Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My nephew is a super hero.

He's faster than a speeding bullet: He runs through the house and in the yard passing in a whirlwind of laughter and yells.

He's more powerful than a locomotive: A train for those of you who don't know Old English. He lifts video game remotes with ease and holds them in the air for long periods of time.

He is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound: Single jump, again with the Old English. He can jump from couch to couch, mattress to mattress, mattress to floor. All without breaking a sweat.

During the holidays, he was superman by holding the door open for a couple of older ladies at the bank. He did this without being asked. Because he's strong like Superman and cool like Batman.

The gesture was appreciated by the little old ladies and made me proud of the little guy. Simple acts such as opening a door, letting people cut in line, and even a thank-you are rare these days. Especially from a 6-year-old. So hopefully, my nephew will take this politeness with him. To infinity, and beyond!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Memories of Christmas Past

I have fond memories of Christmas. Sadly, I can't really remember one specific Christmas that stands out to me. What I DO remember is the feeling of the Christmas season.

*Every Christmas we would have a baking fest at least a few days before Christmas Eve. The house would be filled with the aroma of pies, cakes, and cookies. Christmas music would be playing on the radio and we would be busy decorating. On Christmas Eve (and sometimes Christmas Day) we would deliver all of the goodies to family and friends spreading holiday cheer. We kids would sit in the back of the truck, singing carols, counting all of the Christmas trees, and saying HI to the police officers at the different sobriety check points. Even the policemen would get cookies!

*Decorating the Christmas tree was always a fun ritual. We grew up with a fake tree but my mom grew mini pine trees and those would be decorated with mini Christmas ornaments and set outside. The main tree would usually be set up on my sister's birthday in early December and taken down on my brother's birthday in early January. Perfect timing for the holiday season.

*Christmas in the Pacific falls during the summer season so I grew up with green, warm Christmases. The day would be celebrated with either a barbeque, an 'umu, or going to the beach. When someone received a bike or some outdoor sports equipment, they could actually use it on Christmas day instead of waiting for warmer weather.

*Some years we would have special visitors from off island like family members coming home for the holidays. Those were especially fun because there would be a lot of visiting, excitement, and more swimming!

*The anticipation of Christmas funneled into Christmas morning. My mom's tradition of setting up chairs for each child with their gifts on them is something I have continued with my own children. Those chairs were not set up until Christmas Eve night after everyone was asleep because Santa had to deliver the gifts. When we woke up in the morning, we weren't allowed out of our rooms until Dad and Mom were in the living room. Only then could we come in and start opening presents. The excitement of Christmas morning is still with me today with my own kids. The look on their faces is priceless as they see what Santa brought.

Christmas memories are truly special! With my own children, I'm hoping to carry on the tradition of making those memories.

*Baking cookies for family and Santa. Santa gets his cookies with a Pepsi because these days, Santa is lactose intolerant.

*Setting up chairs for each girl on Christmas Eve night. A couple of Christmases ago we were staying at my mother-in-law's house and we were having a hard time not having our own home. I thought of how I could make Christmas special for my girls and decided to create a treasure hunt. When they woke up Christmas morning and went into the living room, they didn't see the chairs but saw a note from Santa. He sent them on this treasure hunt and by the time they returned to the living room, their gifts had appeared.

The similarities with all of the Christmases, both past and present, are that they are filled with family! No matter how difficult times are, there is always family to help make the day special. Add good food, laughter, and games, and that's what Christmas memories are all about!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Will you eat them in a car or on a train?

Ramen noodles. We all know about them. They're cheap, easy to cook, a nice, quick, hot dinner that feeds many. So is there something wrong with me because I DO NOT LIKE them (Sam I am... sorry, regressed into a Dr. Seuss moment). Growing up and being Polynesian, it seems like saimin was a food staple. But I could never get used to the taste. I used to eat it with peanut butter sandwiches which, I think, would cover the taste and make it edible. That's ONLY when I ABSOLUTELY had to eat the stuff. No offense to anyone. I know there are people out there who love their noodles. My sister likes hers with scrambled eggs and Spam sliced in thin strips. My mother-in-law adds char-su pork and green onions. My kids and nephew like it straight up, no frills. But me? After all these years and many attempts, I still cannot say that I like saimin. No matter how many things you put in it to cover it up or make it look fancy.

In Kauai, there is a noodle place that my husband raved about. I thought, "Maybe it will be different. Maybe I'll enjoy the noodles. Maybe it will taste better." No such luck. While everyone else was sucking up those homemade, flour, sodium filled juices, I ate the skewered meat with some rice on the side. No matter how spruced up or homemade, it still tasted the same to me.

When it comes to quick dinners, I'm partial to good old Campbell's chicken noodle or tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Or $5 pizza. Or even spam, eggs, and rice. Sorry Manchuran and Top Ramen but it's a no-go. A meal of ramen noodles? Only if my husband is cooking dinner.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ode to Sports Moms (and Sports Aunties)

My niece and nephew have participated in various sports for several years now. My niece started playing softball, then moved to volleyball which she continued until this year. My nephew started in baseball, basketball, and football which he continues, except the basketball. As a supportive aunty, I've taken the kids, sister, and other nephew to games to cheer the sports participants on and show them some family love. The games have been exciting and it gives ALL of the kids a chance to hang out, play, be goofy, and just be a family!

Now I'M the sports MOM. No longer in the comfort of the stands and one of the loud aunties but the actual mom. My 12-year-old is playing basketball through the recreation center and I'm... nervous! The first practice was last night and lasted for an hour and a half meaning we got home late and got to bed late. Good thing today is Friday and the kids only have a half day of school. Her first game is Saturday (yes, after only one practice) and I'm excited for her to participate but the butterflies in MY stomach are on a rampage! I want her to enjoy. I want her to succeed. I want her to kick some butt, oh sorry, it's basketball. I want her to have confidence in her skills. She's my natural athlete. She would rather play football but there is NO WAY that's happening. I'm old school. And my nephew already gives me heart attacks when he gets hurt on the field.

We went all out for my nephew's football season and I feel like I should support my own daughter just as strongly. Unfortunately, the teams colors are pretty much the same because the program is sponsored by the local professional basketball team. So... how do we get just as crazy? We take her favorite, loudest aunty who makes her yells echo in a football stadium. Can you imagine how loud it will be in a closed basketball gym? Oh yeah!!! We sport the closest colors we can find. We get pompoms from the dollar store. We show up. I think I can get used to being the "Sports Mom". Unless she gets hurt. (I was trying to find an amazing quote from Charles Barkley but alas, none of them pertain to my topic. So I will end with a synthesized version of something Charles is famous for saying and that is "I am not a role model". My disclaimer that I am not a great sports mom, nor do I understand the importance of having water, gatorade, and snacks. The poor child doesn't even have basketball shorts so it's off to WalMart today...)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Season of Thanks

A man and his wife are at Denny's eating breakfast. He's in his uniform. Not sure what branch of the military but does it matter? Their meal is interrupted by two women who stop by their table and thank them for their service to our country. They both have tears in their eyes and leave the restaurant. The couple finds out their meal has already been paid for and they think back to the two women. An emotional and inspirational story that could easily have been written for a feel good, warm and cozy television show. But this was real life. The two women were my mom and sister. And the gesture was from the heart. They never got the name of the military man or his wife. They didn't introduce themselves. They simply said thank you.

