Saturday, June 29, 2013

I'm Totally Finching It!

I did it! I finally got myself a bike and am riding like the wind! I like to say that I'm "Finching it", which means I might almost be as cool as my bicycle riding hero, Emily Finch......
Except I'm only carrying the weight of one small kid, not 5-6 large ones. And I only ride for recreation at this point in time. But hey- I'm Finching it!

After getting the chance to read and review the book "Everyday Bicyling" on my blog, I was wholeheartedly inspired to reunite with the lost world of  bike riding. 
While reading, I realized how much I've missed the positive impact bike riding has always had in my life, and how I've let having children and difficult living circumstances get in the way of that. (like snow and bad roads)
But Elly Blue's book encourages all of us to get back out there and ride, no matter our lifestyle or circumstances. She gives us options and encouragement, and the green flag to go for it.
In the chapter called, Family Bicycling, I was introduced to Emily Finch, who is the mother of 6 that totally ditched her large suburban and now rides all over the city of Portland for transportation. She's amazing! If you haven't read Emily's story, or seen her adorable interview on Ricki Lake, click here and here and allow yourself to be inspired!

My favorite thing about Emily's enthusiasm for biking 6 kids through the city is not because it's the "green" thing to do, or because it saves on gas money, or because it's healthy exercise, or even that she lost 30 pounds after she started doing it and can eat all the chocolate she wants! (Even though that would be a HUGE incentive for me.) It's because she says it makes her happy! Simply. Unbelievably. Sweetly, Happy.

And that's why I got a bike again. Because I love to feel happy, too, and bike riding is one of those things that totally increases my happiness factor x100. 
Here we are bombing down the hills at our favorite Lokahi Park here in Hilo. This is one of my favorite cheap thrills, actually. Ha-ha! I try to do this at least 3 times a week just to get high off the endorphins.   Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
This was my favorite scene of today, of my sweet family riding in front of me. I've been dreaming of this for a long time-to be able to ride bikes with my my husband and kids. I just needed a kick in the pants to get there. It also helps that they are getting older and can ride their own bikes, although you can still do it with younger children--just read the chapter called Family Bicycling and you'll find a way.

Happy Bicycling! Happy "Finching!"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Available Now"

We live in a small plantation home here in Hilo, Hawaii. Plantation style homes were built quickly, inexpensively, and with minimal building materials back when sugar and pineapple plantation workers needed affordable places to dwell with their families. Although our house may not have been used for this basic purpose, it was certainly built in the same fashion! The walls in our house are singular, meaning I can hammer a nail through the living room wall while my husband watches the other side of the nail appear in the adjacent bedroom. You have to learn where these nails stick out around the house, and watch your head as you walk. Watch out for nails, is one of our house rules. Oh, and No kicking walls, children, because you might make a hole. 
 We moved into this house about a year ago when we were sick of living in the seemingly isolated, closed-in, jungles of Puna. It felt lonely out there for me. I needed friendly neighbors instead of wild dogs, and a park to walk to instead of abandoned houses. I decided one day that If I had to look at one more dirt road, or one more feral cat, I would shoot my foot.
So I got in the car and started to drive towards Hilo city, searching desperately for a "For Rent" sign to appear on the side of the road. We couldn't afford any of the rentals being advertised in the newspaper or on craigslist, so I asked God to please direct me to something, anything, to please save me from the lonely, depressing jungles of Puna. (It's not that bad out there, it was just me...promise)
The "For Rent" sign for this house popped out at me after about 5 minutes of driving into Hilo. There it was like a magical golden message appearing from God himself, "For Rent by Owner, Available Now." 
It was a small house and It was an old house. It had crab spiders squatting in every crevice, and millipedes curled up in the bathtub. I could see the dirt below the house from a crack in the master bedroom floor. There was green mold on every counter top, and thick dust covering every jalousie. But it had a large yard, where I could envision slip n' slides and a small garden, and long summer days playing freeze tag amongst the kiddie pools. It just needed a little love from a family, and it would do fine.
We moved in right away and have been here since April of 2012. I love this little plantation house. I love the morning breeze that blows through these old  jalousie windows. I love watching double-rainbows form outside the large, living room window. I love my friendly Japanese neighbors that come over with papayas and string beans from their humble garden. I love hosting summer swimming parties on our big, grassy yard. I even love all the little critters that call our house home--all the millipedes, beetles, crickets, termites, cockroaches, and crab spiders that I try to suck up with the vacuum. They make for great discoveries and entertainment for little boys!

