Our Disconnected Reality

In a world where the majority of people are so connected, it’s disconcerting how disconnected we really are.

I’ve been silently observing for the past few months the phenomenon of people being so disconnected from the present. From their immediate surroundings.

And don’t get me wrong, this is not a judgment on anyone. I am definitely guilty of this. I’m part of the problem. Which is why it piqued my interest and made me curious at what is really going on.

I try to not use my phone unless I’m sitting down and nursing the baby. But I’m guilty obviously of using it at other times too.

So guilty, in fact, that if my toddler discovers my phone laying on the changing table or on the kitchen counter, he immediately retrieves it and comes running to me, shrieking, “Here, momma! Here!” He’s been conditioned to believe that it’s something I must always have with my person. And I don’t want that. I don’t want him to think my phone is something that I can’t leave in another room, even though I can leave him in another room.

My kids go crazy when someone lets them use their smart phone. I have to bite my tongue, because I don’t want to ruin their fun, and make it so that someday they get smart phone crazy too; but at the same time, I don’t like the people they become when suddenly they get lost in a world of Snapchat or Pokémon go, etc. Suddenly my fun, sweet kids are quarreling over whose turn it is and just looking for their next device fix. And as kids who will not own a smart phone while still children (and likely, whenever we decide a cell phone is applicable for one reason or another, it still won’t be smart), I don’t want them fixated and crazy with something that research proves does more harm than good. (And let’s be honest, their behavior with smart phones and technology is really a reflection of ours, even though it hurts to admit it).

I’ve watched friends more focused on creating a good Instagram story then truly enjoying the surroundings here. Right here. In paradise. Social media moments rate higher.

I find myself sometimes wanting to create the perfect social media family, and then feeling a bit defeated when I realize that my family, albeit everything I could ever want, will simply never be social media perfect. Sorry, guys. They’re real kids who pick out their own clothes and don’t always brush their hair and are often barefoot and dirty. I still have the little ones to doll up, but even Sweet M is starting to be opinionated. And we don’t do crafts worthy of entire blog posts or even Pinterest. You don’t want to know my cleaning hacks, because basically it’s “try to keep livable.”

Someone recently told me that they wouldn’t be returning to the mainland for several years due to time and cost, unless it was for a funeral. And I get it. We won’t be visiting our mainland friends and family until we are done living in Hawaii either because we have created a small tribe that is super costly to fly. But what really struck me is that we would be more likely to make the effort for a funeral than for memories and moments with real life people.

And I am blaming that on our disconnection.

Sure, you can say the funeral isn’t for the dead, it’s for the living , etc. But really, I think we’ve spent so much time creating Insta-worthy lives, and creating relationships by texting and Facebooking, that why bother enjoying real life people when your life can be glamorous without them? And of course, once they pass we need to put on this big show for the smart phone lives that we’ve created. Plus, funerals don’t require deep connection. It’s easy to keep on being disconnected and bury your head in your phone.

As someone who really, and always has, struggled with social interactions, it’s hard for me to reach out and not be reciprocated over and over again. I’m still trying to sort out what felt like rejections in childhood by people, and the realities of just some hard situations that had unfortunate outcomes. Sometimes it’s easier to bury myself deeper into the family and world I created for myself than to reach out and open up with others.

So I get it.

I get the desire by so many to be so instantly connected and the gratification of having people like your moments.

I get it.

I’m not perfect. I never will be. But I am going to keep on trying to disconnect with all the connection.

It’s pretty obvious this blog has slowed down tremendously these past few months. Partly because of visitors and illness, partly because I’m trying to find a new groove where I’m less connected with the world, but more connected with the people who I have or am currently forging real relationships with. (And by the way, if you feel like you are not someone I talk to with enough, feel free to say so. I keep a steady stream of kid photos and updates coming to those who ask. ☺️)

I want to sit on the beach with my babies and enjoy the moment. Not stage the moment for the rest of the world’s enjoyment. That doesn’t mean I won’t photograph my kids or even share those moments when I feel the desire, but they’ll take the back burner. If I happen to share it, cool. If not, that’s okay.

I liked the moment enough for all of us.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. For this blog. For my smart phone.

But I am stepping away from being so connected so that I can stop feeling so disconnected from my life.

No Picky Eaters

You hear it all the time. No matter where you are, who you know. If you know even just one kid, you’ve heard the horrors of having a picky eater.

People are always a little surprised to discover that none of my kids are picky eaters. Some of their favorite foods include fish, shrimp, asparagus, and salad (okay, Miss H loves salad, the boys are still working on learning to love it).

