Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I'm home!
I'm so happy to be home!
I've been here for a week, and I'll be here for another two weeks.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to me!
Not everyone has made it yet
so far just us Hawaii clan -- minus Jobi, who's coming soon
but once they get here, it will be cooking
cleaning
making presents
and practicing for the Christmas Eve program.
You know, the one that's in the living room
in front of all the family.

It's a pretty big deal. We have a pretty big family.

I'm soexcitedandslightlystressed and have a lot to do for the Christmas Eve program
and I'm still trying to process all the feelings I have about this trip so far
that I'm going to end this post to collect my thoughts.
It'll probably take two or three posts to sort them out... so be ready. :-)

Until then...


Monday, November 26, 2012

Movie Review: BREAKING DAWN: PART 2

I have seen a few movies that I have been dying to write about, but I wasn't sure if movie reviews was a good thing for my blog. Just like books, I only watch certain types of movies, and I don't want people to read this and expect me to review genres that I never watch. Besides, my opinion is only my opinion, and the little bit of insecurity I have always tells me my opinion is not good enough.

So to review the final installment of a blockbuster beast is waaaaaaaaaaay out of my element.

But then again, this is my blog.

And I feel like talking about it. Because it was a blockbuster beast. And what good is a blockbuster without it being talk-worthy afterwards, right?

So forget you, insecurity. I'm gonna write a movie review!

*     *     *     *     *

PREMISE

I have to put this out there. I've watched all the movies, and I've read all the books. I hate the books. The movies are only a little bit better. I don't really want to get into why I don't like the books, because I get pretty heated about it--which is weird, since I don't get heated about many things. The main argument I have against the series is that the author forgets so many rules of creative writing that I was constantly distracted and couldn't fully immerse myself in the series. (read:annoyed.) The saving grace of Meyer's story in my eyes was her take on the legends of vampires and werewolves. How the vampires turn, how they glow in the sunlight, the Quileutes and how Meyer's werewolves operate in their packs, even the Volturi... all were imaginative and artistic. I loved her fresh approach to classic mythology (and like I said before, the vampire/werewolf stories never get old.) That alone was the reason I couldn't put the books down. I could care less for the love triangle, and I especially couldn't stand Bella. I'm going to stop there, because nothing good will come of me continuing, and this post is about a movie, after all.

The other three movies were about as good as the books. Better, actually, since the movies stayed out of Bella's head. The actors were fine, not incredible, but they didn't have to be; the vampire makeup looked cakey and subpar; the story arc flowed well; the graphics, camera work, and music were phenomenal. I was waiting for this Twilight hype to be over, though, and wasn't expecting much with this last movie. All I remember about this part in the book was that I was even more over reading Twilight, so to say I was skeptical is an understatement.

I know. I'm a hypocrite. How could someone say they hate something so much and still read all the books and watch all the movies? Yeah, I ask myself that, too.

THE GOODS

Whatever the movies lacked before, they sure figured out and fixed them for Breaking Dawn 2, because I loved it! Yes, ladies and gentlemen -- I finally can say I loved a Twilight movie. The opening credits reel itself was both haunting and enchanting. Who says that about opening credits? The graphics, the camera shots, the edits, the song choice... I would not be surprised if that opening sequence alone got an award somewhere. It. was. spectacular!

Then once that was over, the screen cut straight to where we left off in the first half: seeing newborn vampire Bella's red eyes. Can someone in the movie industry thank the makeup, hair, and costume people? Bella was GORGEOUS! (And so was everyone else.) Kristen Stewart's looks always had potential, but in every movie I've ever seen her in (which were only these and the Snow White one), her looks hadn't really come together. But not in this one. She was radiant. Her acting was much better, too. It was bold, nurturing, confident, and strong. All traits of her book character, but traits that I wasn't convinced Bella really had until Stewart's on-screen performance. She made a great mother and an excellent vampire.

The scene where she sees her dad for the first time since the wedding was surprisingly moving. The two did not exchange a lot of dialogue there (very much like their characters), but their interaction was all the dialogue you really needed. I'm having a hard time describing it, but basically I could see what both Bella and the dad wanted to say to each other, and I could feel their pain in not being able to say it. The actors did a brilliant job. You'll just have to watch it and see for yourself.

But my absolute-most-all-time-favorite part of the movie was the action scene. If you've seen the trailers, you'll notice there is one; if you've read the books, you'll notice there is not one. That was what I had most looked forward to, seeing how they pulled that off. Well, they pulled it off magnificently. The action itself was incredible, as easily as exciting to watch as in any other battle scene in Hollywood. That surprised me, because any action in the other movies was lame. And the sequence of events during the action scene both amazed and shocked me. [Spoiler Alert: in this scene, people die. People we love die.] But how the battle unfolded made the resolution (the one that really happened in the book) that much more plausible, and therefore more powerful. I was stunned, and then I was satisfied.

I forgot to mention the movie was funny. Not all the time, but enough to make you smile when you needed it the most. Look out for scenes with Bella and Jacob. Those were my favorite. [Spoiler Alert: you can't go wrong with the lines "You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness monster?"] I can't remember if that line was in the book, but Stewart did it justice no matter what.

BEING NITPICKY

Because my expectations of this movie were so incredibly low before watching it, I don't really have anything to complain about. Yay for that. I'm pretty sure the final scene and closing credit sequence was solely for the Twihard fans, because by the end reel I suddenly felt like pulling out my "I Like My Werewolves Hot" tee and wearing it with pride. (I'm NOT Team Jacob, by the way. I'm Team Peeta! lol)

I could've gone without the graphics of Renesmee, though. Most other movies (minus Benjamin Button and the like) just use different child actors to portray characters in different stages of their lives. I wish they did that with Renesmee: have a real baby with a real face, and a real 3-year-old with a real face, and so on. The girl they cast was amazing (and passed for Bella and Edward's daughter with flying colors), but I don't see anything wrong with casting other girls to play her as well. Maybe they did. Maybe it was a production or casting issue. Maybe it was politics. Or maybe they wanted to try their hand at CGI'ing a baby. Either way, CGI Renesmee looked like she belonged in "The Polar Express" movie, and I didn't care for that.

