Friday, December 26, 2014

Flashback Friday- In Hawaii we say "TOWN"

We used to call the other side of the island "town”. Everyone who lived out in the country did. Traveling over to town was a big deal for most families, as it was clear on the other side of the island, and such a bustling change from the quiet and solitude of the country. When my siblings and I were little kids in the 1980's my mom would herd us all onto the The Bus, our local circle-island transit system, where we'd sit for a winding, bumpy, 45 minutes, until we reached town Kaneohe mall on the east side of the island. This was the closest city from where we lived in the small village of Laie. 
While riding The Bus I liked to sit by the window, so I could see the ocean scenery on the way there. The waves were always choppy on the eastern shore, with onshore winds blowing hard upon the sands. I could see the ocean colors change from light green, to turquoise, to deep dark blue as I followed the changing shades further and further towards the horizon. There were always fishermen lining the shores, listening for their lines to ring, waiting patiently for a big catch.
The Ko'olau Mountains towered overhead on the right. I always marveled at how lush and green they were, and how they never stopped glimmering, even under the dark, looming, rain clouds. I would practice saying the names of the towns as we passed each one of them by, starting with Laie, then Hauula, then Punalu'u, and then Ka'a'awa, with all it's seemingly thousands of a's.  Then finally we'd pass by Chinaman's Hat at Kualoa Park, then Kaneohe Bay, until we reached the small city of Kaneohe itself. 
My mom would get us off at the mall where we’d walk around for hours, mostly window shopping. The fast-moving escalators fascinated me, along with the pet store with aisles of brightly colored fish and parakeets. I always made a point to stop into the Sears department store for a catalog to take home with me. One year there was this white, faux fur coat which I desperately wanted. I could picture myself strutting down the streets of Laie wrapped in my snow-white fur, perhaps to the envy of all the kids at Laie Elementary School. I circled it in big, bold, black marker so my mother would see it and buy it for me for Christmas. (She never did, thank goodness, and I can see now why that would have been a bad choice.)
Before we left Kaneohe mall, my mom would buy us each a plate lunch at Patti's Chinese Kitchen. We'd pile our plates high with Chow Mein noodles, cabbage egg rolls, and sweet rice cakes for dessert. 
Minutes later, feeling stuffed and fulfilled, we'd get back onto The Bus to our next destination. Sometimes we'd get off at the Goodwill Thrift Store for a new pair of shoes or jams (local lingo for shorts), or sometimes we'd get off at Chinaman's Hat where we’d play on the seashore and dip our toes into the ocean. No matter what we did, it was always an exciting adventure to travel into town.

 
It wasn’t until years later that I was introduced to another type of town called Waikiki, on the south shore. Waikiki is still the second biggest city on Oahu, today, with Honolulu being the first. But where Honolulu is the government and business center of the island, Waikiki is the bustling center of tourist attractions for people visiting from all over the world. Most people that have been a tourist in Hawaii have stayed in Waikiki at some point on their vacation.
Waikiki is packed full of hotels, resorts, swimming pools, shopping centers, shuttle buses, and sun-burnt tourists. Restaurants and bars line the beaches. The sand is covered with rented beach umbrellas. Tourists lounge in beach chairs by the hundreds.  People gather from all corners of the planet to float carelessly on beach rafts under the Waikiki sunshine or surf the gentle waves.
Our family rarely went there when I was a little girl. 
By the early 1990's we had moved to a small house near Pupukea Foodland across from Three Tables beach on the North Shore.  As a 12-year-old girl, I could walk over to Three Tables almost any time of day and have the beach to myself. 
I remember many carefree summer days spent running up and down the sand with my brothers and sister, and my Pomeranian puppy, Pog. We’d collect  seashells, swim with sea turtles, and watch the most glorious sunsets together. I felt much more comfortable on this side of the island, away from the crowds of the city.

