Mr. B Turns SEVEN…A Month and a Half Ago…

So, two of my kiddos have had birthdays since we’ve moved and I’ve still not even had time to fully process it.

Mr. B was insistent that he have a birthday party. And because he is kind of a middle child, and I relate to him on so many levels, it was important that we made that happen. Never mind that we were literally moving into our house (our household goods arrived on his actual birthday) and that I was doing it mostly solo because J was out of town up until the party weekend.

I decided to do a combined party for him and Bean, since I figured we should acknowledge her first birthday (I kind of thought that maybe if we pretended it wasn’t happening, then she’d stay a tiny baby forever, alas). Mr. B and Bean’s birthdays are exactly one week apart, so it worked out well. And since Bean’s only friends are in Hawaii, there was no competition on that front, ha.


Truthfully, even though it wasn’t beautiful, having a brunch birthday party for him was a fantastic was for us to get to visit with many of the friends we had missed for the past year+ while we were away; and I’ve been so non-stop busy since our move, it may not have happened if B hadn’t been so insistent.


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This friend even flew all the way from NYC just to see him! Okay, maybe he flew to see his wife and this was an added bonus, but either way, B was delighted!

I made life as simple as possible and outsourced the cake making to the amazing Rebecca of Stryking Events, who did a superb job. Mr. B wanted a cookie dough cake on top, and chocolate mint on bottom. So not only was the cake freaking gorgeous, it tasted divine to boot. I will hire Rebecca again and again for our party needs because she always goes above and beyond. Always.

This seriously is the best cake you’ve ever seen, isn’t it!?
My momma made this dinosaur watermelon that the kids still talk about!

Mr. B is pretty much one of the sweetest kids out there. His heart is so big and so full of good; he really give me hope for the next generation of males (sorry, the climate right now is seeping into everything). When I worry about what the future may hold for the world, I remind myself that B is going to be a part of it, so it will be okay. Eventually.

He’s an absolute cuddle bug. None of my other kids are as cuddly and lovey as B is; not even Sweet M, and that is saying a lot! He loves to study graphic novels and build Lego sets. He’s still obsessed with all things dinosaurs and Jurassic World (hence our fourth dinosaur birthday out of seven…). He loves mythology and science, and I love that loves two such fascinating and complex subjects so immensely.


He still enjoys playing his ukulele and is also slowly learning the electric guitar (please send ear plugs and coffee…just kidding. Maybe.).

He still has an amazing sense of style that puts the rest of the world to shame. I don’t know how I got such fashionable kids!

B loved Hawaii the least of everyone; he tolerated it and made some fantastic friends and memories, but he was ready to come back to the Midwest pretty much from day one. And he’s melded right back into his roll and life here and hasn’t really looked back.

I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him.

I Let My Kids Play Outside. Unsupervised.

It’s been a long time since I’ve said something publicly and had to stop and wonder if I shouldn’t have. But I mentioned in front of another momma last week that all four of my kids play outside while I make dinner, and often after dinner while I do clean up. Alone. (And many other times too, but those are the two times they’re pretty much always out there.)

She looked uncomfortable. Like maybe I’d just confessed that I sometimes let my 8 year old drive herself to the mini mart to pick me up a 6 pack (I mean, obviously, I’m a classy lady. I’d at least ask for a proper bottle of wine, ha.)

I found myself stammering to justify it in the moment, but I probably only made it worse. And later I was kicking myself anyway. Why did I feel so compelled to try and justify my parenting (or lack there of, that’s up to you) to a semi-stranger?



Well, because we’re living in the 21st century where literally every decision is scrutinized under a microscope, and it doesn’t matter what you choose, you’re going to be wrong to someone.

Because we are living in the age of media. Where although crime has actually gone down over the decades, everyone is far more aware and terrified because all they hear is awful stories.

I’m not going to lie to you.

I have zero fears of my kids being kidnapped. Like when people say they can’t let their kids be outside alone because they may be kidnapped, that doesn’t even cross my mind. I can’t say it’s absolutely impossible, but the likelihood is so slim that it’s not even on my radar.

do worry about them gouging each others eyes out with sticks. Or falling off of a swing and breaking their arm (been there done, that. Me, not them.) I occasionally worry that the 2.5 year old may have a temporary lapse in self-control and venture into the street after something. But he’s always out there with his older siblings, and they typically are all engaged in some deep form of play that he’d never be able to squirrel away and get as far as the road without them noticing (and he never has. And H and B simply never did, so again, not that it couldn’t happen, but it’s not a constant worry.)


