cramped seats below. Men and women were so tightly packed in that you had no room to move your arms. The men chain-smoked for hours on end, filling our lungs with clove cigarette smoke. The music was blaring loudly, louder than is comfortable for people packed so tightly together. There were also many, many stops along the way. A bus ride that promised 6 hours, took us close to 13 hours. We stopped so many times and for so many unknown reasons, we couldn't help but wonder at times, if we were going the right way? We also switched to different buses many times along the way, as we'd get off one bus, and onto a smaller bus, then onto a bigger bus, and so forth. At one stop we waited for nearly 3 hours for the next bus to come. I remember waiting in the dark at 4 in the morning, in the middle of a run-down town, with nobody around but us. When a bus finally came to get us, it was filled with Catholic children in uniforms, heading to school. It was baffling! But when we asked the bus driver if we were going the right way, he assured us our tickets were good.
There were chickens running down the aisles of another one of our buses. And yet another one of our buses was filled entirely of men who didn't stop staring at us three girls for the entire ride.
Although we found ourselves in some wild and awkward situations, I never once felt regret for choosing to travel the local bus system. It opened up my eyes to the real people and cultures of Southeast Asia, and the true experiences of humanity. Not only that, it gave us girls a lot to laugh about, as we happily looked forward to our next, wild adventure!

There was one bus ride that stood out to me the most, and still has a strong impact on me to this day. I like to refer to it as,"The Circus Bus", which started out in East Indonesia, taking us to Central Indonesia, near Lake Toba. The bus driver told us we'd arrive there in about 5 hours, no problem. I'm not sure why we believed him, seeing our history with local buses thus far, but we jumped aboard, nonetheless. We boarded at about 10 pm at night, and were looking forward to getting some sleep along the way.
I remember it was sweltering hot, in the middle of an Indonesian summer heat-wave. I found myself seated in an aisle seat, next to a man who was smoking clove cigs for the entire ride, just like everyone else, except there weren't hardly any windows open. After about an hour, my lungs started to burn, and I felt light-headed. The dirt roads were windy and bumpy, and I jolted upward out of my seat each time it bumped, as their weren't any seat belts. I felt packed in like a sardine, as I recall holding my large backpack between my knees in front of me, and my small purse with all my money and passport, clutched between my thighs. There was a man on the outside of the back of the bus who would yell, "Woooooo!," every time it was safe for our bus to pass another car. After several hours of hearing "Woooooo!" and swerving through the lanes, I started to feel sick to my stomach. I tried to shut my eyes and block out all the noise and chaos, but it only seemed to heighten my other senses, which were being attacked from every angle! My seat was broken, too! Where normally a seat might recline for an overnight ride, mine was forced into a slightly forward position. It was so very uncomfortable, to say the least, and was hurting my back!
We sat on that bus for hours and hours. My friends were in the backseats behind me, where I couldn't see or hear them. Every couple hours we'd stop for a pee break, only to get back onto the crazy Circus Bus. I remember wanting to scream, but I couldn't. (Although I don't think anyone would've heard me anyways) So I got out my travel journal and screamed with pen and paper. I wrote in barely recognizable scribble,"This Circus Bus is @#%*&## CRAZY!!"

As it turned out, that five hours turned into 6 hours, then 8 hours, then 10 hours, then 13 hours later, our bus dropped us off at our destination,Lake Toba. I was so sore, so exhausted, and so terribly sick and dizzy that I couldn't make sense of anything. We took the first room we could find. I remember us walking into a small area with 2 beds and a hard, white floor. I didn't wait to barter with my roommates about who gets a bed, I just collapsed on the floor and slept...... and slept, and slept, and slept, until 18 hours later I woke up.
When my blurry eyes finally opened I looked down to see I was covered in black ants, and I didn't know what day it was. I looked over to see that my traveling buddies were still asleep in their nice, soft beds. I decided to get up, walk outside, and find the lake we had hoped for. A short walk down a muddy trail, and I was by the waters edge. As I sat on a wall, thinking about all that had happened, a huge smile came across my face. I looked out over this tremendous volcanic crater, filled with sparkling, green water, and felt grateful for the journey it took to get to this amazingly beautiful place.
It was a really rough ride, filled with discomfort, confusion, and doubt, but in the end it all turned out wonderful. I could see how my mind had expanded and my heart felt fuller, because I had chosen to travel like this. It was a journey that I needed to endure to truly understand the depth of human experience. I learned that not everything in life is a comfy, fancy bus ride, and when we make choices to do things that seem harder and definitely different from the norm, we often find ourselves with a richer, more powerful, and more fulfilling experience.

