Thursday, September 27, 2012

Making it in Hilo

I've been thinking a lot about the trade-off people make when they move to a tropical island with little money. It is expensive to live in Hawaii, and the number one question we always got before we headed back over here was, "How are you going to live?" 
Once you cross the ocean, prices soar like the tops of the volcanoes! The normal living things like heating your water, keeping lights on in your home, fueling your car, paying your monthly rent, having a savings account, and buying a gallon of milk, become major financial issues when living in Hawaii. It is pricey, and each month we are finding that we are just breaking even to get by.
Furthermore, my husband is a public school teacher and I am a stay-at-home mom, and this is our agenda for the next million years, (or at least until our kids are old enough to fend for themselves.) Many people here have both parents working to make ends meet, but we feel very strongly against this for our family. It's just not an option for us, so instead of relying on a double income, we've relied on frugality, living simply, and the help of the Lord. So far, it has worked out beautifully, yet with a lot of hard work involved, too. We're not afraid to work hard for what we want, but lately we've both been feeling the need to rest; to settle down, to stop moving and wandering, to find permanence in our lives. We want to do this by buying a home.

One of the trade-offs of moving to a tropical island with little money is that you get paradise in return. You don't own fancy cars or nice houses, but instead you have turquoise water and white sand beaches. You get gorgeous, sunny days, and balmy breezes, while sipping on real coconut water from real coconuts, out on your lanai, in the house you pay triple the rent you paid  in Utah. In return you get perfect surf, long days at the beach, bonfires in the sand, and outdoor reggae concerts. You don't even notice you live in a crappy, run-down house and drive an old beater car, because you're too busy smelling the plumeria flowers, snorkeling tropical reefs, hiking up to pristine waterfalls, and watching the spinner dolphins leaping in the bay.
These are the things about Hawaii that I've always loved, and looked forward to when moving back here. These are the things I was willing to trade for, to sacrifice for, to give up all the material, superficial desires for. These are the things I wanted to have, along with a humble, simple, and meaningful life. It was a package deal, and one that I could imagine living forever.

So you can imagine that Micah and I are laughing now (a little sarcastically) because we've landed ourselves pretty permanently in Hilo. Oh, Hilo, Hilo, Hilo: Rainy, rocky, windy, cold, rugged Hilo!
This is Hawaii, and it's beautiful, but it's not the Hawaii I fell in love with. This place is another brand of Hawaii, and one that takes some serious adjusting to. No white sand beaches, no perfect surf, no turquoise water or long days at the beach. No bonfires in the sand or pristine waterfalls nearby, and definitely no spinner dolphins in the bay because the bay is polluted with dirty river water and I wouldn't want to spin in there, either. (sigh.)
We've been here for over a year now and it's been quite the adventure, if you can imagine! However, here we are. We have a job and a place to live, and callings to fullfill.
 My Grandma Lois used to always tell me,"Be happy wherever you are. I am happy when it rains, happy when it's sunny, and happy when it snows."  I always loved her optimistic attitude.

Okay, so you can't live your life for the weather, but what if it rains every single day, and you're so close to the ocean you can smell it, but you can't go in most of the time because it's cold and dreary, and this isn't why you moved back to Hawaii...... What then? What is the trade-off for living a humble, simple life in a place you can't really afford and don't completely love?

That is the question my husband and I have been throwing out  to the universe lately. We don't necessarily want or need the answers right now, because we're not moving, but it's been on our minds. It's funny where life takes us. It's funny where our choices lead us, and how we often don't know where we're heading next, but God knows. I know He's got some sort of crazy plan  concocting up there for our family. I'm a little anxious to see where this goes next.

Stay tuned for a follow-up-post titled: All the wonderful, beautiful, amazing, fanatastic, joyful things we love about Hilo, for reals.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Adoring my Children

My children are amazing. I see and hear and smell them every single day, and still can't believe these little people came out of me, and grew into these awesome, mini-humans. It's miraculous, really, and something that  should be celebrated daily.  Don't you think? Sometimes we forget how miraculous it all is, but it is!

