mom-and-me

Mother’s Day has always been bittersweet for me. Before, it was because of the sadness of not being able to have a child for so long. (We were married 14 years before I got pregnant, but God’s timing is perfect. Of that I am confident.) Now, the sadness comes because I cannot celebrate the holiday with my own dear Mom.

Nevertheless, I know she sees the flowers I gave her that adorn her grave and that she is smiling down on me, pleased that I have joined the ranks of those whom are blessed to be called “mother.”

Strawberries from our potted strawberry plant. Not a big harvest, but still fun.

I have been waking up at exactly 6:28 a.m. every morning for the past couple of weeks. I thought it odd that it was ALWAYS 6:28. Never 6:27 or 6:35. But as soon as I wake up to gaze at my digital clock on the dresser, it says 6:28. I mentioned it to Hubby this morning and he suggested that maybe it’s a Bible verse and God is trying to tell me something. He recalled something similar happening to one of our former pastors years ago. He went straight to the Bible and pulled up the verse: Matthew 6:28, and this is what it said:

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” (Matthew 6:28)

The rest of the passage until verse 30 is as follows:

“Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:29-30)

When I read it, I knew this verse was for me. I asked Hubby how he knew it was in the book of Matthew. I mean, it could have been any one of the 66 books in the Bible, but the very first one that he pulled up seemed to speak directly to me. Hubby said it just popped in his mind and he looked it up.

It couldn’t have been more fitting.

When we made the decision to have me be a stay-at-home mom at the birth of our daughter, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to go from double income no kids  to a single income with a child. I have my own business, but as most small business owners know, it’s not as steady as a 9-5 job –but the perks are incredible. I have no regrets and thank God every day for the opportunity to be at home with my daughter, as I know it’s a privilege many people want and sometimes simply cannot afford. After all, we live in Hawaii, where cost of living is crazy high!

This verse reminds me of God’s faithfulness in providing for our daily needs and how worrying is unnecessary. Worry is one of my biggest failings. It’s a side effect of being a control freak, I want to carry everything on my own shoulders. I have to remember that God’s shoulders are bigger than mine and He is much more capable of carrying these burdens than me.

God speaks to us in mysterious ways. What is He trying to tell you today?

As we were getting ready for bed last night, my iPhone pinged, as it so often does at random times throughout the day. And dutifully and almost compulsively, I reach for my phone to check it.

“I hate that thing,” Lil’ K muttered in disgust as she flopped her head on her fluffy pillow.

That was a wake up call. Clearly, I have been paying too much attention to the many distractions contained within that little device in my hands. I put the iPhone back on the nightstand and continued our bedtime routine. After story time and snuggles, our adorable little 5-year-old lay cuddled in the blankets. Her breathing slow and steady as she slept. During those quiet moments after she went to bed, I thought about the impacts of being too “plugged in.”

After talking with Hubby, I decided that a fast from social media was in order. I went on Facebook and posted:

FB Status

I received about a dozen “likes” to my status and a few comments from family and friends. Here are a couple of my favorites. Both of them from my cousins living on the mainland:

Comments

Lil’ K is sleeping. I’m catching up on my client work. It’s raining outside and I’m drinking a cup of hot tea and enjoying a Hokulani Bakery red velvet cupcake. I feel like posting a Facebook update about it, then remember I’m not going there.

When I really stop to think about it, I don’t know why the ordinary things of life become fodder for status updates. Perhaps it gives us all a common ground upon which to relate. Maybe I just want you to be jealous of my delicious cupcake. Or, quite possibly, I am seeking attention and crave your validation in the form of likes and comments. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other forms of social media have become so commonplace that it is considered normal to post photos of your feet and status updates about our pets. But does this practice help to nurture deep and lasting relationships, or are we just cultivating a superficial and mostly false view of the hundreds of people that grace our Facebook timelines?