Flash forward 10 years, we are homeschooling our 3 boys. I never would've considered choosing this path before, as I didn't see it as an option. I was one of those people (I'd thought) that wanted to sign my kids up for the comfy Kindergarten class, as soon as they turned of age! It was the obvious thing to do, afterall, I went to public school, my brothers and sisters went to public school, and all my friends went to public school. You could say I was a "product of public school", and I turned out just fine.
But I tell you what, everything changed for me after my first son was born. Giving birth was the most transformative experience of my lifetime, (next to the traveling circus bus), and I immediately started to look at the world in a different way.

My husband has been a big advocate for homeschooling our kids from the very beginning. Unlike me, he never once claimed to have had a very positive school experience. From the time he was in Kindergarten to a Senior graduating high school, he never felt like school was worth his time. He's told me stories of teachers who accused him of turning in false homework, claiming it was "too good" for his age level. He'd come home feeling defeated after working hard on it all week long, only to have someone accuse him of cheating. He said he was so bored in high school, he rarely had enough to do to fill his time. His grades were at the top of his class, his scores were high, but he wasn't being challenged to learn anything more than the average requirements.

I, on the other hand, was your average, happy-go-lucky student, who loved attending my classes. I was very social and outgoing, and got good grades. School was how I connected with my friends, and I felt like I belonged there. I loved going to school most of my Elementary years. It wasn't up until high school, where I just didn't want to make the effort to go anymore. I felt like there wasn't anything I was really interested in learning, and most of my friends were skipping school or on drugs. I just wanted to surf, and work to make money to travel, yet I was stuck in those classrooms day after day. When I barely graduated in 1997, I never wanted to go to school again. As far as I was concerned, learning meant sitting in a hot room, doing worksheets, and being drilled about boring facts. No, thank you, I'd rather be surfing.

It wasn't until after this trip to Southeast Asia in 2001, that I decided to come back to Hawaii and attend college. Something sparked inside of me while I was out there, convincing me that I needed to expand my mind even further, and college would be the answer.
I was immediately blown away by how much I loved it. I loved being able to sign up for whatever classes I wanted, and to follow my interests in whatever direction I chose. I felt this amazing mental high, as I'd study and learn something I'd never thought of before. I loved the intellectual challenge it provided me, and was able to pursue the things I loved the most. I went on to study Recreational Therapy, and although I didn't earn my degree, I still value and use so many of the things I learned, in my life today. Later on, as I went on to get married and have children, I found that giving birth to children, and raising babies, was another opportunity to choose my own direction in life. Here I was given the chance to follow my heart and make choices for my family that would be the best for all of us.
I love that, as parents, Micah and I can prayerfully decide what to teach our children, and then choose the things that will interest and benefit our family the most. To me, parenting is a mental, spiritual, and emotional high, as we are constantly being blown away by the things our kids are learning and doing. They are amazing people, and I hope they will continue to be excited about the world around them.

So, when our eldest son turned 5 years old, and I looked around to see everyone else happily signing their kids up for Kindergarten, I was reminded again about the circus bus. From the outside, I think that Institutionalized schooling would be easier, more comfortable, and provide all the necessities our family needs, but it's not the right option for us. We've looked around, and seen all their is to offer, but feel there must be another way for our family.
People have come along and warned me about homeschooling, saying it's too hard, that it's too much work, that our kids will turn out weird and un-socialized. They've tried to persuade me that public school is the easier route, and the option that will bring me the most joy as a parent, in the long run.
However, I've refused to listen to them, because I know they've probably never ridden on The Circus Bus.

Most people will never find out what it's like to do it different, to take the other options; the ones that seem impossible or harder. I have no doubt that there is more work involved in homeschooling our children, that there will be some discomfort, doubt, and confusion at times, and that the homeschooling road will seem long, bumpy, and windy,(and yes, maybe our kids will turn out a little different), but I know that we will find ourselves with a richer, more powerful, and more fulfilling experience than we'd ever known before.
There's more than one way to do things in life, as I found out so many years ago on that bus, and now I'm determined to allow homeschooling our kids to give me that opportunity once again.
As we've had Zadok home this past year, his first year of "Kindergarten", I've seen and felt the wonder and excitement of learning in our home and family. It's been enlightening, challenging, hard, rewarding, and has provided many opportunities for each of our own personal growth. I realized awhile ago that getting an education is not about reaching a certain destination, it's about experiencing the journey along the way.