The memory hit me like a ton of bricks as my daughter and I volunteered at the local food bank yesterday. We were completing service hours for my daughter's service learning class at school but the thank you that came from our supervisor was an eye opener. He relied on the food bank when he was growing up. Now he worked there. But the amount of work that has to be done every day, every week, every year, could not be accomplished by the few paid workers. It takes volunteers. Some show up because they have to, some volunteer with their church/school/family/community group, some do it out of the goodness of their heart. Our supervisor, the former food bank recipient, said thank you. Plain and simple.

So now I get to say thank you to all of you. Thank you for everything you do. Whether you are in the military, helping with those in need, or simply praying for those who are hurting. Thank you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Being Thankful

I'm not hard to please. I'm not high maintenance. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty low key. Simple things in life give me joy. A good book. Chocolate. Samoan food. Football. See? I'm not a difficult or picky person. So when I received a $50 gift card to Smith's Grocery Store from my work, I was extremely happy. And thankful. In these troubled economic times, every little bit helps and this gift card is far from a "little bit". I can buy my turkey and ingredients for green bean casserole, banana cream pie, and my daughter's new dessert creation we've named 'Koko Moko' (it's a punch of chocolate in your mouth). I can't even begin to try to say, in words, how this gift card is a relief. It's like:
*a warm, sunny day in the middle of winter.

*hot tea and a snuggie on a cold, snowy night

*finding an extra box of granola bars in the cabinet hidden behind some cans of corn

*the house being cleaned BEFORE I get home from work

*all of the bills paid for the month and having money left over

My heart is light and my faith is strengthened. God is good! ALL THE TIME!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fablehaven Series

"Don't judge a book by it's cover." Usually referring to people but in the literal sense, this is very true! I had seen the Fablehaven books in bookstores and in the library, but wasn't very interested. I had completed the entire Harry Potter series and felt like nothing could compare. It took my 11-year-old daughter to show me the way. She received the first book as a chosen gift at, none other than, the library. As a fourth grader, all she had to do was sign her name under her class list and she could choose any book in the bin. Of course, I encouraged her to pick the thickest book, more for the freebie, right? She began reading it, at this point I still wasn't really interested, and kept getting more and more excited. My turning point? She mentioned a Samoan character. A potion master. My interest was now piqued and I couldn't wait to start. I had to take a break after the second book so my daughter could finish the others in the series and I didn't want to interrupt her flow. I just finished the final book this morning and as always, after a really great book or series, I feel sad. Sad because there will be no more adventures with Kendra and Seth. No more potions from Tanu. No more demons to fight. No more conversations with the Fairy Queen. No more confrontations with the arrogant centaurs. No more trading batteries with a couple of resourceful satyrs.

In this month of November, the month of Thanksgiving, I have to join my fellow bloggers in giving thanks. I am thankful for my parents, especially my mom, who instilled in us the joy of reading. Not only did she show us the value and fun in reading, she made sure we had many books to read. With our vast library (three layered wooden shelves, held in certain spots with cement bricks-none of those put-it-together-yourself stuff from Walmart, spanning two walls in our dining room, also used as my younger brother's hiding spot for foods he did not like) we were able to explore different genre of books from young beginner books to young adult books. Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Fiction, Nonfiction, anything we could order from the school book orders. During the summer, we would join the library summer program and spend hours each day in the library, reading and participating in various activities. Fond memories that I've tried to recreate in my own home. My book shelves happen to be the put-it-together-yourself kind (from Aikea and Walmart) but the shelves are full of books from my past and books from my kids' generation. Books that we enjoy together. Books that take us to another world, introduce us to the supernatural, and books that we can talk about after we've shared the stories in them. Like Fablehaven. Which my 11-year-old and I yearn for more stories from this series.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fairy Tales vs. Legends

What do Cinderella, Snow White, and Ariel have in common? They have NOTHING on our Polynesian legends. Take for instance:

Ariel. Fish chick. Correction, fish princess. Defiant. Doesn't listen to her dad. Where's mom, by the way? Decides it's better for her to have legs to capture some hot guy on land. Disney version: She gets the guy and saves the sea (that SHE endangered). Hans Christian Andersen version: She saves the prince, he falls in love with another princess (whom he thought saved him), dances around with pain and bleeding in her feet, and evetually turns into sea foam because she doesn't get the guy to fall in love with her.

Samoa's "The Turtle and the Shark": Fonuea (Mom) and Salofa (Daughter)-(or the husband/wife version)-choose to become a turtle and shark (human to fish) to protect a village because that village took care of them in their time of need. Selfless love given of their own accord.

Snow White. Beautiful. Naive. Evil Step-Mother tries to kill her. Hangs out in the woods with the animals and 7 dwarves. Becomes a home body until evil step-mother finds her and poisons her. The prince's kiss revives her. Relies on a man (and some dwarves) to take care of her.

Hawai'i's Hi'iaka: Pele's favorite and most loyal sister. Is sent by Pele to retrieve her love. He's dead from longing and Hi'iaka revives him. Pele thinks she's tyring to steal him and kills him again. Hi'iaka revives him, again. Hugs him to make Pele jealous. Different endings including the guy hooking up with Pele, hooking up with Hi'iaka, hooking up with both, or going back to his island by himself. The women move on with their powers and pride.

Rumpelstiltskin. German tale retold by the Brothers Grimm. Crazy little guy. Spins wool into gold. Demands first born as payment. (Uh, get a girlfriend???) Lady becomes queen and refuses to give up first born. She has to guess his name. She sends spies and finally wins. He stomps (major hissy fit) and eventually stomps himself into oblivion.

Tonga's Maui: Trickster. In other versions has the ability to move the sun or god of the ocean. Wants a magic fishhook to pull up land out of the ocean. Is told he can IF he can pick the right hook. His wife cheats and finds out which hook is the real one, thus giving him the ability to pull up a coral island out of the ocean. At least he was smart (with the help of his wife) and doesn't go into a hissy fit.

Goldilocks. Breaking and entering. Basic stalker. Selfish. Breaks into a stranger's home, eats their food, breaks their chairs, messes up their beds. Gets caught and runs off. No apology, nothing.

Samoa's "Sina and the eel": Another stalker but begins as a cute little eel. Sina loves the little guy until he gets bigger. When he's full grown, she runs from village to village as he calls her name and follows her. She finally stops, he confronts her, dies, and he becomes a coconut tree. At least he apologized and left her with a timeless gift.

Polynesian legends are stories that reflect our culture, woven with truths and myths, gods and goddesses, and teaches us life lessons. Since the Polynesian languages were translated into written word, our story telling has diminished leaving us lacking in legends. How many Disney stories do our children know versus their own Polynesian legends? How many of us will begin telling the legends again and revive hundreds of years of culture?