It has been two years since we first moved to the Big Island. I reminded my husband that we reached our two year anniversary on June 21st, and his response was a confused,"Of what??" Of moving to the Big Island, of course! One of the scariest, bravest, daring, and most traumatizing blind acts of faith we had ever attempted together in our marriage!!--(besides getting married, of course.) It's easy to forget all the struggles you've gone though when you are living in the moment.
However, we took that flight of faith together, not knowing what the future would hold. No job, no permanent place to live, no family or friends, and no idea what our lives would amount to after we walked off of that airplane.
But here we are now- Happy, thriving, and moving forward with faith, in our wonderful, old, plantation home. 
 Just like the words on that For Rent sign jumped out to me, "Available Now!"  so God reminds me again and again that He is is available now, today, tomorrow and every day therafter that I need Him.

Happy two year Anniversary to Us!
With Aloha,
Sally, Micah, and the 3 boys

*Micah got a job at Hilo High School this next year, teaching science
*Sally is busy learning, playing, and homeschooling with the kids, plus enjoying all the wonderful friends we've made here.
*We are happily involved with our LDS Church family- Micah is in the Bishopric as 2nd Counselor and I am Primary Music Leader.
*Zadok is taking Kung-fu, loves competing in Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments, loves snorkeling, loves his homeschool kickball friends, and loves going to Primary. 
* Odin loves his homeschool friends, loves going to Primary, is learning to swim, and wants to take Gymnastics!
*Jonah is happily following his brothers everywhere, loves Sea turtles, dipping his toes in the water, finding bugs, and feeding Duckling.
p.s. The newest member of our family is a Jackson Chameleon named Duckling:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making Plumeria Leis with Kids

We give leis in Hawaii as a way to show our love for others. The Hawaiians and other Polynesian cultures have been sharing beautiful, flower garland leis for generations. The ancient chiefs would exchange leis as a way to show acceptance and peace between different groups. Giving a lei when someone arrives to the islands is a way to say hello and welcome! Giving leis on special occasions like birthdays, Mothers day, and graduations is a way of telling someone you love them and you are proud of them. Leis are also given to say thank you, to say congratulations, and to say goodbye when someone leaves. 
Growing up in Hawaii, I've always enjoyed collecting flowers and making leis for people.  If you live in an area of Hawaii that has a lot of Plumeria trees, then you've probably had the opportunity to teach your kids how to make leis with them! 
All you need is a blossoming Plumeria tree, some string or floss, and long-ish darning needles. I picked up these needles at the local grocery market in the hardware section. I had the kids use the longer ones, even though they were still poky, they could handle them a lot better than the shorter sewing needles. 
We started by picking 2 large grocery bags of Plumerias and Bougainvilleas, and spreading them out on the floor in front of us. You could make a lei with only Plumeria flowers and it would be gorgeous, but since we had a lot of Bougainvillea bushes around, we decided to use the colorful leaves as fillers between the Plumerias.
Measure a string about 3 feet in length then tie a knot at the end. Next use your needle to start threading your flowers through. With the Plumerias, you push the needle through the hole between the pedals and out the stem, like this:
To add Bougainvilleas to your lei, bunch up about 3 or 4 colorful leaves and thread the needle straight through them, like this:
Your lei should start looking like this:
Keep threading your flowers through the string in whatever colors or patterns you desire. 
Once it starts looking like it might be long enough to go over and around someones head, stop to measure it.
Finally, tie off your lei by knotting the two strings together. 

