Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More than just Kickball

Five weeks ago I decided to start a kickball team for any interested homeschoolers in the area. It's been going awesome! Each week we have about 15-20 kids show up all smiling and enthusiastic, and ready to play ball! It's been a great opportunity to get our kids together to form friendships, learn teamwork, and master some new coordination skills. It's also been a great opportunity for me to meet new people and make new friends. I really love our kickball days, and look forward to many more in the future!
Starting a kickball game-day seems like a simple thing to do, but there's actually a bigger story behind it.... as most things are with me. 
The inspiration for kickball came to me one day after we had played a few kickball games at our church with our ward missionaries. The missionaries started up a kickball game twice a week for any interested primary children and their friends. We went several times, and my boys had so much fun, but unfortunately the fun didn't last forever! We soon got new missionaries, and the boys decided they didn't want to play kickball with different missionaries, so they chose not to go to kickball anymore. (talk about getting attached to missionaries!)
So, what do I do? Well, first I worry because I'm me, and worrying helps me find solutions to my problems. I mean, I really liked watching my kids play kickball! I've been trying for ages to find something social and active that they would like to do, and kickball was sticking. Not karate, not soccer, not capoeira, but kickball! 
I wasn't ready to say goodbye to it, yet. 
So, I worried for a few days until I realized that we could start our own kickball game, and invite our homeschool friends to come. *Lightbulb*

My second inspiration came from watching my 6 year old come out of his shy, socially-uncomfortable  shell, and do something he was too scared to do. The first day we played kickball with the missionaries he was too shy to play, but after a while he got brave and decided to try it. The look of pride and accomplishment on his face as he hopped over those bases is something I will never forget! Watching him find the confidence within himself to overcome his anxiety was a huge reminder to me to keep challenging him, even when he says "NO, I can't do that, or, NO, I don't want to do that." Sometimes I really have to trust myself to lead him somewhere that he doesn't want to go, and know that he'll overcome his inhibitions about it. It's hard to explain, but I am learning to read him, and learning to offer him the challenges he needs to grow. 

The biggest example of this, as of lately, is us starting this kickball team for homeschoolers. He whined and complained about it for weeks, telling me he hated it, and it wasn't fun, and he didn't want to do it. There were a lot of new faces and kids he didn't know very well, so I understood that it was a new, scary experience for someone like him. Yet, we kept going week after week, and every week I would get out there and play with all the other kids while he sat on the sidelines (often with a scowl on his face). It was tough, but I chose to ignore the complaints, and kept on playing. Then, on our fifth week of kickball, as I was out standing on the pitchers mound, getting ready to roll the ball to a kid, I felt this little tug on my shirt. I looked over to see Zadok standing behind me whispering softly,"Well, I guess I could maybe try being the pitcher today."
Whoa. I tried not to act surprised.
"Sure kiddo," I passed him the ball, "It's all yours." I shouted to everyone to get ready to play and tried hard not to cry tears of joy as I watched him roll the ball, then roll the ball again, and again, until he had played kickball for an hour and more. 
The next week he wanted to be the pitcher again, so I let him, until another kid asked to be the pitcher, too. Then he decided that maybe he could try kicking the ball. *Breakthrough*
And last but certainly not least, he was smiling, and having fun doing it.
To any passerby they would see a 6 yr old kid playing kickball, but to me it is much, much more than that. It is a revelation in how I need to challenge him to do these things, even when it doesn't seem humanly possible; to keep being mindful and aware of his needs, and to listen closely to the promptings of inspiration I feel towards them. My boy is wonderful, and intelligent, and funny, and also one of the most challenging personalities I know. I am so grateful that I can offer him chances to overcome the things he struggles with, even if it's just a game of kickball. (Which he loves to play, by the way!)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kaumana Caves