Face of the eel in "Sina and the eel"

Sunday, October 23, 2011


My mind races as I think of all the possibilities. The kids are spending the night with their cousins and it's just the hubby and me. We could:
*Go out to a club or bar and pretend we're in college again
*Go watch a movie
*Talk a moonlit walk
*Drive around the city and park on a hill to watch the lights twinkle
*Go out for dinner and just TALK (no interruptions)
The possibilities are seemingly endless. But the reality?
Sitting in the kava room with a bunch of other people and calling it at night at midnight. So much for taking advantage of a rare, childless night. Maybe next time.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Small town police with equally small brains

High school football. Losing team. Big game against area rivals. The team loses the game. Heartbroken, they begin walking off the field towards the locker room. The team's families are lined up against the fence forming a tunnel and showing their support, win or lose. A Polynesian family is at the end of the tunnel and begins performing a haka to show their love, respect, and support for their son/brother/nephew/cousin and his teammates. In their own way, telling the team, "No matter what, we love you. You've played a hard game and lost but it's okay! Chin up! Be proud of yourselves."

Then a couple of police officers ask the family to move and make room for the players to pass. The other families lining the fence tell the officers that it's okay and to let the family finish their haka. What happens? The police begin spraying pepper spray. Fathers, mothers, children, all sprayed directly in the face and people in the vicinity catching spatters. Eyes burning, people screaming, utter chaos ensuing. Now an investigation is in progress.

Really? Officers? Did you REALLY feel the need to spray pepper spray? Have you been living in a cave in the middle of the Sahara desert? Or living in an underwater community with no ties to the outside world? Have you never watched the All Blacks rugby team? You Tubed the many haka's performed on the football/rugby/playing field? Have you not been living in Utah, with one of the largest Polynesian populations in the United States? Did you think to take a step back and maybe ASK what they were doing if your caveman brain couldn't process the information? Really? I have two words for you: Cultural Competency.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Signs Everywhere!

We see signs everyday. Stop signs. Yield signs. Crosswalk signs. Advertisements. Railroad signs. What we don't see are those subtle signs. A curious glance. A smile. A wave. A knowing look.

I believe I've been given verbal signs about writing. It has become apparent, and possibly blatent, that I should be writing A LOT more. And even trying to publish. Something. Anything. When the conversation of my writing came up more than once today, I felt compelled to write. I have so many ideas floating in my head but I've let those ideas fade away. To the far recesses of my mind. Dormant. Waiting until a sudden inspiration wakes the sleeping giant and the words pour out like a cup of koko Samoa on a cold, winter's night.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Night In Hawai'i

Every Monday night, 9pm, our television is turned to Channel 2. Hawai'i Five 0 night! Beautiful images of clear, blue waters, sandy beaches, greenery EVERYWHERE, and the sight of local cuisine. I can feel the island breeze as I watch the leaves in the trees swaying. I can smell salt in the air and feel the warm sand in my toes. I can hear the waves as they crash onto shore. I never spent a lot of time in Hawai'i as we made our way through from American Samoa and back again but now that I've been away from the islands for WAY too long, Hawai'i seems like home. Oh how I miss green Christmases with trips to the beach. I miss the warm rain and the smell of flowers after a rainstorm. I miss looking around and seeing people who look like me, my husband, my kids. I love having people in the store ask if I'm a "local". I love the sense of belonging. Watching Hawai'i Five 0 once a week brings back memories of happy times and a place that one day, I would love to settle. And watching McGarrett is just the eye-candy-icing on the cake.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Book Review: Telesa

At last! A young adult fiction book that is not only well written, but about us. "Us" meaning Polynesians and more specifically, Samoans. What an absolute pleasure to read about these two main characters, Leila and Daniel, and their developing relationship. It doesn't hurt that this tale also consists of the beauty of the Samoan culture, strength (most especially strong female characters whether they are evil or not), and a play on Polynesian legends. The dialogue is seamless, which is not an easy task as a writer well knows. And the relationship development between the many characters is well thought out, again, not an easy task. My favorite characters?
*Simone: A GORgeous fa'afafine who epitomizes the best of the third gender. (Can I get two snaps with a twist and a HEY!) I can think of several fa'afafine I knew growing up in American Samoa and I think most Samoans can reminisce about a "Simone" in their lives. A girls best friend and defender. Extremely graceful dancers. Trusted confidants. Our personal cheerleaders.
*Salamasina: Daniel's grandmother and a very strong female character. She's a hard woman but only because she is trying to take care of her family. Her knowledge of medicinal plants is something that should be studied in today's modern world of synthesized medication. I didn't know my grandmother very well, she died when I was 8, but I can see my grandmother in this woman.

I encourage everyone to read this book, whether you're Polynesian or not. It's a true modern love story with all of the twists and turns to keep you turning pages (paper or kindle).

Friday, October 7, 2011

Childhood memories, good and bad

Reconnecting with old friends on facebook has me reminiscing about growing up in the islands. No matter where we grew up, I'm sure we all have recollections of family, friends, frenemies, enemies, and all those in between. Who are some of the people you remember from your past?
-The next door neighbor who, while playing mud fight in the yard, was yelling and got a mouthfull of mud. And the rest of us trying to calm her down and wipe the mud out so we didn't get into trouble.
-The siblings/cousins who played in grandma's yard during a rainstorm and ruined the grass resulting in a well deserved spanking and immediate trip to the outdoor bath.
-The people you've known since elementary school and how everyone seemed to drift into their own groups during high school (yet remained friendly regardless).
-The special swimming place nicknamed "the rock" where the family would go and come home with many cuts but stories of the fish we saw while swimming.
-Delivering cookies, cakes, and pies to family and friends during the Christmas holiday; singing Christmas carols while driving down the road; counting all the houses/fale's that had Christmas trees; giving a plate of cookies to the police officers at the road blocks.
-Saying my tauloto in church during White Sunday and always being the narrator in the Sunday School plays.

I have so many memories of going to the beach during Christmas, running around in the mountains during summer vacation, climbing trees, playing homemade cricket in the yard, riding bikes down rocky hills,... What kinds of memories am I building with my own children? Especially since they are not able to grow up in the islands?
-Building an igloo during Christmas vacation
-Going to the zoo, aquarium, pool during summer breaks
-Playing homemade cricket in the driveway with boards and several tennis balls
-Family movie night on Friday nights watching and re-watching movies from the past and present

Making these lists have made me realize that memories are memories, no matter where they are made. As long as they are made.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I've always been comfortable doing oral presentations, whether I'm teaching a class, a workshop, or talking to a group about... well, just about anything. As long as I feel prepared and I have some knowledge about the subject, the butterflies in my stomach are kept to a minimum. Singing in front of people, now that's a whole other story and completely off topic.

To continue, my boss emails me a few weeks ago suggesting (telling) that I submit a proposal to present my scholarship essay workshop at a professional conference here in the state. The conference is for people who work in student services, mainly advisors, and they are always trying to find innovative ways of helping students be successful in college. So, I submit my proposal and last week, I get the email saying it's been accepted!

My confident side: Wow! Awesome! This is great for my career! I'm so excited!

My self-conscious side: (Well, first of all I had to google the word conscious to make sure I was spelling it correctly) Oh my goodness, what have I gotten myself into? What if people have too many questions? What if the presentation tanks?