BOTTOM LINE

If you've ever mocked Kristen Stewart on her acting abilities, you may be eating your words after this. If you were a Twihard fan before, you may just leave the theater in tears. If you are a dude trying to get other dudes to go watch it with you, you still need to take a chick or two so you don't look stupid. But you dudes will not be disappointed. If you are hesitant about forking over the money, let me help: watch the movie -- don't buy the popcorn. Breaking Dawn 2 was a better series ending than Deathly Hallows 2 was to the Harry Potter series, which is saying a lot since I'm loyal to all things HP.

Bottom line: my favorite of the movies. And if it is MY favorite, I'm sure it will be your favorite, too.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemade Is My New Favorite Thing

Halloween costumes for the kids
I must think I'm Martha Stewart or something. After making the girls' costumes last Halloween and decorating our home for last Christmas, I'm all about doing holidays homemade now. This Halloween was no different, and I'm super proud of my costumes I made for the kids.

Almonds was the only one who chose her costume. She wanted to be a butterfly. Then someone said to just make them all different insects, which I thought was brilliant. So then Blondie became a ladybug, and Chip was a honeybee. Thank goodness for us living here, because I had much better resources (in the form of my artistic sisters who had paints and twine, and an Ace store that was only a 2-minute walk away) to make cuter costumes. And the only one that actually took money was Chip's, because I had no yellow or black onesie to work with, and our sewing machine was down. I bought spray paint from Ace. Not the best idea, just so you know. I sprayed the stripes early in the morning and let it dry outside in the wind all day, and it still had smelled like paint fumes. Chip kept rubbing his face the whole time he wore it, and since I was a bit bothered by the paint fumes myself, I knew it wasn't worth it. Thank goodness I made it a whole week before Halloween, for our church party. But before the real trick-or-treating, I soaked and handwashed it. The paint started wearing off, but at least the smell was gone. So yay for that.

Halloween for me growing up was all about making our costumes. I remember only one costume I wore that was purchased (a bunny rabbit at 4 years old), but it was fun coming up with ideas for costumes and then seeing them created before my eyes. My mom was exceptional at making things from scratch. I remember in second grade on Halloween morning I didn't have a costume to wear to school. She told me to put on a dress and shoes, and by the time I was done getting dressed, she had sewn me a beautiful red cloak out of an old bed sheet. (Is that amazing or what? I swear, our mothers are the best!) If there is any tradition that I would like to pass down regarding Halloween, it is wearing homemade costumes. I absolutely love it!

But I better end by saying that I am NO Martha Stewart. I'm sure she never made anything by stapling fabric to cardboard, or spray painting a onesie, or making the kids wear their wings with pajamas. I doubt I'll even be as good as my mother

Oh, and if you must know, I dressed up as a wild insect photographer. It didn't look that believable because I had no safari hat or boots. But I had the camera. That should count for something, right?

Potty-Training Blondie

image via momlot

As I'm writing this, I am hidden in a corner of the house, typing furiously to get as many words down as I can before it's too late. And when I say "it's too late," I mean "Chip wakes up."

I am going to argue that there is NEVER a right time to potty-train your kid. I thought last week was the right time for Blondie -- nothing on our calendar from Thursday to Sunday, showing "signs of readiness," and running low on diapers for her anyway. Now, exactly 8 days later, I am dancing on the line between zombie and maniac. So apologies ahead of time if this post is another one that makes no sense...

A friend sent me the 3-day Potty Training ebook, and I decided to pick a weekend and potty train Blondie once and for all. This is Attempt #3. It took 3 tries with Almonds too, so maybe three times really is a charm. (Of course, the third time Almonds was potty-trained was with a professional...) I thought I picked a good 3-day period of time, one where nothing was going on. Where I could focus all my effort and energy on Blondie and still have enough to spare for everything else. Instead, this is what happened:

Day 1 didn't happen; Blondie and Chip were sick.
Day 2 became the new Day 1, which was fine, except they were still sick.
Day 3/Day 2 I remembered I had to make snacks for Nursery the following day. Which was fine, except Blondie was still getting potty-trained that day and wasn't supposed to go anywhere.
Day 4/3 was the Nursery snack thing, and it was also the day before...
Day 5/4 ALMONDS' 4th BIRTHDAY!!! 
(and party... man, was it a party...)
Day 6/5, etc. -- did I mention that Chip is SICK?!?

There is also another eating shindig and Jobi leaving for 3 days thrown in there, too.

It's honestly a miracle that after 9 days we're still plugging away at this thing. The last 2 times failed because she's very sensitive, and potty training was traumatic for her. I'm not even kidding. The only thing that I liked about the 3-day Potty Training method that this Lora Jensen lady advocates is that accidents are welcome, because they'll get it. So I knew this was the right method for my Blondie. Of course, it also said the trainer needs to be completely focused and keep the kid by your side at ALL times -- not the right method for me. (Beggars can't be choosers, right?) So how I got through the entire week planning 2 parties, caring for 2 sick babies, helping my mister out with his ROTC stuff, AND still potty training is really beyond me.

Actually, it is beyond me. The real reason I am still kicking is because I'm not doing any of this alone. This is a time where the blessings of living with family are truly manifested. I have had nonstop help and support from my sisters along the way, from making decorations to switching off when one child really needed me to cleaning up my messes without complaint. Each day is a struggle, but at least I have sisters who love me enough to not let me struggle on my own.

I also have a pretty awesome husband. But that is for another post.

In the meantime, wish me luck that Blondie will be fully potty trained very soon. And that Chip won't be sick anymore. And that I won't have gone absolutely bonkers. (Name that movie!)

Monday, October 22, 2012

The One Word to Ruin It All

After a phone conversation, Jobi told me, "I talked to [whoever was on the phone] about Special Forces."

Special Forces. The green beret. The best of the best the military has to offer. It's been Jobi's dream to be in this "elite" group since he first made the connection between it and Rambo. And this year, I've decided to support him in this "dream." Allowing him to buy books, and watch documentaries, and call offices, and work out, and schedule and budget and all that jazz. And through all this "support," I've never told him how I feel about the idea.

