Urban Baby Bonnets

It’s no secret that I am quite the fan of bonnets. You could almost say obsessed. I like something on Bean and Sweet M’s head pretty much anytime we’re outside.

I mean, baby and kiddo accessories are kind of the sweetest thing out there. I may not have washed my hair going on four days right now, but my kids pretty much always look adorable.

Of course, because play is their main job, comfort is a must, and functionality is also important. Which is why bonnets are the best accessory for my little Hawaiian babes.

They can play and look cute, and keep those little noggins safe from the sun. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Urban Baby Bonnets are our favorite for keeping the sun away while playing. The large brims keep their little faces shielded from the sun, and they come in pretty much every single color and design you could ever imagine (and organic options!). Seriously. And they are reversible. So it’s like a two for one.

Plus, do you know how hard it is to find boy options most places?? And Urban Baby Bonnets has more options than you can imagine for your own sweet guy (or dinosaur and car-loving lady!).

One of the best features? They snap instead of tying. Don’t get me wrong, ties are cute, but not always practical with little ones and their grabby fingers. Since Urban Baby Bonnets snap I don’t have to worry about Sweet M or Bean constantly untying them or pulling them off.

And the snaps are made to adjust for various lengths. So versatile, and you’ll get so much use out of them!

Whether you’re enjoying the Hawaiian sunshine like we are, or you’re playing in your Midwest backyard, or maybe even voyaging through some snow still, Urban Baby Bonnets has every bonnet and design you could ever hope for.

And if my very opinionated Sweet M approves; you know they are good!

***This post is sponsored by Urban Baby Bonnets, but all opinions are genuine, and mine alone.

We had a perfect beach day Sunday.

You know, when you get there early and leave at dinnertime.

We started off at Makua Beach where the three walking kiddos and I hung out on the rocks playing with crabs and watching tiny fish.

We had hoped to glimpse the spinner dolphins, but we overslept so we weren’t quite early enough for them. We will try again though.

Then we headed to Pokai beach where we met up with my brother and his family, as well as some of his friends.

I may have squealed when I first got in the water that I’m done with winter and ready for warmer (don’t slay me, you acclimate, even in warm weather. So it does seem chilly here sometimes).

My brother brought his kayak and J and I braved it with the two babes.

I wore Bean in my mesh ring sling and Sweet M sat with J. I felt pretty badass, not gonna lie, as I paddled that kayak and breastfed that baby without skipping a beat.

I am woman, hear me roar, and all that jazz.

Of course, no awesome beach day is complete without a trip to the ER.

We weren’t home even 15 minutes before Mr. B stepped on something (who knows what?) and we were off to the ER for stitches. Ouch!

He had it made though. Private room with on demand TV. The doctor himself brought him juice and graham crackers.

I’m so thankful that the ER here is freaking fabulous, but a bit disheartened that I can say it with certainty; it’s not a one time fluke. We’ve been there 4 times now during our time here, and every single time they’ve gone above and beyond. Other hospitals ought to take note and figure out what they’re doing to be so amazing.

Needless to say, I’m exhausted and now we can’t go to beach for two weeks.

At least it wasn’t a broken leg.

Still Here

Things have been cray cray around here lately.

So many changes. So many happenings.

It’s starting to shape up like we will be here another year. Lots of feels on that. But until anything is actually official, I’m going to ignore all those feelings (we love it here, we love Btown, too. There is no right or wrong here – just happy I’m not the one who has to make that choice).

I still need to collect my thoughts on having an EIGHT year old. I swear she seems so dang grown up, even though she’s really still just a little girl.

She is a bottle full of sass, but also the most helpful, loving human I know. I hope that never changes.

Mr. B is currently being my challenge. I appreciate that they all rotate that job amongst themselves to keep things fresh.

He is ridiculously smart and funny, and obviously I find him pretty cute to boot. But he has this need to show how physically powerful he is at all times, and it’s killing me.

I’m not an aggressive person. In fact, I have a really hard time handling any sort of aggression or acts that can be perceived as violent, which is I know, why he has been particularly challenging for me lately.

I know that all kids, not just boys, need to have a healthy amount of physical play. But it seems like it goes from fun to not in less than a second. I don’t want to be the mom who is constantly telling him to put the stick down or to keep his hands to himself, but I honestly don’t know what else to do.

I need him to learn that there is a line, a very hard line, and if something is not fun for someone else he must stop.