And last, give it to someone you love with a big, warm ALOHA.

Happy first Birthday baby Taya! We love you!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Camping at Ho'okena

We've got this camping thing down now. The to-bring-list is on the table, the van is full of gas, and the gear is piled high in the living room, ready to haul out to the back of the car. Snorkeling gear? check. Gas stove and cooking pot? check. Tent and sleeping bags? check. Enough groceries for 3 days? check. Camera? check. 
Once everything is checked off our list, we rally the kids together for one last check-off. Whooops, the toothbrushes! Someone run and grab the toothbrushes! And floss! Then last of all we kneel and offer a family prayer, asking God for protection, safety, and fun, on our next family adventure. We thank Him for this beautiful world he has given us, and pray that we can enjoy this special time we have together as a family in nature.
And away we go! This time we're headed to Ho'okena Beach Park for 3 days and 2 nights of camping on the beach. We've got 2 1/2 hours of driving ahead of us. We'll be heading up over Kilauea Volcano, down through Pahala and Na'alehu, then around the south bend to Ho'okena Beach Road. The camping area is a 2 mile winding drive downwards, until you hit sand.
The view at the bottom is worth every butt-numbing, shi-shi-pulling-over, kid-whining minute, spent in the car to get there! 
Ho'okena Beach is one of our favorite places to camp. When we first moved to this island 2 years ago we found this beach by accident while out exploring one day. We had been at Punalu'u Beach for the day but decided it was too cold to swim what with all the freshwater springs bubbling up everywhere. So we got in the car and drove and drove until we saw this road leading downward towards the ocean.  Arriving here was like a little piece of heaven in our day. The bay was sparkling blue and gorgeous, the water was warm, the snorkeling fantastic! We've been coming back ever since.

As far as camping goes, this place is super mellow and family friendly. There are bathrooms, showers, fire pits, and sinks for washing dishes. My personal favorite asset of camping here is that you can set your tent up right on the sand, just 150 feet away from the breaking surf. I love falling asleep each night listening to the crashing waves on the shore. Although I have to mention that it's not just the ocean you're close to; you have to be comfortable with the close proximity of your next-door neighbors, as well. You may also be falling asleep to funky music, loud snoring, or other human-noises of the night (ahem).

Here's a photo of the beach store below: You can  rent kayaks, canoes, or stand-up-paddle boards if you don't have your own. Or buy sunscreen and swim shorts if you forgot yours.
When we first got here on Wednesday (around 1pm) the only place to set up our tent was in the hot sun, no shade whatsoever. Since camping spots aren't marked or reserved, you basically set up your tent anywhere you can find an empty spot of sand. There's an ongoing game of musical tents as campers come and go, and people move their tents to more desirable camping spots. The second day we scored a nice spot under a large, shady tree! Good for napping and playing endless games of Trouble!
Sitting in the hot sun, waiting for a shady spot.
If you walk down towards the right side of the bay, you'll find Odin's treasure trove of tide-pools. His favorite thing to do is walk down the lava rocks searching the tide pools for sea-urchin spines, cowry shells, or opihi. 
There was plenty to find!