"What did the guy say about it," I inquired.

"He said," Jobi replied, "that if I join SF, I might as well sign a divorce."

Oh boy.

"And what do you think about that," I asked him.

He shrugged, "He has a point."

He has a point? Just a point? I said nothing.

Jobi saw my silence. "You have a thought?" His voice was sharp.

I took a deep breath. "Yeah, I have a thought. I think he's right."

He raised his eyebrows. "You think he's right? Like that we should get divorced?!"

"Well," I hesitated. He's not going to like this. "We aren't strong enough for SF."

"Not strong enough?" he retorted.

I continued. "I'm not strong enough for you to be in SF. You would leave at an unknown time, for an unknown period of time, to an unknown location, doing unknown things. All that unknown would be... too much. I can't handle not knowing. At least when you could come home."

Jobi began, but then exhaled and stayed silent.

I wasn't finished. "The only times you have left us was for training. You've never been on any assignment. And yet when you come home you have a hard time being back. You can't stand to be around the kids, around home, around me. Imagine what that would be like if you actually got deployed. To a combat zone. It would be a thousand times harder! We may not make it through that. Special Forces... We are just not strong enough."

Jobi said nothing, only continued playing. But his shoulders slowly slumped. And his eyes drooped. And his mouth made a slight hint of a frown. Sadness crept into his entire form, and I felt bad. I am his wife. I'm supposed to love him and support him, through thick and thin, for better or for worse. And I'm never supposed to say the "D" word! How could I do that to him? Put him through a terrible scenario of the kids never loving their father again, or our marriage shattered to dust. I shouldn't have been the one to give him those thoughts, those images. What a horrible wife I am to tell him our marriage and our family isn't strong. I wanted to take everything I said back, give him a big hug and reassure him that his wife and kids are still here, that we love him, that he is the awesomest, most bestest husband and dad ever...

But something about his sadness was off.

"Are you..." I looked at him more closely, "bummed?"

He sighed and frowned. "Maybe. I don't wanna talk about it."

No, he wasn't sad about the thought of losing his family... he was sad that his wife told him he can't be Rambo.

 Needless to say, he was bummed out for the rest of the day. And my guilt for being a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad wife?
I'm over it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Are You Prepared?

My sister had a dream the other night.

In this dream she was home with her four kids while her husband was away at work. A neighbor friend was visiting from across the street. But it was dark inside, and it was dark outside. And it had been months since they left the house.

Something happened and the whole area was stuck. Phones, electricity, gas, internet were all down. Sewage was backed up. Water was contaminated. Air was so thick with pollution that no one could leave their homes. Her husband couldn't get home. Her neighbor (who was visiting from across the street) couldn't get home. She couldn't contact anyone outside of the house, so she didn't know how anyone else was doing, or if they were even still alive. And she had no batteries for her flashlights, and diapers and wipes for her babies.

She woke up and called me right away. I don't know why she called me first -- maybe I was the first one to answer. But she told me, and I quote: "It is time to start taking emergency preparedness seriously." Now I know that her dream is not vision or revelation, but that doesn't mean it's meaningless. Dreams are pretty important in our family, and I have no doubt in my mind that her dream could be a very real possibility. Or at least give us some perspective.

Of all aspects of emergency preparedness, she wanted to make sure she mentioned two things:

1. Don't forget the necessities.
Out of all 11 of us siblings, I'd wager my last dollar that this particular sister of mine (since I have so many, I'll call her Lana) is the most prepared for emergencies in our family. I know they have life insurances, wills and trusts, emergency contacts, and food storage. And she has her older kids (4 and 6 years old, I think) memorize a lot of this information. But the fact that she couldn't produce any light because she forgot to store batteries for her flashlights surprised her. In reality, she said, she indeed did not have a storage of batteries or diapers and wipes or a can opener, and her dream proved that she needed to re-evaluate her inventory.

2. Communicate your plan.
The part of Lana's dream that scared me the most was that she didn't know where her husband was or how he was doing. I would be in a massive panic if I couldn't reach my husband or children in times of crises. (It's official: I'm not sending my kids to Kamehameha unless they're in high school.) And we all can't take HAM radios with us everywhere we go. But at least knowing that each family member has a plan in case of an emergency -- a meetingplace, an evactuation plan, a storage/emergency supply, even people to contact -- will be 1,000x more helpful on my nerves. Lana wanted to make sure we all had an out-of-state contact so that everyone in our family who is not affected by our disaster will know how we are doing, and will keep the other families in the loop.

I'm posting this more for my reference than for anyone else's, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to share. Life is uncertain, and the world is clearly getting worse, so it's best to be prepared for whatever strikes. So for the rest of this year I am adding emergency preparedness and food storage onto my list of resolutions, and I hope that you would consider doing the same. Even if you have enough to only last you for a day... that is one more day prepared than you were before.

I wish I had wonderful links to add to this post about emergency preparedness, but alas, I was not prepared. :-P But I know redcross.org and parenting.com have great resources, and of course the addicting pinterest has as well. Be prepared. Good luck.

The end.

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Internet Hates Me

If you are seeing this message, it's because I had to send an email to my blog just to get it up. I haven't been able to post a post in a long time because either my laptop can't read my WiFi or my trusty Kindle Fire is not doing its job. (Like its job is doing all the work a full-fledged tablet is supposed to be doing. Jeez, Esther, you bought the thing to READ on, remember?!)

I have not been neglecting this blog, I promise. I'm just having technical difficulties at the moment. It's making me think of switching platforms, which is a shame because I've been with Google Blogger for quite a few years now. But their mobile apps suck (pardon my English), and I need consistency in my platform's blogging capabilities.

Maybe I should just switch my Internet. Maybe THAT'S the problem...
--
Sent from my Android phone with SkitMail. Please excuse my brevity.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Homeschool Post

I'm not a fan of homeshool. I've never been. I love the idea of sending my kids off into the world to make friends, get playground cuts and scrapes, discover their capacity among their peers, and find their niche -- while I have free morning time to clean the house, run errands, exercise, or even just veg at the beach for a bit without having to lug around extra bodies with screaming pipes.