I think what my children gain from free, unadulterated play is far more than they could ever gain with constant supervision, and is worth that mild risk of something going wrong. (And if we are being completely truthful here, every single injury my kids have had that landed us in the emergency room have happened with them just an arms reach or so away from me; not on their own.)

When I was a kid I can remember roaming the woods with my friends. We were as young as Mr. B; 7 years old. No adults nearby. We would roam and explore and play for hours before resurfacing for sustenance. It was beautiful and wonderful, and the type of freedom I wish for my children.

We’d get on our bikes and bike to the gas station for candy or to the playground or to the library. The world was our oyster.

But I also realize that my children aren’t privy to that sort of freedom.

We don’t have woods, and as far as I know, none of our close friends do either. If I let my children bike around town on their own, let’s be honest: someone would surely call DCS. Because that’s the world we live in these days.

So what I can give my children is a few hours in their own backyard, playing without interference from me or J; allowed to make up their own world of pretend. Allowed to make their own rules and negotiations.

Allowed to just be kids.


(And sometimes I peek through the back windows because I’m a cool, free-range momma, but I also worry like crazy because I brought those babies into this world and I want them whole and in one piece forever and ever.)

Return to the Midwest

Well, we are not in Hawaii anymore. I guess that’s obvious at this point. It was a whirlwind of an adventure. We essentially went from looking at housing that was closer to J’s work, to packing our stuff and leaving the island in less than a month. But that’s the government for you. You have to be ready at the drop of a hat.

I’m still processing the move. As are the kiddos. They’ve done awesome though. The big kids transitioned back to the Midwest with zero issues. And Bean hasn’t had any noticeable issues with it either. But for Sweet M, it has definitely been a struggle. He asks to go the beach daily. He talks about his missing friends nonstop. He’s sleeping poorly, and experiencing frequent night terrors. He’s incredibly clingy, which for him, is not the norm. He isn’t dealing with separation, even in small amounts, from anyone in his immediate family well.

But he will get there. I’m confident of that. With a lot of love and patience, he will get there. Kids are super resilient, and Sweet M is no exception. He’s the toughest little dude I know.


For everything I miss about Hawaii, there is something I love about the Midwest, and vice versa. It makes my feelings so jumbled up.

I miss the ocean. The smell of the water.

I miss my friends. My community.

But I’m glad to have space in this big ol’ house of ours for our family to expand in. And I’m thrilled to be able to afford to eat again, bahaha. Air conditioning and a dish washer is a luxury I had deeply missed. And I love the lack of traffic and the ability to drive anywhere I want.

The seasons are starting to change and I realize I missed that, too. I’m not looking forward to snow though. I didn’t miss that. Not even an incy wincy amount.

But I love that we can hang out at the playground and not sweat to death. That we can walk nearly everywhere we want to go.


I’ve brought a lot of that aloha lifestyle back with us, too.

I’m not trying to do a million things anymore. I’m embracing the less is more. H and B are doing music lessons, and that’s it. I refuse to run around on the week day evenings. We are just chill being and enjoying. Although the babies could be doing a ton all day, we are content playing with duplos and being outside, and honoring naps.

I’m not stressing out over whether or not the house is picked up and looks akin to something out of a Home and Gardens Magazine. Sorry, but not really. I just can’t do that anymore. I mean, not like it ever did in the first place, but Lord knows I stressed myself out over it.

I’m spending a lot more time by myself. Well, by myself with my kids, I’m never truly alone, ha. At first, despite being an introvert, I found that uncomfortable, but I’m really embracing it now and loving how this time gives me the space to enjoy these kiddos as they properly should be. They’re not competing for my attention with friends or activities.


I don’t know how long this season of contentment will last. I tend to always get a little stir crazy and antsy after a while. But now that we are officially moved in – though still working on unpacking and making this house ours again – I’m feeling really at peace with where we are in life right now.

It’s not Hawaii, that’s for sure. But it’s still something beautiful.

Bean is One!

Our sweet Bean is one year old. I have moments where I don’t even know how that is possible.

A year ago I was waiting on labor to truly begin, knowing it was the day I was going to meet my baby because all the signs were there, a little anxious because it wasn’t happening in the progression I was used to, and then bam! It all started and finished in less than 3 hours and I was in a birthing pool in front of our large living room window, overlooking Diamond Head and Waikiki, holding my precious girl in my arms.

It was damn near akin to magic. It was perfect and beautiful and everything I’d hoped for. And the end prize, the tiny vernixed-covered newborn of perfection, was everything I’d ever hoped for.

She’s had the most epic of first years of life.

She’s been loved on daily by aunties and their littles. She’s spent more time at the beach than many people will spend in their whole collective lives. And she’s definitely a fan of the sand and water. All. Day. Long.