Immediately.

No questions asked.

And he is getting there. And he is only 6. But it’s a struggle for me. Because I want the world to perceive him and know him as the same sweet, kind, generous soul I do. Not the rowdy kid who is always toeing the line.

And then there is Sweet M. Oooooh boy.

I apologize to everyone in the world who has ever had an ornery toddler.

I mean, H and B were toddlers. And neither of them were particularly easy toddlers, but I also only had two and of them and it all seemed manageable in those years.

I guess it’s safe to say that my house is utter chaos right now and everything is falling apart.

Okay, that’s not true. I mean, everything is chaos, but that’s completely normal. And it’s still relatively holding together at the seams.

But that Sweet M is the orneriest of the ornery, I tell you. He is sweet and mischievous and ridiculously precocious like his big sister. And he knows when he is being ornery and it’s pretty much impossible to be serious with him because he is so dang cute and funny. Lord help me with this one.

And then mighty Bean. Time is zooming by and she’s all ready a solid 7 months old.

She’s officially cut 6 teeth and she crawls backwards and can get herself into sitting and standing position from laying down.

She eats and she hates napping and I’m trying to cherish it all.

We did a 5k as a family this past weekend at Kualoa Ranch (you know, where JurassicWorld and Lost, etc., were filmed), and that was super fun. It was quite muddy from all the crazy rains we’ve been having so we opted to wear the littles and forego the stroller which officially made it a walk instead of run for us. But it’s okay, it was probably more fun that way anyway.

Things have been so busy and cray cray lately that we’ve not done enough as a family. Hopefully we will get back into our groove as it is much needed, and we are all happier when we are spending time as a family in nature.

Anyway, we are still here. Still strumming along.

This Week in a Nutshell

This week has been unusual for us with spring break having the kids co-op classes and sports cancelled, one friend being carless, another having a sweet new foster babe (swoon! How do those precious newborn days fly by so quickly!?), and two others had friends and family visiting.

And although we so love our busy routines and we’re missing those this week, we also had a lot of fun changing things up a bit. We had some mighty needed downtime and I finally got to watch Coco with the kids one rainy afternoon. Omg. I know I’m late to the game, but if you haven’t seen it, do it now! So, so good.

We had one leisurely morning at zoo. The kids were so happy to do nothing but hang out in the keiki zoo and on the playground for the most part.

Then we headed over to the Keiki 2 Keiki store and got Bean a bouncer. And I had so many conflicted thoughts on it, because I’m trying to do better now that I know better. And I know that seats and props that put them into positions that they can’t get into or do themselves are super inauthentic to their development, but whatever. She freaking loves it. And for $20 I got a break from her anguish of not being as big as her siblings and she thinks she’s hot sauce and – this is the best part – the music part was all ready broke on it so I don’t even have to lie to my kids about the batteries being dead. The annoying thing doesn’t make any additional annoying music. Woot!

We finally had time hit up the chiropractor, who saved my neck from this awful kink I’ve been battling. And Bean clapped after he adjusted her – her first claps ever!

We went on an adventure to a part of the North Shore we’ve never really explored before. There was a fun playground and the beach was calm and beautiful (but it was a little too chilly for a proper swim).

Then we hit up the North Shore Soap Factory. The kids were excited to be given a small piece of soap each that they could stamp as they pleased.

I had ample time to research car seats after we were side swiped last week and Bean is going to need a new seat. Le sigh.

And we finished our week with a huge brunch at our house with friends. A much needed time of play, food, and good company!

I’m trying so hard not to think about the fact that our time on this island is numbered. The weeks are dwindling. It’s so bittersweet.

I’m not even a little bit ready to leave the friends we have made here. They’ve become a village truly, in a way I’ve never experienced, and didn’t even realize how badly I needed until I had it. I can’t imagine that this isn’t the place and the people my children will grow up with. Ugh. I can’t even write this without getting teary eyed.

On the other hand, I’m ready for space. I’m thankful we got to give small house living a go. And if we didn’t have kids this house would be a perfect size, ha. But I’m ready to spread out in our living quarters. I miss our regular dirt that washes out as opposed to this red dirt.

I miss being able to get in the car and drive…anywhere. Across the country.

I miss the kids’ amazing school. Homeschooling has been fun, but Miss H has missed school so much that I miss it for her, too. Though it’s admittedly been so much fun having her home all day every day.

Oh man. I’m going to end this now. It’s quickly devolving into craziness.