That was a long sentence. I gotta work on that.

But anyway...

I'm not a mean mom, and I don't hate being a mom. I just know that some mothers are not cut out to homeschool their kids, and I'm one of them. My temper is short and my patience is thin, and I feel there are some things my kids just can't learn from me. Like how people will treat them knowing they're Mormon. Or what is common courtesy in a water polo game. And I don't want my lack of successful teaching skills to affect my children's capacity (and even desire) to learn. I still consider my mom a genius for sending me to someone else to learn the piano despite her own proficiency. She knew I'd love the instrument, but not if she taught it to me herself. To me, traditional schooling just makes sense.

But I now have a dilemma: Almonds can't gt into preschool. Either our income doesn't qualify her for Head Start, or the regular preschools are too expensive. Moving so late in the year took the chance away from getting any scholarships, too. And now we know for sure that she has to be held back a year because of her birthday, so our girl who's been begging for a whole year to go to school will have to wait even longer.

So we went to WalMart last week to get her some preschool learning books and some crayons and pencils, and I'll start homeschooling her for preschool next Monday. Now Jobi and I are actually considering homeschooling her for kindergarten to see if she can just jump in to first grade on time. Aside from homeschool, there are only two other options: 1) Kamehameha kindergarten (super-fantastic private school for native Hawaiians -- that's 1.5 hours from home by bus), or 2) just start her when the school policy says to. I see benefits and drawbacks for each of these options, but I just wish I didn't have to make this choice in the first place.

Please give me some input. I'm dying here! What do you think?


Sent from my android device.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Letter to My 38-year-old Self


Dear Esther,
I have great things in store for you.
As I’m writing this, you are 154 lbs., a size 16, waddling from a stiff sacral iliac nerve/joint/whatever, and eating lots of sweet junk. You get headaches that involve memory lapses and out-of-focus vision. You are constantly tired and have no energy to give to your kids. Your postpartum hair loss is leaving you completely unconfident. You have 3 kids who stay indoors all day, and they are content to do so. You are forever stressed about your oldest's education, and your parents' house, and getting out of debt, and your siblings' health. And you watched 60-something-year-old Kate Beckinsale do crazy fighting scenes in “Total Recall” and got slapped in the face by the reality of your lame life. This life YOU CREATED FOR YOURSELF!
Well, you’re gonna create a NEW life. And I’m starting you on it RIGHT NOW!!!
You are going to start: 
  • PRAYING everyday, with your family AND by yourself
  • reading SCRIPTURES everyday, if at all with your family 
  • reading more BOOKS to your children
  • EDUCATING them (through creative play and exploration) 
  • going to the TEMPLE at least twice a month

  • drinking 10 cups (80 oz.) of water DAILY
  • cutting back on junk food (SERIOUSLY!!)
  • eating more VEGETABLES
  • RUNNING (or jogging, whatever)
  • dancing for fitness and fun (maybe for performances, maybe not)
  • kickboxing, kettlebell-ing, surfing, getting back into volleyball, whatever you can
  • doing yoga and/or meditation at least once/week
  • writing in your journal again
  • learning a foreign language (either Mongolian with Jobi or ASL with the kids)
  • making an income from home
  • looking into furthering your education more seriously
  • planning better family traditions, routines, date nights, and “me” times
  • SPENDING TIME WITH FRIENDS
By the time you read this, you are going to: 
  • effectively understand and recall scriptural passages with moderate accuracy 
  • be in the best physical shape of your life 
  • have a healthy, balanced lifestyle 
  • raise children with discipline and a love of learning and Heavenly Father 
  • feel like a bazillion bucks 
  • find your passion

You see this list? DO YOU SEE THIS LIST??? Read it again.
And again.
That’s right … I have high expectations for you, my friend.
You better be ready. Set goals. Make a plan. Act. Pace yourself. Get help. Do whatever you need to get these things done. Because the 28-year-old you — the you that is ME, right now …
… has got. to. go.

See You on the Flipside, 
~ Esther
Posted in

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Quick Post

I'm finally breathing. Not fully inhaling, but breathing nonetheless.

Just wanted to let you know. I'm not dead.

I'll get back on the blogwagon soon.

Love ya!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bed

It's 6:30 and the sun has long risen. Bodies curl under blankets to find warmth, yet the fan is spinning overhead. I rock a baby back to dreamland while typing on my phone, two girls by my side and a man at the far end. All is well.

This last week was a blur. Business. Bills. Waiting. Rushing. Working. Papers. Yelling. Juice. Katsu. Everything seems like a distant memory, and yet it.just.happened. I remember struggling to find sleep, but for some reason I don't even know how I stayed awake through it all. And now today is Saturday, which means this week -- this week I had hoped would be ... oh, I dunno ... fun -- is over. And soon, the real work begins.

In 48 hours, Jobi will leave to begin work on Oahu, leaving me and the kids to close up shop here. Work. In less than two weeks, the kids and I will follow him, and we will all be living in lovely Laie once again. More work. Sorting our finances, looking for extra income, repairing the house and fixing up the yard, establishing routine, and doing it all in a full house. This move is going to force us to be stronger, smarter, faster, more hardworking, BETTER than ever before, and I can't even begin to explain how.

But this? This scene? This moment? Of all of us piled onto a single bed, as a complete family? This is what I'm choosing to live in right now. Because yesterday was crazy. Because tomorrow will be crazier. Because once we all wake up and get out of bed, this moment will be lost forever. So I am taking this moment to simply enjoy what I'm blessed with...

... and breathe.

(P.S. you should too...)


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Just a Little Crazy


crossroads



A while ago, I was about to write a post about why I am going a little crazy. But it would've sounded oddly similar to this post on my cousin's blog, posted just before I began writing. So instead of trying to sound like her (since, I'll be honest, I wish I could write like her), I'm just going to start typing and see what comes out.
  • We are moving.
  • Chip is 11 weeks old today and weighs over 16 lbs.
  • Chip is 11 weeks old today, and I thought he was only 8 weeks old.
  • Blondie is trying to get potty-trained.
  • Jobi is getting a new job.
  • We are moving.
  • Cockroaches are infesting our apartment.
  • I'm speaking in church on Fathers' Day.
  • We are moving.
Did I mention that we are moving? Yes, it is because my mister has a new job.

