Monday, July 7, 2014

This New Home State of Mine

Family and friends have been asking how I/we like our new home state of Washington. It's been the same answer so far after a month; I/we love it! It's beautiful. It's intriguing. I want to share my own thoughts about it; I've lived in a few other states and parts of the country so I have have a unique perspective that some might find interesting while others may find amusing or even boring.

 Disclaimer: in no way do I intend to negatively compare states I've been fortunate to dwell in...all of them have their positives/negatives and I feel tremendously blessed for all of my time in each of them. This blog is just musing on the positives of my newest home. 


1) IT IS SO GREEN! Hawaii was beautiful...gorgeous. After 12 years I NEVER tired of the H-3 drive through the green mountains, looking at the occasional red slash of lava dirt where a mudslide was or the always breath-taking first glimpse of the stunning blue ocean once you topped the mountain and began your decent into the windward side. Lovely! But maybe I spent too much time on the leeward side, where greenery was rarer and dust devils danced on the hot, baking, Ewa farm fields. Everywhere you drive here it's GREEN. Lush. Even in the middle of summer the green prevails. 


2) TREES. Everywhere. I keep telling Elton that I feel like I'm back in Louisiana (minus the humidity). Everywhere you go the roads/highways are surrounded by thick trees. It's easy to think you're deep in the backwoods country where Louisiana towns like the ones I grew up in are spaced far apart and the closest Walmart is an hour away. Except then you spot a tiny glimpse of a sign between the trees and you know just on the other side of them is a sprawling mall. It's awesome. Speaking of Walmart the one by my house has a line of huge green trees along its parking lot and when the setting sun hits it, it lights it up in brilliant color. The trees glimmer in sparking gold for a few minutes and it is too lovely to describe. I want to get a picture but every time I see it, I freeze in place and fumbling for a camera seems sacrilegious in a fleeting moment when you're supposed to be simply breathing in God's beauty. When's the last time you froze in place in a Walmart parking lot because of the view? Never mind. That's a loaded question.


3) The VIEW. Every state I've been fortunate to reside in has had lovely views and this is no exception. Lakes. Rivers. Olympia mountains. Rolling green farms with either intriguing barns collapsing after decades of exhausting work or picturesque red ones standing proudly upright. Towns with fancy street lights and little train stations that remind me of that movie where the doggie sits and waits for his owner for years. Mount Rainier when it chooses to peek out of the clouds in its majestic glory...although Olivia calls it MountAIN Rainier and Emma calls it Mount Reindeer, just to laugh when Samuel gets irritated at what he sees as their grievously incorrect pronouncements. Even the people are a view to admire, in Seattle specifically. They are a blend of cultures of course and the mixture between typical tourists, busy locals, and the hipsters is endlessly amusing.



4) The FOOD. There are so many new food places we haven't yet tried and as usual, delving into the local food is a tasty habit of ours! We've found a new favorite local place that our family enjoys...we miss Shiro's in Pearl City dreadfully but the Black Bear Diner will assuage that sadness very well, even if the kids are fully convinced they are actually eating bear meat. And COFFEE. Everywhere. Starbucks of course but oh my word, all the tiny little coffee shops with weird names, nestled in the busiest corners of parking lots but with the necessary drive through window...and so far every church I've been to has a coffee shop in its lobby. Yes, you can worship Jesus and sip your java while you listen to the message. Turns out, the caffeine keeps you awake, focused, and in a really good mood...ha! Coffee is my blood type and I've landed in its coffee utopia!

5) The PRICES. Yes my sister in the Midwest shudders at the amount of rent we pay, but compared to Hawaii prices...well we all know paradise has a price. Everything sold in Hawaii was likely shipped from somewhere else so after years of paying exorbitantly for toilet paper and tooth paste it's great to find what I feel are huge bargains! Milk under $3! Grocery outlet stores! DOLLAR STORES! 

6) What "Seattle Freeze"? People warned us that Seattle people 'don't have the Aloha spirit' and can be standoffish. Maybe. I haven't seen it yet. Everyone I've met has been friendly and kind...helpful and nice. Maybe I'll run into it later. Likely when it's football season and in a sea of neon green and blue I show up in black/gold. WHO DAT.