Social media is so deeply entrenched in our society, it’s a ubiquitous fact of life in this generation. I’m not sure how long I can separate myself from it, but I know that I need to do it long enough to break the addiction. Admittedly, I will miss hearing about your day and seeing photos of your cat. I’ll miss out on the selfies, the witty anecdotes, and drool-worthy pictures of your dinner/artsy, filter-treated Instagram sunsets/so-cute-I-could-die snapshots of your kids.

But where that void is left, I will be filling it with real life, resisting the urge to over-document the ordinary to publish it for your likes and comments.

Thus begins my social media fast. It could last a week. It might be a year. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

Sweet Sour Chicken

Sweet Sour Chicken

Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Recipe from Jamie Cooks It Up!

4 large chicken breasts (about 3 pounds worth)
2 T olive oil
1 1/4 C sugar
3/4 C vinegar
1 C cold water
1 t chicken bullion granules (or 1 bullion cube)
7 T ketchup
2 T soy sauce
1/4 t ginger
1/2 C pineapple or apple juice (I substituted a can of pineapples in juice)
2 1/2 T corn starch

1. Cut your chicken breasts up into medium-sized chunks, 2-3 inches will do. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When it’s nice and hot pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into the pan, allow it to get hot and then place your chicken carefully into the pan. Sprinkle it with a bit of salt and pepper. Let the chicken cook, stirring occasionally and pouring any excess liquid from the chicken into the sink. Sometimes if you have chicken that is really wet from defrosting, it can be hard for it to get nice and golden brown on the outside. If this is the case for you and your lovely pan of chicken, just drain the juices into the sink and all will be well.

2. While your chicken is cooking make the sauce. You’ll need a medium-sized mixing bowl and 1 1/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup vinegar, 1 cup cold water, 1 teaspoon chicken bullion granules (or 1 bullion cube), 7 tablespoons ketchup, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 cup pineapple or apple juice and 2 1/2 tablespoons of corn starch. Pour it all into your bowl and stir it around with a fork until all ingredients are combined.

3. When your chicken is nice and golden brown on the outside (should only take about 10 minutes) pour the sauce over the top of it. Give everything a nice stir.

4. Turn up the heat just a bit and let it come to a boil, it should start to thicken up pretty easily for you. Turn the heat back down and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is nice and thick.

Serve over white or brown rice and enjoy!

The recipe is quoted from the Jamie Cooks it Up! website which features many great family-friendly recipes. She features step-by-step instructions with photos, which I love!

The sweet sour chicken was a hit with our family and this recipe has found a place in our “meal plan” rotation. I served this over white rice for the family and I had it over quinoa.

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens (panoramic)

One of our family’s new year’s resolutions is to get outdoors more. After all, we live in Hawaii. People spend thousands of dollars to visit our beautiful islands and we have the luxury of living right here in what many people consider “paradise.” What a shame to spend so much time indoors, staring at the same 4 walls when there is so much beauty in nature to enjoy.

Today, we visited one of our favorite places on the island, Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kailua.

We had lunch with a dear friend, then drove on the H3 through the magnificent Ko’olau Mountains to the lush windward side of Oahu. We arrived after 2 pm to find that the garden closes at 4 pm, so we had only 2 hours to enjoy the park this time around. We fed the ducks and embarked on a short hike. The fresh air and wondrous scenery was refreshing after a hectic holiday season.

Excited for the the adventures ahead of us as we discover and experience the outdoors of our island home.

Hoomaluhia

The water was a little brown after the heavy rains earlier this week, but it was still a gorgeous view.

 

More links:

Aikahi Elementary School playground (Kailua, Hawaii)

Aikahi Elementary School playground (Kailua, Hawaii) –

Aikahi Elementary School
281 Ilihau Street
Kailua, HI 96734

Today, we drove to the windward side to check out the Aikahi Elementary School playground. This is, by far, one of the most unique playgrounds we have found on the island!