Ugh, my mind is all out of sorts! And I've been neglecting this blog so that I can... well... sort it out. 

See, this new job that Jobi is taking is to replace the ROTC instructor's position at our old stomping grounds, which he applied for last year and got turned down.  Now the current instructor is deploying (go figure), and they want Jobi to start end of July. They offered it to him the beginning of May; he accepted; I booked flights for me and the kids. Then suddenly, Jobi realized that there was a possibility that he may NOT get this job. Short story: the other guy may not be deploying. Long story (if you really wanna know): the other guy is in the Hawaii National Guard, just like Jobi. And just like Jobi, all the Guard units in Hawaii have been getting thrown around mission and deployment assignments. Jobi was actually supposed to be in Afghanistan this fall, but they cancelled. Then he was supposed to go to Kuwait, but cancelled. Then a mission to the Philippines opened up -- then cancelled. So Jobi realized that this guy just might possibly have his same fate of a cancelled deployment. Once he realized that, we have been nervously twiddling our thumbs waiting for a sure answer from them. Our whole wow-what-an-awesome-opportunity attitude suddenly became what-the-heck-are-we-gonna-do fear. 

More long story:
Before the phone call, we had decided that we were going to stay on Maui for another 5 years or so. We had a plan to rent a bigger apartment, go back to school, Jobi transferring departments in the hotel, and me running marathons. ;-) The hotel has given us good benefits and a stable lifestyle (not rich and glamorous, but enough to pay our bills), and I have been dying to make use of some of their perks (like free hotel stays). This ROTC job is just a contract job: salary only, no health insurance (we got three kids to think about, here!), and no guarantee of keeping the job longer than one school year. Not to mention we'd be moving into a house that is teetering on foreclosure and our secondary purpose for the move is to save it. So as you can see, moving back to Oahu and taking this job is a leap of faith for us. Probably even a leap of stupidity. And if we got there and there was no job for my mister, then we would be in trouble.

Well, this morning the new job called and said that not only is he (my mister) a go for the job, but they need him to start in two weeks. Yes, you read correctly... in TWO WEEKS!!

WHATTHEHOLYCRAZYOLDLADY!?!?

(I mean, *ahem* yay.....)

So now my what-the-heck-are-we-gonna-do fear is replaced by are-you-kidding-me craziness. Now I gotta change our flight to a week ahead and book Jobi's flight for Father's Day. Now I gotta pack and clean and check us out and ship the van myself instead of with my husband. Now I gotta cancel the dentist, cancel the chiropractor, cancel the potty trainer (one of these days I'll write about her), cancel the hotel stay (5-star, 5-diamond *waah*), and forget about that farewell party I wanted to have. Now I gotta move double speed so everything can be done in half the time. Now I gotta stop thinking about stupid third-party hiring contractors and start thinking about our little wicker lounge under the 'ulu tree and my piano that I miss soooo much. Now I gotta accept the fact that we are leaving Maui, just as this place and I were starting to become friends.

*sigh* And on top of all this, I need to get new contacts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When It Said "Easy Meatloaf Recipe"...

... it wasn't kidding.


This is the second time I've made it, and I just threw the ingredients in without really measuring.
It's foolproof, I tell you! And it's delicious!
(Which means something, because I usually can't stand meatloaf.)

The secret must be in the sauce.


So I think next time I'll make even more sauce and have it sink INTO the meat instead of just lie on top and around it. Yummm!!!

You can find and follow the recipe HERE. Enjoy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Book Review: TELES­Ā: THE COVENANT KEEPER


I never intended to write book reviews on this blog since I don’t read a lot (a horrible excuse for an English major), but when I finished the last page of this particular novel, I had so much I wanted to say. So here is my very first book review... Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, by Lani Wendt Young.
image via Amazon

HOW I CAME ABOUT THIS BOOK

A Samoan writer I follow on Twitter RT’d a tweet from Mrs. Young, and I remembered the name Wendt on a novel that I read in college (well, attempted to read—I really was a pathetic English Lit student). I thought maybe she was related to that author, so I started following her. She has a blog that resonates with me, about being Samoan, being a mother, being a writer, and getting through each day. From the blog I learned she is in the process of publishing a second book to a Pacific young adult fiction series, so I had to read the first one. Lucky for me, it has been discounted on Amazon Kindle to promote said sequel, so I snatched it. 

And I believe that deal is still going; so if you want to grab your copy at a discount, get it now!

BRIEF SYNOPSIS

After her father’s passing, Leila Folger did the one thing her dad promised her not to do: go to Samoa. She left the only surviving family she knew—a rich shrew for a grandmother—to live with new family that wished she never came—surly Aunty Matile and Uncle Tuala—in hopes to find out who her mother was. She never expected what followed: a world alien to what she knew, a boy who would change everything, a secret unspeakable to all the island, and a power locked where she was the key.

THE GOODS

This book has been coined the Twilight of Samoa, and for good reason. There is a very distinct resemblance to the famous series: an introverted female lead who moves to an entirely new place for reasons even she doesn’t fully understand; a hot guy who makes every female reader wish their own significant others were as perfect as he; a supernatural flair and creative insight to old legends, and enough romance to keep the young adult readers wanting more.

But as far as my opinion goes, the Twilight series has nothing on Telesa. The vampire/werewolf stories never get old, but the telesa (teh-leh-SAH) is a fascinating Samoan legend that could just as easily capture the heart of the Western world. Now I have to mention, reading this book for me was learning about my culture. I could relate a little bit to Leila: I am half Samoan from California, who knows very little about the culture, has never been to the motherland, and certainly has never heard of telesa until now. This book was as close to being there for me as it gets, and Lani Wendt Young paints such a beautiful picture of Samoa that maybe I won’t feel so intimidated and actually go there one day.