Micah and I have been trying to get out on dates more. We've found from experience that the perfect babysitters are the trusted friends with young children who also need date nights. So now that we've found some of those, we are able to take turns watching each other's kids instead of wishing we were on a date. It's an awesome deal!
So, last month some friends came over to watch our boys while we went out on a date. We like to do outdoorsy, nature dates, but weren't in the mood for swimming or hiking.  Then we remembered there were some lava caves we wanted to check out called Kaumana Caves.  These caves were formed from ancient lava flows that hardened into tubes, large enough to walk through. All you need is flashlights and an adventurous spirit, and you're in.
The entrance to the right.
I'll admit, I was very nervous at first! My heart was beating terribly  fast, and I found myself holding tightly onto Micah's arm. The entrance to the caves is actually where the lava tube had once collapsed. Someone built stairs going down into the collapsed area, with a choice to go right or go left; the right side being a variation of small crawl spaces and large rooms, and the left cave being one, long walking tunnel. We chose to go right first, where we had to crawl through some smaller tunnels (which made me a little anxious), but then it would suddenly open up into a cathedral sized room, and I'd feel better again.  I was also completely blown away by how amazing it was! Phenomenal stuff!
We saw some radical lava formations deep in there. The brownish color is from mineral deposits that have changed the color of the black lava rock over time. This one looks like a min lava-fall.

Lava poop. Not the technical term.

This photo below is where the tunnel starts to shrink a little. We had to get down low so our heads didn't hit the ceiling. I like the natural stairs on the right. Very cool.

Natural stairs.
The walls of the lava cave.

After walking for about 10 minutes to the right, we stopped and turned off our lights completely. We couldn't see our fingers in front of our faces! We took a picture during our pitch-black experience and found the flash to be illuminating! Our friend on facebook saw this photo and remarked that a tiny-Hawaiian-black bat made it's shadow on Micah's shirt.  Can you see it? (Not really, it's a water mark, but I thought it was a clever find.)
We had an awesome time spelunking, as they call it! In fact, we had so much fun, that we scheduled a tour to climb down into some of the longest and biggest lava tubes in the world, located here on the Big Island. Stay tuned for some more caving-adventure-posts in the near future from Kazamura Caves!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

DIY Laundry Soap

We have been mixing our own laundry soap since we got married 8 years ago. There were a few times when we got lazy  busy and bought some from a store, but this has been the recipe we've followed and still follow today.

Homemade Laundry Soap:
1 Cup Baking Soda
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup color safe, powdered bleach
1 bar of grated soap (Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile, and Zote. Avoid using heavily perfumed soaps.)

Pour ingredients into a large bucket or Tupperware and stir together until well combined. Grate your soap with a cheese grater. I like to triple the batch so I don't have to make it so often.

Once finished, you can add 1/4 cup per large load of laundry. (a little more for Super Plus).

So,  who thought of this recipe and why do these ingredients work so well together? First off, I don't know exactly where the source of this recipe originated. Micah's Mom got it from her ladies church group, who got it from a friend, who got it from another friend. Ive seen many variations of this recipe online using similar ingredients, but not sure which one is superior. Anywho, I thought it would be handy to post it here so I can refer to it more easily the next time someone asks,"So what do you use for laundry soap?" Click. Link. Here it is.

Second, why does it work so well? Well, I looked up a few things about each ingredient to help me break down why this is helping my laundry stay so fresh and clean. This is what I found:

Borax will whiten your whites, remove soap residue from your clothes, neutralize odors, disinfect clothing,  and soften hard water.
Baking Soda: Less harsh on the environment than synthetic perfumes, reduces bacterias and loosens soil on clothing, a natural fabric softener, eliminates odors, and controls suds.
Powdered Bleach: Laundry booster, stain remover, odor fighter, not as harsh on fabric as chlorine bleach.
Bar soap: Acts as an emulsifying agent, suspending dirt and oil, and also adds fresh, yummy smells to laundry.

