Saturday, December 29, 2012

I Can! My Resolution for 2013

I've made a resolution for my life, and it's coincidentally happening at the same time as the coming of the new year. So, I'll just go ahead and call it a New Year's Resolution, even though I don't usually make those. 

The last few weeks I've been feeling like nothings working out the way I want it to...again. This seems to happen to me a lot. I go through phases where everything is going awesome, then everything sucks, then everything is going awesome, then everything sucks, and on and on. Maybe this is typical for human beings, or maybe I'm just manic. I don't know. What I do know, however, is that the sucky times really are sucky, and I can get into a real funk about life when they happen.

Lately I've been  focusing on all the things I can't do, and feeling like my list of can'ts keeps getting longer and longer and longer. I've been obsessing so much on trying to do all the things I simply can't do, that I can't feel happy for the things I can do! This is no bueno!

Last night as I was wallowing in my misery, once again,  I realized (most powerfully) that this wallowing was taking away from my happiness in the here and now. 

My New years Resolution is to stay focused on the things I CAN do, and stop obsessing over the things I have no control over. Whenever an "I can't" thought comes my way, I am going to replace it with something I
can do.

Let's practice.

I can't surf as much as I want to.
 I can live by the ocean and  when I do get to surf, it's awesome!

I can't ride bicycles everywhere with my kids because the streets here REALLY ARE are dangerous, and it pours rain every minute.
 I can do other fun things like take my kids to the beach, and teach them how to play tennis, and go on long jogs when my husband gets home from work, and ride bikes at coconut island.

I can't find time to write the book of my dreams.
 I can be an amazing mom who is thoroughly enjoying my kids while they are little. I can read them stories, and teach them games, and cuddle their cuteness all day....and write on my blog.

I can't feel inspired to homeschool my kids without a supportive community of homeschoolers around me.
I can enjoy the special time we have together as a family to learn, and build lasting bonds together, and I can appreciate the wonderful friendships that we've made.

I can't lose the rest of this baby fat.
I can play a mean game of freeze tag with my kids! I can run, and jump, and laugh, and play, because I am strong and healthy!

There. It's pretty easy, right?.

Go ahead and give it a try! May all your can'ts turn into cans, and may all your cans turn into happiness for 2013!
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Recycling for Christmas

It was about three months ago that our kids found out that empty cans and bottles are worth 5 cents a piece when turned in. Since we rarely ever buy disposable drinks at our house,  I didn't even think of telling them! But guess what? Other people purchase drinks. And these disposable-drink consuming people  not only buy them in mass quantities, but they abandon and scatter their empty recyclables all over town!

So, our kids have a new, industrious hobby. They can spot a can a mile away, and never come home from an outing empty handed.
Everywhere our family goes, I hear excited voices shouting,  "Mom! I found a can!" Or, "Mom, another bottle to add to my collection!"

Then I  hear them adding up the amounts in the backseat of the car on the way home, bragging about how many recyclables they each found at the park, or the beach, or the nearby school.
This past weekend we walked over to the baseball park near our house, only to find the trash cans were overflowing with Gatorade bottles, water bottles, and soda cans. After filling three grocery bags, we went home with about $3 in recycle money. My kids were elated!

Watching as the recycle center workers sort the goods.

Waiting patiently at the cashiers, for the final money count


My sweet Odin spent all his recycle savings on Christmas gifts for our family.
My sweet Zadok spent about half of his on Christmas gifts and put the rest away for savings.
What better way to celebrate the season than to give sincere gifts of love that you earned yourself, plus give the gift of recycling to mother earth!

On a somewhat related  note, my mom often reminds me of the time when I was about 9 years old and our family didn't have enough money to purchase my Tahitian dance costume, so we spent all our extra time collecting cans off the streets. I earned $300 dollars that summer, and will never forget the lesson it taught me in being resourceful. I will also never forget how awkwardly hauole I look in a Polynesian dance costume.
Sally, circa 1980's. Laie, Hawaii
Since Christmas is just a few days away, we've planned a little surprise for our two, older boys. Thanks to the donations of generous friends, they are each getting a large bag full of empty recyclables for Christmas!  yay! Complete with a large, red ribbon on top! You might think this is a little eccentric, and ask us why we don't just put money in their stockings??

