To the ER We Go

We are really fortunate that we have more great days than wtf days. I mean, even in our great days we have our moments, but I rarely have days that I consider it all a loss. They happen, but they’re not the norm.

The last week of November was a doozy for us though. I was all ready emotionally out of sorts. So I should have seen it coming.

After a loooong day I finally put the big kids to bed and crawled into bed with the babies, J still not home as he was working overtime. I’d just got us snuggled in as Miss H walked into the room.

I won’t lie, I was annoyed to see her there. I’d tucked her in 20 minutes ago and I was tired and this was just not the night to play 100 reasons to get out of bed.

“What?” I whispered, exasperated.

She whispered something to me that I swear to God sounded like “there was a mouse in my bed.”

I momentarily panicked. There aren’t mice here. Rats though, yes. If there was a freaking mouse in her bad she really meant there was a rat and Oh my god. I was not a good enough mother to deal with that. And then I started trying to figure out how a rat even got in our house. And do they have rabies? Oh shit.

Thankfully, or not, you choose, I heard her then say “there was something metal in my bed.”

“Metal,” I repeated. “Did you get hurt? Did it cut you?”

She shook her head, coming closer to me. “I swallowed it,” she answered.

I sat there for a moment, trying to figure out if I’d yet again misheard her.

“I went to put it on my window but it fell into my throat and I swallowed it,” she said.

I nodded.

Good grief.

What a story.

In my nearly 30 years of life I can say I have never had something accidentally fall into my mouth which I then swallowed. But I kid you not, that is her story and she is sticking to it.

“What was it exactly?” I asked.

She shrugged.

“Okay, ” I sighed, climbing out of bed, putting my clothes back on.

I wanted to sleep.

“What are you doing?” Miss H asked cautiously.

“Getting dressed so we can go to the ER when Papa gets home.” I mean, at this point she still seemed to be breathing so I didn’t feel like I needed to drag all four kids down to the ER.

“What?” Tears sprang to her eyes.

“Kid,” I said to her, leading her out of my room so as not to disturb the babies, “You just told me you swallowed something and don’t know what. It could be anything. A battery. A magnet. Who knows?”

“I don’t think it’s a battery or magnet.”

“Then do you know what it was?”


Roughly 40 minutes later we were at the ER of the Women’s and Children’s hospital. I actually can not rave enough about this hospital and the phenomenal care we have received here.

A few x-rays later and we determined that Miss H had swallowed a flying saucer. Well, something metal that looked similar to a flying saucer. But otherwise, she was on the up and up and the doctor reminded her not to stick things into her mouth.

H stuck to her story. “It fell in there.” The doctor was a good sport and told her she should probably keep her mouth shut then while she’s laying in bed.

Home we went.


I want to tell you that was the end of our ER trips that week, but alas…

Two nights later, feeling on top of the world because I was actually making a proper dinner at a proper time, baby was sleeping, kids were playing; Sweet M comes into the kitchen crying, Miss H behind him.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

M cradled his arm as I envisioned 8 weeks in a cast and now what in the heck would we do? We live on an island paradise, is 8 weeks of no beach even feasible?

It was deduced that while playing, H grabbed him by the wrist to take him off the couch. While better than a broken arm, he still had a dislocated elbow.

The one night I had my act together and was feeling like a million dollars, and I was even going to get to eat a hot dinner as I was headed back to the ER because no way was I going to attempt to pop it back in myself.

Seriously, nothing physically hurts your heart more than having a kiddo in pain. I’d have done nearly anything to have switched places with him as he clung to me and cried.

Per usual, the nurses and doctors were all outstanding and super quick and efficient. They popped it back in while I forced myself not to cry for him.

And then we went back home to three sleeping kiddos and dinner that J had kept warm for me. He’s a keeper.

Miss H may or may not have come back into my room at 4am that same night telling me she had swallowed something else. I may or may not have taken her back to the ER.

Y’all, we should get a discount at the ER at this point. That’s all I’m saying.

Thankful for a Week With Good Friends

These last few weeks have been so busy. So let me back track and fill you in.