I've been reading extensively about my topic and I'm able to put my writing skills to work since it's all about writing a scholarship essay so everything should be just fine. Yeah. Okay. Still nervous. And trying to stuff as much information into my already overloaded brain. But not to worry. I will survive. And hopefully get a raise.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Lookin' GOOD!

If you're a female and you're growing older, wider, etc., you begin to question yourself, especially your looks. This test of confidence tends to increase when we see these airbrushed models in magazines and on tv, movie stars who are supposed to be the same age and looking 15 years younger, and women lurking in the malls wearing high heels, body fitting suits, and hair/makeup applied in expert fashion. Since I fit into NONE of those categories (I don't wear makeup, my hair is pulled back and you're lucky if I actually take 2 minutes to fix it, and I LOVE my shorts and t-shirts,) I question my overall looks. Not that it should matter. I have a husband who is still around after all these years. But even I, the bum nextdoor, like to be assured once in a while that I'm not so bad to look at.

Case 1: My husband was looking at recent pictures on facebook and pointing out people he went to high school with at a current school reunion. My first reaction? Extremely shallow, of course! Do I look that old??? The question crossed my lips into the unknown void into my husband's ears. And... silence. A once over. My fist rises into the air as I prepare to punch his lights out. Lucky for him, the answer came out. AND, it was a good one. Honey, he says, you look WAY younger than these people. One point for hubby.

Case 2: I was speaking with some students here at the college and just talking about family, etc. I mentioned something about my kids and one student asks how old my kids are. Then he goes on to say he forgets I have kids that age because I don't look old enough. One point for student.

Case 3: I'm buying lunch today and the lunch guy says, Hi young lady! I tell him he's my favorite because he called me young lady. We banter back and forth about age and argue about who's older. Finally I ask him his age. (Because I'm bold and since I don't care about sharing my age, I'm okay to ask that question to others.) Then I proudly say I have 5 years on him! He says, and that's why I called you young lady because you look it! (It doesn't hurt that he's not a bad looking guy either.) TEN points for grill guy! And twenty points for my ego!

The moral of the story is: If you're feeling old and frumpy, find someone (or a few people) who will give your ego a boost by giving you a compliment. Oh, did I forget to mention the guys in a car passing MY car and whistling at me? AND I was the only one in MY car with no other cars around?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Helicopter Moms

My baby comes home after her second day of Kindergarten crying her eyes out. When I'm finally able to calm her down to get the story, she tells me she got a "strike" at school. Getting the story out of a crying 5 year old is extremely difficult so... I send her off to take a shower (and listen as she's continuing the flood of tears in the shower) then bring her back in the room to find out what happened. According to her, a boy pushed her at school and another boy said she was at fault. Through minutes of interrogation, I try to get as much of the story as possible. Then, as I'm putting her to bed, I ask her several times whether or not she's telling me the truth. "I want to make sure this is a true story before I go off on your teacher and those kids. And if you're lying and I've made the effort to look like a fool, you're gonna get it!" I must be a Samoan mom because I will go to the ends of the earth for my children but if they lie and make me look like an idiot, the wrath comes home! Needless to say, I'm stewing over this all night and send a note to the teacher. She calls and tells me the kids were in line and someone in the back pushed my daughter which started a domino effect on the rest of the line. The few in the back, including my daughter, were laughing and received strikes. Guess who's going to get a talkin' to today??? Everyone, including the teacher, is telling me not to be too hard on her. Uh... ya'll don't know me! She's AT LEAST going to learn that laughing with the crowd is NOT okay and pushing people can hurt so IT'S NOT FUNNY! On a good note, my daughter came to me and told me what happened so I didn't have to learn about this from someone else. I guess I'm doing something right.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ancient Voyaging

What an amazing sight it must have been! To watch these voyaging canoes arrive in San Francisco, knowing they navigated just as our ancestor's did using only the stars and current... Just reading the sailing blogs and emails from dad (who was there) sent chills down my spine. I would love to one day step foot on one of those boats. Honestly, I don't know if I would have the guts to sail on one, even for a quick sail, but at least to stand and see what they see would be amazing. I feel like I would be sucked back in time, changing into one of my Polynesian ancestors who made the trek long before me. Moving out of the islands has become the new "trek" for us as Polynesians. Change is always good. But if you can't reconnect with the past once in a while, you tend to lose focus. I actually felt tears stinging my eyes as I read the day to day postings of shipmates and looked at the pictures of the amazing ocean life. One of the postings talked about stopping, listening, and being still. They encountered whales, dolphins, seals, and would have missed it all if they hadn't been still. I think once in a while, we need to sit down, put everything away, and just be still! Listen to yourself, and find who you are!
(Check out www.pacificvoyagers.org)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Random thoughts...

I just posted on my Facebook page today the fact that I really haven't posted anything on that page or written on my blog simply because I had nothing to say. Nothing profound. Nothing breathtaking. Nothing funny. Truly, nothing. So, for the sake of keeping up with my blog, which was my goal for the year, I figured I would throw in some random thoughts. If anyone gets ANYTHING out of them, WONDERFUL! If not, then they will stay in the "random thoughts" vault.

1. Never having enough money seems to be my lot in life. Right when things look comfortable, all the bills are caught up and on track, SOMETHING seems to pop up. The car won't start. School fees are due. The kids need clothes. (What? Clothes? Food? Who needs those things?)

2. Exercise is the new "E" word. Closely related to the F and S words that are not allowed to be spoken by my children. After working a full day meeting with students and trying to keep up with the rest, I have absolutely no energy for the E word. But yet I drag myself out to the park to walk and subject myself to the sweat and cramping simply because I have this belly. The belly I like to blame on the four children I have even though my husband says it's been over five years since the last child so I really have no excuse. I could always join a gym or hire a personal trainer like a movie/pop star. (Back to random thought #1.)

3. I have four puletasi that need to be sewn for my girls before my brother-in-law's wedding in September. Am I going to get them done? Oh, and if you're reading this and thinking, Hey, someone who knows how to sew, STOP THAT THOUGHT! My sewing skills are okay and passable but definitely not good enough to subject on other people besides immediate family members who have no choice. (I need a serger so I can get that finished look on the clothes but the cheapest one I've seen is around $200. Please refer back to the first random thought about money and how we're lacking in that department.)

4. Why can't I find Fudge Marble Cake Mix??? Is it a seasonal thing? This is a much needed product and I even looked for it online through the Duncan Hines website. BUT, if I wanted to order it from the website, it would cost me over $2 a box when I can buy it in the store for $1 or a little over $1. (Again, refer to the above reference on monetary woes.)

5. I'm having a bad hair day. Emphasis on the BAD. And not BAD as in good, awesome, amazing. I mean BAD as in OMG, who is that monster lady walking around work with the hair do that belongs to Cookie Monster, Cruela De Vil, and Al Sharpton combined? Yes, it's THAT bad. I guess I need to get a trim but... (That first random thought really is tying my whole random thought process nicely!)