So there ya have it; Laundry soap without the heavy chemicals, harsh detergents, or strong perfumes. Is  great for people with sensitive skin, or those who want to save money, or those who want to cut back on chemicals in the home.
**The only disadvantage of making your own soap is that you miss out on all those caps for making cute n' colorful music shakers.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

This n' That

It's been awhile since I've just blogged about this and that. Lately I've been sitting down at the table with the boys and having "free writing" sessions, where I tell them to just write down whatever comes to their minds. It gives me a chance to write in my paper journal, updating all the funny things the boys say, as well as jot down my deep personal thoughts. Yesterday at free write Odin drew a picture of a Food Guide Pyramid, which was basically a bunch of boxes with fruit inside, and Zadok wrote 3 pages about his latest love of all things Yu-Gi-Oh. (That's 3 pages, with letters 1 inch high and one inch wide, haha) Jonah's idea of free write was hogging all the pens to himself and then squiggling colorful circles that go,"Round and round! Round and round!"
 I sure love my boys and  I love spending time with them.

Things are just going so awesome lately, and I am happy as can be. I am happy with living in Hilo, I am happy with homeschooling our kids, I am happy with all the wonderful friends we've made, I am happy with our little house we live in, I am happy with all the fun activities we plan and have planned, I am happy with my volunteer work with La Leche League, I am happy with our ward callings and church service, I am happy with my wonderful husband, and I am happy with the direction we are going in life. I feel peace and balance in my life like never before, and it's a good feeling. It's a feeling I've worked very hard for.

There's always room for improvement, however, and I admit there's moments when things start to crash and feel out-of-control. Those are usually the moments where I've realized that I've been going too busy and overworking myself to the point of exhaustion  That's when I have to STOP, wipe everything off of our calendars, and just focus on doing the minimal, like snuggling in bed longer instead of doing chores, wearing pajamas all day instead of getting out the door, or ordering pizza instead of making dinner. I like those days, but they don't happen very often. We have a routine each day that keeps us grounded, and keeps me focused as a mom. We wake up and eat breakfast, say family and personal prayers, brush teeth, get dressed, do chores, have morning scripture devotional, give hugs and kisses, and then depending on the day we either go to Keiki Steps, or play kickball, or go on a field trip  or make plans with friends, or stay home and do projects.. Today it was raining so hard, we met some friends at the bouncy store at the mall. The boys bounced their little hearts out and it was so much fun!
I like having the flexibility in our lives to do what we need to do when we need to do it. As a homeschooling family we don't ever have to rush out the door during the day, and I'm a happier person because of it.

My other latest goal is to lose weight. I know, I know this sounds so cliche, but hear me out. I've also worked very hard in my life to be at a place where I am comfortable with my size and weight, and not obsessing over it like in days past. For those who know my personal history, I have really struggled with feeling confident with my body, and not using food as a way to feel control over my emotions. Food addictions and eating disorders can take many forms, and one form is to use food to numb one self's emotions, or to mask the internal pain you are feeling. For example, constantly obsessing over health food, or constantly obsessing over calories, or restricting foods, to compensate for hurt feelings. Another way is to use diet and exercise as a way to feel control in your life. For example over-exercising to the point of exhaustion each day, obsessing over your next diet, or binging and then purging, all to make yourself feel confident and in-control of your life.
 In a food addicts mind, when you feel thin, you feel happy and in control, and nothing can hurt you. These two food myths/obsessions can overtake your mind and trick you into a constant obsession over your body. Believe me, I've been there, and it's not fun. Being in a constant state of obsession leads to depression, anxiety, and overwhelming feelings of failure when you don't meet your expectations. You feel nothing but out-of-control and unhappy most of the time, and no amount of food or exercise can cure that pain. Believe me, I've been there, and it's not fun.
I'm not really here to tell anyone how to overcome this vicious cycle, but I wanted to say that it's possible. My personal journey to healing came in 2002 when I finally couldn't stand myself anymore and sought help. I was depressed, sick, and feeling suicidal, and finally realized I couldn't do life on my own. So, I got counseling in many different forms. Professional counseling was one of the the best things that happened to me, along with working at an eating disorder treatment center. I know, I know, they never would've hired me if they knew I was so ill, but I felt in my heart of hearts that I could cure myself through helping other people. I ended up working with eating disorder patients for a year, while also receiving vicarious therapy. It was a win-win situation and a life-changing journey for me. It was at this facility that I learned to trust my instincts and eat intuitively, and to not obsess over "good" or "bad" foods. I learned to eat when I was hungry, weather it was a piece of cake or a salad,  and how to  listen closely to my emotional state of being. I learned how to forgive those that hurt me, and how to overcome feelings of self-doubt and fear. I also learned to pray more fervently, and depend wholeheartedly on God to help heal me.
It's been almost 10 years since that huge, trans-formative experience. I can't say my life is perfect, or that I don't struggle some days, but I can say that  I know how to overcome, when life gets hard. In other words, I know how to get myself out of the deep, dark, pits of despair when they happen.