There are usually other families camping here, too, meaning lots of other kids to play with. 
Here's us, stopping for a watermelon snack at lunchtime.
Since I have an OCD tendency that forces me to clean non-stop whatever is in front of me, I promised myself I would try to relax for 3 days without cleaning anything. I didn't make it. I saw a broom and a sand-covered-sidewalk and that was the end of that. Hey, at least I'm smiling. :) Plus we found 82 cents hiding under that sand. Score!
From trash to treasure: my silly Odin wearing the lens-less goggles he found.
Mama cooking a pasta dinner under the shady tree!
Zadok's morning face. Waiting for a bagels n' cream cheese breakfast.
Friday morning we woke up to a glorious pod of dolphins swimming in the bay! The Nai'a- or Spinner Dolphins- come here to rest after a long night of hunting fish out in the open ocean. We were awe-struck by their magnificent presence, as they swam peacefully from one side of the bay to the other.
Micah and Zadok paddled out to watch them a little closer.  Although the Hawaii-dolphin-protection law says that you have to stay at least 150 feet away from them, there's nothing saying that the dolphins can't swim up close to you. Here's Micah and Zadok sitting a safe distance away on the paddle board, with a pod of dolphins coming in for a closer look at the funny-looking humans.
Zadok was stoked, to say the least! What a beautiful experience!
We had a wonderful time! I think it was good for me to go do something I truly enjoy especially right after getting back from Oahu. I was worried that I would be homesick coming back to the Big island, wishing I was back snorkeling at Three Tables again. But I wasn't. In fact I only became more aware of what a blessing it is to raise my family in such a beautiful, peaceful, and natural place. The Big Island is truly a unique island, and coming back here felt like coming home. It may never hold the same blissful feelings of nostalgia I have of growing up on Oahu's North Shore, but now is the time to create blissful memories with my husband and children right here on this island. Thank you Ho'okena for providing us with a beautiful place to create lasting family memories. A hui ho. Til next time. We'll definitely be back soon! (It's time for this exhausted Mama to take a little break.)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Creating Jobs Kahuku Style

While on our vacation to Oahu last week, Micah and I joked about opening up our very own shave-ice truck, which we would park on the North Shore during the hot and busy beach days! We would sell the original "Big island Ice-Shave" in all sorts of exotic flavors like Kulolo, Ube, Haupia, and Waiwe. We would make billions of dollars and build a huge house in Mokuleia and have twenty children who would then drive the truck and sell shave ice while we rotated surfing and snorkeling sessions all day. "It's going to be awesome!," we decided.  But let's face it, that's probably never going to happen-- In most part because we're happy right where we are in Hilo, living the life we're living, but most importantly because we are horrible at selling stuff. In fact, we stopped into Pizza Bob's for pizza one night where I had waitressed for many years in my young adult-life and It was such a relief for me to be on the other side of the table eating the pizza with my family, instead of selling it. So glad those days are over!Yikes! I still get the nightmares!

However, I was super impressed with how many quality jobs my former Kahuku High School classmates (1990's) have created for themselves! Creating a job that can keep you thriving on Oahu is paramount to survival! Kudos to you all of you for creating your very own successful businesses!  Please let me know of any others I've missed. And please support your local businesses; they are what keep our economy and our communities going strong: 

*Paradise Baby Co.-Oahu's Luxury Baby Equipment Rental Service. Supplying you with everything your baby will need from the car, to the hotel or vacation rental, to the beach! Owned by Cara (Hemperly)Ballard and family.
*Bonzer Front- Bonzer Front is an extension of Cafe Haleiwa, owned by Megan Campbell and Noelle (Campbell) Hayes, Daughters of Duncan and Jacqueline Campbell (Original owners of Cafe Haleiwa.) Provides Wine and Beer from all over the world, small family owned vineyards, sustainable, organic, and bio-dynamic producers. 
*Mermaids Haleiwa-  Beautiful custom made, one-of-a-kind jewelry with rare exotic Tahitian black pearls, Sunrise shells from our precious islands, and a mix of other beach treasures from our own back yard! 66-935 Kaukanahua rd. Waialua (old Snake road) Owned by  Breanna Tidball.
*Covert Affairs- Ryan Covert is a private chef providing gourmet cuisine for all occasions. Specialties include Asian-Pacific, Mediterranean, and Caribbean Cuisine.
*Guava Shop- Casual beachy-chic boutique located in central Haleiwa shopping center, (next to Clark Little Photography). Featuring all the best in dresses, tops, swimwear, bags, and beauty. Owned by Liz (Lerner)House and Kai Cost.
*North Shore Organic Gardening- Aquaponics, Hydroponics, Organics, Vermiculture, Composting, seeds, Lighting, Propagation, and Education. 67-292 Goodale Ave, Waialua, in Historic  Waialua Shopping Center. Owned by Nate and Katy (Albert) Amatore. 
*Marina Miller/Redheartphoto- Lifestyle and Underwater Photography. Amazing wedding photos! Check out her facebook page to see some beautiful images!

