Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Homeschooling Hawaiians

I've organized our extra room to be more user-friendly! No more doing projects at the kitchen table while quickly wiping away dirty dishes and food crumbs. It's much better to have space for this purpose.
 I'm pleased to say that homeschooling at the Jackson house has reached a peaceful balance! It took me quite a while to get here-to find our niche and groove in life, however, I'm feeling pretty good about the direction we are heading now. Looking back on this past year and half, I found that my challenges with wanting and trying to homeschool my children didn't lie in homeschooling itself, but in finding peace within myself and my family. I needed some time to search out and find answers to my struggles with my most challenging child, with my inner-happiness, and with the adjustments we were making to our new lives here on the Big island. The current result as of now, is that I still believe in homeschooling and I still want to do it! I truly enjoy each wonderful, adventurous, challenging, heartwarming, and mind-opening day with my children, and look forward to many years ahead together.

This week we learned about the eight phases of the moon. This activity can be found here: Moon Phases Craft

I've also been dedicating a lot of my time and energy to the East Hawaii Homeschool Hui Group. I run weekly kickball games, and basically cheer lead anyone on who wants to plan an activity and get people motivated to connect together. The group has grown exponentially these past few months, with more and more homeschoolers coming out of the wood-works! We've met so many amazing people and have made some amazing new friends! The boys are really happy with the new social connections we've made, and look forward to special time with their buddies.

Each week on the blog I've been doing a feature of a local, homeschooling family. Our feature is here:

This coming Fall we are trying something new for home-schooling. We've signed up with an online local Charter school here in Hawaii, which we can correspond with via the net. Through their system we can order art supplies, sign up for community classes, receive free museum memberships, as well as curriculum. There

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Making Final Decisions

A dear, old friend of mine is getting married on Oahu this weekend and I've chosen not to attend. It was a really difficult choice for me, considering how near I am- just a few islands over! People fly back and forth between the islands all the time, and although plane fares have gone up over the years, it really isn't that big of a sacrifice to fly over several times a year. (At least by myself, not paying for my whole family, that is.)
When I first got the invitation, I had it all planned out in my head: I would fly over Saturday evening, spend the night at my Dad's condo in Waikiki, then drive up to the North Shore for a day of relaxation and fun! I would attend sacrament meeting at Wailalua Ward, then go shell-picking at my favorite beaches until it was time to head over to the mid-afternoon wedding up Pupukea. It would be an amazing afternoon of connecting with old friends, revisiting old memories, dancing, good food, and congratulating the beautiful couple.
It was going to be an unforgettable night for all, and furthermore, I couldn't wait to start dress shopping!

However, as I started searching flights and accumulating plans, I also started to get stressed out over all the little details. I started to worry about who was going to watch the boys while Micah was conducting our church meeting that day. With Micah in the Bishopric in our ward, I  have full reign of getting them dressed, fed, and to church on time, with Micah already at his morning meetings.  I reasoned in my head that one, little Sunday wouldn't matter, and Micah could ask one of the others to conduct.
However, I also started to really question if my nursing toddler could truly be away from me for a night? Even though he loves his Daddy with all his heart, the thought of sleeping a night away from him was starting to wrench away at mine! I also started to worry that my absence at night would be too hard on Micah, and all four guys would be weary and overwhelmed the next day.
But, on the flip-side, I also worried that my sanity relied on taking this trip-that I needed to stay in-tune to my own needs, and have compassion on myself. I felt this trip was important to me and to my friend, and that was something valuable to consider, as well. A year from now we wouldn't remember that one particular Sunday at church, yet I would always remember missing the wedding. And perhaps being away from Jonah for one night would be okay, where I could regain some energy and come back refreshed, ready to meet all his toddler demands.