7) Things to DO: new museums, parks, and exhibitions. We haven't even had time to do much of anything other than exploring the Space Needle area but our list of things to do is growing! We love to get out and enjoy all that the local culture has to offer and we can see years of enjoyment ahead of us.

That's it for now. How will we like it when the chilly rain sets in and the days are gloomy? Who knows...I'll have to update this blog when those days arrive and my island kids learn what it means to be 'cold'. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Survival Tips for a Plane Trip With Small Kids

So, I just flew from Hawaii to California with my four kids, ages 1, 3, 5 & 7. I was by myself and slightly panicked but it all went surprisingly well, maybe because I was SUPER prepared!

Before I did so, I researched online and found a ton of websites, both professional articles and personal blogs, with tips and ideas about how to make flying with small kids easier. There's a bunch of good ideas out there, so obviously this blog post isn't an entirely new subject! But I hope that you can look through this one and find some good ideas that you can utilize and make your life easier. Hey we're all in this together, Moms, and we need all the help we can get!

My luggage idea was fairly simple...other than the three car seats that I had to check, each person checked one large (at the 50 lb weight limit!) suitcase. I needed my husband to help check all of this in, and I texted my sister who was picking me up later and warned her that I'd need help at the baggage claim. Then each child got their own (very very stuffed) backpack to carry. I know there are rolling suitcases out there but I've heard stories about how they don't work well overall. The backpacks were great because they kept the kids' hands free, have several different pockets to divide things up neatly, and I noticed that since they were pretty full it kept the kids from running off! Ha! Make sure you buy cutsy tags for each of them even though these are carry-ons; put your cell phone number so if a kid leaves their bag somewhere, someone can call you right away. And please, make sure you have EVERYTHING labeled/tagged before you leave the house. You don't want to waste time doing this at the airport and those paper tags come off super easily. Tag your car seats and strollers as well. 

In their backpacks; for quick and easy access to everything they're going to bug you for later...in the front pocket I had their earphones, then the pocket full of awesome snacks (some healthy and some were crazy, rare super cool treats that they were astonished to be able to enjoy). Include some great lollipops and gummy bears! These are the 'taking off' and 'landing' treats because it will make them chew and suck and pop their own ears, and no gum messes. Then I had their surprise games, books, and so on in the other pockets.

Oh, and for peace of mind, I highly recommend getting dog tags for the kids ahead of time! You can order cute ones from some online place like these from My Precious KidI've had these before and they're great, usually I kept them on my own keychain and clipped them to the kids' belt buckles when we went to air shows, school field trips, festivals, or even crowded malls. If you're pressed for time, look up any local military supply store or even a local pet shop! Pick out a cute tag and have them engrave it with you and your spouses phone number. Attach it to a good chain for a necklace, or to their belt buckles. If a kid gets separated from you, someone can call you right away. My kids are taught to keep these dog tags inside their shirts and NEVER take them off unless Daddy or Mommy does it, and if they get lost they are to pull them out and show an adult. They are also taught, if they're lost, to look for someone in uniform like a police, fire fighter, soldier, etc. OR a mommy with other kids. Discuss this with your kids, over and over, and if you're walking around and you see someone 'safe' like mentioned above, point them out and say "If you're ever lost, someone like THAT would be able to help you."


The front. On the back are our numbers. Elton's awesome Aunt Cindy made these in her trophy shop Awardline on Oahu. The chains were long enough to tuck into their shirts but short enough that they can't pull them over their heads. Mommy has to unlatch them.



So anyway, on to the airplane activities...I am trying to type this post quickly and so pardon the unedited pics. 


My top favorite activity; MODELING CLAY! I got a pack of 10 assorted colors from Walmart, very inexpensive. Any brand will do. It's soft but WAY LESS MESSY than Playdoh and it seems a bit firmer yet pliable. All the kids played with this but my 7 year old son adored it. He spent hours working with this and was very happy with it.



He is on the autism spectrum and this textile, quiet, focus-oriented activity ended up being incredible for his high-functioning autism. He created an Angry Birds lineup and enjoyed the admiring comments as people passed by on their way to the toilet.


Ok these pics are really bright. Sorry. It was an early flight, which I also recommend! People aren't expecting to snooze as much on day flights as they would on evening ones so it may reduce the dirty looks you get when the kiddos are slightly loud.