My dearest friend and her husband came to visit for the week of Thanksgiving.

It was so amazing to have people here for a whole week who were happy playing with my kids and just being with us. We did fun, touristy and site-seeing things as well, but there was a lot of downtime and that was really nice.

We ventured around the island one day, taking in the sites and enjoying the beauty that is Oahu.

My big kids aren't really upset, they're just class A clowns.

(Don’t worry, H and B are just monkeying around.)

Then we took them for a (chilly) day at Bellows. It was so much fun watching my kiddos play in the waves and sand with two of my favorite people!

We had a nice leisurely day where the kids did a million science experiments and Miss H did a research board of the 1920s. Also, G did a lot of laundry while she was here.

Tuesday we took our friends with to a local U-Pick farm where the kids played with the chickens and fun outdoor toys, and then we picked enough fresh veggies for our Thanksgiving salad.

And then we headed to the North Shore for snorkeling and dole whips!

Sweet M is cray-cray when he’s all doped up on the white stuff aka sugar. He’s a cute little nugget, but oh my goodness!

Wednesday G and B ventured to Pearl Harbor while J, the kids, and I did some normal life errands. But that evening we left the kiddos and headed out for a genuine, bonafide date night. It was so nice to leave our kids in their capable hands and know they would be well cared for and loved while we got to spend two hours eating sushi and drinking fruity drinks and talking about…okay, mostly our kids, ha.

Thursday was Turkey Day and we spent it at my older brother’s house feasting on the best smoked turkey ever.

And we finished out their trip on Friday with another lazy day that included putting up a tiny 4 foot Christmas tree, G holding Bean for a 3+ hour nap, and then the evening on the beach roasting marshmallows for another friend’s daughter’s birthday before bidding them adieu as they jetted back to the mainland on a red eye.

I am so glad we got that week with them and my kiddos were able to get their cups filled with mainland love.

Not every friend you make is for life, especially when you’re in the 1st grade, but sometimes you luck out. This years Thanksgiving I was definitely thankful for them!

Snow Fest at Bellows

We packed the kids up yesterday and headed over to one of our favorite beaches – Bellows! On base they were having a snow fest and the idea of 12 tons of snow was definitely alluring!

The kids were so excited to see “snow” and have a few snowball fights.

Sweet M wasn’t too impressed. Mostly, he was just happy to have his shovel. And happy to get away from the snow. (I feel ya, kid).

He was thrilled with the cookies and hot cocoa though! I mean, what kid doesn’t love a hot cocoa bar with an array of toppings? Even Momma got excited to see dark chocolate curls, because, dark chocolate. Life doesn’t get better than that.

We also took a stroll on the beach, where the wind was mighty and the waves were fierce. But it felt like, dare I say it? Home. This place is really feeling like home.

The Snow Fest was super crowded, but the kids had a blast. No one wanted to spend time in the long line to see Santa Claus, so instead they stood next to the blow-up Santa so Momma could snap a festive shot.

(Mr. B does have proper fitting sweaters. He just insists on wearing Sweet M’s.)

Bean slept through the whole event. It was a short, but fun little fest that we will for sure attend again next year if we are around!

I can’t wait to see what other fun events are around the island to get us prepped for celebrating a mele kalikimaka!

Ono Steaks & Shrimp Shack

One of the best parts about living on Oahu is the food.

I love food. I have no shame. I eat all the foods. All the time. Of all the regrets to go to my grave with, “I could have ate that, but I didn’t” certainly will not be one of them.

One of our favorite little places we discovered early on is Ono Steaks & Shrimp Shack. We came upon it randomly when driving around the island one afternoon and I am so glad we did.

It is tucked off the street in Waimanalo on the east side of the island. It’s a bit of a trek from our Honolulu home, but so worth it.

It’s completely no-frills, but the quirky bright yellow outside will pique your interests and draw you in. And the amazing food will keep you coming back again and again.

You won’t find many tourists here since it’s off the beaten path, so prices are fair and the food is fresh and delicious!