Now don’t get me wrong, they don’t necessarily love every single thing they are offered. They for sure have their preferences. And Mr. B will take something full of sugar over broccoli any day. But getting them to eat healthy and nutritious food is never a challenge. I don’t have to sneak vegetables into cheese sauces, and they have no idea that macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets are considered the norm for “kid” foods. Actually, the older two don’t really like macaroni and cheese at all. But we all love a good chicken nugget now and then.

The truth is, I don’t think we did anything special. We just kept offering, and offering, and often. I kept them involved in the kitchen, and then kept offering a little more.

Until about the age of 2 1/2, Mr. B thought that he only liked bananas, granola bars, and cheddar bunny crackers. But he wasn’t offered those foods at every meal, and he didn’t get to eat them to his hearts desire. The granola bars and cheddar bunnies were a snack food only, and only offered at snack times. I put itsy-bitsy portions of food on his plate each day, knowing he likely wouldn’t eat much of it, and I could always add more if needed. This helped me to not be frustrated with wasted food or for him to feel overwhelmed by the quantity.

He is by far my most particular child, and still, there is not very much he will not eat.

We didn’t discuss with him whether he ate it or not. We didn’t make a big deal of him not eating it. We didn’t make a big deal of him trying it. We just put it on the plate, and let him be.

It took time, for sure, but eventually he got it. Food is tasty.

When he weaned right at age three, he became a more adventurous eater. Suddenly things he’d always claimed he didn’t like, such as tomatoes, became his favorite foods. And, of course, we kept offering.

We’ve never made our kids separate meals. There is no such thing as grown-up food and kid food in our house.

You don’t have to like everything you eat, but you also can’t say it’s gross or disgusting. You can smile, thank whomever prepared the meal, and not eat whatever you’ve decided you don’t currently care for. Though honestly, very rarely do they decide they don’t like it.

He is enjoying stuffed zucchini and a salad. Yep, at 20 months he ate it!

They are offered three square meals a day. Unless Miss H makes breakfast. Then it’s typically just pancakes, which isn’t a very square meal, ha ha, but trust me, they certainly don’t complain nor do I, because it’s nice to have a break. Plus they have free reign access to fresh cut veggies, nuts, and fruits. They can eat as much or as little as they please. I will never tell a child that they’re hungry and are required to eat more. Nor will I insist that there’s no way they could possibly still be shoveling food in their tummy. I have full confidence that they know how hungry or not they are, at all times. And I want them to learn from an early age how to satiate themselves without under or over eating. I want food to be something that nourishes them and makes them strong. I even want them to enjoy the things they eat. But I don’t want them to eat mindlessly, or avoid foods when they’re hungry.

In general, after toddlerhood, we insist they eat at the table (we certainly aren’t militant and make exceptions such as movie night or if they’re in the middle of a board game and want to munch an apple, etc.). When you have to stop what you’re doing and put thought into what you’re doing in terms of eating, you often tend to be mindful and intentional. At least I know I am.


I suppose Bean could be the one to break this method. She could be the one who this no-frills normalcy of healthy food just doesn’t work with. But withstanding any legitimate food issues, I’m assuming probably not. Since it’s the only thing she will know.

We want our kids to have a love of food, the way we do. We want them to enjoy healthy and nutritious food in its organic state. We want them to enjoy exotic foods, fine foods, foods from street vendors, and chocolate chip cookies. Because at the end of the day, we don’t want them to be picky eaters.

Matching

I love matching my kids.

I will probably match them until they leave the house if I get a say.

I always hoped I’d have two of the same gender close together to make matching easier, but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t change any one of these nuggets.

And it turns out it’s not so hard matching them as I envisioned it to be. Sure, there could be more options. And I super love rompers on the babies and those might not really work for the big kids, but we are making out options work.

I wonder how old Miss H will be when she no longer finds it amusing to match her baby sister?

And most days Mr. B and Sweet M are butting heads; I imagine my days are numbered there. Although B gets very excited about matching his baby brother still.

M is getting very particular about his clothing though. Mostly, he just likes his birthday suit if we are being honest. Eep.

Regardless, until someone begs me not, I will be matching these kids for life.

Baltic Essentials Necklaces

All my babes have worn amber necklaces essentially from birth. Frequently they’re referred to as amber “teething” necklaces as they are often associated with helping to ease the pain that infants and toddlers endure from teething as they release natural, pain relieving oils onto the skin.

Really, though, they can help with all kinds of aches and pains, not just the pain of teething, which is really pretty awesome and beneficial at all ages and stages of life.