Anyway here is the lacing activity. Incredible lonnnnnnnng moments of quiet concentration! Even the 1-yr old enjoyed it; I would poke the end through a hole and let her pull the string through. She was squealing with delight. These are the Melissa & Doug Farm pets, I got these at Ross



Side note about the above-mentioned dirty looks: I think most travelers roll their eyes and secretly hope they aren't assigned seats next to the lady with all the kids. I used to be that way. However if they SEE that you are TRYING YOUR BEST to keep the kids entertained and as quiet as possible, I think they appreciate that and the dirty looks aren't manifested! In fact, I had people compliment me on my efforts. Twice I had fellow flyers deliver extra neat snacks to me, the flight attendants brought them their Junior Pilot flyer wings and stop by to chat with the kids, several times the attendants brought us extra snacks and drinks on their way down the aisles, and at the end they took Samuel up to the cockpit to chat with the pilots because he was so quiet and well behaved! Anyway, my point is, do your best and make it obvious that you are! Stay calm, smile at everyone, and show your best efforts. If anyone complains in spite of all of that, well, they're jerks and you should ignore them.


New Sticker Books! New Coloring Books! Yay! I got these about 2 weeks before our trip (letting them all pick out their own), showed them to the kids, then packed them away for the plane. They knew they would get to play with them then and were looking forward to all their new toys and books. I think this eased the sadness of telling everyone bye!



I also bought new crayons, including fancy glitter ones. There's just something wonderful about opening a NEW box of NEW, sharp, beautiful crayons. Is it just me, or is that not awesome and makes you a little more excited about the day and your journey? Ha! Tip: contain these in a pencil box. The regular box gets smashed but a plastic box is hard (and light) and will easily hold all the pencils, pens, crayons, etc. 





Small puzzles! Obviously you don't want a regular big puzzle with tons of pieces to lose. This was a great matching puzzle set where they could match up just the head, body, and feet of different characters. Perfect for the seat tray. This is the "Who Am I" set from The Learning Journey, International. 



Don't forget to nurse the baby on the take-off/landing, if possible, for the comfort of their ears. Lily never had a problem so I guess it worked. Yes I look tired here. Obviously.



Don't forget the cool snacks! Bring them out periodically. My kids got to try things they normally don't get, which just added to their happiness (and quiet). The gummy bears worked wonders during the takeoff/landing. Just don't get things that are too messy/sticky. Speaking of sticky, have your wipes handy. AND keep a large Ziploc bag with you. Several. It's great for keeping all their trash together and not bugging the flight attendants every time you have an empty cup or whatever. When they go around collecting trash, empty your Ziploc bag and keep it for more trash. THEY WILL LOVE YOU for not bugging them all the time and for keeping your crap trash all together and not on the floor. Also, when you land, since you have to wait while everyone else is getting off, make your kids get down and scour the surrounding floor area. They can retrieve any dropped toys, crayons, and so on...also for pete's sake, have them pick up all your trash. Someone has to do it and it might as well be the ones who made the mess! The flight attendants are probably thinking what a mess it will be in the area where all the kids were sitting...give them a nice surprise instead! It's called being a responsible, caring human being. OK ending soapbox moment...

If baby goes to sleep, this is wonderful! Of course the FAA discourages flyers from placing kids on the floor, unbuckled, to nap or play. So I'm not recommending that. Anyway. Here is a pic of Lily enjoying her nice pillow-padded, quiet, nap area. If we'd have hit turbulence I wouldn't have left her there but miraculously, we didn't. 


 Accept help from strangers! Even those who don't speak English! Many flyers are probably bored, anyway, and would love the chance to chat with inquisitive 3-year olds who want to lean over the seat and carry on a conversation. They 'talked' for half an hour, one in Chinese and one in English, and the Chinese lady showed Emma all of her neat Chinese things in her carry on purse. It was a funny conversation and based on the laughter, one that they both enjoyed very much. 


Electronics and the beauty of being able to load kid-movies onto tablets ahead of time! Having their own familiar headphones is nice and they love seeing new movies or games. 



Again with the help from strangers....yay! If your baby wants the Japanese (or any race, who cares) couple to hold her for awhile so she can tell them all of her woes, let her/him. Who can resist a baby and this gives you time to go to the bathroom ALONE! If there is a line, ask if you can quickly go ahead before your baby cries. No one wants the baby to cry so they will likely shoo you to the front.