My hands down favorite is the fish tacos (with mango – yum!) and a side of garlic fries. Life doesn’t get better.

Your meal is served in styrofoam containers whether you are staying or ordering food for take away. You clean up after yourself and throw your rubbish in the bin outside. As I said, no-frills.

If you’re looking for amazing, local food, be sure to stop in to Onos! You will be so glad you did!

Car Seat Lowdown

This is a sponsored post.

With the recent addition of Bean came the addition of a fourth car seat in our van.

A lot of time and research went into choosing the perfect vehicle for our family, so it’s no surprise we have put just as much time into insuring our littles are as safe as they can be when riding in said vehicle.

Let’s face it; car seats can be daunting and tricky. We hear so much from all sides about what is best, and what’s best isn’t always what the law is. And then we wonder if we can even afford “best” (some car seats are pricey!) or if the car seat will fit properly in our vehicle etc., etc.

So let’s break it down to some pretty basic tips to be sure you’re choosing the right seat for your child at every age.

1.) All car seats pass the same tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s right. A bigger price tag or extra appealing accessories like cup holders don’t make the car seat any more or less safe than another. Some third party testers may have reviews on different tests and safety ratings, but any seat you can purchase at a store for your kiddo is safe and has been tested rigorously.

2.) Not all car seats are created equally. What? I just said they all pass the same tests from the NHTSA. Yes, they’re all equally safe, but based on your own personal preferences and needs, not all seats may work for your specific kiddo or vehicle. Car seats with higher rear facing weight limits may be needed for children who are at the top of the percentiles, while only a few specific seats may fit in a particular seat in your vehicle (i.e., the middle “jump seat” in the second row of my Honda Odyssey can only have a few seats properly installed on it). Some car seats have cupholder, others do not, etc. It is important to make sure that your vehicle, child, and car seat are all compatible with one another.

3.) Proper installation is pivotal. At the end of the day it does not matter what car seat you have if it is not installed correctly. Read the manual. talks about the latch system, which makes installing many car seats easily. Once the child and car seat have a combined weight of 40 pounds most cars disallow the use of the latch system (not to be confused with the tether, which should always be used with a forward facing harnessed seat). So it’s important to also get familiar with seat belt installations. Some seats, such as the Britax clicktights, make seat belt installations a breeze. Whether with the latch system or the vehicle’s seat belt, be sure the installation is correct.

4.) State laws regarding car seats and “best use” of car seats do not always line up. Although many states have all ready or are in the process of rewriting the law so that rear facing is to age 2 or 40 pounds, not all states are there yet. Most convertible car seats recommend keeping the child in rear facing position until they reach the height or weight limit of the seat: age 4 is considered the most optimal, even though many states allow for a 4 year old to ride in a booster seat. Many children need a harness to ride safely until at least age 6, and aren’t ready to be without their booster until they are 4’9″ (often around age 10).

So when it comes time to add a car seat to your vehicle, or make the switch to a new car seat, research is pivotal in being sure the seat you choose is the best one for your child and the vehicle it’s being installed into.

And remember, all car seats are equally safe if being used properly and installed correctly.

***The Learning Momma was compensated to write this post on

My Little Sister’s Wedding

My little sister got married at the beginning of this month.

I repeat. My little sister got married!

There are not words. I swear she’s not old enough to be married, despite the fact that I already had two babies at her age.

I took my two little girls, and jetted to the mainland for a long, sleepless weekend.

Bean was a stellar little traveler, and Miss H was, too, as always. 

H adjusted fairly well to the six hour time change, but I didn’t even try to adjust Bean. So that meant she didn’t fall asleep for the night until 2am, and made for a very, very tired momma. 

You can’t even tell I took a red eye and hadn’t slept in over 25 hours, eh? (Photo by Jack Speaker)

It was a lot of fun to just spend time with Miss H and focus on her. As one of four, she doesn’t get a lot of one-on-one time anymore. And my heart still remembers fondly all those little moments when her life was just her and me. And no one else in the world to come between that. I occasionally have those moments where I feel a pang of guilt and have to hope that my desire for a large family hasn’t come at the expense of my first few babies. But I digress.