The storyline was predictable, yet I couldn’t put the book down. I would think, “I bet this is gonna happen,” and then I'd turn the page and shriek, “I knew it!” But I loved that, because I loved what happened. The story was so fun to read. The characters are lovable, except for Grandmother Folger and Sarona, who are easily unlikable. I had issues with Leila (she’s almost as irritating as Bella), but I commend her for her inner strength and her heart, especially towards the end. And Daniel is perfect. Too perfect. I have never liked tattoos until I read them on this guy's body. ;-) Everything about him is a dream, though his romantic lines are borderline cheesy. Are Samoan guys that cheesy? Where were they when I was single? (Just kidding, Sweetie!)  But I guess that’s what makes a good YA Fantasy Romance novel – a hot boy with cheesy, swoon-worthy lines.

BEING NITPICKY

Ok, I have to dock it on some points. One of my issues is that Leila is unbelievable as an American. Since it’s written in fist person with Leila as the narrator, seeing her think with words like “jandals” and “meters” throws me off. Clearly, those are not American colloquialisms, and I wish the author had been more careful with that. Or at least written in third person instead of first so the need to use foreign jargon could have been avoided. My guess is that Young didn’t anticipate her book being read to an American audience.

I also feel “less is more” could apply well here. The writing at times was redundant; I could understand and picture what the author was trying to convey instantly, so much so that any reiteration was unnecessary, even a bit annoying. But, again referring to Twilight, I’ve read worse. And that is the nature of a YA novel.

IS IT MOVIE-WORTHY?

YES! A thousand times yes! It’s a great fantasy story, a great young adult love story, a great cultural story. It has action, humor, drama, great characters, FOOD (I forgot to mention that... ohh the foooood!), and big scenes. And I mean, BIG scenes. Like volcanoes. I’ve already decided that Hollywood HAS to make it (J.J. Abrams-slash-James Cameron), but the actors have to be Samoan. I know if they filmed on location in Samoa or New Zealand then they could find tons of "qualified" actors. But all I know is the U.S. part of the screen actors guild, so I'll just stick with that pool. Young already has her Hollywood leads picked should they fail to find Samoans, but I have some ideas too. I do love Michael Trevino as Daniel, though.

Michael Trevino of "The Vampire Diaries" -- could pass for afakasi
with a good tan, tatau, and a rugby ball.
(image via M.T. Romania)

Ok, here are my picks of people to play the characters, some actors, some personal acquaintances (who are gonna murder me for putting them on here!):

#2 Daniel choice: Jason Momoa of "Conan" -- already Samoan, already an actor
... and cleans up pretty nicely.
(image via Man Central)
Leila: Lanea Snow -- Samoan model, dancer, and a friend of mine. (I'm sooo gonna get it! :-P)
 She was Leila for me. No one else.
(Except me, of course. ;-) Even then, in my mind I looked like her. lol)
(image via Model Mayhem)
Nafanua: Tia Carrere -- not Samoan or Polynesian, but at least local. And in Hollywood.
And can pass for Lanea's mom.
(image via UGO)

Jason: somebody with Chris Pine's charm and Zach Roerig's looks
... or either of them.
(images via Famous Wallpapers and Wikia)
Sarona: Teuila Blakely from "Sione's Wedding" -- I don't know her nor have I seen "Sione's Wedding"
but she's gorgeous and was in a movie. She could also be Nafanua #2.
(image via Johnson & Laird)
AND MY FAVORITE... *DRUMROLL*

"Simone": "Maiesha" Taulogo -- not an actor (excuse me, actress), but obviously doesn't need to be.
Total fabulousness. hands. down.
(image via Marianna Ah Quin Photography)
BOTTOM-LINE

Read the book, even if you're not a fan of YA fiction. Or Samoan. Trust me, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

(And J.J. Abrams: if you are reading this post... think about it.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I've Been Out for a While

and this is why...


Yes. Chip is here.

He's almost 6 weeks old, which makes me "almost finished" with postpartum recovery (like that means anything). Our family's world has been turned upside down yet again, and the roller coaster ride is even bigger than before. I still can't believe people have more than one kid. Shoot -- I can't believe WE have three kids!


So now I am slowly coming back to my very neglected blog. I miss blogging. I miss all of you. I have been reading all your wonderful blogs but have yet to reply to many of them. But you will soon see me again... posting, commenting, enjoying all you share with me. It's one thing that gives my days respite from the psychoness (psychosy? psychoticness? Jeez, some English major I am.) of our new world.

I have been on Twitter, and our family blog, and Instagram (thanks, Instagram, for coming to Android), so you can see these pics of Chip and more all over those sites. Until then, stay tuned!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Five Years


Five years ago, March 24 was also a Saturday. I know this because it was a pretty important day for us. We celebrated this day by staying up late the night before finishing our "Heroes" marathon and then reflecting on the last five years of our life. Saturday evening we had a kid-free date (to watch "The Hunger Games" -- yessir!!) and talk about where we see ourselves in five more years.

I have to say, our marriage now is absolutely nothing like our dating days. We were young and fresh, in romantic love and slightly adventurous. Now we are lazy and pessimistic, striving for steady and out of romance. But we are also a team, a partnership, friends. We are growing into each other and understanding one another. We are building a family together, and we feel like -- after five years of trial and error -- our life is finally beginning.

Happy anniversary, Jobi. Thanks for putting up with five years of the worst in me. Here's to five more, and a better me. For you. For us. I love you, now and forever.


38 Weeks

There are so many posts I am behind on
but I don't care anymore.
I'm tired.

I will work on them later
when I have energy
enthusiasm
new motivation
the baby

But for now, I will just sleep.
The apartment will never clean itself.
I have to accept the grossness of that. For now.
This boy will never come when I tell him to.
I have to accept that too.
But pregnancy doesn't last forever, either.
Unless you're my mom and got pregnant +12 times in 20 years
or Jobi's great-grandma who spent her whole marriage in bed having 26 kids
or even the lady on "19 Kids and Counting"
who just joys in being a baby-making machine.