But amber isn’t the only stone associated with bringing relief to little ones and adults alike. There are all sorts of stones that helps with many different issues and ailments.

Miss H and Sweet M each wear a necklace from Baltic Essentials that has seven other stones included with the Baltic amber (pink rose quartz, amethyst, lapis lazuli, turquoise, aventurine, chrysocolla, and red agate).

Why?

These stones are used to help ease stress, calm big emotions, dispel anxiety, and quell anger. And for my amazing, high needs, big feelings duo, it’s just the help they need in their big moments. Miss H even will say “I need to stop and focus on my necklace helping me for a minute while I get calm.”

Bean wears your typical amber necklace, but in addition she also uses a Baltic Essentials hazelwood necklace, as does Mr. B.

These two sweet loves got their Momma’s tummy troubles: reflux, eczema – those fun things. Hazelwood helps to alleviate those issues and soothe the tummy. Mr. B happily wears his 24/7, so that should say a lot.

My kiddos love their healing and soothing Baltic Essentials necklaces as one, and a super cute one at that, tool to helping with their daily well being!

***This post was sponsored by Baltic Essentials but as always, I only work with companies I genuinely love and believe in, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Waikiki Brewing Co.

Now that Bean is past the newborn age, we are getting out and exploring more these days. Especially food for dinner. (Because did I mention that every one of my kids have had crazy fussy periods as newborns that lasted all evening and really made any evening activity or event impossible? No bueno.)

We are food people. J and I have literally planned trips around places we will stop to eat. We like food.

Today we made it over to the Waikiki Brewing Company.

We’ve driven passed it a thousand times and have commented we should go, but it took us this long to actually make it.

I will tell you, the parking is not exceptional. It’s very limited, which could make things pretty tricky during peak times. But literally right next door to it is a small garage with extra parking, though it does cost $5. In fairness, parking pretty much anywhere in Oahu, especially in Honolulu, is often less than ideal.

The waitstaff was fantastic and crazy friendly. They engaged my kiddos and were very attentive of our needs, happily moving some tables around to accommodate us since their large tables were all all ready occupied.

It was a kid-friendly place, which is pretty imperative for us as we typically have small people in tow. It was loud with music, lots of space to get their crazies out if needed (they actually didn’t this time!), and they had a Mrs. Pac Man arcade game available to play; and if I’d needed to send the big kids over with a stack of quarters I would have, but they were amazingly content the whole time.

Sweet M was particularly fond of checking out the brewery section where the giant bats were hard at working creating beer.

I will be honest, I am not a beer person. A few ales in England struck my fancy, and a warm cider in Belgium, but that’s it thus far. So while J and his cousin tried out beer samplers, I treated myself to a Maui Mai Tai. It was delicious, and apparently the beer wasn’t half bad either.

Also, the food was great. I didn’t get to taste a proper dinner as I’d had a large lunch, but I had the arugula and goat cheese salad and I ate ever last morsel. No joke. And some lovely older auntie came over and swooped my baby out of my arms and danced and loved on her so that I could eat said salad. Have I mentioned how much I adore the people in Hawaii? They’re all so loving and helpful and friendly. The way the world should be.

It was a fantastic dining experience and we will be returning customers for sure! We were so impressed with the Waikiki Brewing Company!

Hawaiian Plantation Village

We have a list of things we must see and do while in Oahu.

And then we have a list of things that seems to randomly find us and we didn’t even realize that we needed to see and do it until we are there.

That’s what the Hawaiian Plantation Village was for us. “A happy little accident.”

The place was so interesting and fun that I will even ignore that the employees were wearing stickers that had “HPV” on them. I mean, I get it. But the 12 year old in me was just rolling.

We stopped in because they were having a rice fest, which included “make your own musubi.” And I get that musubi is probably one of the easiest things in the world to make, but I hadn’t yet attempted it and wanted to see it done before I gave it a whirl. So getting to have someone walk is all through it was fantastic and the kids loved it!

Then we walked about the grounds where the real museum/village is.

They had a plethora of dwellings and structures created to be replicates authentic to the time period of the mid 1800s-early 1900s when the plantations were pretty much the biggest industry on the island. That was the time when so many people from other countries began migrating to Hawaii.

The kids all indulged me while I read to them about each dwelling and the purpose it served and the histories of the people who it represented. So many people. It was beautiful and a little daunting to think of people leaving their homes to come Hawaii 150+ years ago.

If I ever feel like it’s hard to stay in touch with friends and family while hear, I will just remind myself of all those people left their homes, knowing full well they’d likely never see any of the loved ones they were leaving ever again.