And I don't think there's anything wrong with bragging about your own children, either. Parents are hard-wired to love, adore, cherish, and follow their children around with cameras. It's what we do.
I love it when I meet another Mom-friend at the park  and she fills me in on all the cool things her son/daughter has been doing lately. It's the best feeling ever to be around other Moms who appreciate and adore their children, too.

To adore my children today I am writing a little about each one of them, from my heart:

Our 6 year old, Zadok,  is honest and pure in everything he does and says. He has a natural quality of doing the right thing at the right time, and is a righteous example to his younger brothers. I call him "my little watch-tower" because he watches over everyone in this family. He knows when his brothers are sad or upset, and tries to help them, or comes to tell me immediately.  I love this about him.
He gets so excited about learning new things,  and then spends weeks talking about them non-stop. He writes stories, makes videos, acts out dramatic plays, and creates artwork surrounding his interests, (without being assigned). His creativity comes naturally because that's who he is. He loves to read, and loves to learn about computers. He has endless questions, but also has endless answers. He makes up creative games, and gets our whole family thinking. He is also handsome, and strong, and very intelligent. He is a beautiful soul and I love him. I  love that he still wakes up frequently to come snuggle in bed with Micah and I, where I get to smell his soft hair,  and remember back to when he was a just a baby.

Reading his favorite books at the park.

Strumming his guitar on a happy morning.

Our 4 year old, Odin,  is hilarious and cute as can be. He makes us laugh constantly.  He loves to be loud, silly, goofy, and crazy, most of the time! He always has a song to sing, or a joke to tell. He dances, and jumps, and laughs through life, with his blond curls flying!  Where his older brother is cautious and calculating, Odin is spontaneous and erratic.  He loves to be outside, loves to ride his bike, loves to color and use his hands to make things, and loves discovering plants, trees, and flowers. He is my free-spirit, and I adore him.
Despite his free-spirited ways, Odin is also very loyal to his older brother, and often follows Zadok's same interests. Anything that Zadok gets excited about, Odin gets excited about, with passion! They make a good team, those two. Odin also has a quiet, soft side, where he is gentle and loving and spiritual. He says the sweetest prayers, always thanking God for his family and the earth.
Odin also gives the best hugs. He is warm, and squishy, and when his little cheeks press up against mine, I melt to pieces.

Hanging in the trees

And that's Odin!

Our 2 year old, Jonah,  is so very sensitive and sweet. He is a toddler of very few words, but when he speaks, it is powerful. He says things with such force and determination, that we can't all help but  stop what we're doing and pay attention to him. "CHOP, CHOP." for scissors. "STUCK!" when he can't get down from his booster chair. "KNOCK KNOCK!,"when he's outside and wants to come in. "HIIIIIIIII!", when he welcomes anyone home. He makes us all laugh with his one-word sentences, and chubby, dimply grin.
He loves his brothers and follows them endlessly, though he'll put up a real fight if they try to harass him. He gives the sweetest hugs and kisses, and loves all things soft and snugly. Just like Linus on Charlie Brown, he carries around a dirty, blue, blankie, everywhere he goes. He loves dogs, and balls, and collecting treasures. He always has a bag full of marbles, a tupperware of buttons. or a box full of something hes' been collecting from around the house.
One particular moment, with Jonah, that touched my heart recently was when I sat down to read him a little book called "Hug" by Jez Alborough. It's the story of a baby monkey that can't find his mother in the jungle. When baby monkey sees all the other animals hugging, he gets sad because he wants a hug, too. When it got to the part in the book, where the monkey got sad, Jonah got little tears in his eyes. He looked at me with big, sad eyes, and trembling lips, pointed to the monkey, and said, "Mom."  We snuggled long and hard after that, and I promised that this Mom will always be around to hug my little Jonah monkey.

He likes to be silly with his Mama!

I'm so, so proud to be the Mama of these three, amazing boys! 