 I'm blessed with a child interested in reading/memorizing the emergency instructions. If necessary, he would've safely guided us out of the plane, likely deploying the emergency chute correctly and directing everyone to the nearest exits. He is awesome like that. 


If the toddler sleeps, sit back and relax your back/neck muscles. Ask for a drink. Pull out the Sky Mall magazine and shop. Close your eyes and breath deeply. You've got this, Momma!


Bonus points if baby sleeps to! Take unflattering selfies and congratulate yourself on being sort of awesome, because you are. Even though you're tired. 


If your kids are well behaved and the pilots are in a good mood, they might allow your kids to come into the cockpit. My son was in there FOREVER asking A TON of questions and I thought he'd never come out. A flight attendant was standing in the door laughing at all the serious questions. 


End of the road baby! My sister brought me flowers because SHE is awesome and she also brought a friend to help with all the luggage and antsy kids. Brilliance. 


OH...wait, one more tip I wanted to include...see the purple-tutu wearing ballerina? Yeah she's my child who ALWAYS has to be in a 'costume'. Anyway she had so much fun prancing around getting smiles and compliments from strangers and I think it made her behave better. So, if your kids want to fly in costume...a pirate, super hero, princess, ballerina, monkey, whatever...why not? As long as they don't carry props, aren't too constricted or hot in the outfit, then let them travel in style. Or at least, in their own style. Let them have fun and get compliments from the people dressed in business suits who look at them probably wishing they could wear a superman suit instead. 

They're only little for a little while. 
Let them have fun snacks, new crayons, and awesome costumes. 
Let them have magic as they fly.



Sunday, March 23, 2014

If You Love Me, Read This Post

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and I've been waiting for months to talk about this! Do me....and mostly YOURSELF, a favor and read this blog!

I'm discussing colons and poo and getting both of yours checked out. If you are the kind to be squeamish about this, get over it right now. You can be squeamish about touching the raw turkey on Thanksgiving morning, putting a live squirming worm onto a fish hook, or about smashing a cockroach in your house. When it comes to your BODY and your HEALTH and your LIFE, toss 'squeamish' out the window. OK? OK! Let's go....

Everyone has heard of Colon Cancer and you may even know of someone who has battled it. I remember my sister's new mother in law had it back in the 80's, and that's all I knew about it. Except that when I worked in hospitals/doctors offices and I vaguely heard about it and knew that they recommended everyone began being screened for it after age 50. Then a year ago my world exploded with more knowledge about this dreaded disease than I ever cared to know!

BAM! I found out about the wife of a college friend of mine, Steve, who was battling this cancer. Here is Kelly and Steve with their precious children. She was diagnosed at just age 33.



BAM! A dear high school friend of mine, Mandy, was diagnosed with this cancer at only 36. Here she is with her two incredible kids.



BAM! My brother David was diagnosed with this cancer at only 47.



WHAT? All of these are not yet age 50, and according to statistics for America between 2011-2013 (seen here on cancer.org), 
Incidence and death rates for colorectal cancer increase with age. 
Overall, 90% of new cases and 94% of deaths occur in individuals 
50 and older. The incidence rate of colorectal cancer is more 
than 15 times higher in adults 50 years and older than in those 
20 to 49 years.

How is colorectal cancer diagnosed? Actually it's very hard to detect early on; if you start having symptoms then it's highly probable that the cancer has progressed pretty far. Again from the publication cited above; 

Early colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, which is why 
screening is so important. Most colorectal cancers begin as a 
polyp, a small growth in the wall of the colon. As a polyp grows, 
it can bleed or obstruct the intestine (Figure 2,). See your doctor 
if you have any of these warning signs: 
• Bleeding from the rectum
• Blood in the stool or in the toilet after having a bowel 
movement
• Dark- or black-colored stools
• A change in the shape of the stool
• Cramping pain in the lower stomach
• A feeling of discomfort or an urge to have a bowel movement 
when there is no need to have one
• New onset of constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than 
a few days
• Unintentional weight loss

If you are over age 50 and you've never been tested, what in the world are you waiting for??? Go get tested! Make a point to call your doctor THIS MONTH!

What can you do, if you're too young to get the recommended age 50 colonoscopy?