I think homeschooling our kids is a lot like taking that circus bus, and I wouldn't do it any other way.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I don't believe that anyone comes into our lives without meaning. I have always felt this way, and I think that's why I love people so much. I believe that everyone here on Earth is connected through God's carefully planned, intricately woven, mysterious web of purpose. I say mysterious, because I don't think I can fully comprehend how magnificent His plans truly are for us. There's been times where people have come into my life at these seemingly impossible moments, sharing their love with me right when I needed it most.
Like the time I was so lonely living In San Diego in my early 20's, and when I prayed for a friend, I got one the next day! And not only did I get a good friend, I got someone who helped direct me back to the gospel of Christ.
This was the first time in my life that I really came to realize this web of connectedness that God has created for us. It's amazing, really, and I am so grateful for all the wonderful people that have come, and continue to come into my life.

I woke up yesterday to the most wonderful blog post my friend Katherine wrote about this very subject, only it was all about me. You can read it here. I was so touched by her sweet sentiments, and can't help but feel grateful once again, for God's love for us.
He is amazing, my friends. He knows us so well, and so individually, and He can make miraculous things happen through the people around us.

I should mention that the impact Katherine has had on my life has left a mark for good, as well. I got to know her as I was pregnant with Odin up in Idaho, and it was at a time where I really needed peace and calm in my life, amidst my raging, hysterical pregnancy hormones. She came into my life and wrapped her gentle, motherly arms around me, listening patiently to my rants, and calming me with her soft spirit. I will be forever grateful for her friendship in my life, and her presence at Odin's birth.

Beginning from that time in San Diego, down to right now, I can continuously feel the positive impact and immense blessings that people bring into my life.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Most Divine Fruit

I am in love with this fruit.
For as long as I can remember I've been a loyal devotee to bananas, but that was because I'd never tried the divine Star Apple fruit. I'm not kidding you, this fruit is straight from Heaven itself.
I tried it for my first time this past month, and have fallen deeper and deeper in love with each soft, milky, creamy, succulent bite! It tastes like you're dipping into a bowl of vanilla-custard-pudding, only naturally sweetened and straight from a tree.
The literal translation of Star Apple in Vietnamese is Vú sữa, meaning "breastmilk", and I can see why. I felt like a hungry infant under that tree, eagerly grasping for any fruit I could reach, sucking in the milky goodness as quickly as I could!
The fruit origins from the West Indies and Central America, so it goes by many names, such as caimito, star apple, golden leaf tree, abiaba, pomme du lait, estrella, milk fruit and aguay. But I like Vú sữa the best. My friend Laura and I thought the English word "Star Apple" didn't give it justice enough, for how divine it truly is. We decided we should call it our own name, "Estrella La Leche" or Milk Star.
Our family was introduced to the Hilo Arboretum last month and it's quickly become of one of our favorite family hang outs. The Arboretum was started in 1922 to help experiment with growing non-native plants, strange to Hawaiian soil. Over 1000 species of plants were introduced here, and now it is owned by the Hawaii Forestry Division. As a family, we can go there once a day to pick fruit for our family for free.
It is truly a blessing to live near the arboretum! In the past month we have gone several times to pick Lychee, Mango, Jack fruit, and "Estrella La Leche." We can go back anytime we want, to pick the fruits that are in season. There's also many trees covered in exotic flowers, like this orange blossom bursting like fireworks from the bark:
Running through the grass and exploring is what we love the most.
I thought I would miss our abundance of fruit trees in Puna, but this arboretum more than makes up for it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Open Arms

It seems that even though it is hard to open up about the hard things we go through in life, it actually brings more opportunities to connect with people who struggle with the same things.
Ever since I've (openly) confronted my recent issues with anxiety and depression, I've been able to find other friends who have confided in me about similar problems they've dealt with or are currently facing. There is beauty and strength in numbers. We aren't meant to do this life alone.

Open up your hearts, my friends, and the world is available to you with open arms, full of opportunities to grow and thrive. Not alone, but together, amongst the ones we love.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Little Nursling

Jonah fell asleep the other night for his very first time, without nursing. We laid down in bed and were reading "Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see?", when I noticed his little eyes drooping.....and drooping...and drooping, until he looked like this.