Sweet M kept me on my toes as he picked all the foliage and vegetation and I kept reading all the little signs to be sure he wouldn’t die from something poisonous.

It was a such a beautiful historical plantation village and I am so glad we happened upon it.

What a lovely Hawaiian day!

Paradise Cove

Luau’s aren’t just for tourists! We’ve had the fun opportunity to attend a few recently and they’re a definite must-do for tourists and locals alike.

Recently we ventured to Paradise Cove’s Luau with family, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

But I was in for a huge surprise by how fun it was! It wasn’t as hokey as I imagined. The entertainment was spectacular and the food delicious.

Located on the beautiful Ko’olina Lagoon beach, which was admittedly a bit of a trek from our Honolulu home during rush hour (so if you’re venturing over there from Honolulu/Kailua, I’d suggest giving yourself plenty of time or just going early and making a day of it at the beach beforehand), the views were utterly breathtaking. We couldn’t have asked for a better location!

They had so many games for kids and adults alike to enjoy, and ample time for everyone to get as many turns as they wanted

The kids especially enjoyed their “boat ride” aka getting to ride in a Hawaiian outrigger canoe.

There were great little kiosks set up for purchasing Hawaiian delights if you so chose, but you also received lei’s upon arrival and won seashell necklaces at all the games, so little kids hoping for souvenirs can be easily appeased without spending a dime, which is really nice, too!

The show put on both before dinner and during dinner was outstanding! The kids were absolutely enthralled, which made staying out past bedtime an enjoyable experience (you know, with no meltdowns).

Plus, we were there before Christmas so everyone got to see Hawaiian Santa which was pretty fun, and my little nephew was absolutely mesmerized by Mrs. Hula Claus; we had to separatedm him and put him over on Grandma’s lap to keep him from gawking.

Miss H has all ready requested we attend a luau for her birthday she loved it that much!

Paradise Cove Luau really does take the cake for entertainment and beauty, and the food was delicious to boot! I would recommend this Luau tenfold for anyone wanting a family friendly Luau that is certain to give you a lot of bang for your buck!

2017 in a Nutshell

2017 has been an amazing year for sure! So many great and exciting things. And a few not so great.

Here’s our 2017 highlights.

We kicked off the year with a trip to Wisconsin Dells where the big kids learned to snow board while Momma and Sweet M played in the snow.

Sweet M had his first trip to the ER after jamming a mechanical pencil into his cheek and needing the lead extracted.

We spent a week in Florida where we got to enjoy Legoland and four days of Disney!

Our sweet darling Bobo turned one year old! What a mischevious little blessing he is!

Miss H and Mr. B has their tonsils and adenoids removed. It was a rough week but definitely worth it for both of them! A few weeks later Sweet M had tubes put into his ears, which made a world of difference for his tiny world!

Our darling H turned seven years old! What an amazing young lady she has become!

Both big kids had their very first sleepover at a friend’s house (okay, so it was with M’s godmama, I’m not that adventurous, ha).

We spent Easter with my grandma Mary. I never would have dreamed that that was going to be the last time we saw her. But I am so thankful that we had that day with her.

We bid M’s godmother adieu as she headed to Portland; just a taste of what saying goodbye was going to feel like in another month when we moved across the ocean.

Miss H finished the first grade at what is unquestionably the most fabulous school where she had two of the most amazing teachers who she still talks about daily.

And then we were Aloha bound. Across the mainland and over the ocean to a beautiful island paradise where rainbows are in abundance and the waves are unending.

My grandma passed on, followed a few days later by my grandpa. It was an extremely challenging time for me with a lot of feels I still haven’t quite gotten under control.

Then my dear friend came too spend a month with us while we prepared to bring our 4th baby earthside and transitioned into a family of 6. How very, very grateful I am for such amazing friends.

Our extraordinary Mr. B turned 6! I can’t even begin to tell you what a smart, curious, loving little man he is.

And then our wonderful little Bean joined us on Labor Day in the most calm, beautiful way possible.

Sweet M got croup which landed him in the ER. Definitely one of the most scary and heartbreaking events as a momma.

H and B were so excited to have their cousins also move to the island!

And the little girls and I traveled back to the mainland for a whirlwind weekend to see my baby sister get married and let our family meet our amazing Beanie Lu.

My best friend from my childhood visited us for the week of thanksgiving. There isn’t really anyone we trust much more with our kiddos, so J and I got to venture out alone for our first date as parents to four.

