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.