She’s visited the Big Island and seen volcanoes. She’s traveled through rain forest.

She’s been whale watching.

She’s spent a weekend on Molokai.

She’s traveled through Europe. She’s been to Anne’s Frank’s memorial grave site and crawled the streets of Berlin. She’s eaten the foods of Madrid and seen the castle in Segovia. She’s played in the parks of Seville where her ancestors once lived. She’s visited the Eiffel Tour and the Louvre and Versailles. She learned to walk in London, where she also got her first pair of walking shoes.

She’s moved from an island to the Midwest.

She’s eaten fried cookie dough at the Minnesota State Fair.

If her first year foretells what her life holds for her, she’ll be a lifelong adventurer and world-traveler. There are by far worse things, I suppose.


Oh, my sweet, lovely Bean. You are so serious, so certain of what you want and when you want it. You are, of course, gorgeous. You are fun and silly, and I love the little person you all ready are.

Happiest of birthday, Freja Lu. We couldn’t have asked for a better fourth kid.

Saying Goodbye to Hopper

Pets are hard.

But letting them go is harder.

Hopper had never been a part of our plan, but he hopped into our backyard and practically right into Miss H’s lap and that was that.

I was torn from the beginning on what to do with him; knowing our stay here was temporary; knowing nothing about rabbits.

But the kids named him.

Hopper Smithsonian.

So that was kind of that.

In fairness, I thought we’d be here a bit longer than what it’s playing out to be, and after a bit of research, I felt pretty confident that we could take him back to the Midwest with us.

Then things changed and we learned that after we left for Europe in July we wouldn’t be returning to the island. And we couldn’t very well take Hopper all through Europe with us; even if it was allowed it wouldn’t be fair to him.

We screened a few families and found him a home with a little girl who seems to love him as much as my H does. Even H said she really wanted to be sad, but it was hard when she saw how happy Hopper’s new owner is.

It was a good few months with him. It was nice for me to see where my big kids have grown and matured, the areas where they have naturally begun being responsible, and the areas they’re still working on.

It is certain though, Hopper was dearly loved around here and will be sorely missed; but we are all excited for his new adventure.

Our Last Weeks on Oahu


It’s official.

We are mainland bound this summer. Our year on Oahu is coming to and end, and it’s the most bittersweet feeling ever.

I love this island, despite all my intentions not to do so.

I love the people.

I love the lazy beach days (every day).

I love the food (the fact that I haven’t even almost lost the baby weight from Bean is proof of that, haha!).

I love how chill I am.

But I don’t love the heat, haha.

Or the rats and mold.

Def don’t love the traffic or the absurd cost of living.

But did I mention that I love the people and the beach and the laid back vibe? Because really, that makes even the things I don’t love worth it.

I have a lot of hard and mixed feelings about leaving this island behind and returning to a place that will be equally familiar as it is foreign.

Regardless, I have to wipe my kids’ confused tears and empathize with their sadness and their joy; their deep grief of leaving their friends and island life here, their excitement to have their own rooms and return to school and be closer to family again.

And I can empathize with them. Because I have the same feelings. But it does no good to cry with them, too.

So here I am.

Planning our last weeks, loving friends hard, and handing all my stress and worry over to God because I know it will do me no good. And He has an adventure for us, and I just have to trust it for now because I certainly cannot control it.

It’s funny how a place you never wanted can become your home, and a life you hadn’t prepared for can bring you joy, even as you watch it slip through your fingers because you knew it couldn’t last in the first place.

Big changes are happening. Good things are happening. We may all cry a bit, but I have faith that what is supposed to happen will happen, even if it hurts a lot right now.

What a Day

I woke up ready to take on the world.

I even straightened my hair, and I can’t even tell you the last time I did that.

Despite a bit of a rough solo week (thanks, vog, for all the sickness. These are memories I will always cherish), I had the day conquered in my mind, and my husband would be back on the island,and all would be perfect.


The world was ready to take me on.

I dropped the big kids off at their theatre class, and Sweet M insisted on a playground. I had two full hours of him and Bean, so playground it was.

I made a wrong turn, and while trying to get back to the original playground I’d programmed into my GPS, Sweet M spotted another one. It was in a slightly more seedy area than I really wanted to be, but I set my reservations aside and adhered to his desires.

Bean had a diaper blowout and I had no extra clothes with me, so being the classy lady I am, I wiped off the leg of her romper with some baby wipes and let her continue rocking out in it.

Not even ten minutes of us being there, Sweet M declared he was hungry and thirsty and wanted to leave to get food. We have several friends with birthdays this month so I decided Barnes and Noble would be a great place to visit – M could have a soft pretzel, I could grab coffee and gifts.