We had an interesting week where we got to the know the local ER doctors well. Miss H swallowed a few foreign objects and Sweet M dislocated his elbow.

I ran a marathon. Like 26.2 miles. Completed.

We vacationed on the Big Island. It was some much needed family time. While there, we went whale watching. Got to check that off my bucket list.

We celebrated our first Christmas is Honolulu!

And we finished the year with Mr. B losing his first tooth!

I cannot wait for 2018. There is all ready so much to look forward to, and I can’t wait to see what all is in store for our familia!

Discovering Pearl Harbor with American Girl’s Nanea

One of my favorite parts about homeschooling is how customizable it is. Miss H and Mr. B can learn about the things that interest them and in a timeframe that is most convenient for us.

When we moved to Oahu, this history-loving Momma knew Hawaiian history would be a subject of great interest to us that I couldn’t wait to dip into as I knew next to nothing about it (and still have so much to learn!).

Being so close to where the attacks of Pearl Harbor occurred, I knew we needed to delve into an important part of our past.

Although I expose my kiddos to many world truths and subjects that are not in fact all roses and sunshine, I prefer easing them into it when possible. If it’s hard for me, as a very well-rounded and educated adult to stomach some things, I know it must be difficult for them to fully grasp the significance of some events.

I was so excited when American Girl came out with a new historical character this year: Nanea. She’s half haole (white) and half Hawaiian (which my kids love because they have one haole parent and one brown parent, too), and her story begins a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The kids and I have learned so much about Hawaiian culture through the Nanea books. We’ve learned new words and how some customs on the island came to be (you’d never wear your shoes into someone’s house – even our cable guy removed his shoes before walking through our house! That’s a custom that originated with our Japanese friends.).

We visited the Pearl Harbor museum and the U.S.S Arizona, which are chilling sites to be seen. The history of it all is so surreal.

One thing I learned was that all the bases were bombed, not just Pearl Harbor, which is also mentioned in the American Girl books. Nanea can hear the planes over Wheeler air base.

Miss H and Mr. B were so excited to visit the Pearl Harbor museum to help them understand the time in which Nanea lived. And Nanea helped them to understand what it was like for the civilians who were present that day, and for all the days to follow in the aftermath. It was a bit heartbreaking for me, as a momma, to read it all through an innocent child’s eyes. But also there is so much hope. Kids truly are the future, and simply through understanding our history we can see how each generation of children gets a little bit better.

Both of my big kids have been totally captivated and eager to participate in this unit study for homeschooling. They love reading and learning through Nanea’s eyes. We’ve all cried a few times, too. Okay, okay, mostly I’ve cried a lot. Miss H stops me and says “Mom, are you crying again?” Which makes me laugh and we keep reading.

I so cannot wait to delve into our next American Girl’s set of books to aid in our learning of American history. I love how engaged my kids become with the stories they love!

Nanenea’s books are beautiful and her storyline exciting. I want to to tell you all my favorite parts, but I don’t want to give it all away either. But I will just leave with you this fun snippet: H and B have decided that when they get a dog some day, it should be named Mele. So go read the books to find out why!

***This post is sponsored by American Girl, but all thoughts and opinions are mine.

Big Island: Day 6

We could have without a doubt spent another week on the Big Island and still not have done and seen everything we wanted. It is definitely an island that locals and tourists alike don’t want to miss out on.

Our last day on the island started out bright and early as we were staying at the Volcano all week and were starting out our last day whale watching on the Kona side.

We departed by 5am so we wouldn’t be late, as it’s an easy 2+ hour trek to the other side.

Our whale watching tour was with Ocean Sports who did an amazing job. I would definitely do another whale watching experience with them, or even other water activities.

You guys.

I saw WHALES.

Like up close and in person, beautiful, majestic, humpback whales.

Anyone who knows me well knows that whales are my favorite animal in the world.

They’re my spirit animal.

I’ve dreamt of seeing whales in the wild since I was a little girl.

Getting to see two from the shore only days prior was amazing. But this.

This was unbelievable.

They swam. They splashed. They danced.

We saw over 15 out in the bay just living life and putting on a show for us.

It was the most Ocean Sports had seen this entire season, and more than the captain said they often see in one day at any point during the season.

I’m telling you.

They knew I was coming.

This could have been all we saw and did on this vacation and I’d have been pleased as punch if we are being wholly honest.

It’s been on my bucket list most of my life, and this month I got to cross it off, along with running a marathon (more about that on a later day).

We had to catch our flight back to Oahu after this, but still, it was a full and wonderful day! I can’t wait to go back some day.