Miss H loved getting her hair done at the salon for the wedding, and wearing her lacy flower girl dress. And she’s smart and kind and courageous and all that, but good golly. She is also ridiculously gorgeous. 

It was great for so much of our family to get to meet Bean for the first time. I admittedly was very caught up in the moments that I didn’t snap hardly any photos. 

And my sister? She was beautiful and glorious and perfect, of course. 

I still can’t believe she is a Mrs. She will always be a little mismatched toe head with snarls and an epic pout to me.

I wish we’d had more time on the mainland with friends and family, but we needed to skedaddle and get home. I wasn’t quite ready to leave Sweet M overnight so I needed it to be a simple and short trip.

And it was nice to get home and to see our boys, where they greeted us with leis.

It was an honor to stand with my baby sister on her wedding day, but it’s also so, so good to be home. 

One Day at a Time

I will probably be saying this for at least the next year, if not forever, but four kids is not for the faint of heart.

I don’t believe in playing the “who has a harder game,” but J and I definitely sit and reminisce about those 17 months we had with only one child.

I mean, it was complete chaos and mayhem then. We had no idea what we were doing. We still don’t. But in that moment, we only had one child waking up in the middle of the night, one child with dirty diapers, one child throwing up when a stomach bug came around, one child who wanted our undivided attention, you get the point. Although it’s funny, because in those moments, it definitely didn’t seem any easier with just that one baby than it does now with four.  Probably because it wasn’t easier. It was just different. I think that’s why you start out with one kid at a time. OK, most people start out with one baby at a time. Some are blessed with more than that on their first go, whether through giving birth to multiples, or adopting multiple children at once.

But this fourth baby has made me take learning to give myself grace to a whole new level.

It’s trickier in a lot of ways, I think mostly because we are in Hawaii, and not back where we had our feet firmly on the ground. We’re still figuring things out. And then we threw in this other child.

I wouldn’t trade her, or this experience, for the world, but it’s definitely a learning curve.

I finally had to tell H today that this was her last month of gymnastics. Not because we can’t afford it, or because it’s too much time, but because it’s too much time in the car for Bean. We spend just as much time in the car with this god awful Honolulu traffic as she does in her class. And Bean literally screams her heart out the whole time we’re in traffic.

Not that I enjoy hearing any of my kids cry or complain, but a toddler or preschooler thatbis unhappy in the car is a lot less heartbreaking than an itsy-bitsy baby who just doesn’t understand and can’t be reasoned with. OK, so toddlers and preschoolers can’t really be reasoned with either. I mean, I like to think they can… But we all know better.

As I was cursing myself for having apparently lost one of Sweet M’s shoes in Costco this evening and forgetting to get gas, while trying to dice up onions while H held her sister so that maybe dinner wouldn’t be on the table too much past bedtime, H started reading to me magnets on the refrigerator that were given to us long ago by her godparents.

“Momma,”she said, “children are a gift from the Lord.” 

We are just going to pretend in that moment the tears that spraig into my eyes were from the onion I was chopping. After an afternoon that’s been a little hectic, and moments when I’ve probably been more frustrated and exasperated with these sweet people than I should be, it was exactly the reminder I needed.

They are a gift. Regardless of whether you believe in a higher being or not. These children are a gift. And somehow, I got them. I get to be the momma to these four amazing people.

And even in the most chaotic of days, it is obviously not crazy enough. Because I definitely fall asleep dreaming about what life would be if we added another… Don’t tell my husband. 😬

Mr. B is starting to read. It’s kind of the most beautiful and frustrating thing to witness. Yes, I won’t sugarcoat it and say it’s not frustrating. For me. He’s doing amazing and isn’t frustrated in the least bit. But I can never quite figure out how he sounds out the word “nut” and then yells “big!” I’m left scratching my chin wondering if we’ve been looking at the same book. But he is unphased. And over all, he is sailing through his reading lessons beautifully. And most importantly, he is so proud of himself, which is kind of one of the most amazing things in parenting to witness. Your child reading. At least it is for me. 