 In the summer of 1992, however, this would all change for me. It was this year that some good friends from California invited me to stay with them in their hotel suite while they visited Waikiki.  I had hardly spent any time in Waikiki at all, and now I would be staying in a hotel, right in the center of the city. I was intrigued to experience a different side of Hawaii, and experience it, I did! Because every summer for the next 8 years this wonderful family invited me to come stay with them in their hotel! 
They had never-ending lists of fun things to do, and invited me to join along with them.  We often spent the evenings people watching on the busy Kalakaua strip. It was easy to point out the prostitutes, as we  watched them pick up on rich Japanese men in designer suits. It was so much fun hanging out with my friend Ashley, as we made up silly things to do like butt walk down the boulevard, or laugh at tiny women in giant platform shoes. 
Many hot, summer days were spent sun-tanning on the beach, or surfing on long boards rented from the local Beach Boys. Sometimes we’d pay for a ride in a canoe, or sail on catamarans in the bouncing surf.  When the waves got really big we’d bodysurf the shore break and then spend the rest of the day picking tiny specks of sand out of our hair.

When we grew tired of the ocean we’d go shopping at the International Market Place, or grab some french fries and Mud Pie at Duke’s. On the weekends we'd sit and watch live bands play and laugh at all the drunk and sun burnt tourists, dancing in hazy circles on the beach.
There was also a pool at the Outrigger Hotel on the beach, where we would go to escape the salt water for a cool, chlorinated, dip. There was a large, glass window underneath the pool’s surface that peeked into a workout room where people jogged on treadmills. I thought it was the coolest thing ever to look in the under-water-window with blurry eyes, and watch people run.

Those sunny, happy, lackadaisical  Summers in Waikiki are something I have looked back on, cherished, and smiled at over and over again. I feel so blessed to have had those experiences in my life, along with these amazing friends that are still my friends to this day. I also have fond and wonderful memories of hanging out with my Dad when he moved to town in my teenage years.

I loved growing up North Shore, yet I also look back with warm nostalgia, of my happy memories of "town." 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happiness is our goal

I'm still in shock over our big, recent changes! My child: my 8 year old who was once shy-as-can-be, anxious and nervous, introverted, wants-to-be-home-with-mom-child, decided he wanted to start attending third grade public school last week!
It was just several weeks ago when I started getting these feelings like he needed something more than what we were doing at home. Those little whisperings of change on the wind started to appear in my head, and I knew something would happen real soon- I just didn't know what.
It was a Sunday afternoon in the nursing lounge at church, talking to another mom, that it all came together. She was telling me that her 10 year old son with high functioning autism started out his school experience really slowly on an ILP (Individual Learning Plan). This situation worked really well for him as he could pick and choose what and when he attended school. This mom told me that the school worked with him and catered to his needs as was fit. I was amazed that a public school would be so accommodating! I started to wonder if I could squeeze Zadok into some classes here and there at Odin's school. Maybe a computer class, or a science class, or some PE, just to get some more growing experiences in. I figured he wouldn't like the idea at first, but might warm up to it if I went with him the first couple of times. Plus he would see his best buddy and little brother at school and maybe they could even be in the same science group. I went in and talked to the principle about it and he was wonderful. He said that, absolutely, Zadok could start attending whatever classes he wanted to, whenever was good for us. He was very respectful and considerate of Zadok's social anxiety and willing to do whatever we needed. He assigned him a teacher, his own desk, and basically said,"See ya when we see ya!" I didn't even have to sign any paperwork!
We started him off on a Tuesday afternoon after lunch just to attend a 3 hour section of school. *Just to get his toes wet and see how he liked it. *Just to meet some new friends. *Just to learn some new things.
Zadok wasn't thrilled with the idea, but he was willing to go along with it. Meanwhile, It felt so right in my heart to push him forward with these new experiences.
What I didn't expect was when I picked him up three hours later he would tell me he that he loved every second of it, and he wanted to start attending school full time, right away.
What?? Really?? 
I wasn't expecting this.
"Are you sure?" I asked, "Because you don't have to go full time. You can just take the classes you want," I said.
"Nope", I love school and I want to go full time," he replied.
"Okay then! We want you to be happy and if this is what you want to do...let's do it!" I said back.
 Funny, while I thought he was just dipping his toes into something new, he was actually ready to dive right in!

The next day I went in and filled out all the necessary paperwork. I watched as my once shy, anxious child ran around a soccer field kicking a ball around with other children. I watched as he walked off to his science group with nothing more than a quick wave goodbye to mom. I cried as I pulled out of the parking lot because I knew that God had led us to this moment. I knew that Zadok was ready to do something new on his life's path of progression, and that it all happened at the right time, at the right place, and according to God's plans for Zadok.