Within all these worries I had to stop and remind myself that if something is meant to work out, it will. No amount of reasoning, or worrying, or stressing over details matters, if personal revelation tells us it is or isn't to be so. So, I went ahead and started plans for the weekend on Oahu, telling my Heavenly Father that I decided to go, and I needed His help in making everything else fall into place. Micah was willing to accommodate my plans and help me with what I needed, as well.
That final decision lasted about an hour, when I realized that I couldn't do it. With all my heart I knew I needed to stay with my family, and all the reasoning and logic and debating in the world on why I should stay or go didn't matter anymore. If the answer was to stay with my family, then that was that. It felt perfect, and peaceful, and right, and I was done deciding.

I am thankful for the revelation that comes, once we make a decision, and trust God to meet us halfway.

Today I sent a card in the mail, congratulating the couple and wishing them a long, and fantastic life together. I imagine their wedding will be beautiful- full of smiles, and friendship, and positive feelings all around.
As for me, I am spending the weekend with my family, and that's final.

Zadok refused to pose himself in the family photo above, but here he is riding his bike at Coconut Island! haha. We love him.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Behind our Baby Names

I felt this morning like I should write down the stories behind naming our first 3 babies. 

Zadok Joshua Tree
Zadok was named after a man named Zadok Pine, a small-town hero in the 19th century during the Great Depression. One evening when I was 7 months pregnant,  Micah and I were sitting beneath the stars around a campfire at Joshua Tree National Park. It was a beautiful, romantic evening relaxing together, watching the glow of the fire dance off  the boulders surrounding our camp. Micah pulled out this story from his RedCliff packet, (the school packet they give the kids to work on at the Wilderness Therapy place he previously worked at), and read it to me. It had left a strong impression on him and he wanted to share it that night under the stars.  This particular story was about Zadok Pine, a man who led out as an example to others who were fighting against oppression from the Union. The exact story itself I don't remember very well, but what I do remember is how powerfully this name Zadok stuck with me. I couldn't stop thinking about it for the next few weeks after that. Micah and I went home and did some more research on the name and found out it was a Hebrew name from the Old Testament, meaning righteous. The Biblical Zadok was a high priest in the Temple of Solomon. There's even a coronation anthem called Zadok the Priest written by George Frideric Handel, used for the British anointing of kings. 
Needless to say, Micah and I fell in love with the name, and started calling our baby boy Zadok, even before he came out! The name still fits him perfectly! 

Baby Zadok Joshua Tree
Zadok's middle name Joshua Tree was inspired from the time we spent at Joshua Tree National Park. The Joshua Tree's are everywhere out there in the desert, even surrounding Micah's parents home in the high-deserts of California. Each tree is very unique and different from the next, with branches that grow and bend in all of directions! These trees refuse to fit a mold, and refuse to be the same. We love the powerful message these trees send about being unique and marching to the beat of your own drum. FurthermoreThe name Joshua tree was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree's unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer. Zadok smiles when we remind him of his middle name. He thinks it's clever and fun, and loves having a picture of a Joshua Tree in his room.
*p.s. we were originally going to just give him the middle name Joshua, then last minute Micah added the Tree on there, as were signing the papers in the hospital!

Odin Jacob
Odin was named before we even knew who the Norse Legend Odin really was. I was about 8 months pregnant when we sent out a mass email to family asking them for baby boy name suggestions. We had several girl names picked out, but couldn't think of a boy name we liked for the life of us! We got a few funny suggestions from my Dad (Doakz, Kazod, Oakzd, Zokad, all variations of the name Zadok..haha) And a few nice ones from my mom and brother that I can't remember at the moment..... But I remember the exact moment we opened the email from Micah's sister Kim. She sent us a list of names that she loved and right smack dab in the middle was the name Odin. It was love at first sight! Micah and I immediately looked up more about the name to find that Odin is a major God in Norse Mythology, a powerful and wise King... and father to Thor. We not only liked the sound of the name, but also that Odin is such a profoundly cool, magical, prophetic and diversified kinda guy! We love the name Odin and will forever be grateful to Auntie Kim for that inspiration! When our baby boy came out, I instantly held him in my arms and proclaimed, "Here's my baby Odin!" The name was meant for him!

