Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dragon in the House!

The year of the dragon has rolled in and shortstack is having a blast celebrating its arrival! In school and among our network of friends, the Chinese Zodiac and Astrology are observed and honored. For many reasons, Hawai’i is an amazing place to raise a family, but one of the aspects that I value the most is the intercultural exposure that shortstack is surrounded by. Over the past two weeks, shortstack’s class has been exploring the year of the dragon and how the Chinese culture acknowledges and honors this passage of time and new year. They have crafted their own dragon heads, learned and exchanged the proper New Year’s greetings in Chinese, and read and wrote their own stories about the Dragon dance parades. 

our little dragon has a might RAWR!!!

The year of the dragon is said to be a lucky year and fortuitous for many people. Our little ‘ohana includes a Rooster (shortstack), a tiger (Panda) and a rabbit (Mama); supposedly, all of us are to have a prosperous and love-filled year with expectations of successes provided that we are diligent in our work and efforts. WOOHOO!! That’s the kind of horoscopes that make me smile!

I don’t know how watertight horoscopes can be, but I do know that I possess many of the traits that rabbit-born people are said to have. Pisces is my western astrological sign, and I definitely embody many Piscean traits as well. So, this family-loving, easily-distracted, indulgence-seeking, book-reading, creative-aspiring, emotional and expressive homebody is hoping that this year proves to be filled with the good fortune that is predicted. But if it isn’t, as long as my family and friends surround me, our home remains our haven and I can make a mess in the kitchen whenever I wish, I’ll consider it a year well-spent. 

Here’s to hoping that this dragon year is filled with good fortune and amazing adventures for you and yours!

Although a little late (no one said that rabbits ran on-time!), gung hei faat choi!

shortstack's got some rhythm!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Breaking the Rules: Living Life Our Way

   I grew up in a house that operated by strict, unspoken rules. Somehow, I knew that there were specific guidelines that members of our family were required to uphold throughout the week. For instance, milk was the only drink to be had during meals, my brother and I were expected to be out of bed and headed downstairs before the second call to breakfast, we would bring home lunch to school and it would consist of a ham and cheese sandwich with whatever random bag of chips we had in the pantry, Saturday mornings were for garage sales and the afternoons were for cleaning, Sundays included mass and a large breakfast and, under no circumstances, were we going to ever have anyone over to our house during the week.

   You would never see a guest in my parents' house from Sunday afternoon through Saturday morning. It simply wouldn't happen! There would never be a random friend who happened to be in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by and say hi. These rules - and many others - seemed to work for my parents. They were able to keep track of 4 different schedules, plan and execute family meals so that we were all ate breakfast and dinner together, strategically plan the drop-off and pick-up routes for daily obligations - including shuttling us from school to ballet to boy scouts and on and on, ensure that homework was finished and laundry was clean all with a minimum of chaos. So, obviously, the no-guest rule worked for them.

   Were my parents to step into our house and witness a week in our world, they would probably work themselves up into a heart attack because the no-guest rule simply does not exist in our home. In fact, I would say that there's a mandatory at-least-one-friend-a-week rule in our home. When Panda and I moved into our home, we knew that we wanted a haven for our cozy family. We also wanted it to be a place where our friends - our chosen (hanai) family - would feel comfortable anytime they stopped by. When we shopped for our home furniture, we made sure to choose pieces that we wouldn't care if 6-year-olds jumped on, uncles would be able to kick up their feet and lounge in front of the tv, hanai cousins could sprawl out and watch a movie or read a book, dinner could be eaten at a coffee table and crumbs wouldn't set mama off into a conniption, spilled beer wouldn't cause panic attacks and frustration about messiness would not be the tone-setter of the week. Thankfully, that is exactly what our home has become. And, thankfully, our peeps have no issue or worry about dropping by any day of the week - invited or not - to catch up and share a few laughs and a meal or two.

   Lesson learned by this mama: just because it was a rule in the house in which you grew up, does not mean that it has to be a rule in your home when you grow up. What worked for my parents in raising their family and running their world is not the end-all, be-all for home management. Panda, shortstack and I are much more social than my parents ever were. Because the community that we have built over the years is truly an extension of our cozy family, and the business of our everyday lives doesn't ever seem to slow down, we try to squeeze in time with our peeps whenever we can. Sometimes the only time we have available is a Thursday evening, so dinner is crockpot-pot-roast and leftover rice and the cousins will drop by for a few hours to catch up on the latest events and randomly chat about soon-to-be-created e-harmony profiles while shortstack gets some cuddle time in before heading off to bed. Sometimes, a weekday night is the only time when a few aunties can stop by for a bitch session about the insanity of our jobs and an uncle can take a look to figure out why the tv won't function the way it's supposed to (and it wasn't mama's fault!!). These little hiccups in our weekly schedule make the insanity and chaos of our school/work demands bearable ... even enjoyable.

  I love that our home is always a comfy place for our peeps to walk into and that we don't feel that our home needs to spotless and precise in order for "company " to come over. In fact, none of us look at our peeps as "company". There's an explicit rule in our home, once you walk in the door, we'll hand you the first drink and you have a few minutes to get the lay of the land, but then it's time for you to settle in and make yourself at home. Find the fridge and help yourself, the table is a fend-for-yourself zone and if you don't get serving or two of food, you have only yourself to blame; if you fall asleep on the couch, you'll likely wake up with a blanket thrown over you and if you're around during bedtime, expect that shortstack will want a few goodnight kisses and cudddles. This is the home that Panda and I wanted. This is the home that we nurture and love.