  • Basically the same things you should be doing anyway; drink a lot of water and eat healthy, focusing on vegetables and all the 'fiber' foods you can get
  • Exercise
  • Don't smoke
  • Don't drink too much
  • Practice good 'going' posture! This sounds crazy and admittedly the Squatty Potty idea made me laugh, especially the Amazon reviews of it, but after further research I realized that medically and scientifically this posture thing is legit. Just check out this video and see. You can just use a small step stool or box at home and see if you notice a difference! This posture thing might really improve your colon health and that would be worth feeling a little silly in the bathroom at first, yes?
  • Get screened! Talk to your doctor about any risk factors you might have and he/she can recommend a fecal screening for you. They'll test your poo for any evidence of colon problems.
But in spite of these efforts, you could still be at risk because of genetics! Knowing this, I went straight to my doctor and asked if I could be screened for colorectal cancer. She referred me to a specialist who, upon hearing about my brother, said ABSOLUTELY I should not just be screened but I should undergo a colonoscopy as soon as possible! If you have a first-degree relative (sibling, parent, child) with this cancer, it's recommended that you be checked at 10 years younger than the age they were when they were diagnosed. Well I'm exactly 10 years younger than my brother so I fit the bill, and a colonoscopy was scheduled.


OK here is where I refuse to listen to anyone who wants to wimp out on this procedure because of a fear of pain, a private horror of having someone examine you internally in 'that' are of your body...OH GIVE ME A BREAK! This is a procedure that can save your life and in my first hand experience, going to the dentist is a much worse event!

Like everyone warned me, the preparation is the toughest. Yep! You have to start watching what you eat, cutting back on solids a few days before the procedure, and you get this massive jug from the pharmacy with a powder to mix into it before filling it with water. Oh my word, so much drinking and it's nasty but if you've ever taken the pregnancy glucose test, that's even nastier. As you drink it, it...relieves your bowels...quite a bit. Stay home! Then after all of this is done within a certain time frame, you can't eat or drink anything. And again I refuse to listen to anyone who wants to wimp out about this. I am a busy mom of 4 young, energetic kids and I not only managed to get all of this done but I was also breastfeeding successfully through it all sooooo what's your excuse?!?

On the day of the procedure, get ready for the absolute worse that will happen, and I'll be very honest here....are you ready? I'm telling you, be prepared for hearing the worse!!

('real life selfie' on my way into the procedure room)



The Worse: YOU GET A WONDERFUL SEDATED NAP!

Seriously, for me that was so awesome I can't even tell you. Ha! They hooked me up so monitors and made sure I was warm and comfortable....and then lights out. I woke up later, warm under a blanket and blissfully high on pain medicine that really was unnecessary because I felt nothing except a lingering desire for more sleep. Well and I was hungry! I rested that night (mostly because I was a little loopy from the pain meds) and then the next day was fine and sadly, I had to go back to doing laundry and housework.

Overall it was not a big deal at all and if you put off getting this done, you're an idiot. Sorry for strong language but really, the dentist or maybe even a sloppy manicurist who rips your cuticles off too hard and makes you bleed....those are tougher experiences. Get over your mental battle about a colonoscopy and GET 'ER DONE.

I'm glad I did, because apparently the genetic factor plays a huge deal in my own bowels and the doctor did find a small polyp which he removed and had tested. It was fine, I'm all good, but now I get to go in for a sedated nap every 5 years. Yay!

I'm not making light of a serious procedure...I'm just super happy for early screening because guess what, IT'S WORKING! Just this week, a report is out about Colon Cancer rates DROPPING for the first time in awhile, and it's all because of early screenings. You can read the article HERE.

And if you need any further encouragement to get your bowels checked out, here's a few words from those who have been closely effected by this disease.

My brother said; "If me going through this helps any of my loved ones take care of their health, get checked for this, and it saves their lives, then for me it is worth it."

Having a chemo day this week. Some days he's more tired than others. 


Staying warm during the cold Missouri winter!


Mandy wanted to say more, but she's tired and it's been a rough week. Please keep her and David in your prayers! We know that God is a Healer and we are trusting Him for His miraculous touch!

Meanwhile, she just said; "If my story could touch just one person, I'd be so glad."



Steve simply had this to add to my blog post; "Thank you for honoring my sweetheart."