Corpse Flower, Missing Kid , and a Maimed Leg

You guys, we know how to have fun around here.

Like really have fun.

I made my kids move this morning so we could beat the crowds (hey, you never know – there could be other weirdos out there!) and get to Foster Botanical Gardens to see the Corpse Flower in bloom.

It was worth it.

The smell of dead fish.

The brown, rotting flesh of the blooming flower that towered over me.

The looks on my kids’ faces, confirming what they’ve suspected all along: their momma is a nutcase.

I wrangled Sweet M into the stroller because hey! He’s 2 and a little cray cray and he also insisted on wearing his shark slippers (though that was short lived and he eventually broke free and went shoeless like the feral little person he is).

After we finished waiting in line to see the Corpse Flower (yes, there really was a line!), they got to run free amongst the gardens with some of their friends who joined us.

It’s been pretty crummy weather here all week. Chilly, cloudy, sprinkling here and there. I know, not even fair to complain when it could be snow like back in the Midwest, but I guess we are acclimated now, so.

Our tiny kid gang was roaming free, but in a group, and I suddenly realized I couldn’t spot…wait for it…Wait…can you guess which child I lost? I mean, it’s not even a surprise, right?

Sweet M. No where to be seen.

He loves to hide these days so I didn’t go into automatic panic mode, assuming he was hiding behind one of the larger trees. But once I ascertained he in fact was not, my heart started to creep into my throat.

Well, fuck.

Only six months into this 4 kid thing and I’d lost one. I’m still not sure if I was congratulating myself for having made it 6 months or lamenting it in that moment, to be honest.

Sheesh.

I started yelling his name calmly. I’ve learned that I’m super calm and level headed in genuine moments of panic. It never fails to surprise me when it’s all done and over, because I feel wild and unleashed in those moments. Alas.

Suddenly I spotted him near the entrance, another momma and her crew talking to him. Sweet M was all chill and calm and I stared running for him because he seemed like he was a million miles away and I hadn’t seen him in years and I couldn’t believe that in the blink of an eye I’d lost him and oh my gosh.

He saw me and immediately burst into tears, the impact of his baby’s day out coming to an understanding. I think in that moment he realized he hadn’t been surrounded by a single person he knew, and he sprinted his tiny toddler legs to me and threw himself in my arms.

I wanted to burst into tears, but figured one of us should keep our cool, and it didn’t appear it was going to be the 2 year old.

So I scooped him up and mouthed “thank you” to the momma who’d been hanging with him and she smiled and took off with her kids. Probably to see the Corpse Flower. It’s all the rage right now.

Then after my nerves returned to a somewhat stable place and we were back with our friends, Miss H, sitting at a picnic table, suddenly said “ow, I scratched my leg.” She wasn’t too upset so I didn’t think much about it, but my friend looked closer and said there were splinters.

I walked over to look, and I’m not even going to lie, I’m so mad I attended to her before taking a photo of the gnarliness.

It was so much more than a splinter. Somehow she’d brushed her leg against a thick, thorny stick and had large thorns embedded in her leg. Some were in there like arrows and I am still amazed I removed them with my fingernails.

She was an absolute champ. I mean, she wasn’t thrilled, but she sat there and let me remove them all.

We finished our morning shenanigans with invading Zippy’s with our nine kids who seemed to mostly keep themselves composed (you guys, seeing my big kids function in society gives me so much hope that one day all of my kids will be a part of functioning, upstanding society and not completely feral. Just saying.)

Now it’s back to a lazy afternoon of baby cuddles, rain, school work, and maybe a movie.

Oh yeah, and I drank a whole coffee milkshake from Zippy’s with my kids being none the wiser so I didn’t have to share a single sip – so I’m calling today a win!

This Is Almost 30

This.

This is me at almost 30.

I am so close I can almost taste it. If someone would’ve told me half a lifetime ago that this, this is where I would be at 30, I would’ve never in 1 million years have believed them. When I envisioned my life at that point, I was going to be much more educated. A highly successful lawyer. I was definitely not going to be married. And I wasn’t really planning on having kids until I was at least 40 and could afford a full-time nanny to raise my adopted brood. 🤷‍♀️

Oh yeah, and I would be at least 20 pounds lighter because I wouldn’t have four kids, or any steady relationships and thus I would have a whole lot of time to dedicate to nothing but looking hot.🙈

Oh the things I would say to 15-year-old me. That people who don’t go on to higher education are worthy and intelligent humans, too. That the most successful, high paying career is nothing if it isn’t your passion.