The following week was his first full week of school:
On Monday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy.
On Tuesday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy.
On Wednesday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy.
On Thursday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy.
On Friday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy, and I knew that he was exactly where he needed to be.

Two months ago if someone asked me if we would ever put Zadok in school I wouldv'e said No way. He's just not that kind of kid and he'll probably homeschool forever! But changes happen. Life happens. And you just never know when the winds of change will blow your direction and change the life's course.
Of course, If I wanted to, I could keep all my boys home and make homeschooling my ultimate goal: But I've been realizing more and more that it was never about homeschooling vs. brick and mortar schooling for our family; It's always been about happiness. Happiness has always been our ultimate goal. And if my kids are thriving and happier attending a wonderful, educational school with a supportive and positive environment, then I'm all for it!

I'm excited for my boy's futures here!  I have been impressed so far with the caliber of people we are associating with through this public school experience, and look forward to many years ahead as we actively involve ourselves in their schooly social lives and educations. I also feel like we've finally found a dedicated community of people we can depend on and build relationships with, as we are all on this path together.
I am very happy right now and thank God for this awesome  turn of events.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sometimes I eat bugs for lunch

I try to have a big pot of something yummy in the fridge to eat all through the week, such as chili, or lentil soup, or potato soup, or Micah's delicious stir-fry. I get really busy during the week and often don't have time to cook something nice for myself. When I don't get enough food I get cranky, shaky, and irritable with my kids. Having a big pot of healthy soup on hand is the perfect thing to help keep me balanced.

Several weeks ago I was having a really hard time getting enough food in. It seemed that every-time I had a chance to prep some veggies or cut some meat, my baby would wake up and need me to hold him or feed him. Or my toddler would climb on me and need some attention. I was living on fishy crackers and apples and it wasn't doing the job. I finally asked my husband to make me a pot of veggie stir fry so I'd have some actual food to eat when life got crazy.
The broccoli harvest from our summer garden was huge this year! In fact, up until three weeks ago we still had a big bag of broccoli in our fridge on the verge of going rotten. I was so grateful when he used up that entire bag of broccoli to whip up the biggest, fullest, pot of veggie stir fry I'd ever seen! Yum! The fishy cracker famine was over!
I scooped up a bowl and immediately started shoving big spoonfuls of stir fry into my mouth. Each bite was something warm, wonderful, and satisfying to my taste-buds! I could feel the bountiful nutrients penetrating my soul and bringing life back into my deprived system. 
Then I stopped. 
Because right then I noticed that along with my freshly cooked broccoli florets, were infestations of freshly cooked broccoli bugs. And not just one or two, but 15-20 little aphids per bite, floating amongst the other vegetable and stir-fry particles.
I don't know how many little bugs I had already eaten, but It was too late-I couldn't take it back: I was a bug-eater.  
It immediately reminded me of the time when I was a little girl in Hawaii and my mom made me a bowl of hot ramen for breakfast. Halfway through the bowl I realized I had been eating boiled, dead maggots with every bite. I was so grossed out that I threw the rest in the trash. However, I didn't dare say anything to my mom because we were very poor and that was all the food my family had that day. I went to school grateful for a maggot-free school lunch. 

I suppose I should have thrown out my husband's veggie stir fry, too. I suppose I should've been thoroughly grossed out, wondering why he didn't wash the broccoli first. I could've yelled at him for feeding me bugs and stomped my feet around the house demanding a re-do! However,  I knew that it wasn't intentional and that he was just busy. When people are busy, they sometimes overlook small details like washing the small bugs off of the broccoli before serving it to their starving spouses. 
So, I didn't throw it out. And although we are not poor, and gratefully we have enough money to buy food for our family, I ate that entire pot of bug-infested stir fry during the week anyways. 

I did it because I am grateful for a husband that will take the time to make me food.
I did it because I love veggie stir-fry and didn't want to see it go to waste.
I did it because it was really delicious, and before I noticed all the critters, I had been thoroughly enjoying it.
I did it because if I closed my eyes and imagined the bugs were all gone, it still tasted the same.
I did it because I've eaten bugs before, when I worked in wilderness therapy, and they didn't taste all that bad.
I did it because I have a good imagination and could easily pretend I was a wild-bush-woman from the Australian outback who eats bugs on a regular basis.
Finally, I did it because I didn't want to be hungry all week while I ran around taking care of my kids.