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why We Are Leaving Hawaii

As many of you have by now learned, the Gray Ohana is leaving Hawaii. So many emotions! I have been here 12 years but that's nothing compared to my husband who mostly grew up here around his family. I came here after college graduation, planning to help out at a local church and just live here for 6 months. Well, that's been a long 6 months...haha!


Here is Samuel's breaking news report about "Satellite" WA if you missed it on FB!

video


Funny how 'our' plans are sometimes superseded by HIS plans. And if you are a son/daughter of the Heavenly Father, then that is OK! His plans are higher than ours!

I got to know a college friend a little better once I moved here....he winked at me once when we were standing on the platform in a choir practice...and my heart just flipped over like it never had before. We fell in love and got married. While living here in Hawaii, we've moved together 4 times, had 2 miscarriages, experienced 5 jobs, rejoiced in the healthy birth of 4 crazy but amazing kids, only taken 2 trips to the mainland together, sat at each others bedsides through surgeries and illnesses (thankfully nothing serious), learned about autism and the rocky road that our son faces, and many, many other life experiences. Next month is just our 10 year anniversary and looking back, our life has been pretty wonderful. But that will be a blog for a later date.



For the last two years, we've had a strong feeling that we would be leaving Hawaii and we began researching areas of the US Mainland. The funny thing is, way back then, we did a long survey online through findyourspot.com  and one of the top places it recommended for us, based on our survey answers, was Kent, Washington. We laughed because we didn't know anything about that area and brushed it off. We proceeded to research over the next two years, all the places that WE thought we should consider moving to; different cities in Missouri, Colorado, Texas, California, Oregon, Tennessee, other Hawaii islands, North and South Carolina, and so on. Our research was pretty exhausting, looking at weather, politics, churches, economy, cost of living, schools, culture, pollen count, and so on. We have spread sheets in tiny fonts with many little boxes of info and web links. Many other places made sense to us and yet....we never felt peace. We never felt "YES".

After two years of this, our research meandered around and kept going back to the Pacific Northwest and finally, we zeroed in on the Seattle area (of which Kent, WA is a suburb!) and bingo. Peace. A "yes".

We love Hawaii, always will, and hope to one day come back to retire once the kiddos are independent. But for now, we just can't stay. As people here are painfully aware of, the economy is unstable and is rapidly squeezing the middle class out, leaving only the very wealthy, the poor, and the tourists. With 4 kids, we just can't make it here. You've seen my posts about $7 milk!

The traffic is bone weary; we spend more time in the van coming/going to church than we actually spend in service at church. The air quality is compromised by the vog and while it may not affect everyone, it's choking my husband who has allergies, and now I'm bothered greatly by it and I don't have allergies. It's like living with a sinus headache or bronchitis every day there's no tradewinds.

I could go on, but I don't like pointing out any negatives about Hawaii because honestly, there is just so much good and positive about Hawaii. The people who genuinely display the ALOHA spirit...the ono food....the views and beaches and warm breezes and so much more. If you have family/friends here who love you, they love you with every ounce of their bodies, even while you change as a person or make decisions that they may not understand. THOSE friends are amazing and their love is real.

So, it's time to go. We have many things to look forward to; being halfway the former distance to my family! Different sights, different food, new experiences and friends to make and paths to explore. Clearer air, different jobs and houses and things for my kids to learn about that they haven't seen here in Hawaii; like squirrels jumping in the back yard trees, skunks, catching lightening bugs at twilight and having to wait while a train goes by, counting the cars. Billboards. Road trips. Snow.

And to clarify some things; yes we know the area we are going to is much cooler and rainer. We are actually looking forward to that! No I do NOT plan to be a Seahawks fan, are you kidding me? WHO DAT!



Anyway for all of you who are wondering about the reasons for our new adventure, here they are. I hope to be able to blog more consistently and keep everyone updated about this crazy new road we are setting out upon!

Love to you all and thank you to everyone who has called, texted, messaged and emailed us, offering your love, support, and well-wishes. We feel a total peace from God about where He is leading us and we know that we are safe in His Hands.

Blessings and ALOHA to you!




Saturday, February 8, 2014

Exciting Announcement (No I'm Not Pregnant)

I wish I had more time to blog. For that matter, I wish I had time to shower alone more than once a week, on Saturdays when my husband is available to watch the minions. But back to the blogging...yes. It's therapeutic. I like writing. I like blogging. It's nice to get things out of my head and into the universe. I really need to do this more! Although, in the last few years I've had a ton of things in my head that should NOT be put into the universe, probably. But that's another story for another day when I can ignore the minions long enough to grab this laptop and sit down with my thoughts.