Because this is way more fun, that's why. We think they'll love taking them down to the center to collect the money themselves!

Merry Christmas and Happy Recycling!

*I should mention that our kids will be getting toys for Christmas, as well.
* Also, I never let them stick their hands in the trash cans. If they spot a recyclable in a trash can I am the only one who can get it out, and I use protection.
*When they pick up recyclables off the streets they know not to touch the mouth part, and we always sanitize our hands afterwards.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Milkies, Num-nums, and Nighttime Snuggles

Our 6 year old climbs into bed with us almost every single night of the week. He starts out sleeping right across the hall from us in his own bed, then between 12 and 3 am  he comes crawling in, claiming to have heard a strange noise, or have seen a weird bug, or  because of some nightmare or other. 
 I don't mind. I love it when he snuggles up next to me, all cuddly and soft. I breathe in the smell of his soft hair, and kiss what's left of his baby-fat cheeks. He snuggles in deep, and relaxes completely, safe in the arms his mother or father.

I am so glad that our children feel safe with us; that whenever they feel scared, hurt, alone, or sick, they know that we will take care of them. They know that they always have a place in our King size bed, no matter how crowded it gets. And believe me, it gets a little crowded some nights, with my toddler taking up most of the space on the right-hand side.

Jonah is going on 2 1/2 years old, and showing no signs of wanting to give up his milkies. This will be the longest I have ever nursed one of our children.  He wakes me up a couple times a night with his soft voice, and his squirmy body, crying out, "Milk- milk. Milk-milk."
I don't mind. I love it when he snuggles up next to me, all cuddly and soft. I breathe in the smell of his soft hair, and kiss, kiss, kiss his baby-fat cheeks. He snuggles in deep, and relaxes completely, safe in the arms of his mother.

I held a toddler-nursing meeting at my house this month for LLL, and it was wonderful. It was wonderful to connect with other moms who are also nursing their toddlers, and wonderful to know that we live in a generation where women are making choices based on what feels natural, instinctual, and right, not what's been mainstreamed into our culture. Women these days are taking an honest look at their children and their relationships with their children, and making decisions based on that. There are no rules, there are no arbitrary dates to follow, there are no comparisons or judgments being made; just you and your baby, and what you decide is best.  Call it feminism, call it crunchy, call it Attachment Parenting: label it whatever you want, but in the end it's the beautiful relationship based on love and trust between mother and child, that matters.

Pretty soon these babies will be 6, and the days and  nights of nursing will most likely be completely over.  I continuously remind myself that they will only be this small once, so to cherish those middle-of-the-night snuggles, those squirmy kicks in the gut, and those soft cries for num-nums.  After all,  when he is 6, and is too scared to fall asleep by himself, he will remember that he has always been safe in his Mama's arms.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Everyday Bicycling; How to ride a bike for transportation

I've not only been glued to this book for the past week, but I've  been wholeheartedly inspired by it! When Elly Blue, author of "Everyday Bicycling; How to ride a bike for transportation (whatever your lifestyle)," sent this book to be reviewed here on my blog, I figured I would try my hardest to skim through it, and give it a fair review, even though it's been years since I've rode a bike. After all, it's my husband Micah who is the avid bike rider in the family. He's always been the one to make the extra effort to brave the rain and snow to ride his bike to work, to enjoy long, recreational  rides on the weekends, and to equip the kids with all the gear they need to learn to love bicycling along with him. I've been standing here on the sidelines, nursing and wearing babies (claiming  running and  surfing as my exercise of choice), waiting for some future moment when I felt like owning a bike again. I didn't feel adequate in giving this book a proper review, given my current circumstances.

However, this book was written for people like me! After reading this book, I not only dream to get back on a bike again, but I want to contribute to making it part of our family culture. I want to ride along with my husband and kids again, and feel the exhilaration and freedom that I used to! 
(*There's an addendum to these thoughts at the bottom of this post.)

