Thursday, January 4, 2018

To Fresh Starts and Clean Slates

 Back in 2012, in the good ol’ days when I blogged more than once a year...ahem....I remember reading one of my favorite bloggers sharing she would set a word as the theme for her year. I thought-- what a great idea-- and went with it. I haven’t been perfect with it every year since then, but looking back, I really love how a chosen word has inspired and pushed me through a year. Two of the first words I chose were joy and hope, which ended up being two qualities I needed most those two years and in the years to come. In contrast, last year I chose the word uplift, and had all these ideas on how I could serve others and make the world a brighter place. That all seemed great in the hopeful month of January, but in February my life took a sharp left turn when my father’s health suddenly and rapidly declined; and then life decided to go completely off-road into uncharted territory when my much-loved father passed away at the end of May. I had wanted to lift and brighten, but most of the year I found myself in the lowest and darkest places I had ever known. Instead of glorying in all that -I- could do, I watched in awe of what those around me could do. Uplift was definitely a theme for the last year, but not in the way I planned it. I learned how it feels to be lifted up from the depths of grief, only to sink back down again—and still have loving hands reaching down towards me, helping me through each step, waiting with me until I was ready.

I learned that even when we are at our lowest, we can still find ways to love others and serve them. In fact, when we are hurting, sometimes the best thing we can do is look outside ourselves. Love is not a commodity to be hoarded by misers. That precious little we feel we have left within us doesn’t disappear when we share it; it multiplies and fills us back up. And in the end, love is what lifts our heavy hearts.

As I was reflecting on what I most wanted for this next year, all I could think was how much I would like for things to SLOW DOWN. I can’t remember feeling so overwhelmed and inadequate and just plain tired in a long, long time. Last year, I had a New Years Resolutions list that was six pages long (no joke). The very thought makes me cringe. This year I am going to SIMPLIFY. I want all the extra distractions of life to fall away, so that I can focus on the things that really matter. First and foremost would be spending time and making memories with my loved ones. One thing I have thought about often since my father’s passing was how even though his life was so much shorter than it should have been, he made every moment count. He left a mark and an example for each and every one of his friends and family. We don’t know if we’ll be on this earth for another 50 years or if this is our last. I don’t want my time to be wasted. So 2018 is for making memories and treasuring those simple moments.

With an eye to simplicity, I only allowed myself to set two resolutions this year:

1. Be healthy.
2. Finish my novel

Of course I have smaller goals and plans on how to accomplish these, but (without sounding too melodramatic), I already feel weight and pressure lifting from me and it is freeing! While I still feel tired, I also feel ready to move forward. And after all the hiding I have done in the last year, it's about time.

Happy New Year! May this year be kind to us. And even if it isn't, let's carry on.

I’ve noticed that the word-of-the-year idea gets a bigger following each year. What’s your word and why?

My Past Words:
2012 joie de vivre (french phrase that means "joy of living")
2013 hope
2014 gratitude
2015 ——
2016 ——
2017 uplift
2018 simplify

[pictures taken January 3, 2018 on the Old Pali Highway Trail, Oahu]

Friday, December 30, 2016

Mele Kalikimaka!

[photo cred: Lille Kunz]
 This was our very first Christmas we spent without family. While we missed them, it was still nice, and we managed to keep busy! We had lots of parties and other Christmas fun right here on the island!

[photo cred: Lille Kunz]

[photo cred: Lille Kunz]
We got a brand new tree that is ten million times nicer than our old one, and it made me smile every time I saw it! When we first opened up the box, Dan said it looked just like the old one. If you know Dan, you know he probably said this just to get me worked up, but then we (of course!) had to put them side by side for a comparison. So we had a Christmas tree forest in our house for a day or two.  Then we set them up and decorated them and enjoyed them all month. The girls especially liked having their very own tree in the playroom that they got to decorate all by themselves. (Ok, Mom helped hang some of the ornaments where they couldn't reach.) They also enjoyed rearranging the ornaments allllllll December. But it was fine because it distracted them from the new tree and the more breakable ornaments.

London and I had fun decorating the chalkboard with a few different Christmas messages.  She loved coming up with new things to add. I hope this is something we can keep doing, because I think everyone had a great time.

Miss London also was able to serenade us the Christmas classic, "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth," because she lost BOTH of hers this month! I love this toothless grin, but I'm not sure it will be here for too much longer, since the new teeth are growing in fast!

Soooo many (too many!) Christmas treats were made! We shared most of them with friends and neighbors, and the girls loved helping when they could.

Biscotti and hot chocolate. Perfect December Breakfast!
 Dan and I also celebrated SEVEN YEARS of marriage this month! What the what! He had the morning off, and our wonderful, amazing, so-glad-she-is-my-friend Joy, watched the girls for us! (Thank you!!) We went to breakfast at one of our favorite local joints, Koa Pancake House. Here's a picture of my Macadamia nut waffles with coconut syrup, and breakfast potatoes, and Portuguese sausage on the side.  YUM!

December isn't quite complete without one or two Christmas parties! We were able to attend the DENTAC party (the dental army unit). It was fun to meet and visit with some of Dan's coworkers and enjoy some yummy traditional Hawaiian food.  And candy canes. My children are of the opinion you can never have too many candy canes at Christmas time.

I didn't take too many pictures at our church party this year, but it was so fun! It was Polar Express themed, so everyone went in their jammies. There was sooo much to eat, fun games, hot chocolate, and of course, Santa Claus!

North Pole centerpieces I made for the party.

Christmas Eve we went caroling with some of our neighbor friends, the Morgans! We had so much silly fun, and we even earned a plate of cookies and $15! (I have never in my life had people give me money for caroling, but the kids LOVED it.) Hope we can do it again next year!

Kiddos knocking on a door.
Alyssa and I with the spoils!

 We also had run out of Christmas treats, and so we needed to make more for Santa! Once Santa was taken care of, we had our traditional tamales for Christmas Eve dinner. We got them from Costco this year, so I was a little skeptical, but y'all, THEY ARE SO GOOD! And super and dangerously easy to make. After our dinner we opened up our Christmas jammies, watched a movie, and went to bed.

The gingerbread house proved to frustrating to construct, so London used it to make candy pictures.
Not a creature was stirring...
 And in case you were worried, turns out the girls made the nice list this year. They were so excited to open up all the Elena of Avalor gear they had asked for. Santa Claus didn't realize that half the things they asked for sing Elena's theme song, and now it is stuck in everyone's head. Oops.

It would have been the perfect picture, except London decided to pick her nose...


My favorite present!!
Christmas Day was quiet and lazy. Everyone enjoyed opening their gifts, wearing their new Christmas dresses to a quick hour of church, and eating all the food! Merry Christmas, and God bless us, everyone!

Unsuccessfully trying to get pictures of them in their Christmas dresses...
I just gave up and let them be silly.

An ugly picture of Christmas dinner.