I'm going to make more of an effort, because it's good for me and my soul, and also because there just MAY be someone out there reading it, you never know! I found this out when I got a ping on my phone this week when someone tweeted me, which of course piqued my interest because I also rarely tweet. Basically a blogger (someone who actually blogs, and therefore deserves to be called a blogger, versus my sad unblogging self), came across one of my old posts and has found it in her heart to publish it in a book that she's writing about craft fails. Am I offended? NOT AT ALL. I think it's HILARIOUS!

I love Pinterest and I always try and actually do many of the things that I pin. The meals come out surprisingly well, as evidenced by my husband who frequently complains about his weight, and sometimes some of the other things do as well. But many times my best efforts are absolute FAILS and it just makes me laugh. I am totally NOT Martha Stewart but I sure have fun attempting awesome things.

Anyway, back to Heather. Wow I am totally scattered today and this post will show it! Of course I keep get interrupted by kids complaining about siblings hitting them or eating their Battleship pieces (that's going to be one Destroyer of a diaper later tonight), and so on. See why I rarely blog?

So Heather seems nice. I think we could be friends in real life. I will confess that after she contacted me, I cyber-stalked her to make sure she wasn't a weird cyber stalker who just wanted access to my kids pictures or some other lame thing that cyber stalkers want. She seems cool and maybe we'll meet one day. She has an awesome blog called DollarStoreCrafts as well as CraftFail. Her book is coming out in 2014 and I am HONORED that this blog post (my epic Hula Hoop Rug Fail) will be included in her book, amongst the other equally awesome crafty people such as myself.

When it comes out I'll let ya'll know so you can buy it!

Cheers....

Monday, February 13, 2012

That Man I Married

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.

As someone wise once said, when your spouse shows you every day how much they love you, Valentine's Day is just another day.

Yep!

My husband has been on my mind a lot in the last few days,
and I've been thinking about how lucky/blessed I am that he is mine.
Honestly I don't know how it happened
other than to just say it was the masterful orchestration of God that brought us together in life.
Elton is amazing and it is my prayer that my daughters find men like their daddy to marry.
There are so many ways that I know he loves me...here are a few. Hopefully one day my daughters will see this list and know what kind of unselfish guy they need to look for!


He kills the bugs.

He takes out the trash.

I've only had to put gas in the vehicle a few times in our almost 8-years of marriage;
mostly he does it.

If going through the drive-through for food, he doesn't even need to call and ask what I want. No matter what place it is, he knows exactly what I'd like.

He knows our life is crazy...three kids age 5 and under is a circus. But it's our circus and we work as team mates to run it. Having a true partner by your side makes all the difference...


Many times I wake up to a clean kitchen and quietly humming dishwasher that he filled/started before leaving for work.

He likes to cook and is good at it, and he's so thoughtful even while preparing meals.
For example; when he makes his awesome pizzas he knows I don't like chorizo
so he only puts it on his side of the pizza.

He knows I'm very number-dyslexic and terrified of numbers and money issues.
So he handles all the money matters.
Yes I know that's so 50's housewife-ish of me
but not having the anxiety of dealing with money (other than couponing) is a huge relief to me.

If I wake up at night with a nightmare he wakes up with me
and comforts me with prayer and kisses.

He wrestles with the kids and plays ball with them, even in the house. He's a goofy, cool dad even though no one ever showed him how to be one.



I can't even express how awesome it is to wake up early sometimes and come downstairs to find him kneeling in prayer before getting Samuel up for school.

He loves the 'morning duty' of getting Samuel up and ready for school, and walking him to the bus stop. He really wants to be his son's buddy. His hero. And he will be...


If I'm stressed, he listens. Always.

He knows exactly how I like my coffee and will prepare it for me, even though he's not a huge coffee drinker himself.

We can talk about anything. Anytime.
Even if it means staying up until the wee hours vocalizing our life dreams and goals.

We share a hunger for more of God in our lives and in our kids lives. I cannot imagine not sharing that with my husband. It's wonderful to share insight into Scriptures.

Speaking of that, it's cool watching him stay up late at night just studying the Word.
I know I'll hear about his latest inspiration in the morning.