I had really feared we were behind in their homeschooling until I sat down over the weekend and started to really look at where we were at in the curriculum. And we just finished week 21 out of 36. So I think we’re going to be OK. That was a huge weight off my shoulders.

I’m really loving homeschooling them. But I’m also kind of looking forward to the day that there is another awesome school I can send them to and feel good about it. Miss H thrives in big environments. Me, not so much. B is a lot like me in that aspect and currently expresses no interest in ever attending school unless it’s college, but I suspect he’d change his mind if his sister were gone each day. We will see. Right now, we’re just taking it day by day.

I got brave enough this past week to take them to the beach without J. I had friends there to help, which was nice, but I also feel pretty confident that I can now do it by myself. As long as we are at the right toddler-friendly beach.

Bean enjoyed her first full dip in the ocean. And then yesterday we took her to the pool for the first time and she just ate that up. She is truly a water baby through and through. 

I’ve been re-reading “Unconditional Parenting” by Alfie Kohn (if you have a kid, are around kids, or know a kid, I can’t recommend this book enough!). It revolutionized my parenting years ago, and in the thick of things I’ve found myself falling back on old habits because they’re easier sometimes. 

But I keep talking to my kids. I keep telling them the kind of momma I want to be and apologizing when I’ve acted poorly myself because I want them to learn that even adults make mistakes and it’s okay to admit that and tell people you’re sorry. I also find myself muttering “I could be a nicer mom if my kids were crazy lunatics” sometimes, but…really, they’re pretty darn good kids. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the unattainable bar I set for myself isn’t fair to set for my kiddos, too. 

We also just got Bean a crib and side-carred it to my bed. And we bought her a new car seat. There are not words enough out there to praise my husband for putting up with his wife’s crazy. I’m not even gonna tell you how many car seats we have purchased since becoming parents.

Anyway, we have friends and family coming in over the next few weeks and I am so looking forward to my little niece or nephew to be born any day now! Time is flying out here.

Oh, and Sweet M stuck a giant pearl bead up his nose tonight. He was quite proud.  This is my life, yo. 

Yes, My Kids Eat Candy. No, They Are Not Unhealthy.

First, let me start off by apologizing about how pretentious I know I was when I had only one child. That first, sweet baby who would never eat candy, fast food, watch television, play with plastic toys, you get the gist.

The thing is, she’s done all those, and more. Lots of people would be horrified I’m sure. I admit, I have days where I am.

Sweet M it’s only 20 months old, and let me tell you, he definitely got in the spirit of Halloween last night. That kid will do just about anything for a lollipop or a piece of chocolate. And the fact that people would hand them out to him just for smiling and being cute: this is his holiday!

Miss H was like four before I ever took her trick-or-treating. Because, again, the horrors! 

I grew up in a world of fad diets, fat shaming, food restrictions, and lots of binge eating. I have always had a very tumultuous relationship with food because there never was balance. 

I want my kids to be healthy. I want them to be strong. And I don’t want them to struggle with food the way I have.

We buy healthy food (or what my generation knows to be healthy food anyway). Nearly all the food that we purchase at the grocery store is organic, non-GMO, grass fed, free range, etc. Unprocessed foods.

Snacks for kids are typically fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Applesauce, dried fruit, and organic beef jerky when we’re on the go.

I make it a priority to feed them well.

But you know what? Sometimes we eat at McDonald’s.

Sometimes we grab a donut or pastry.

I even let them try soda pop for the first time this year.

And I even let them eat the candy they received while trick-or-treating.


All that processed, artificial, corn syrup-laden junk.

They love it.

We always remove all the candy that has food dye. Miss H used to have a fairly severe allergy to food dye, and although she seems to have mostly outgrown it, we still go ahead and avoid it because it’s easy to do so and it’s gross anyway. (They did each keep three pieces of food-dye candy though.)