6. Do you see how my life is full of great people and wonderful things but really nothing to talk about? Knock on wood (knocking on my head) things stay nice and quiet! And, hopefully, not far down the road, the money will pour in like water and I can hire a personal trainer (a nice looking Polynesian male will do), purchase my serger for sewing and become a fashion icon, order all the fudge marble cake mix I want, and get my hair trimmed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bikini Bods

My sister-in-law is kind enough to feed me my dose of magazines so I can be up on the latest celebrity gossip because, as we all know, we all want to be, look, act, or just know about the famous people in the world. Of course the issue I pick up and read has pages of celebrities in their bikinis. Women of all ages sporting their bodies and rockin' bikinis. They even had an interesting section showing the "ages" of bikinis from celebrities in their 20s to their 60s. As I look at these different body types I start to self-assess. When I HAD a body that COULD have sported a bikini, there is NO WAY I would wear one. The top reason being my culture. As a child, I could run around in a bathing suit and that was okay. Hell, I could run around naked or in my underwear and it was still okay. But as a female, when I got older (around puberty), it was less appropriate to run around with less clothing. Cover up would be the best description. I couldn't even wear shorts to a family function even if the shorts were knee length. I always had to cover up in a lavalava to show respect. So sporting a bikini? OUT of the question. Now that I'm older, wiser, and a little (okay, maybe A LOT) heavier, the idea of this old broad wearing a bikini, in PUBLIC, is unfathomable! Even if I lost weight and tightened up the old ab's, my mind is still under the impression that wearing a bikini at this age is not okay. Much as I would love to flaunt a P90X body in a bikini, I would never do it. I have too much respect for the people around me. And I wouldn't want to scare any children.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day

Boys, you can break
You'll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without the warmth from
A womans good, good heart

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the guide and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too
John Mayer: Daughters

Having all girls, my husband is seriously outnumbered in our household. Even with the emotional outbursts, the stubbornness, the fight for the bathroom, I know he secretly likes being the only male in the house. He doesn't have to fight for attention, he doesn't have to share bath products, deoderant, clothes, etc. He has a house full of females who clean, cook, bake, take out the trash,...

What he DOESN'T have is a companion, a football buddy, a fellow male he can truly bond with, talk sports, take to the basketball games. The girls try, don't get me wrong. They watch football and basketball and try to converse with their dad about their favorite team. But the conversation always ends in arguments because they don't agree on a favorite team, or their dad treats them like they really don't know about the game, or they prefer watching golf. So much for trying...

What do the girls see in their father? They see a man who works hard to support the family. They see him as the person who has the laptop computer with all of the music they need for their iPods. They see him as the musical guru who can download songs for them and who's interested in talking about music with them and their favorite musicians. He's their go-to guy when it comes to the educational areas of science and math. He's the one who praises them when they do well and disciplines them when they don't do so well. Sometimes he feels left out because the girls are always with me but he always dreams of the day when the girls can go to music concerts with him and possibly play alongside their dad in a band. He dreams of keeping his girls safe from harm and all of the bad elements in the world. And, really and truly, he is not only their father, he is their daddy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What if?

I'm sure we've all played the "What if" game at some point in our lives. When things go wrong, you're feeling depressed, or you're just pondering life's many curveballs, the "What if" theme song begins. As your head is nodding to the music, you drift into the past and float through different scenarios:
What if...
I stayed home and went to college instead of coming straight to the U.S.?
I went to school in Hawai'i instead of California and Arizona?
I officially went out with my biggest crush in high school?
I took a career assessment when I first went to college?
I actually saved some money?

The "What if" game could be endless but as I'm thinking those thoughts the faces of my daughters pop into my head. All of those "What if's" begin to blur and there, in full color, are my girls. No matter how many "What if's" I have going on in my mind, they can never compare to "What is".

Friday, May 27, 2011

One Hot Mama

I love shopping, especially when I have money to spend! I tend to take my time, try things on, find the good deals, and make sure I really want the item before heading over to the checkout counter. Of course, it's almost summer time and the weather is warming up. Well, in our part of the world it warms up one day and rains or snows the next three days. ANYWAY, the weather is looking nicer and the dress code at work is becoming more casual. This means: capris! I never used to like capris because of my pear shaped body, skinny, heavy, skinny, and I always thought, "Why would I want to show off my chicken legs?" Now they've made many varieties of capris so that I, and my chicken legs, can sport them and still look decent. The downfall to all of this? My hubby. Now that I work at a community college he has become more, how you say, paranoid?
His comments while we were shopping were:
*You look fat in those clothes.
*Why are you trying to buy those kinds of clothes for work?
*None of those things look good on you. Just use my clothes.
*Why don't you buy the big sweaters?
After ruining my whole shopping experience and day, we get home and SOMEONE wants to play nice. Needless to say, this put me over the top!
"What is your problem?!" I say in annoyance.
He says, "I don't want you looking amazing so that those college students will be checking you out. I don't want their eyeballs staring at you."
I'm dumbfounded at this point. At a loss for words.
"So, you think that insulting me will change anything?" I stumble on my words.
He says, "You are a beautiful woman with nice curves and I don't want to share that with anyone."
WOW! Great compliments. Great responses. But I'm still annoyed. Because all I hear in my head is, "You're too fat for those clothes." I'm trying to get past the negativity and remind myself that my hubby thinks I'm one hot mama!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Diversity in Education

I attended our Teacher Scholarship banquet tonight where high school students were awarded full scholarships to the college as well as a smooth transition into the university. These scholarships are to promote diversity in education and multicultural teachers. It was great to see many of these students were male because not only do we need ethnic teachers but we're a little short on male teachers as well. Although I was proud to be sitting there representing our Pacific Islander population, I was disappointed to see only one of our students represented. One is good, in fact it's great, don't get me wrong. I just think there could and should be many more of our good students in education continuing the tradition of our forefathers. My own niece's high school counselor recommended this particular scholarship for her when she mentioned she was interested in education. What an amazing opportunity for students but why aren't more of our Pacific Islander students in this program? Right now it's our million dollar question.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Diagnosis: Coach

My dad has always been notorious for forgetting birthdays. He would call a few weeks after the fact and apologize or send one of those belated birthday cards. Now that he's retired, he's completely changed in terms of remembering birthdays, events, etc. In fact, he's better at it than I am! You can imagine my surprise when a postal worker knocks on my door on a Saturday morning with a package. From my dad. I open it up and there's a brown leather work/travel bag. I shrug my shoulders because this is an absolute shocker and I have no idea what's going on. When I inspect the brown bag closer, I see there's another bag inside of it. So I cut that wonderful protective plastic string and pull out... none other than... a Coach purse. Whoa! Those who know me are probably laughing at this point because I am NOT a girlie, girl, I do not slobber watching QVC pointing at the high end purses that should be in MY closet, I don't even own outfits that cost as much as these Coach purses. Of course my husband, in his infinite wisdom, says now I need to dress like the Kardashians in order to qualify to tote that type of baggage around. I am a FOB, no joke. Even in my semi-rage at my husband's comment, internally I was thinking the same thing. What is a FOB like me doing with a purse like this? I proceeded to call my dad to gracefully thank him for the gift and to ask what the occasion was? His reply: It's your early birthday gift. Two months early. Hey, not bad! He felt I needed a nice purse as well as a bag for work. Thoughtful? Yes! Then my dad calls yesterday and says, "Did you check your mail?" I say no and then get yelled at to hurry and check it. I follow orders like a good daughter and find a birthday card in the mail. Perfect timing for my birthday. Wow. I'm amazed at how spoiled I am to have such an amazing dad. With great taste in purses. Well, he had help from the purse queen, my older sister. But that's okay. I now use the purse everyday because I figure it's time to grow up and be a big girl. Maybe dress nicely now and again. But I'll always be a FOB. And never too old. My dad's card said it best. "Aging is inevitable. Maturing is optional." So, slowly, very slowly, I might think about maturing. With my Coach on my shoulder. And my slippers on.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ode to Mom