I know I'm still early according to my EDD so I have no reason to really be complaining.
But I honestly -- HONESTLY -- thought, and felt, and knew
that he was going to be born already. I thought my son and I
were on the same wavelength here.

I guess it was all just wishful thinking.

I guess Heavenly Father is trying to tell me that it's ok to wait
or that I'm not yet ready
or that my son is not yet ready
or that patience is a virtue

I don't know.

P.S. I don't want anymore kids on Maui. These OB/GYNs that I've had for the past 2 pregnancies are soulless automatons. (Thanks "Glee" for the terminology.) The only 2 Maui OB/GYNs I actually enjoyed were the one on-call who delivered Blondie, and the only male OB/GYN I know of on this island. And the dumb insurance switch took me away from them both.

Monday, March 12, 2012

My No-Sew Duct Tape Coin Purse

I saw this Japanese coin purse tutorial on Pinterest and instantly fell in love with it. I haven't seen a purse like this in a long time, and it suddenly made me go "I want!" But I don't have any snap buttons. Or an awl. Or a sewing machine. Or needle and thread for that matter. *sigh*

But then I remembered this no-sew tote bag made of fabric and duct tape, and I knew not all hope was lost. I could make it after all. Sorta. I think.

So I made one. Just today!
Here's what I did.

Materials and Tools:
.old, no-longer-used, toddler girls' shorts.
.scissors.
.fine-tipped marker (non-permanent -- though I doubt that's relevant).
.purse pattern, printed on paper and cut out (downloaded here).
.iron.
.duct tape.
.magnet.

Steps:
1. I cut the shorts so it became a single, long piece of fabric (removing the elastic made it much easier to work with)
the shorts before cutting -- soooo '90's!
While cutting up the shorts, I noticed the cut part got really frayed, and I knew that I'd have to fold the fabric down or else the frayed ends will get worse quickly.

2. I then traced the pattern over the fabric with the marker


3. Then I cut off excess fabric
you can barely see, but here are the marks and cuts
I took the cue from the original tutorial on how she cut around her sewing and made the same cuts on my single piece of fabric. It helped big time when I got to the ironing.

4. Next, I pressed the material with an iron
Random note: I don't use irons. I haven't bought an iron in years. Somehow my mother-in-law's old iron found its way into our stuff when we moved.
never mind the right side's curvyness

5. Afterward, I taped the folds down, starting with the edges, then covering the rest of the face

i just realized the right side is still off
-- jeez --
the outside of the purse

6. I cut up small, thin strips of duct tape and taped the corners from the inside. Then I folded everything down according to how the purse is constructed.
sorry it's dark

Like I said, I didn't have a snap button. I had other things I could've replaced the snap button with (spare 4-hole buttons, random strips of velcro), but also again, I had no needle and thread. So after walking around the apartment for a minute, I saw magnets on the fridge. A lightbulb went on, and I grabbed this one:
courtesy of Campaign Abercrombie
the goal: to remove the magnet from the clip


7. Jobi and I hammered the smack out of the clip until it broke into pieces ... and we could remove the magnet

Sorry, Neil... but we didn't vote for you anyway.
And with a stroke of luck, I found that the magnet was actually a small canister with TWO magnets! 
halle-freakin-lujah!!

8. I taped the magnets in place
first with a tiny piece of tape
then with a strip of tape over
(i tested the magnets' strength through tape beforehand)
the bottom strip was longer and wrapped around
to look ... stylish??

Aaaaaaand.......... ta-dah!!!

a-a-a diva is a female version of a husslah!
never mind all the sides and corners that are still frayed
the folds didn't stay folded very well either

9. I decided to put it under a heavy object to hold everything together
I'll leave it overnight
Lessons Learned:
.if you're cutting up old clothes, avoid putting curved seams within pattern. curved seams suck.
.mark on the wrong side of the fabric so you don't see it.
.if you use right-handed scissors to cut duct tape, it's easier for the scissors (and less messy) if you cut the tape with the adhesive side facing you. careful, though; it's kinda awkward, too.
.duct tape doesn't fold very well.

And that's it. I can't believe I just made this today. I'm glad I had all these materials and scraps to test out. When I make this purse again (because I w.i.l.l. make this again!), I will most likely stay a lot closer to the original tutorial than my version. The original version is not too hard if you have any sewing skill at all, and I think everything will fold and stick much more smoothly that way.
Although I do like having magnets to snap the purse shut with. :-D
Posted in

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Couldn't Help It

The weather has been rainy and cold all week. It's too perfect for this. The temptation was too great. I just had to make them.

I'm such a wimp, huh.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday Lesson

I dread Sundays when Jobi is at drill. Being fat and immobile while taking 2 toddlers to church is not the business, you know what I mean? Thank goodness Almonds is a Sunbeam now and Blondie loves nursery, otherwise I'd probably never go to church when Jobi leaves town.

Saturday I was incredibly exhausted from Thursday, and I almost resolved to just keep the girls home. But it was soooooo boring for all 3 of us, so I had to get them out of the house somehow. So I woke up, got us all fed and dressed, and lugged them off to church.

We sit in the front row, since that's the only row that's always occupied (big surprise?), and the girls like the front row, for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with sitting quietly and paying attention. So yesterday, like every Sunday Jobi's gone, we sit down, and instantly the girls put up a fight. Almonds jumps up and down the bench and looks for someone -- anyone -- behind her to talk to. Blondie darts off for the stairs leading up to the pulpit, and when I grab her she makes her loudest, most annoying, whiniest complaints so much that I can't hear anything anyone on the mic is saying. Screw it, I think to myself, and before the sacrament hymn is over, the girls and I are sitting out in the foyer. 

Blondie ran down the hall just as the other ward was getting out, and of course Almonds wanted to help and chased after her -- which left my big belly stuck behind the oncoming traffic. Luckily my cousin 'Ihi was in the ward coming out and spotted them both, so I thankfully didn't lose them. That was my first moment of gratitude. I don't know what I would've done if she weren't there and they didn't recognize her in the crowd. All doors to the roads were open, and there were loads of places they could've gone where I would lose them. It was a big sigh of relief knowing that once they saw 'Ihi, they came right back to me (with her help, of course).