The middle name Jacob holds strong, personal significance to me during this pregnancy with Odin. I was preparing for my first home birth, something that was entirely new territory for me, and something I was admittedly feeling very nervous about at first. Although this home birth felt right to me in every way, and was an event in my life that held huge spiritual growth for me,  preparing for the birth required a new level of trust and  faith in the Lord. One way in which I drew strength was reading my scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon. In the beginning of the book there is a story of a mother named Sariah who is forced to leave her home in Jerusalem, to escape the destruction of the city. For many years she travels with her family in the wilderness, undergoing all sorts of trials and hardships associated with primitive survival. She had to leave the comforts of her life behind her,  travel into unknown territory, and give birth to two sons in the wilderness. She was often doubtful, worried, and scared, yet she always, always kept persevering onward, having faith that the Lord would take care of her and her family.  
The scriptures that inspired me during this time are from 2 Nephi chapter 2 versus 1-3, where Jacob's father Lehi is addressing him: 
"And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my  firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be  spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the  fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men."

I was feeling at the time that my upcoming home birth was my sojourn into the wilderness; into unknown territory full of doubt and worry and often, fear. I had to fully trust the Lord to consecrate my afflictions, and bring peace to my soul, even through my tough pregnancy. Odin Jacob was my firstborn in the wilderness, and his middle name Jacob will always remind me of the tremendous faith I attained at this time in my life! 
Baby Odin Jacob
Jonah Ka'ena
When Jonah was born at home, 2 1/2 years after Odin, we didn't have a boy name picked out at all! I was so stubbornly  stuck on having a baby girl, that I didn't think twice about boy names, and apparently, neither did Micah. For 3 days after he came out we called him baby, while pouring over boy names online, in the Hawaiian/English dictionary, and in our scriptures and  personal books. We were getting so frustrated, not feeling like anything matched our new and precious baby boy! At one point I suggested Bradley, named after the Bradley method of Natural Childbirth classes we took with our first baby. Micah said, "No way." He was right. Our son was not a Bradley. Micah suggested Isaiah, which I liked good enough, but he just didn't look like an Isaiah. By the evening of the third day I was feeling sick about it, and realized that (duh!), we should ask God in prayer, if he could help us name our baby boy. I remember kneeling by my bed while Micah was out helping the older boys with something, and asking God to help us find a name that would suit our beautiful baby boy. Immediately upon saying "Amen" the name Jonah popped into my mind. I knew this was it! I ran to Micah and said, "How about Jonah?" His reply was,"Yep! I like it!" It was a wonderful and humbling reminder that God cares and has a hand in our lives, even when we try to think we're okay on our own. We immediately started calling him Jonah, and it fit him perfectly! Jonah is also a prophet in the Old Testament, who's name means dove, which is the symbol of peace. 
Baby Jonah Ka'ena
I chose the middle name Ka'ena for Jonah because of my connection to Hawaii and especially the North Shore of Oahu. I wanted to give him a Hawaiian middle name that had some sort of significance to me, personally. (Micah doesn't care about middle names so he left them up to me) So, growing up surfing on the North Shore, Ka'ena Point was always in view, as the westernmost point on Oahu. Every time I was out surfing in the sea, or even sitting on the beautiful beaches, Ka'ena point was always there; a beautiful, symbolic, landmark jutting out into the ocean. Ka'ena Point feels like home to me, and something I sorely missed while living so far away from it. The Hawaiian word itself, Ka'ena, means praised. Jonah Ka'ena and Ka'ena Point is praised by all of us!
Jonah posing in front of his namesake, Ka'ena Point

I'm really glad I wrote this all down! These stories keep popping into my head, of things that are important to me, yet they aren't recorded anywhere. Someday I'm going to be an old lady that can't remember anything, and I'll be so grateful I kept records!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thoughts on General Conference: Obedience to God Brings Blessings!

This weekend was our 183rd annual General Conference, where we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints get to listen and watch as our living Prophet, Twelve apostles, and other leaders of the church speak messages of hope, happiness, peace, and inspiration to our hearts. I look forward to this every time, and know that after the weekend's over, I am left feeling a renewed conviction in my heart to be better, to live better, to act better, and to love better than ever before.
It's a powerful feeling to have in our home, as I know Micah and I are both feeling the Spirit touch our hearts, and both working towards the same goals.