That you’re not too broken to be loved or to give love, and that there are people out their still who believe in the sanctity of marriage. Love shouldn’t hurt or make you angry or make you cry – unless they’re tears of happiness.

And that kid thing? You’ll be so happy to “ruin” your body to bring all those sweet blessings into this world over and over again. I probably would tell 15-year-old me to start saving for a nanny though. Nannies are expensive and kids are cray-cray, and you’re kind of committed once you have one. 😅

15-year-old me had big dreams. Such big dreams. But it turns out almost 30-year-old me is living even bigger and better dreams, and would have never believed it back then.

In all those big dreams and life goals, I never once put “happiness” on my list. Not once. But it turns out it’s the most important, and somehow I grabbed it before it could slip through my fingers.

This.

This is me at almost 30.

It’s insane to me that we as women buy into the idea of the “perfect body.” And when we fail to “succeed” we beat ourselves up.

Instead of enjoying healthy, yummy food, we force ourselves into restrictive fad diets that we decide are the holy grail of all (vegan, paleo, keto, low fat…the list goes on).

Instead of enjoying an extra hour of sleep we push ourselves out of bed for insane workouts or miss our evening down time with our partner because we aren’t “disciplined” enough to get up early.

We spend hundreds of dollars on lotions and creams in hopes of ridding our body of the marks left behind from growing: growing through puberty, through pregnancy, through that month we only ate cookies and coffe, whatever.

Accepting a healthy, moderate diet, and getting exercise in by living life, not being regimental, is frowned upon. Those people don’t care or love themselves enough.

Or do they?

Maybe they love themselves so fiercely that they’ve given up on society’s pressures to look a certain way just because someone said so. Maybe they love themselves so much that they’re comfortable, happy even, in their own imperfect body.

Maybe.

Breastfeeding is hard: treat yourself with nursing apparel

You would have thought that with all the years of breast-feeding experience I now have under my belt from having breast-fed the first three of my children until they self weaned, that breast-feeding Darling F would’ve been a breeze.

So it may come as a surprise, or to those who have been there and get it then it won’t, that I struggled.

I cried in those first few days. Sore nipples. Engorged breasts. Soaked clothes.

I asked myself repeatedly while I was doing this to myself.

Of course, when you’re not in the moment, the answer is clear. For me anyway. It’s what we want for our family and our kiddos (and our pocket books!).

For us, it works. But, oh man. The struggles. It’s real.

One thing I have allowed myself as a luxury for being the sole feeder of our children for the first year of their lives, is apparel that is easy to breast-feed in.

Sure, sure. All clothing is breast-feeding possible. I’ve worn a lot of tanks under T-shirts. I’ve won a lot of T-shirts without tanks under them and let the whole world see my post-pregnant belly while I’m out and about feeding. And I have no shame. None at all. I earned every single one of these marks and every extra inch, and all the wiggle and jiggle and pounds. And I’m totally cool with that. But it’s also nice to not always have to show it all to the world just to feed my kid.

One of my favorite breast-feeding friendly dresses comes from Milk and Baby. It’s super cute, it’s short enough that it’s fantastic in this Hawaiian climate but still covers my booty, and it makes breast-feeding on the go super discrete.

I love dresses. Other than maybe leggings, if I never had to wear pants again that’d be glorious. Glorious. But they’re also not easy for breastfeeding. I mean, I’m not a prude, but I also don’t want to hike a whole dress up and nurse my baby. I have a wee bit of modesty. And although some V-neck dresses get the job done, and I have some, they often get pulled out of shape if it’s not what they’re meant for.

So when all I have to do is pull this cute little Milk and Baby dress to the side to reveal a secret flap that lets me whip a boob out and feed my baby without anyone knowing, and the dress is ridiculously cute and comfortable to boot, I’m sold!

And I get it. Breastfeeding specific clothing is a luxury. You may only wear it for a year. Or if you’re like me and Miss H, you’ll get four whole years out of it, ha ha.

But you know what, mommas? You deserve it! You’re keeping your babies alive. Everywhere and anywhere that you go, every single day. You have the right to feel comfortable and look good doing it. So go treat yourself!

***This post is sponsored by Milk and Baby but all thoughts and opinions are genuine and mine alone.

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.

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.