So yes, I confess that I am a bug eater. 
But not this week because this week I am making chili with beans and corn, from a can.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kids Welcome Here.

Each week we have my kid's friends over to play at our house! I think it's really fun to watch them interact, be silly, and fight over the huge plate of nachos on the table along with my own children. They all get along so well, these kids! (neighbor kids, church kids, school kids)

I like feeding all the kids! I like it when they all come running into the kitchen after a long, exhausting session on the trampoline looking for food. I cook up big pots of pasta and cover it in cheese sauce. I cut up apple slices and dish out bowls of peanut butter to dip them in. I pour large cups of milk and sometimes throw in a cookie or two. I like keeping my pantry stocked with enough food to feed my kids and their little friends. They don't eat a whole lot and I'm always impressed with the kids that say Thank You. I get after the ones that don't and remind them of their manners. Especially my own kids.


I like having a house-full of laughter and jokes and booby traps! I like looking out my back window to see kids in the trees, kids on the swings, kids in the sand pit, and kids playing with the dogs. I've always wanted a backyard filled with fun things to do for kids! 


I like seeing kids riding their bikes up and down the sidewalks and round and round the cul-de-sac, too. I also like it when the kids come in the house and engage in long games of chess, or dominoes, or marble run. Last week they had a pretty entertaining game of hide and go seek happening here. "Bounce the balls up and down the stairs" and "wizards" are other fun games they play.

I always ask the kids to clean up after themselves when they're done. It's nice to see the kids respect this wish and be mindful of our family's space. I don't allow messes to clutter up our lives, although I'm not too strict! I like the slogan I saw once on someone' family wall:
"Clean enough to be sanitary, messy enough to be happy."

I've always wanted a house where my kid's friends feel right at home. I love having a house-full of children and look forward to having a house-full of teenagers! I want my home to be a place where kids feel welcomed, safe, respected, comfortable, and loved. 


How to pay your water bill before and after kids

Before Kids:
Monday: Receive bill. Open envelope. Decide to pay it early. Write check. Lick stamp. Place in mailbox. Relax. Go on a long bike ride and think about where to eat out for dinner. Vietnamese Pho or Thai Curry will do!

After Kids:
Monday: Think about the bill. Think about it sitting on the kitchen counter in the envelope, with all the other bills, waiting for you to open it.

Tuesday: Open the envelope and stare at the $$$ amount. Did someone leave the hose on again? Was it me? Try to remember where you left your check book last.

Wednesday: Write the check, sign it, and place it in the envelope. Look in your wallet for stamps. Discover that there are none left.

Thursday: Remember that you need more stamps because you actually used the last one to pay the mortgage bill. Drive through at the ATM after school drop-off and before grocery store, and purchase more stamps.

Friday: Lick stamp and place it on the envelope which is still on the kitchen counter. Don't forget to write a return address. Put envelope next to the front door so you won't forget to drop it in the mail box.

Saturday: Before breakfast ask your 8 year old to run the envelope out to the mailbox. Remind him, "Don't forget to raise the flag so the mailman will pick it up."

Sunday: Relax knowing your water bill is payed and there are no more bills due til next month.

Monday: Check the mailbox after lunch and find that the envelope is still in there. Your child forgot to raise the flag on Saturday and the mailman hadn't stopped. Quickly get kids in the car  and rush to the post office and drop the envelope in the blue drop box. Worry that it won't get there on time and you might be charged a late fee. Run to the store to buy stuff for dinner. Dinosaur chicken nuggets will do.

*And that is how it's done!
I sure love this family of mine. Life is definitely different with four kids, but I wouldn't have it any other way. This is the season of my life where I cast aside all of my perfectionism, my high expectations, my lofty ideals, and even sometimes my common sense, and follow my heart completely. It might take me an entire week to pay a bill (or insert any other adult responsibility), but in between all those days and hours is a mom spending time with my kids.
**And  no, I didn't get a late fee. Phew!