Anyone who has access to a computer, television, or radio can partake of the messages from our church leaders. Many people who are not of our faith do, and many people are uplifted. It's an amazing world we live in, where we can share truth with one another so quickly; where we can click on a button and have access to the powerful messages our Heavenly Father wants us to know.

In our church we believe that we have a living prophet today, just like in the scriptures of old. We believe that messengers are still sent from God to teach, correct, and inspire us in this modern world. I think most people think of a prophet as an eccentric guy with a long beard, shouting on the streets about the end of the world; however, this prophet is a soft-spoken, loving, intelligent, scholarly, and kind elderly man, who has been called of God to lead the people of the world closer to Godliness. His intentions are pure. He isn't looking for money, and  he doesn't get paid. His desire is simply for people to come closer to God, so they can experience the immense blessings God offers them.

Some of the messages that really impacted my life this weekend were messages about absolute obedience to God and trust in the Lord. I feel that I have a significant amount  faith in this area of my life, but as my life continues to grow and change, I realize that I need to adjust to new levels of obedience. For example, when I was 21, I was newly feeling out my relationship with God, and just beginning to trust his guidance in my life. I had to trust him fully that coming back to church, keeping all of His commandments, forsaking drugs and alcohol, and living the laws of chastity were what He wanted me to do. Because of my obedience at that time, In return, He poured immense blessings into my life. I can still feel the sacred power of that time in my life--it was a beautiful and special time of recommitting myself to God, and believing fully that my obedience to Him would bless my life immeasurably. And it has. I have experienced blessings in my life way beyond what I ever imagined. I have God to thank for all that I have--my husband, my children, my internal feelings of peace and happiness, my integrity, and my ability to overcome challenges that I never thought I could overcome. He has showed me a path to greatness, and I will be forever dedicated to Him for that.

Yet now that I am 34, I find that He requires a new level of obedience from me. I am not a young girl anymore! I no longer struggle with chastity--I am a married woman! I no longer question the Word of Wisdom--alcohol, drugs, and chemical dependencies have no place in my life! I no longer push against  honesty and integrity--I am true to myself and what I believe! And I no longer treat His commandments like a buffet, picking and choosing what appeals to me--I know that I am blessed when I keep every last one of them, and especially when I repent for the ones I totally mess up on!

Because I am older and in an entirely different stage of life now, It's time for me to recommit to being more obedient. The rules have changed, and the bar has risen. I can feel this with all my heart.
My Heavenly Father has been patiently waiting for me to recommit to Him in the ways that I need to grow. For me this means having absolute faith and trust in the Lord that the things I am doing will result in happiness, and blessings, and closeness to God. For me this means faithfully attending church every Sunday, honoring and keeping the covenants I have made with God in His Temple, faithfully serving in my callings, reading my scriptures every.single.day, and making time each morning and night and throughout the day to pray. This also means trusting the Lord that He is guiding me as a mother, believing that my calling as a mother is divine.
Yes, the levels of obedience have changed over time, and will continue to change as I continue to trust in Him fully.

In summary, the main message I walked away with from General Conference this weekend was that it's time to recommit to obedience. It's time to walk forward with even more faith, and watch as the blessings are poured out over my life.

God wants this for all of us and I know He is ever so patiently waiting for our understanding to come.

Here is a wonderful message from our living Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, about the blessings of obedience, called Obedience Brings Blessings. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Birthdays, Birthdays!!