Jonah is 21 months old and still my sweet and snugly, little nursling.
We're not ready for weaning just yet, but it's kind of exciting to watch another one of my boys take these big steps to boyhood.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Snapshots from around the house

I like snapshots. I've had a camera in my hands, snapping pictures, since I was a little girl. I took a photography class in high school which I thought would help me discover my true artistic skills, but it turned out I wasn't that interested in the specifics of photography, I just wanted to snap pictures. I have albums upon albums of pictures of friends, of random objects, of family, and of pets. Every once in a while I get lucky and the photo turns out looking totally professional, but I don't really know how that happens.

Here's a few pictures from around the house.

The fruit bowl always has papayas and bananas in it. Papayas are usually 6 for a dollar at the Farmers market and I live off of them daily.
This is one of the couches we got for free off of craigslist. We were living in an empty house for about a week, sleeping on the floor, when I started to really pray that we would get some furniture soon, somehow, even with our limited budget. So I looked on craigslist and low and behold someone was giving away a living room set for free! I quickly called the person and it turned out that I was the first one to call! This was such a miracle and answer to my prayers. That week we ended up furnishing our house with beds and dressers that I found for pretty cheap.

The bookshelf our friend Heidi gave us:

This dog has been Jonahs absolute favorite toy since January when he nabbed it from my friends house while we were on Oahu. He cuddles and snuggles this hard, plastic thing, even sleeping with it. He even likes to hold it while he's nursing.

This is my favorite kitchen tool--the magnetic knife strip. It stays up and out-of reach of little hands, yet lends convenience to Micah and I while we're cooking. (Target, 20 dollars)

This is the toy/school/sewing/recreation room. I hang all the boys artwork in here and love to admire it.

This is Jonah's beetle.

This is Zadoks color chart. He painted colors onto a paper and told me that I could come look at them if I ever forget a color. Thanks!

This is Odin's colorful triangle phase. I have a bunch more of these around the house.

This is Cheer-bear Care Bear I've had since I was little, circa 1983. (rainbow!!)

Here's the toddler who likes to arrange the magnets on our fridge.
Here's me and the boys lounging on the couches in the morning, acting silly. One of my favorite things in the world to do is cuddle with my kids and make jokes with them. They make me laugh so hard!This is Jonah bouncing on Odin's head:

Micah teaching the boys how to make ti-leaf leis.
Apparently Micah likes to take snapshots of me sleeping and then laugh at them later. I must explain that this was after a LONG day of caring for sick children and I was wiped out!No laughing! But here's a quick clip of Jonah bouncing on Odin's head. This will make you laugh all you want.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fish Candy

Every week Micah and I set aside a different day for each of us to go and recharge. It's not an entire day to ourselves, and it actually ends up being only 2-3 hours after Micah gets home from work and before dinner, but, it's the best darn 2-3 hours ever! I look forward to it every week!
I made a few rules about how to spend my alone time. There is no shopping, no sleeping, no reading, no chores, and no computer time allowed during my special break. This is strictly a time for me to get outside and connect with nature. I know myself well enough to know that when I don't get outside in God's beauty, or exercise, or feel the wind in my hair, I am not who I want to be. I feel disconnected to myself, and my soul starts to wither and die. True story.

So, yesterday was my day to go do something fun and this is what I did:

I drove down to a new stretch of coast that I wanted to explore. It was hot and muggy out, and I couldn't wait to jump into the ocean in this new area. I parked on the side of the road and walked down the trail to where the trees meet the beach. In my rush to get out of the house I had completely forgotten my swimsuit, but decided to just keep going.
At the end of the trail I came out onto a little white-pepper sand beach, surrounded by lava rocks and crashing waves. I followed the coastline for about 100 yards to the right where there were large pools and streams of brackish, spring water, spilling out into the ocean. There were sea turtles resting in the pools, and small fish scurrying in and out with the currents.
I skipped out onto the black lava rocks, picking up little sea shells and corals as I went. I was flooded with memories of my childhood, and how tough my feet would get every summer running over all those rocks, and all the nooks and crannies I would explore out on the tide pools near my house. They were such happy memories!
Next I waded knee deep through the tide pools, until I got to a larger opening, in the deeper ocean. It was really hot, and I was starting to sweat. I put my towel down on some rocks, stuck my goggles onto my face, and jumped in, jeans and t-shirt and all. The sea water engulfed me and cooled me down immediately. I floated on my tummy with my head underwater, staring down at the sand, and fish, and rocks. I came up every once in a while for air, but mostly stayed just like this for quite a while.
I could feel myself smiling, happiness overcoming my very being, and my soul recharging with good energy. I could feel all the little stresses and worries of the day evaporate into nothingness, floating away into the sunshine. I could feel my scattered mind being replaced with peace and calm, as the waves gently carried me up and down, up and down.