He changes diapers.

He vacuums.

He has filled my life with music through the years.

During three childbirths he's been at my side; so gentle, calm, and wonderful.

Through two miscarriages, he's been at my side through the tears.

That moment in church when your handsome husband puts his arm around the back of your chair and gently squeezes you for a minute, and you forget to listen to the preacher for a few seconds because you just fell a little deeper in love...yeah I'm there a lot.

He still makes my heart beat faster and my tummy feel with butterflies when he smiles at me.


I love him and I know that he loves me.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Advent Activities!

I wasn't raised doing an Advent calendar, but most likely it was just because my parents had never heard of it. This was obvious when I tried to talk to my mom about it yesterday:

"Mom, have you ever heard of an advent calendar?"
"A what?"
"An advent calendar."
"An ad-what?"
"An ADVENT CAL EN DAR."
"Ad-what?"
"Never mind."

When I explained it to her, she thought it was a good idea. Of course I really don't know if I truly understand it, having only heard of it this year thanks to Pinterest. I kept seeing all these pics of advent calendars and so I did what any curious person knows what to do...I looked it up on our most reliable source; Wikipedia. And being a very busy mom I skimmed the article...sorry, but I usually only get to sit down and browse the web as I'm breastfeeding so skimming is just good time management.

Anyway, from my limited research, it seems that Advent is something about celebrating or anticipating the upcoming birth of Jesus...and basically you plan an activity for every day from Dec. 1 up until Christmas.

Wow, sounds good to me.

In my day, we just made red and green paper chains and tore off a link every night. This idea is better!

Of course, I'd like to make a cutsy, fun, creative, beautiful, Pinterest-worthy advent calendar.

Maybe next year. Seriously, I just decided to do advent activities and so it was added to my pages-long to-do Holiday list. So, this year I'm doing it with construction paper, crayons, and post-it notes. Don't judge...at least I'm DOING it, and that's the point.

What I love about this idea:

It focuses more on the real reason for the season, Jesus Christ. It also focuses on doing things for other AND doing things as a family.

It will help my husband and I to pause more during all the chaos...to breath a little, and to take time with the kids.

Since Samuel will be out of school for half the month, this will help him to see that there are still things to do.

This helps the kids anticipate every day, and whatever that activity will be.

Sounds win-win to me!

The post-it notes are because we may decide to switch some activities around, depending on how our schedules are going.

So here are my activities:

1. Put up our Christmas tree
2. Make the Christmas countdown paper chain (hey this is one of my fav childhood memories and it brings warm fuzzies)
3. Get family pics made
4. Read a Christmas book as a family and act it out
5. Go see Kapolei Christmas lights
6. Prepare a gift for a child from the Angel tree project
7. Color Christmas pages (printed from Pinterest probably) as a family. Display them.
8. Open a gift early! (will probably be new jammies for the kids)
9. Go see the Christmas drama at First Assembly of God in Red Hill
10. Eat out as a family and wear red/green. Maybe wear wigs.
11. Donate food to the Hawaii Foodbank
12. Prepare gifts for Samuel's classmates
13. Have friends over for dinner. Play a board game with all the kids.
14. Make Nativity scene with Mommy's craft supplies
15. Find a baby sitter and have a Daddy/Mommy only date night
16. Let the kids ride the Polar Express train at Pearlridge mall
17. Go to the beach
18. Watch "It's A Wonderful Life"
19. Make Gingerbread men/women
20. Do Christmas puzzles together
21. Take cookies to soldiers and say "thank you" for serving us.
22. Go ride the boat for the Pearl Harbor Christmas lights tour.
23. Take cookies to local fire station and say "thank you" for serving us
24. Buy a gift for our special friend and hide it at her house for her to find later
25. Read the Nativity story before opening gifts.

So there you go!

As my husband said last night; "This sounds like a lot of work."
Me, thinking 'Scrooge'; "Well you don't have to do everything, some of it is just for the kids. And it's to help us have fun and focus on Jesus. Maybe this will be a fun new family tradition."
Him; "Well if it's too much work then we don't have to do it again."
Me; "Yeah, true. But maybe it will be awesome and will become a new family tradition."

See, the wife should have the last word because we all know she's always right.

Have fun this HOLY DAY season and remember the Reason for the Season!