I've been thinking...which is often a good thing, but sometimes not.....but the point is that these last couple birthdays hit me really hard and made me THINK about some of the things that I want out of life. And I'm not talking about my birthdays, but the birthdays of our two eldest sons: Zadok turned 7 a couple weeks ago and Odin turned 5 this past Saturday. Whoa! They are old!
 It will be only 11 more years until Zadok's 18, and turning in his missionary papers to serve away from home for 2 years. It's going to happen in a blink of an eye! There are so many things I want to do with him and his brothers before they grow up; so many places I want to show them! I made a bucket list of hopeful family adventures, and here they are:
  • Hiking the Grand Canyon from rim to rim
  • Camping and boulder climbing in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Camping and hiking in Zion's National Park
  • Road-triping to historic church monuments in New York and Missouri
  • Backpacking through some of the Pacific Crest Trail
  • Building a summer shack on our Southern Utah land
  • Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Goblin Valley.
  • Boating on Lake Shasta and Lake Powell
  • Hiking in Sequoia National Park to see the giant redwood trees
  • Riding big roller-coasters at amusement parks
  • Buying a house and planting our favorite fruit trees
  • Owning my very own pet pig 
  • Stargazing on warm summer nights out on the trampoline
  • Backpacking through Coyote Gulch
  • Building a tree house
That's all I could think of for now, but I'm sure there's more. A spark has ignited inside me, and I know Micah can feel it, too. There's an urgency to get on with life, to fulfill all our dreams with our family and children. Living in Hawaii again was a certainly a dream of mine to fulfill! It has been amazing, and wonderful in so many ways and I'm so glad we came here. I am on a healthy, happy path in life that I needed to get on for good. I've learned some things about myself and my family that couldn't have happened anywhere else. Hawaii has refreshed and recharged me and made me whole!
  Now I'm wondering....how the heck can we do everything we want WAY over here on this teeny-weeny island with no money to travel?

Happy Birthday to these two, amazing boys! They were not only born in the same month, 2 years and 2 weeks apart, but they are also the best of friends! 
p.s. I promise we'll get this figured out, kiddos, and all those adventures will be ours!

Hapuna Weekend

We rented one of those little A-frame shelters at Hapuna Beach over the weekend, on the other side of the island from where we live. It costs 33 bucks a night, and feels like a glorified tent, with mosquito netting and all. It was pretty awesome. You can either sleep on either sides of the middle table on wooden platforms, or lay down some padding on the cement floor. We did both! That's Micah blowing up our air mattress for the night. (which actually deflated halfway through the night--hello cement!)

Here's Odin all snuggled up in his new sleeping bag. This day was also his birthday!
We only stayed for one night, yet that was enough for our little family, for the first time. Since we don't get over to the big, white sandy beaches as often as we'd like, we end up rather beat up by the end of the day when we do. All of the sun, sand, and salt water leaves chaffing and sunburns all over our skin. We go home at the end of the day sleep-deprived and worn down, yet completely exhilarated from all the fun.
The thing I was looking forward to the most about this trip was waking up in the morning to the sunrise on the sand. One of my favorite childhood pastimes is going for early-morning swims, while watching the sun stretch it's warming rays over the island. This one didn't disappoint!
I loved being out on the beach watching my family play in the sand, before the crowds showed up. It was just us and our friends we came with, and a few morning walkers. Very peaceful.
We stayed at the beach all morning, until lunch, playing in the sand, swimming, sun-bathing, going for walks, and having a blast. Jonah was happy to be outside, clinging onto his favorite "Daddy Duck" most of the day. Here they are going for a walk to see the elephant. (keep reading)
The kids found some fresh water springs bubbling up out of the sand. The smallest things can capture their curiosity. Here they are, reaching down into the cool, fresh water for pebbles collected there.
At the very end of the beach near the hotel we found a family building a large elephant in the sand. They were vacationing from Illinois. We were super impressed with their amazing talent and dedication, in creating this masterpiece! Thank you John, Gina, and Johnny for making us all smile!
Don't forget to notice that the elephant is indeed wearing polka dot swim shorts.
We had a wonderful weekend, and will do this again, I'm sure! The cabins are reasonably priced, comfortable, and perfect for a little family wanting an adventure away from home. There was also  communal bathrooms, showers, and a full kitchen for our usage. Some of my other favorite parts of the weekend were simply hanging out, playing games, laughing, and sharing food with friends. I didn't get enough  pictures, but we had a great time for sure!
Oh, and my henna hand by 11 year old Molly. She's got some mad-inking-skills that girl!
Aloha and have fun!