The ocean is a very special place for me, and one of the reasons we came back to Hawaii. Some of us need the mountains, some of us need the desert, and some of us need the city to feel alive.

I need the ocean.

As I walked back to the car on my nature high, I met an elder Hawaiian man husking coconuts on the shore. He asked me if I wanted one to take home to my family, and of course, I said yes.
We started chatting, and he told me he comes down to the beach everyday to relax, husk coconuts, and feed them to the fish. "It's like candy for them", he said excitedly "They eat this stuff up like crazy!"

I smiled all the way to my house, soaked in wet jeans, carrying home coconuts for my kids. I decided that the ocean is my candy, and just like the fish, I eat it up like crazy.

Friday, May 4, 2012

4 ways to eat like Jonah

You can do opposites eating, like where he puts his milk on his plate, and then stuffs his pancake into the cup:
Or you can try an entirely new utensil, like the hole puncher:

Or you can sit back and relax Haw'n style, with a spam musubi!
Or, last but not least, share everything you have, and then laugh about it:


I feel a huge need to shout it to the rooftops (or at least write it on my blog) that my life has improved so much these past months, and I am happier than I've been for a VERY long time!

I've always considered myself a happy person, but these past 2 years were really tough on me. There were a lot of stressful events happening in our lives, and I didn't realize how much they'd affected me. (moving, pregnancies, babies, moving, pregnancies, babies..etc..)
I realize that mood swings happen to everyone, but these ups and downs I was having had been going on for too long. In my past I've sought professional therapy and counseling, which helped me to get through some tough personal issues I'd thought might have triggered my extreme downs. Those counseling sessions really helped, temporarily, and I was always grateful for the advice I'd received on how to deal with the challenges I'd been facing. But now it seemed I was frequently down for no reason at all, and couldn't figure out the cause of my suffering.
So when we moved our family back to my Hawaii home, I really thought I was moving forward, that I had put all my burdens behind me and life was going to be nothing but ups and happiness!
However, 5 months after we got here I couldn't get through a single day without sobbing, without loathing everything around me, and wanting it all to go away. I started to analyze what could be triggering my feelings of unhappiness, and pointed the fingers of blame towards my husband, towards my children, and towards all the people around me, simply for not being what I needed them to be. It was a very dark and difficult time for me, feeling like everything was failing me, and nothing was what I wanted my life to be.

One evening, during all this turmoil, I attended a Visiting Teaching conference at church. I sat there listening to the presenters, but all I could hear was,"Blah blah blah, visiting teaching, blah, blah blah." I got this sick feeling in my stomach when I realized that I couldn't even feel inspired about Visiting Teaching, which is normally something that I love. And that made me even more confused and sad.

There was a woman sitting next to me at the conference who I really like. She is bubbly, and friendly, and always has a smile on her face. After the conference was over, I looked over at her and felt the Spirit tell me to talk to her about my sad feelings. I didn't want to at first because it didn't seem applicable, but again, I felt the Spirit tell me I needed to talk to her about the way I've been feeling. So I opened my mouth, and somehow everything came out about my anxiety, my feelings of self-loathing, my ups and downs, my crying episodes, the yelling at my kids, the blaming my husband, the feelings that I couldn't measure up to anything life offered......
And she looked me in the eyes and said in the most loving and caring way,"You need to see a doctor."
Then she went on to tell me that she has been in my shoes, that she has experienced all these same feelings and more, and that it's okay; It's okay to admit to yourself that you have a chemical imbalance causing depression.

So that's what I did. I admitted to myself that I was experiencing signs of depression and I needed to get help.
I followed the Spirit and the instincts of my heart, even though going to see a family doctor was SO hard for me to do, (especially since I don't have health insurance nor do I trust doctors, in general.)
To sum it all up, I have been treated for depression for 4 months now and I can't say enough how much my life has improved for the better. I was so scared and so hesitant to go through with this, but it was exactly what I needed to do. And I am still cautious about sharing the details of my treatment because I know there are about a million opinions out there about how to treat depression. Just know that I am doing what is exactly right for me, and this has been confirmed over and again through my prayers and feelings from my loving Heavenly Father. And, not to mention, the fact that my whole life has improved significantly!