I loaded up the babies in the all ready hot van. Sweet M is rarely super amiable to getting into his car seat, but he was really wanting his tummy full.

I turned the ignition key and…click.


Click, click. Click.

Dead battery.

My heart sank down into my knees.

I called my brother first, but he was headed off to a water park for the day. Next I called a friend. At this point both babies were screaming, strapped in their seats. I had 1.5 hours before I needed to pick up my big kids, but oh my gosh! What if I couldn’t get there!?

After chatting for a few minutes with my friend K, I hung up and gave my insurance’s roadside assistance a call. They were champs and promised to send someone over to jump start my van.


My phone vibrated and the name of the company and their number was sent to me. Also that it’d be approximately 90 minutes before they would be there.

That was thirty minutes after I needed to pick my big kids up.

I called K back, and asked if she could please come pick my kids up. She was on the other side of the island, family visiting in town, but didn’t skip a beat.

At this point I had pulled both sweaty babies back out of the car. Sweet M was losing his ever loving mind because he was so hungry and thirsty.

I ransacked my van looking for nourishment (you’d have thought he hadn’t eaten an egg, half an avocado and cheese an hour prior). Fortunately my big kids have impeccable reliability for never fully unloading the trunk when asked, so there was a full tin of caramel and cheddar popcorn I’d bought at Target on whim Thursday because it wase clearanced out for $3.



Except that just made him thirstier.

I typically always carry a case of water in the trunk, but we’d just finished it that week and I hadn’t yet been to Costco to replace it.




At this point I’m offering to like squirt milk into his mouth like a game because he’s long since self weaned, and he’s having none of it. Snot is running down his face, his neck is caked in it. He’s blubbering like the 2 year old he is.

By now three different gentleman have stopped by, unphased by the hairy situation I am in, asking if I have any money to lend them.

I have a baby on my hip literally wearing shit covered clothes, a toddler laying on the curb losing his cookies because he’s dehydrated and hasn’t had a drop of water in a solid hour, sweat is visibly rolling down my face and I stink like the high heaves because this hippy deodorant stuff does nothing for me on the equator (or wherever Hawaii is), and they seriously want to know if I can lend them money?

Nope. No, I can’t. Would I if could? Yes, yes I would.

But here’s another fun fact I’m trying not to panic about.

I left my purse at home!

You guys.

This day is just going…

“I have popcorn,” I offer one gentleman sheepishly.

He waves me away.

At this point I haven’t encountered any humans in automobiles, but as if sent to me by the Gods, another gentleman pulls in front of me and parks.

I muster all be courage I have in me (have I ever mentioned I have some pretty deep social anxiety? Like speaking to strangers is up there on my list with having a lobotomy; just nope.) and approach the gentleman. I ask him if he happens to have any jumper cables.

He looks at me a bit perplexed and I ask him again.

He shakes his and tells me someone is coming to pick him up and he’ll ask them (in broken English, so mad props for replying, dude).

I ask his friend who arrives two minutes later, but no.

At this point I seriously want to cry. But Sweet M is finally calming down, so I lead him back to the playground.

Soon after this K does a mini drive by and gives me her kids’ water bottles and some bugles to tide Sweet M over as she heads to grab my big kids.

Another friend is headed our way, so I’m googling how to jump a car in case she makes it before the tow truck.

Another car suddenly parks. I pick up Bean who is eating leaves and now… sticky? I approach the man who, I’m not going to lie, had a hell of a time parallel parking his little Prius.

I ask him if he has jumper cables, and he kindly tells me no, but he couldn’t jump my van anyway with super chic, eco-friendly Prius anyway.

Well, thanks, anyway. My gas-guzzling van is too cool for you anyway.

Also. During this time there are not bathrooms nearby. I’m on my period. It’s getting ridiculous. And for the first time since I was like thirteen I leak through my pants! Real life, y’all. Womanhood is some pretty glamorous shit.

At that point my big kids arrive, armed with McDonald’s, and I’m pretty sure that Sweet M and I have never been so delighted to witness such a feast. We’ve been stranded for two hours at this point. It’s safe to say we are weak from near starvation.

And coffee. There really are miracles.

The tow truck guy arrives about ten minutes after that. Late. Obviously.

He jumps my van in about 2 seconds flat and tells me I need to take it straight to a shop for a new battery.

But at this point I’m over adulting, and I’m not making those sorts of decisions without J because what if it just needs a charge and not a whole battery? How am I supposed to know?

So I pack all my kids up, bid adieu and many thanks to K, and head home where my other friend, H, meets me.