Some-day when they are all grown up, and leave home, and have beards, and like girls, I will be so happy I got to spend this precious time with them. I will always celebrate my children---they are my reason for being a mom, and being a mom has made me better than I ever was. It comes full cycle!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jamie Swim Art

I can't express enough how cheerful and uplifting the artwork of Jamie Swim Art truly is!
 Jamie is an artist that can capture the sunshine and nostalgia of Oahu's North Shore, like no other. When I look at her paintings I instantly feel transported back to the quiet, sunny, tropical beaches of my North Shore hometown, right where I first fell in love with the ocean.

Now that I live in Hilo, on the Big Island, the North Shore of Oahu seems so far away, especially the white sands and crystal clear waters I knew so well. Way over here on the rocky black sands of  Hilo, I often find myself still longing for my beautiful North Shore. Swaying palm trees, bright plumerias, perfect surf, sea turtles lounging on the sand, and beautiful landmarks such as Haleiwa Bridge, are just some of the images that come to mind, and many of the subjects of Jamie Swim's  paintings. You can tell through her artwork that she has a deep love for the ocean, Hawaii, and the whimsical, happy nature of island life.

I wanted to share just a few of her pieces here (with permission), that I simply adore.  Anyone that has spent time on the North Shore would love having one these hanging in their home! Myself included!

You can find Jamie Swim Art:

Her stuff is also for sale at Wailua Bakery, in the heart of Haleiwa town. There you can purchase originals, canvas wrapped giclees, and painted trucker hats.

                                                                Aren't these so fun??!!

Mahalo nui loa Jamie, for allowing me to share these beautiful gems on my blog. They are truly eye-candy for  lovers of all things Hawaii, ocean,  and North Shore. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sea-glass: treasures of the sea

There is sea-glass to be found almost everywhere here! We find the it amongst the rocky, black sand shores of the East coast of Hawaii every time we head down to the ocean.
We become treasure hunters, searching the beaches for softened, ocean glass, glistening in the tropical sun.
I've been fascinated with sea-glass ever since I was a teenager. I would go down to the beach early in the mornings, scouring the sand for bits of green and brown, purple, and blue. My favorites were always the teeny, periwinkle specks of glass, since they were, and still are, so hard to find.
I've always loved how the ocean could take something so sharp and cutting, and turn it into something soft and inviting. The longer the glass stays in the ocean, the softer and rounder it gets. It is shaped and manipulated by the waves and the sand, turning it into something completely different than it was before. They are truly treasures of the sea.
Now my little Odin loves collecting them, just like me.
A line of sea-glass made by Odin:
The seaglass is easist to find down on the shore, where the ocean meets the river mouths. A hundred and more years ago, when immigrant farmers first came to Hawaii to work in the pineapple and sugar cane fields, they used to live near the rivers, atop the hills. They would dump their trash into the flowing rivers, where it was carried down into the ocean as it's final resting place. That's why today we can find, amongst the many old, broken glass bottles, small bits of ceramic pottery hiding on the shores.
I get giddy with excitment everytime I find one of the ceramic pieces. I feel like I am holding onto a tiny piece of history! I try to imagine what life must've been like for those immigrant farmers, and what they did each day with their ceramic pots. These ceramic pots could have been some sort of standard-issue-kitchen-ware from China, or they could've traveled here from places all over the world, with the immigrants. Either way, I like finding them because they tell a mysterious story.

Collecting treasure from the sea has always been one of my favorite things do. The ocean is a refuge for me, and a place of immense healing. When I'm having a hard day, feeling nothing but grumpy, sharp, and cutting, the ocean molds me into something else. All I have to do is jump into the water, allowing the waves and sand to cover me, and I emerge a better person, feeling softer, happier, and more inviting. It's true for sea-glass, and it's true for people.
The ocean is powerful.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ten minute thought

Quick! Everyone is busy for 10 minutes, write a blog post!

This has been my life lately: No time to blog, No time to think, No time to sit and rest; just do, do, do! But I wouldn't have it any other way. Life is busy right now and as a result I am seeing a family flourish and grow in amazing ways. It really is all about family, isn't it?

The tedious, little things we do each day to make it all come together and matter...i.e., taking the garbage out, wiping up the spills, clipping the fingernails, steaming the broccolli, mopping under the table, scrubbing the fish tank, playing games, fixing owies, baking bread, cleaning behind the ears, planning menues, making lists, making beds, hanging pictures, telling stories, doctors visits, snuggle time, story time, bedtime routine, morning routine, and on and on.