Strong. Passionate. Fiesty. Caring. Loving. I could fill this blog with adjectives that refer to my mom but the best description would be generous. She is always making sure all of her children and grandchildren are okay and taken care of. She may not have much, but she gives much more. She's the kind of mom who will go to a grocery store's case sale and buy cases of toilet paper for each household. Or canned spaghetti. Or canned vegetables. She'll call and ask if we have a glass jar to hold our bigger utensils and buy one if the answer is No. When she buys a new crockpot, she'll call and ask who needs one so she can give away her used one that is barely used and still in awesome shape. She remembers birthdays. She calls when she knows someone is sick and checks to see if we need anything. She always complains of being broke but spoils everyone at Christmas. She brags about her family to her friends at church. She sends care packages and cards to family members. She takes TONS of pictures. She is our historian. Our rock. She's MOM in every sense of the word.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Life in a Fantasy World

As I s-l-o-w-l-y write my first book, I read different books that I hope can give me some insight into what young adults are reading these days. Author styles are so different but one thing many of them have in common is the whole idea of fantasy worlds. Fairies, goblins, monsters, vampires, and the heros that fight all the bad guys and save the day. The current series I'm reading is called The Mortal Instruments and the first book is called City of Bones. Definitely for older teens due to the language and boy/girl tension but still the same underlying theme. Special mortals who have the ability to fight those bloodsucking vampires, howling Children of the Night, poison spitting reptile/scorpion/spiders, and crossbreed monsters who are part human, part weird.

The style in this author's writing that has stood out to me the most is how she uses descriptions. Her descriptions of the places in New York make me feel like I'm a native New Yorker who prowled the city's many streets and alleys for years. Her characters come to life and will more than likely become fantasies for many young teenagers taking the place of Twilight's Jacob/Edward saga. (By the way, I'm totally Team Jacob. Buff, warm, brown guy beats out cold, skinny, white guy any day!) One weakness in the narrative are the monsters. I'm having a difficult time visualizing the nasty creatures. The fear felt by the characters is alive and I can feel my heart pounding faster as the characters battle their way out of seemingly impossible situations. But what they are running from or fighting against, I'm still not sure.

As a writer, I know what I want to write. I have the ideas bottled up in my head. My weakness is descriptions. I should be amazing at it. My mom used to tell me to hurry up and tell my story because I would add so much information into my narrative that it took me FOREVER to get to the point. And now, as I write, I'm having trouble describing my characters, my scenes, my surroundings. I am going to go back to my old habits. See, smell, taste, hear, feel. And pass that information on to my readers. I'll add the sharp, gray fin cutting the water's surface moving in seemingly slow motion but cutting the distance between it and the small, flimsy handmade canoe in half before the girl could pick up the short, plastic paddle. By the time she had the paddle in the water, pulling back as fast as she could, the fin was right at her side. Up close, the fin no longer looked like a smooth triangle of terror. The girl could see the jagged edges where pieces were torn or bitten off. The imperfections did nothing to relieve the anxiety the girl felt as the creature circled.

As the creative juices begin to flow and the descriptions become alive and colorful, I realize the characters in my stories will be ones that I can visualize, whether real or imagined. I may include good guys versus bad guys. I'll think about what monsters I want to add. I might decide to fall into the fantasy trap and write about mythical creatures. Or maybe I'll just write a fantasy love story. The verdict is out.

Monday, April 18, 2011

To what degree?

A conversation at lunch made me think about my college degrees. Not that I had a lot of time to think and ponder today. After many years and thousands of dollars, my degrees are finally paying off. (Paying off figuratively, not literally, since my student loans are still hanging around.) I spent many years after one degree and working on the next working menial jobs that had nothing to do with my field of study. I sacrificed those years for my family, working jobs that paid a decent amount of money but worked around my busy "Mom" schedule. Raising my children was priority number one. It still is. But the kids are old enough and in school now so my schedule allows me to work in my new position. There were many days (MANY days) where I questioned myself and my credentials. I questioned whether I would ever find a job that took my education into account when hiring me and determining my salary. I wondered if I would ever find a position where I could use what I know and actually enjoy what I was doing.

Advising students for five months has made me realize how important my job really is. I wish I had this type of guidance when I was in college. I had a very bad experience with an advisor when I first went off to college and never saw one again until I was almost finished. Lucky for me, I stayed on track and was able to finish but that one bad experience took away many opportunities that I could have had, should have had. I could have gone through these career assessments and cut down the years of wondering and thinking I had found what I wanted to do only to realize I hated what I was doing. I could have learned about resources the college had to offer so I could have had help with English, math, any subject I was having trouble with. There are so many things I could have learned from an advisor but didn't. My bad experience should not have stopped me from continuing my search for a good advisor but coming from a small island to the big, bad United States made me fearful of speaking out or asking questions. I know. Excuses. But I was truly terrified of asking people for help and even more afraid of being turned down or being treated like I was stupid.

Despite the bad experience and lack of resources, I was able to finish my first degree. Ten years later I earned the second degree. My current position gives me the chance to encourage other students to complete their degrees, have good experiences with advisors, and hopefully have some idea of what they want to do after college. AND, I get to use my education for something good. And something that I absolutely enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For My Grandma

My heart begins beating quickly as we begin to sing. The entire sixth grade class is inside the auditorium, the voices reverberating off of the concrete walls. Our teachers begin picking girls to go up to the front to siva. I can see different colors of emotions running rampant among my classmates. Some girls cast their eyes downward hoping they won’t have to endure dancing in front of the whole class. Others are looking around the room but avoiding eye contact with the teachers. A few girls are putting as much energy as they can into their singing hoping to get noticed. I am not sure about my own face or actions because my insides have taken control. My heart is pounding in my chest and my stomach is doing cartwheels. My emotions are like an out of control ping pong game. Yes, I want to siva and represent my class. There’s NO way I can get up there! Pick me or not, it doesn’t matter. What if I’m not good enough? What if I trip or do a weird move? What if I freeze up?

As these thoughts bounce around my brain like a pinball machine, I feel a tap on my shoulder. I look up to see my teacher smiling and pointing to the front of the crowd. I follow her arm and see five girls already up there performing and looking beautiful. Graceful. Amazing.

I’m surprised as I stand and begin walking because I could have sworn my legs were made of jello. Taking my place beside the other girls, I bow and stretch out my arms. My aunt’s voice appears in my head with the noise of the class singing fading into the background.