So back to my whole point--haha! I really want to lose about 25 pounds right now, not because I want to obsess over my body or feel in control of my chaotic life, but because I want to make a conscious effort to eat healthier, feel lighter, and have the energy I need to care for myself and children. I put on 8 pounds of sweets over the holidays and it doesn't feel good. I feel tired,  heavy, and unmotivated, having this extra weight on me. I don't regret all the delicious holiday treats I gorged myself on, but it's time I say adios, excess fatty tissues. I don't like it when I run and my knees hurt, I don't like it that it takes me too long to get up on my surfboard (to the point where I crash because I missed the drop-in), and I don't like it that I get tired when I chase my kids around the yard. I want to be stronger, fitter, and healthier than this, and for this reason I'd like to lose weight. For this reason I'd like to ask people to keep from giving me "skinny", or weight loss compliments, if you notice I've dropped some pounds. Please don't do it. If you need a reminder why, please read this post here. Although you may mean well, those comments do nothing for me. Thanks a jillion for your support.

Last on my This n' That post is some gratitude!
 I am grateful for my husband. He is amazing and smart and kind and good, and I don't often give him enough credit. I love this man so very much and am grateful for his constant, good influence in my life. I am grateful for my boys. Each one of them is so precious to me. When I go into their rooms at night after they've fallen asleep, I like to kiss their little cheeks and thank my Heavenly Father for giving me these angel babies to raise. I love them so much.
I am grateful for Jesus and his constant companionship in my life. He is always right here next to me when I need Him, and even when I don't. He never leaves my side and I love my Heavenly brother dearly. I am grateful for this beautiful, dynamic earth we live on. I am blown away each day by the beauty all around me, as I get out and enjoy nature with my family. I really love being outside, and I'm grateful to live in Hawaii, where I can be outside all year long.

Well, that's it for my This n That! Aloha for now, my lovely friends, and have a wonderful day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines Day!

I don't know when or how my dear, busy husband found time to make these Valentines Cards for us, but he did! And he sure put a huge smile on my face when I got up this morning. I love you Micah-and I love how silly these cards are!

Happy Valentines Day to the best husband a girl could ask for!  I love you Micah!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

East Hawaii Homeschool

Sorry Seashells and Snowflakes, but I admit I've been neglecting you for another blog. I'm not leaving you, because I'm still committed to our blogging relationship, just giving my time and energy to something else for a bit. Thanks for understanding. Please visit  
East Hawaii Homeschool Resources for further proof on this.

I woke up one morning and thought,"Hey! What we need in this area is a website that provides homeschoolers with resources, information, and more support in what we love to do!"
Over the following week and a day, a new blog was born.
This blog  is still a work in progress, but it's well on it's way to accomplishing my mission.
I hope fellow homeschoolers will find it, use it, and help further create a community of support for our community!