Micah taking the kids for a spin, Utah 2010

Zadok on the "Wee Ride" Tag-a-long, 2010.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the chapters, but I especially loved the chapter about Family Bicycling because that's where I gathered the most inspiration. If you've ever wondered how a family with children can get around without a car, she explains in detail, all the different   options out there. This chapter is chock full of testimonials from families that use bikes and bike accessories in their everyday transportation. Take Emily Finch, for instance, the mom from the article,"With six kids and no car, this mom does it all by bike."  Emily has found a way to go completely car-less, pedaling her small children around in something called a bakfiets, while the older ones ride alongside her. She is quoted as saying, "Biking is easy. Having kids is hard!" Amen, sister. Amen. She is my bicycling role model!

In my opinion, this book was also written for anyone in need of a practical, easy, and informative introduction to bicycling. In the beginning chapters, the author starts off with the basics of bicycling safety, road rules and hazards, and the specifics of clothing and gear. In the following chapters she covers everything from how to ride a bike, how to choose the right bike for you, how to care for your bike, and how to carry anything on your bike! In essence, her message is that anyone can fit bicycling into their lifestyle, and there's no wrong way to go about doing it! From the lawyer at the office job, to the college student, to the elderly, the handicapped, or the family with children, bicycling can become a part of your everyday lifestyle. And not only can it fit into your lifestyle, but it can become a positive part of how you live your overall life.

 Thank you Elly Blue, for an exciting and  fresh perspective on something as simple as riding a bike. This small book has made a powerful impact in my life, in such a short time. I felt like, while reading this book, I was also chatting with an old friend; someone who's passion for bicycling rubbed off on me in all the right ways. I would highly recommend this book as a gift for anyone who wants to get back into bicycling again, or anyone who just loves bikes, period.

** Unfortunately  our current  residence of Hilo is not a bike-friendly city. In Elly's book she refers to some places that are just plane disappointing and dangerous to ride.  I believe that Hilo is one of those places. It lacks both the infrastructure and friendly bike-riding culture that makes bike-riding safe and enjoyable for most people, especially families. Rarely do we see a family out bike-riding together on a sunny afternoon, which is sad, but I don't blame em. The streets are narrow, the bike lanes are few, and there isn't any bike path in or around town. There aren't very many sidewalks to ride on, either. One of the things that Micah has been missing here, is a good place to ride bikes with the kids. Elly's advice on living in a bike-friendly community is to either "become a champion of change, or move to a different city." I don't see the infrastructure of Hilo changing anytime soon, but us moving to become a more bike-friendly family? You never know. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sewing Bean Bags for Fun

Raise your hand if you love bean bags!  I do, I do, I do! I actually fill ours with white rice, but I still call them bean bags, because it sounds way more awesomer than rice bags. 

I scored a huge bag of fabric squares from a yard sale several months ago, and have been slowly turning these unwanted quilting pieces into toys for our family. I've actually been making bean bags since I was in college, long before I had kids. Bean bags are just simply fun to have around, fun to play games with, and (lets be honest) fun to throw at people.

Here's some quick, easy instructions for making a set of bean bags:
Cut squares of fabric 5 inches x 5 inches. 
Face the right sides together (That's the design you want showing at the end).
Pin sides together.
Sew three of the sides together, leaving one side open, then flip inside out.

Next find a little buddy to help you pour rice into the fabric.
Fill it up about an inch from the top.

Fold the top sides inward, and pin right above the rice line.
Now sew along the top of the fabric, above the pins.

 Take pins out and your done!
 Now repeat until you have enough bean bags to mesmerize your children with.

Try google-searching "free bean-bag games" and you will find lists upon lists of fun games to play with your bean bags. 
We really enjoy trying to toss them into baskets from a distance away, or cutting holes in a cardboard box and writing points on it, like ski-ball. Our toddler carries them around and throws them at the furniture. The ideas are endless..
I also like playing catch games and getting-to-know you games with the youth at our church. There's something about tossing bean bags that brings even the shyest person out of their shell.
I've also found that if carry a bean bag around in my purse, we always find time to play, even on the busiest of days.
Enjoy your fun with bean bags!