“Bend you knees and your elbows. Think of the gogo bird as it’s flying over the ocean looking for fish.”

My years of training take over and I begin to feel the music as it guides my arms and legs. The final strains of the song echo off of the auditorium walls and we give our final bows. My friends smile at me as I walk back to my spot on the floor, excited with my performance.

Our teachers deliberate for a few minutes as we talk quietly amongst ourselves. They finally come to a decision and announce the girl who will be the taupou for the class at our school’s Samoan Day assembly.

I stand still as my aunt takes my measurements. I feel like I’m floating in a dream. From the time my teacher called my name, to my aunt’s siva training, to my outfit being sewn… I am the class taupou. I will be representing my sixth grade class, in front of the entire school, family, and friends.

Samoan Day has finally arrived! My dress, made of real fine mats, fits perfectly. My new, pink feathered kiki and headpiece are a bright contrast to the tan matting. My teacher has me sitting in a chair until we perform to keep my outfit from getting dirty.
Our class enters the field and we begin our performance. Finally, the class begins to sing the final song and the time has come for me to stand. I begin my entrance run and bow acknowledging our guests. As I rise all I can see is a sea of smiling faces. At first I cannot pinpoint an exact face but I know they are all enjoying the day. I finally see my aunt. She is smiling and looking at me but I see sadness behind her smile. My selfish eleven-year-old mind brushes the emotion to the side, too absorbed in my own worries and excitement. My siva and class performance end like it started, in a wonderful, heartfelt dream filled with traditional song and emotion filled siva.

I’m twelve years older and 2300 miles from home. My uncle and I are at a little Samoan club in Hawai’i eating and listening to the band. As with any Samoan gathering, eventually someone is going to dance a siva. My uncle frequents this little club and is called up to dance. He turns to me and points to the dance floor as the music begins and I am transported back to my sixth grade auditorium. I stand and begin my entrance run, letting the song take over as my body remembers all my aunt has taught me. Just like my sixth grade siva, I am surrounded by a sea of smiling faces. Suddenly, my aunt’s sad smile enters my mind. The song ends, the final bow signals the siva’s end, and the night draws to a close.

Sixteen years have passed along with another 2400 miles. My dad has turned seventy years old and the family throws him a surprise party. My aunt is there, dancing in her graceful and energetic way. This time I dance on the side until my aunt motions me to dance beside her. As she bends low and slowly rises up like our gogo bird of long ago, she turns to me and smiles. I see the sadness and I finally understand.

I can see my grandmother in her eyes, her face, her movements. I see the pride in passing on the traditions but the longing for the people and times that have long since passed. When the song fades, my aunt and dad are looking at me. They turn to each other, nod, and smile. I can hear my dad say, “She dances just like mom.”

I am transported to sixth grade surrounded by a sea of faces, filled with happiness and pride. The most important face is only visible in my mind’s eye. This siva is for you, Grandma.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

To teach or not to teach...

There have been SO many negative stories in the news lately concerning teachers/administrators/students and their conduct in (and sometimes out) of school. In my own backyard we've had students accused of racism and wearing a white pillowcase with holes cut out for eyes yelling out racist comments. Administrators put on leave and eventually quitting due to the accusations. *Hm... makes you wonder...* There have been several teachers successfully tried with touching/fondling/having sexual relations with students as young as junior high. Other news from across the country talks about teachers who put their students on blast on their facebook statuses or blogspots. Some even include pictures. I have three letters for you. WTF???

As educators, we are bound by an unwritten code of ethics. Well, even some written ethics. We are there to mold those little minds and help them along the path to college and beyond. They are the future leaders. Why would anyone in their right mind want to taint that? Why would we want to add more people to the prison systems, teachers and students alike, because of a selfish act? Educators are supposed to be the mentors, the guiders, the TEACHERS. WE'RE the ones who should know better. WE'RE supposed to be the adults. And guess what? If you can't handle the classroom or the students, GO ON AND GET THE HELL ON!!! How dare you call yourself an educator and screw up a child's life because you have low self esteem and your mommy or daddy didn't love you! Who the hell are you to talk smack about your students when you are obviously just as flawed because you can't handle your own classroom!

As an educator, SHAME ON YOU! I have spent many years teaching students from preschool through college and I have worked hard to instill in them the passion for learning. I have drilled it into their heads that they can DO anything, BE anything, there are no limits to their success. I had a student who struggled in my 3rd grade class and I spent the entire year telling him "YOU CAN!" Guess what? I saw him (three years later) at the regional Science Fair with his project. THAT'S what a teacher does. You inspire! You motivate! You EDUCATE!

As a Polynesian mother, if my children were subjected to any of those things mentioned above, guess what? You had better run if you are the teacher involved. I will show you no mercy because I have entrusted you with the life and minds of my beautiful children. Do not EVER mess with a Polynesian mama and her babies! And final word of advice? GET OUT OF THE TEACHING PROFESSION!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Brother...

On April 3, 1973, a baby boy was born. He was the youngest of several children to Samoan parents who lived in San Diego, California. When he was only three months old and in true Samoan fashion, his great-aunt and uncle took him to American Samoa to live with his extended family. He lived by another name for many years. He was part of the family. He was the younger brother who loved to play outside, climb trees, throw rocks at the neighbor's kids, and laugh with the best of them. Even when people questioned whether he was a real sibling, the answer was always the same. Of course he's our brother! Even when he found out he was adopted and met his real siblings, he was still part of our family. He was still our brother. We were all with him when he passed away; ALL of his brothers and sisters. Whether physically or over the phone, we were all able to say our goodbyes, tell him how much we loved him and how much we would miss him, and hold onto him until the end. He will always be remembered as the hero who wanted to keep everyone safe, the teddy bear uncle who loved and spoiled all of the nieces and nephews, the brother who always made sure everyone was okay, the son who called in the middle of the night just to say HI. We will always miss him. His smile, his laugh, his stories. His memory lives on. RIP, Lino!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Attempt at Poetry

A graceful extension of the arms
A slow bending of the knees
As if bowing to the highest chiefs
The slow, smooth run
Always a modest smile

The flight of the gogo bird
as it searches the ocean for fish
Mixing the sacred 'ava
Serving to those who are worthy
The flirty tilt of the head

Feet gliding, floating in a circle
As the music rises to its climax
Movements become slower, deliberate
Surrounding dancers are frenzied
A low, elegant bow at song's end
Steeped in tradition --- Siva Samoa

Monday, March 28, 2011

Life, it's meaning???

My Monday morning started off with a bang! Sad and scary news from a student sent me diving into action before I even entered my office. But it got me thinking...

I also watched the Samoan movie, Broken Promises Part I & II, and it also dealt with the idea of suicide. By the way, this is directly tied into my Monday morning start, just so you all know I'm not rambling or going crazy. Well, the crazy part is questionnable, but rambling, certainly not.