I have J’s car since I had dropped him off at the airport last week, and I put the babies’ car seats in his car. H brings me more coffee. Bigger coffee. Bless her. The gods are trying to make amends. I get it.

I load Sweet M and Bean up, ready for their naps, and head to the airport.



Merging onto the freeway and going .4 miles takes me 20 minutes. No jokes. Hello, Honolulu.

During these 20 minutes my phone randomly turns off five times.


It’s also on 8% battery and I didn’t bring a charger so fingers crossed my older progenies don’t maim or dismember themselves and someone needs to get ahold of me.

Longest drive ever to the airport. J is there. Still good looking.

Cockroach in his trunk as he goes to put his luggage away.

Fucking Hawaii.

Sweet M awakes two minutes before we make it to the auto shop to purchase a new battery (J decides we need a new one simply based on my story). He needs to pee. We aren’t fast enough. Sweet M is distraught because ohmygoshheistwoandtwoyearoldscannotpeeonthemselveswhentheyaregentlemen!

I mean, I’d be grumpy if I peed on myself, too.

But. With it all said and done. I have a new battery in my van. Car seats have been washed, which inspired me to also clean out and vacuum my van. My 8 year old made a super yummy cake. My darling husband is home rocking babies again.

And most importantly: I got two coffees today.

So basically I’m winning.

In this family, we read.

We are kind of terrible homeschoolers, I admit it. We spend more time on the beach than we do doing math worksheets, but I make them cook their own pancakes and assume it all evens out. Right?

Although we don’t do sit down workbooks every day (we do do them though), we do read. Every. Single. Day.

So much.

I genuinely, genuinely believe that other than allowing them to be outside and playing most of the day, reading to a kiddo is the most important thing you can do for them.

We read during the day. All sorts of great picture books and graphic novels and non-fiction. And every evening I curl up with the big kids and we read chapter books. Sometimes even Sweet M will curl up on my lap with his bottle of milk (I know, I know) and listen with us.

It ebbs and flow how quickly we read through them. Some books we plow through in just a few days. Other books we sip and savor, reading slowly over a few weeks.

There are books that were my childhood favorites, and books I’ve never heard of but were on one reading list or another that I grazed. Books that came highly recommended by others and books that I picked up on a whim.

We read fairytales and light hearted books. We read books that touch on heavy subjects like World War 2 and bullying (heavy topics on very different levels, obviously).

We read books that have tidy and happy endings. We read books that leave you hanging, thirsty for more, so many questions unanswered.

Although Miss H can read all of these books herself at this point, she is still eager to climb into bed and spend this time with me. I am acutely aware that one day she won’t want me reading to her. She’ll shoo me away, and I’ll be lucky to even get a good night kiss.

But for now, I will savor this time I have with her. With Mr. B. Reading into the night, bringing them into the fictitious literary worlds created by imaginative people who took the time to put pen to paper and bring these stories to life. Worlds that I grew up in; worlds that shaped me into the person I am today, and that I know will help shape them into amazing beings, too.

They may not know what a hanging participle is quite yet, nor can they do long division or recite the periodic table; but they can delve into the world of books and have endless conversations about the stories they’re read.

And for now, that’s really all they need anyway.

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.

I think the most challenging aspect of having four babes is the lack of 1:1.

I also think it’s one of the greatest gifts; there is no possibility of them becoming too self-centered because they simply know the world doesn’t revolve around them.

They know that needs and wants aren’t the same thing, and sometimes they may want xyz but someone else has a legitimate need that must be met first. It’s a fine line, of course, of cultivating a loving, empathetic, and selfless little heart as opposed to being jealous and hostile; but the majority of the time they blow me away with how loving and mature and selfless they truly are.

I love getting time with them individually, whether it’s baking muffins or reading a story or a quick snuggle while the others are at play. And sometimes it’s more; movies or dinners or grocery shopping.

I’ve learned with time that 1:1 doesn’t have to be big. It can be building duplos or helping to wash their hair or even just catching their eye while they’re doing something, so that they know that I truly see them.

I’ve often heard people say “I could never have x amount of kids because I could never give them each the attention they deserve.” I get that fear. I do. But let me tell you, you can give them enough attention, and at the same time you’ll never give them enough, even if its just one kiddo. It ebbs and flows and in some seasons you will be swinging high and in others you’ll miss the mark.

Fortunately, it all makes for beautiful life lessons and opportunities to teach the imperfectness of humanity.

I am so thankful for each one of them, and all the little moments that make us connected.

They are precious.

They are loved.

They are so deeply wanted.

Everything else will fall into place.