Almonds wanted to go back into the chapel for the remainder of sacrament meeting. Blondie didn't -- but Almonds is bigger and always wins in the end. So back into the chapel we went, and while Almonds bolted to the front row, Blondie cried in my arms. I stayed in the back and watched Almonds slowly make her way back to me...

... then climb into a middle row and sit next to 2 ladies. 

One of them happened to be her Sunbeams teacher, but the other one she's never seen or met. I know the lady, of course -- she's in our Relief Society presidency -- but Almonds usually doesn't take to strangers. Ever.

Almonds sat with them the remainder of sacrament meeting while I rocked Blondie in the back of the chapel. They gave her paper to color, hairpieces to admire, and lots of hugs, and she would not leave their side. I didn't have to chase anymore. I didn't have to fight anymore. I could breathe.

Last week Sunday the 3rd-hour lesson was on not waiting to serve those in need, and these ladies did not hesitate to take care of Almonds so I can have a break. I don't think they even thought of me needing them to help; they just saw her walk by, talked to her, and then let her sit with them. It was a very small act of service, but it made a world of a difference to this tired and hopeless mom. My heart was full. My spirit was lifted. My soul had peace. Needless to say, the rest of church went smoothly -- Almonds followed her teacher to Primary, and I dropped Blondie off at nursery without a hitch. I even got to play piano in Relief Society for the "stranger lady" who gave the lesson, since she always plays and could use a break.

I forget how important we can be to others. No act of kindness is too small, and I was grateful to be reminded of that yesterday. Even if it's just a smile, a hello, a listening ear, or sharing,

YOU MAY NEVER KNOW HOW HAPPY YOU'LL HAVE MADE SOMEONE BY SERVING THEM ... BUT YOU'LL DEFINITELY NEVER MAKE SOMEONE HAPPY IF YOU NEVER SERVE THEM.

I only hope I can be this for someone else... as much as I can. It's a great feeling, and if I deserve it, then so does everyone else.

And I can't finish this post without mentioning that Jobi's mom made dinner and brought it to us. We usually go to their house for Sunday dinner, but Jobi's dad said I need to stay home and rest, so his mom brought dinner to us. Maybe it was just Spoil Esther Day.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pregnancy Update

At 35 weeks, I have made a huge improvement on my gestational diabetes diet and was so proud of myself... until Wednesday. Last Saturday (the 34-week mark), I did laundry. The machines in our apartment are four flights below me, and the fastest way to access them is via stairs. So up and down the stairs I went, about five times, doing laundry. By the end of the night, Baby Chip dropped, and the pelvic pressure was painful.

I let the midwife know on Wednesday, and she checked to confirm and to see if I was in early labor. My cervix was open in the front but not in the back (which now I know means no effacement occured) so I just needed to take it easy. I don't mind taking it easy, but combating gestational diabetes is so much easier when you can exercise, and I knew then that exercising (even the 10-minute walking video I usually do) is no longer possible for me to do. So I went home that day planning to eat the Atkins diet... and Jobi bought me pizza.

Oh well.

Then Thursday, I started getting contractions that were coming closer and closer together. They started out at about 30 minutes apart and lasting 20 seconds, then progressed to 6 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds. But they were still mild. I called the midwife anyway. I went in and got put on a stress monitor (a machine that measures your contractions and the fetus's heartbeat) for about 30 minutes. Then the clinic closed, so she sent me to the hospital. (Random, huh?)

I was hooked up at the hospital for continual monitoring for another 3-4 hours. They gave me an IV drip to see if dehydration was the cause of the contractions. Then they gave me a shot of tributaline to stop the contractions because the IV wasn't working. I've heard of tributaline before, but I didn't know it caused your heartbeat to race and your body to shake like crazy. I've never done drugs, but I imagine that's what your body feels like when you're rushing to buy a fix. When the shaking wore off, they discharged me with instructions to come back again if contractions get 5 minutes apart or closer.

Anyway, my cervix is completely open at 1-1/2 cm; I'm still not effaced; the baby is still low, and I threw my diet out the window. I've stopped paying attention to my contractions and decided that I'll only sound the alarm when they actually hurt.

Don't get me wrong, I loved lying in a bed watching TV for a few hours and having food get served to me by smiling, happy faces while someone else dealt with my kids (and husband -- hehehe), but in the end, I was exhausted, still in pain, and had nothing to show for it. And that was the most frustrating part. I wasn't really in labor; I was just having contractions. And I knew it.

Besides, they said if the contractions did NOT stop with the tributaline, they'd have to airlift me to Kapiolani Hospital on Oahu, since I'm not full-term yet and that's the only hospital in this state that handles preemies. And I definitely did NOT want that, especially for just mild contractions. So I'll be patient and wait silently for Chip to arrive.

But like I said, I'm 35 weeks now. Once he's full term (37 weeks), all bets are off.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blogs to Make You Smile

I get down. A lot. But lately I've been trying to be more proactive about keeping my spirits up when I get in a rut. (Shout out to Ashley!) And when I feel like just letting myself wander the web aimlessly, I usually end up on certain blogs, and they give me the lift that I need.

So I thought I'd share them with you, in case you'd like to smile too. Here are most of them, in no particular order.

So Pupuka - my awesome cousin who blogs about Hawaii, family, and everything she finds beautiful
Be Bright and Jovial - a newlywed who is just too cute
Bakabreath - a high school teacher who's job is just too funny
Lanea's Blogspot - a beautiful young woman who takes life's lessons seriously
Making Things Happen - 4 awesome moms who make their lives truly amazing
Lani Wendt Young - a Samoan author who is not afraid to write her mind
Pick the Brain - articles to help lift your spirits in any situation

 I'm sure I've missed some sites, and I'm sorry. Most of these bloggers are people I know personally, and their blogs are basic, personal blogs. Some are personal blogs of people I've met online. But all of them I love and look to for a little pick-me-up in my day.

Which blogs do you like to read? Put them down in the comments so I can look at them too for inspiration.