That brings me to my question: What is the meaning of life?
*From a mother's perspective, I can tell you that it is an amazing, ongoing experience! A neverending love of a life (or lives) that are directly tied with your own. A feeling of connection with another living being that goes beyond anything normal or even explained. Something that stands the test of time.
*From a Humanities instructor's perspective, life has many meanings depending on what you read. Some people see life as a means to accomplish a goal. Some see it as time given to them to help those in need. Others just want to 'live it to the fullest'.
*From a Polynesian standpoint, life is a gift that is given to not only you, but to your family because you are a representation of your ancestors. Life is time given to you to become a master of a trade, a leader of your family, a supporter, a mentor, a giver of more life.

Life is not easy. But if it were easy, what would we learn? HOW would we learn? My heart will always go out to those who choose to not continue their life, but it cries even more for those who have to witness the act or feel the loss of that other person.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; But often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.
---Helen Keller

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

My eighth grader decided she wanted to write about body image and the media in her honors English class. Obviously that's a meaty, yet popular topic among teens so her friend also chose the same topic. That's when the bright idea of crossing culture with the media's idea of body image came into fruition.

Here's where it starts to get complicated. How many different ways can we think of, off the top of our heads, to write about Polynesian culture vs. American culture in terms of body image. I already came up with five. Then my smarty pants daughter comes up with a great idea using the "normal" scale from her pediatrician and how her measurements from birth until now has always been off the charts. Now why didn't I think of that?

Explaining the idea of body image and Polynesians is going to be difficult. Do we look far back into our past? Do we evaluate ourselves now? I know we can focus on the hair (that is SO not the 'sich) or the facial structures, but where do we go from there? I always like to use the excuse that I'm big-boned and therefore I am heavier, larger, etc. etc. etc. But even among the Polynesian community I am tall for a female and so is my daughter. Can we still use that on the "normal" scale?

Our perceptions of what is good looking is definitely different from the average American (whatever that is). I have a picture of a well-known Polynesian sportscaster on my bulletin board at work and this older palagi coworker came in and said, "Well, he's no Brad Pitt." My response? "Well, he's MY Bradd Pitt." You see? Perception is in the eye of the beholder. Or was it beauty? Either way, body image, to be explained to the young folks of today, is you being comfortable in your body, regardless of what's on tv, what you're nationality is, or what other people say you should look like. When you look in that mirror, YOU determine your beauty. If you see yourself as the hottest person in the world (even if no one else does), that's okay! Your mirror, your wall!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Eat this, and this, and this...

The authors of the book "Eat this, not that" were obviously NOT thinking about Polynesians when they wrote it. If you're not familiar with the book (they also wrote "Cook this, not that"), it provides alternative eating habits so that a person can just eat healthy and lose weight. Painless, simple weight loss. There is NO SUCH THING!!! I think I should write a similar book but for Polynesian audiences only. Those who are familiar with Polynesians and our love for food may also enjoy the information. For instance...
*Lu pulu: Instead of eating the luau leaves with canned corned beef, use regular beef instead. More natural, more healthy. Or take out the meat all together and make it palusami. (Aren't onions good for you?)
*Sua laisa: Rice cooked in coconut milk with a little sugar and orange leaf, makes an excellent dessert. Not healthy enough? Add koko samoa. Experts say the more natural the chocolate, the more antioxidants and healing agents are involved.
*Taro: When baked it contains less fat than boiling in coconut milk. Or the healthier alternative: Kumala. Don't sweet potatoes beat out regular potatoes when talking about healthy eating?
*Pork: The other white meat. Enough said.
When I attend the many family reunions and Polynesian festivals this summer, I will make sure I keep these eating alternatives in mind. Do you think the booth with the kalua pig will substitute a Rib Eye steak instead?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trash vs. Treasure

I married a packrat. This does not match well with my self-diagnosed ADHD/OCD tendancies. And he wonders why I've been the biggest witch since we moved into our new place.

I will be the first to admit that I have my weakness when it comes to saving things. My treasure is books. Dr. Seuss, JK Rowling, Rick Riordan, Michael Crichton (I think we own all of his), Dan Brown, books about Polynesia, whatever has captured my interest or the interest of my children... My ultimate dream room is a library just like the one in the Disney cartoon Beauty and the Beast. Bookshelves filled with books from the floor to the vaulted ceilings with ladders on runners that enable me to glide from one shelf to the next. If I could sing like Belle that would make the vision complete. I come from a family of avid readers. My stepmom used the word 'voracious' to describe our reading habits. With books comes knowledge, information, pure pleasure! So how can a collection of books be trash?

Back to the packrat... Why do we need crates full of CDs? How many of us actually listen to an artist's entire album? Very rarely, I can assure you. Unless it's Luther Vandross or some old Whitney Houston, then okay. And now with iTunes and iPods, no one needs to lug around CDs or battery operated, bulky CD players. So I ask, how is this treasure? What knowledge can you gain from these flimsy pieces of plastic that scratch so easily? My oldest daughter had the greatest idea. She said we should set the crates outside and put a FOR SALE sign on them. Then, technically, they would become treasure because they would actually offer some sort of income. But who would want the damn things?

Maybe my nerves will calm down when we purchase a bookcase AND a CD case so the crates aren't sitting in the middle of the family room floor. Maybe I won't be ready to pull my hair out when the stereo parts are put together and taken OFF of my dining room table. Stereo system+CDs=Loud Music=Raging Beast of a Mother because she can't read her books in peace. My books are safely packed away in plastic totes to protect them from the elements where they patiently wait in the storage room. That's where the CDs and stereo crap should be. And remain. And maybe the packrat should join them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why blog?

As I browse through other blogs and procrastinate on writing in my OWN blog, I wonder if it's even worth the effort. It's also intimidating when other blogs are well written and I tend to wonder if I sound like an absolute idiot. I've kept journals since high school. After I got married, my husband bought me a journal and I have written very little in it. So now I've turned to blogging. And even then, I have not been consistent. So, my question again: Why blog?

1. My ultimate goal of becoming a best selling author begins with practice, practice, and LOTS of writing.
2. I like to think people are listening to what I am saying, even if it's only a dream.
3. I like putting opinion and thoughts out there, another reason why I use facebook AND advertise my blog at the same time.
4. I love writing!

Why blog? I blog because I can! And I enjoy it. And I might actually keep up with my writing. And I'm bored at lunch and have nothing else to do so I may as well blog. For all of you bloggers out there, keep on keepin' on! And keep blogging!

Monday, February 7, 2011

One at a time...

My previous post, wayyyy back in November was the beginning of what I now know is my life's dream. Well, part of it. The other part is publishing a book that has been started and set aside for too long, but that is on the back burner of life. The importance of education has been pounded into our heads since we understood the meaning, an extension of the pounding my dad used to get when he was young. I have found the need and want of pounding this same idea into others, of course on a more gentle note. So here we replace 'pounding' with 'persuade', 'assist', 'motivate'... What more do we want? We want our Pacific Islander students to succeed in education and eventually in life. We want them to have a better life because that was the original dream their parents had when they first moved to the United States. We want them to be positive role models for the younger generation and to motivate them to do well. We want them to succeed and give back to their people and communities. We want to create a partnership of learning, succeeding, and growing as a people and a culture. We want to teach, learn, grow, love, and live! And we can succeed because as a people, we are the OG educators.