 

First of all, most of the playground is covered by nice, large, shady trees and there are ample places to sit. Benches line about half of the perimeter of the playground.

aikahi1

The equipment is well-made and well-maintained. It’s so different from many other cookie-cutter type of playgrounds found on the island. Lil’ K enjoyed exploring all of the various offerings at this park.

Climbing walls, ropes, monkey bars, slides, and many other types of equipment will keep children entertained for hours!

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The only down side that I could see was that the restrooms were quite a trek. Also, be advised that the playground is open to the public only when school is not in session.

If you’re interested in visiting Aikahi Playground, check out this fantastic write up at Keiki’s Day Out for more photos and information.

There are a few things that will melt my resolve in a moment. Okonomiyaki, of course. And, mochi.

I am on a “low(er) carb” diet right now to help improve my triglycerides. I didn’t eat rice or bread all day, but I did partake of a couple of these bad boys.

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Fried mochi with kinako. Mmmmm… a rare treat that is generally enjoyed at new year.

And enjoy it, I did. 🙂

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Last night on New Year’s Eve, we had the pleasure of celebrating the closing of 2013 with our dear friends the Barber family in Wahiawa. Their children and our Lil’ K just love to play together and we all just enjoy being in each other’s presence. With good food, good company, and a relaxed atmosphere, we ushered in the new year with toasts of sparkling apple cider. It was just what my hurried and hectic spirit needed to go slowly and gently into the new year.

This morning, as per tradition, we started the new year with our first meal of the day at my in-laws’ home. My mother-in-law was busy in the kitchen, slaving over a boiling pot of ozoni when we arrived.

Dad-in-law proclaimed that I would have the very first bowl of ozoni this year!

I was flattered and honored for about 5 seconds before he revealed that the first bowl of ozoni is not the best.  The soup thickens the longer it cooks as the mochi melts into the broth. In jest, I assured him that I was willing to make the sacrifice and take it for the team, eating the first bowl of ozoni so everyone could have a better serving. We all had a great laugh about it.

I indeed had the first bowl of ozoni, which I still felt was quite the honor. After all, if anyone should be served first, shouldn’t it be the family patriarch? It thought it was cute that he deferred the first serving to me. Even with the pretense that it’s not as good as subsequent servings, which I believe the difference is negligible.

After everyone was served, seconds were given. Of course, I got another serving – as I love ozoni and it’s a delicacy that we enjoy only once a year. As Dad-in-law observed me finishing off the last of my soup, he chuckled saying, “How lucky! You got the first AND the last bowl!” Of course, in our family, we consider the last bowl the best one!

Not long after we finished our ozoni, it was time to head over to the windward side of the island to visit my Dad’s side of the family. My 86-year-old Aunty Mieko was making the traditional ashitibichi (Okinawan pig’s feet soup) and nishime.

Aunty Mieko had been living in Utah for about 10 years, but came back home a few months ago. We enjoyed getting together on a regular basis prior to her move, but during the decade of her absence, our family did not gather for holidays as we once did.

She is truly the hub of the family and once she returned, we have gathered for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. What a blessing! Everyone is getting older and since my mother passed away in 2011, it really hit home that our time is short with my aging aunts and uncles.

It was a low-key, relaxed gathering in Kaneohe, as we ate family-style, sitting around and talking as we enjoyed good home cooked food.

I pray that the rest of 2014 will be the same as it started: surrounded by dear friends and family, relaxing, low-key, and an ongoing celebration of time-tested family traditions and the creation of new ones along the way.

P.S. – There are no pictures from today because I am consciously trying to live in the moment more. I find that I lose a little of the experience when I’m constantly trying to capture the moment on my camera. 🙂

I recently found this video via Facebook and thought my 5-year-old daughter would find it interesting from a scientific standpoint. It shows what happens to a pot of boiling water in -41º weather.

 

After watching, she excitedly said, “I want to see it again!”

I obliged and asked, “Isn’t that cool? What did you like about the video?”

“I like his accent!” she declared. “Let’s watch it again!”