I suppose I can't mention former-Kahuku-student business owners without mentioning Jack Johnson. Ha! He's the surfer boy from the North Shore turned world-famous-surf-genre-folk-music-artist. His family has been established out there for several generations. Jack's successful music career has also aided in creating an amazing organization called Kokua Hawaii Foundationwhich exists to support environmental education in the schools and communities of Hawaii.  Their mission is to, "Provide students with experiences that will enhance their appreciation for and understanding of their environment so they will be lifelong stewards of the earth."  
While we were visiting we were able to attend the Ocean Fest, an event to raise money for environmental education in Hawaii's schools. We stopped by the Kokua Hawaii Foundation booth and were aptly impressed with how they were using this foundation to bless the aina and the keiki of Hawaii. (No, Jack Johnson wasn't manning the booth, but his wife and kids were there.) Big kudos to the Johnsons for using their celebrity influence for good!

Yes, It seems that more and more creative jobs have surfaced on the North Shore in the past ten years, keeping people happily employed. I've also noticed that many residents have either opened surf schools, or are giving individual surf lessons, or are even renting out surfing equipment for the day. There was even a new "Hans Hedeman" surf rental/lesson shop at Turtle Bay Hotel which was never there before. Furthermore, the Shrimp Truck industry has boomed! There is an "original" shrimp truck on every corner, not only Giovanni's. (Though Giovanni's is still the best!) The possibilities are endless for business! Maybe if we get sick of Hilo someday, we'll open up that shave-ice truck. If someone doesn't beat us to it, that is...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Oahu Vacation Recap and Slideshow

Our vacation to Oahu was nothing short of fabulous! This picture of Odin at Turtle Bay Beach, sums up my feelings EXACTLY!
 I feel very blessed that we got to spend an entire week on my home island enjoying the beauty and adventures that I so enjoyed growing up there! 

    From the time our boys were toddlers I've told them many stories about Oahu! They were thrilled to finally see the real picture behind my many, many, bed-time-story narratives. We revisited everything from my home surf break Rubber Duckies, to popping the dead blue bubbles on Hukilau beach, to seashell collecting on Ke'iki beach, to the gorgeous Temple Beach where I was baptized.
   My heart soared and flipped several times a day as I witnessed my boys snorkeling at Three Tables, running around Turtle Bay Kuilima, collecting flowers, walking around the Honolulu Zoo with their Grandpa Bill, or eating pizza at the old Pizza Bob's where I was a waitress for several years. Everyone had a really fun time, and I got to bask in the nostalgia of my old memories! 
The major highlights for me on the trip were definitely swimming at Sharks Cove, the gorgeous view at Laie Point, sea-shell diving at Ke'iki, and most special was going into Laie Temple for the first time. It was a beautiful and meaningful experience, reminding me again that God gives us many chances to change, and live the life we dream to have.  This is mine.

It had been so long since I had spent any time at all on my old North Shore that I literally felt like I was stepping out of a time capsule! Each day as I ran into old neighbors, teachers, acquaintances and friendly faces, I played a game called, "Wait-I think I know this person! Now what did they look like 10 years ago?"

We got to spend a couple days with old friends, but weren't able to connect with everyone we wanted to. Sorry we missed some of you! Traveling around the island with three hyper, busy, non-stop boys was a challenge and an adventure in itself, as you can imagine. Hopefully next time we can make more concrete plans and see all the wonderful faces we missed. (Also super awesome to hang with the Singer family who flew all the way over from Utah and stayed in the same condos as us! Let's do it again next year!) 

Here's a picture slide show I made of our trip! Now that we're back on the Big Island, we're going to watch it tonight for Family Night and once again relive the beautiful and unique island of Oahu! Enjoy!