And they will spend the next day or two eating pieces of candy throughout the day. And then they will be over it, they will forget about it. I will probably binge eat most of it in the middle of the night and then insist J take it to work to get it out of the house because I have zero will-power and know that, and the world will keep turning.

And my kids?

They will still be healthy little beings who know which foods make them healthy, which foods make your body strong. They will still choose a fruit over a candy 99% of the time.

They were still play hard in nature and do yoga videos.

And they will grow up to have a healthy relationship with food because they will know that the occasional sweet treat or drive-thru French fries won’t be the end of the world when they’re still making healthy choices the other 95% of the time. They won’t binge-eat forbidden foods or feel deep guilt when they ruin whatever diet they think they should be on. 

They will be strong, healthy humans. 

Who eat trick-or-treat candy.

Super Easy Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cereal Bars

I’ve kind of dropped the ball on a fun Halloween events and goodies this year. So I didn’t want to let my kiddos down for Halloween morning.

If you’re like me, I love everything pumpkin spice, then you probably bought the pumpkin spice Cheerios. They were sittingunopened in my cabinet, as I was urging the kids to eat other cereal that was opened first. I wanted to make something fun for them on Halloween morning, but was kind of at a loss.

I had a hankering for chocolate, as I do pretty much all moments in which I am breathing, so decided to combine my love for pumpkin and chocolate together.

Actually, I combined my love for nutella and chocolate.

The concoction was easy and fast to make, and my kids were delightfully excited to try this out with some fruit and yogurt for breakfast. It took less than five minutes for me to put it all together and set it in the freezer for 20 minutes to get hard. And voila! The easiest breakfast I’ve made in a long time.


4 cups of pumpkin spice Cheerios

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup Nutella

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup honey


1.) In a large saucepan combine all the ingredients except for Cheerios and mix well on low heat until thoroughly blended.

2.) Add Cheerios and coat thoroughly with mixture.

3.) In a wax or parchment lined 9 x 13 baking dish, press Cheerio mixture in firmly.

4.) Set in freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.

5.) Enjoy!

It’s just that easy! If you have leftovers, I’d store them in the freezer so they don’t get soft (we didn’t have any leftovers).

Happy Halloween!!

Trick or Treat at the Zoo

I have no idea how trick or treating works in Honolulu. I’ve googled my heart out, but I don’t know trick or treating hours. So to save myself the wrath of furious tiny humans, we ventured to the zoo this morning for trick or treating. 

Besides, who doesn’t love seeing animals while getting to fill their bags with goodies (and not be overwhelmed with too many treats)?

The kids were super excited to explore the zoo with J. I realized half way through that he’s never actually been to the Honolulu Zoo.

Funny how all our memberships for zoos and museums include his name, but he rarely gets to utilize them because we spend the week days at these places when it’s significantly less crowded, and thus, he’s at work. 

We pulled out the double stroller. It was so humid I was hoping my little love bug would let us stroll with her in the stroller instead of curled up on my chest. 

She did for all of four seconds. But she’s still a bit too small this particular stroller. Bean is cozy in our single stroller but then…Sweet M has no where to sit. I will try again in a few weeks. 

When I put her in and she started to cry, I immediately retrieved her. A woman walking by immediately squawked, “Oh, you’re spoiling her!” To which I balked, “Better to be spoiled than emotionally detached.” I wish I’d have been wittier, but alas. The exhaustion of mothering four kiddos might be getting the best of my wit.

The big kids were super excited to wear their costumes all day. Miss H is a witch (again), and Mr. B is a power ranger (surprise, surprise). Sweet M is technically a bird – he has wings. But he wasn’t really into the costume thing. And Bean is a white mouse. Because she squeaks, obviously.

Although the kids enjoyed the trick or treating part, they definitely enjoyed the animal part. They’d live at the zoo (okay, preferably in the wild…) if they could. They’re such animal lovers. 

Per usual, the peacocks stole the show at the Honolulu Zoo. They’re always my kids’ favorite. 

We had an amazingly fun day, and the kids got their trick or treating in just in case I drop the ball on them come Tuesday. 

I don’t think they will mind.