My life is so literally full, so full of love for my family. One thing I have learned as a mother is that I have a choice each day to choose the way I perform all these above things. I can either create an attitude of love, charity, and nurturing as I clip little nails, change dirty diapers, and make grocery lists, or I can create an attitude of exhaustion, annoyance or disgust, and build up a wall of resentment towards my life. I've found that when my son has spilled his milk off the table for the 20th time, there is more room to feel love and compassion for him when I smile and say, "That's okay, buddy. We're all learning something, and pretty soon you'll learn to hold onto your milk!"

All these little things we do matter. Piece by piece they come together to make the most complete, functional, and most beautiful piece of handiwork God has ever created--families.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Babywearing Meetup

We had one of our first Big Island Babywearers meet-ups this past month. I had such a wonderful time hanging out and meeting all these wonderful Mamas. I wasn't able to get pictures of everyone that came, but here's a few that I can share:

This mama spent some time in Africa where she learned how to carry other women's children before she came back to have her own. This is a traditional carry that doesn't require any fancy equipment. All she uses is a yard 1/2 of cotton fabric from JoAnnes.

This mama is using a woven-ring sling, perfect for those tummy-to-tummy newborn snuggles.

A babywearing Mama-to-be, wearing her baby-doll in an Ergo made just her size! So cute! I Love to see the little ones in-training!

The mama below on the right is wearing a style of carrier I have never seen invented before, which is a wrap/mei-tai combination.
Basically you take the traditional style mei-tai and sew on long, wide, wrap straps. They sell for 150-200 dollars on the inter-web, and I can see why; this carrier is beautiful, comfortable, well-sewn, requiring loads of fabric and detailed handi-work. I would love to try sewing one someday!Here's the back. Look at the those comfy straps, spreading out over her entire back!:

And finally, here is Jonah and I, hanging around for a rest and a snack. He is nursing discreetly in my favorite baby carrier, the mei-tai. This is one of my homemade ones, which my husband designed, and I pieced together.
Overall, this was a great meet-up! I'm so glad we got this group up and running. Babywearing has been such an integral part of my and my husband's whole parenting experience, so I am always happy to share my knowledge and experiences with others, who are just starting out. Although, here on the Big island we see babywearers everywhere! It is a lot more culturally acceptable to carry your little ones close here, which is wonderful. For once I don't feel like a minority, and find that most moms I come across already share the basic fundamental beliefs we do. It's nice to have that kind of like-minded support in life. This is my co-babywearing Leader, Breanna below. I didn't get a picture of her at the meet-up, so I borrowed one off facebook. She is amazing at wraps and has about 1000 of them in different colors and styles.
She has convinced me to be more wrap savvy in my next life because of the comfort and ability to carry toddlers on your back.

Babywearing is based on ancient traditions of child-rearing, which are centuries old. As long as people have walked the earth, they have found ways to conveniently carry their babies. Most of the carriers from other cultures were traditionally made for women to keep their small children on their backs while they worked in the fields, or traveled.
Today we have taken these traditional carriers and adapted them to our modern needs.
We wear our babies while we cook, clean, walk, dance, or shop. But the most profound reason we wear our babies is to bond. Nothing compares to the rush of nurturing and loving hormones I feel as I carry my baby around everywhere I need to go. I can feel his soft hair, and smell his sweet fragrance, and fall in love over and over again.

Now that Jonah is 2, we don't wear him around as much. I believe that babywearing is a fundamental part of attachment parenting, which encourages parents to make choices based on what feels right, natural, and instinctual for them and their babies. It felt really good for us and our babies to be close to each other for the first year 1/2 to 2 years, but now that Jonah is huge and mobile, we prefer walking or the stroller. Although, I think Breanna has convinced me that toddlers can be worn on your back til they are 18.

Babywearing is such beautiful thing, with each situation requiring conscientious thought and awareness.

For more on babywearing, click on my Babywearing label here.