Of course, there is remorse for not getting this help earlier, and remorse for the people I might have hurt along the way, but I've realized time and again that there is a season for everything and now is the time for me to face this. Even knowing all that I know about depression and it's symptoms and effects on life, I still wasn't ready to realize it was happening to me. I know that in the past I wouldn't have been ready or humbled enough to accept this type of help in my life. I feel that God was preparing me to be able to make these realizations so I could follow through with my treatment.

Why is it so much easier to diagnose an injured limb, chronic migraines, or anything else physical, than to diagnose an anxious, depressed, and moody Mama?

I hope that I can always see myself honestly and open my heart to all the possibilities out there, because

Life is meant to be enjoyed!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I whipped up this cake yesterday when I heard that a dear friend of mine was turning 40! I had hulled out over 20 Lilikoi's (Passion fruits) last summer and had been saving them in my freezer for a rainy day. Turns out this was the rainy day!(which is a bit redundant considering we live in Hilo where every day is rainy) I'm not usually this excited about cake, since baking isn't my specialty, but this cake turned out so delicious, I wanted to say it happened.

RECIPE for Lilikoi Coconut n' Honey Cake (a variety of recipes combined to my liking):

* 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
* 2/3 cup honey
* 2 cups milk
* 4 eggs, lightly beaten
* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup dried coconut flakes
* 2/3 cup fine, white sugar
* 3 Lilikois, hulled

* 3 cups Powder sugar
* 2 Lilikois, hulled
* a dash of red food coloring for Sunrise color

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees
*Grease your 9x13 inch pan
*Measure all your ingredients out - melt your butter - have a smaller bowl with your sifted flour and another empty ready with mixing spoon.
*Mix the butter and honey together in the bowl.
*Add milk and stir.
*Add flour, coconut and Lilikoi and mix again.
*Add sugar and mix for a final time ensuring all is combined.
*Pour into your greased pan and smooth out to the sides - put in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
*Test with a skewer to check readiness.
* When cake completely cooled, prepare to frost.

*Prepare your icing by putting pulp of 2 large Lilikoi and mix in 3 cups of powder sugar. Add small drops of water until it is a thickish, but spreadable consistency.
* you can keep in the fridge about 5 days.

(I loved eating the cake cold. Also, I didn't remove the seeds from the Lilikoi, which added a fun, crunchy texture to the sweet, chewy cake.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flat Stanley Visits Hawaii

We received an envelope in the mail several weeks ago, with Flat Stanley inside. He is part of the geography curriculum for a third grade class in California, who's students are learning about the 50 United States. One of the students chose Hawaii as his State to study, and then found our family to help out, through a teacher friend of Micah's.

The idea behind Flat Stanley is that he can travel anywhere he wants because he can fit into an envelope. On his travels, he can have lots of interesting learning adventures, and get to know the culture and environment. When Stanley returns, he brings back small souvenirs and postcards, which will help the third grade class learn more about Hawaii.

As Flat Stanley's host family, we got to take him on some family outings during our week with him. I really loved this idea and had a lot of fun helping with this project. I feel that these types of creative learning experiences can be powerful for young kids, and hoped that this third grade class, and this little student would get a lot out of it.

We took Flat Stanley to several of our favorite places around Hilo. We went to Onekahakaha beach park and gave him a surfing lesson.
Next we took him to Mokupapapa Discovery Center where he learned about Hawaii's endangered species and the importance of protecting our coral reefs.

We also took him to the Hilo Farmer's Market where we buy our local produce and yummy Asian treats.

Last, we took him to see two of the big waterfalls right here in town; Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots.

We wish we had time to take him up to the volcano, but ran out of time. Afterall, he was only here for a week!
We sent Stanley home with some postcards, magazines, educational booklets, and a beautiful flower lei around his neck. Here is the response we heard back from the third grade teacher in charge of this project:
Dear Jackson Family,
We received your package and Andrew opened it in front of the class yesterday. I wish you could have been there. The pure joy on his face from first seeing Stanley in a lei to the last picture he took out was incredible. It took my breath away to see that joy. He was spellbound, as the whole class was, by every item as it took them out one at a time to show the class. My thanks do not go far enough, but for now it is all I have. I hope you family will consider another visit from Flat Stanley next year. Thank You!

It was our pleasure! We hope to see more Flat Stanley's around here soon!