   I thank my angels that we enjoy breaking the rules ... after all, our life and our home wouldn't fit us as perfectly as it does if rules were meant to be followed.

 thank goodness for a comfy home ... makes catching our zzzzz's so much easier!

hope y'all have a wonderful week filled with rule-breaking and fun visits with your peeps!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

life is short ... make it blissful

last thursday, we woke up to the news that a friend's husband was killed in afghanistan on deployment. he had been a career marine, his wife knew that being a marine was part of who he was. he had been on 6 previous deployments into combat zones; this was to be his last and he was to return to hawaii in two months. this news has rocked my soul. unfortunately, i had not known this gentleman well. his wife is a friend and one of the most rocking women i have ever met ... but we're not daily intimates or even meet-up-for-a-cup-of-coffee friends ... despite that, finding out that he was killed has rooted itself deep inside me and has been messing with me ever since. besides sympathizing with his wife and the heartbreak and fear that she must be feeling, i have been replaying - in my mind - the brief moments that i saw between this couple; the palpable and passionate love that was electric between them and rippled over everyone in the same room as them. i fear for his wife ... i fear that she will not be able to recover from losing her other half ... that she'll lose that passionate, vivacious, crazy, confident part of herself in the depths of whatever she must be feeling right now ... and in all honesty, i fear that because when i imagine what i imagine myself losing my new wife, i can easily see how loss of self can happen.

i knew that marriage would change my life and our family's life. i knew that getting married in front of our friends and 'ohana would validate, proclaim and demand our family's right to recognized as a unit worthy of respect and legitimacy. i knew that we would appreciate and value the legal rights and responsibilities that our partnership now carried. i did not know that it would result in a feeling of such comfort, possession and pride. i did not know that it would unexpectedly and silently legitimize and solidify the emotional cubbies in my heart that my wife, my son, and - now - our family occupy.

there have been several lessons that my soul has been shouting at me to pay attention to since i learned about this death --- but the greatest has been the affirmation of our family and the love that exists between us. getting married and, in a way, demanding that our little family is given due respect that any other heterosexual family has is justified and validated.

these last few nights, before going to sleep i sneak into shortstack's room and cover him with kisses and cuddles, ask his angels to protect him and then i crawl into our bed, cuddle down into panda's shoulder and thank our angels for giving us the courage and opportunity to love one another and create the rest of our lives together as the APLS ohana.

cuddle into your loved ones tonight ... love and live well ...

spent a chillaxin sunday afternoon wandering around, looking at boats before heading to a non-birthday celebration at D&B (hope it was a GREAT non-bday, aunty jeannie!!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

11 hours of bliss ..

... -ful sleep, that is! yep! mama got 11 hours of sleep last night. i don't know the last time that happened. too sad that i could do with another 6 - 8 hours of sleep, but i had to start my day. and so i did.

it's a crazy time in our office ... spring registration and classes starting on monday ... sometimes insanity just creeps into every corner of our world. so, despite my 11 hours of sleep, i still find myself with a migraine today. 

pho lunch ...trying to combat the insane pain in my head ... 

i'm thanking our angels that it is a short week. especially after two AWESOME weekends!! our honeymoon weekend was such an indulgence ~ we got to do so much that otherwise is not done in our house ... drinks and dinners with adult friends on a weekday-night, date night ~ getting dressed up & lingering over dessert at a fancy-shmancy restaurant, watching TV til 2 am, assembling furniture and completely rearranging the living room (pictures to come) 
in the meantime, here's shortstack after he came home for his long-weekend camping trip. 
can you figure out what's different in our living room??

hope you all are having a spectacular day!

Friday, January 13, 2012

adults-only weekend

shortstack is camping with his dad this weekend ... that means that panda and i have an adults-only honeymoon 3-day weekend that we get to enjoy ... together ... alone ... stay-up-late, wake-up-late, maybe-stay-in-our-pjs kind of weekend. seriously!! and we're not quite sure what to do with ourselves!!

i'm sure that we're not the only parentals that rarely get the only-us-time, so when we do it's a bit of a struggle to not just fall into bed at 7:34 pm and sleep until 7:34 am without having to think about homework, dinner, cleaning up, packing lunches, getting breakfast, finding missing shoes, corralling lunch bags, etc., etc ...

and so we went TOTALLY out of our comfort zone last night and met up with friends (our aussie contingent) for drinks and dinner ... AT 7 PM!!!!! okay ... that may not sound too amazing to y'all , but to us, that is REVOLUTIONARY!!! you see ... shortstack's bedtime is 7:30 ... that means that at 7 pm, baths are being rushed, pjs are being rummaged for, fish are being fed and the ongoing bargaining for bedtime stories is being conducted. 7:30 is the clean-up, lights-out, collapse-on-the-couch for a few minutes time frame. WOOHOO!!! we're adults on-our-own!!!

with 3 days ahead of us of alone-time, we are giddy with possibilities ... we'll likely end up chillin around the house, but just to stretch that comfort zone a bit more, we are planning a date ... an honest-to-goodness, get-dressed-up, make-reservations, sit-at-a-table-with-china-and-linen date!!! i'll fill you in next week. but until then, enjoy your weekend and find some time to grab your honey (if you have one) for a few minutes of us-time. if you're running solo, grab a few minutes to sit with yourself and enjoy some peace!

AND ... just because i can ... here's another little peek at our APLS WEEDING WEEKEND ADVENTURE!!

 our aussie crew rocked their aloha wear ... we know that kylie and sim will be wearing their muumuus weekly when then get back to aussie-land!!

for those that departed early ... there was some panda-provided entertainment. it is possible that there's a little bit of filipino in my woman ... she's a sucker for karaoke ~ especially if there's a dj that will provide her with bohemian rhapsody (and, depending on how much alcohol is consumed, baby got back just might make an appearance as well).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

tidbits from our wedding in paradise

you know the horror stories you hear about weddings, bridezillas and resulting chaos ... well, that was nowhere to be found for our AWESOME WEDDING ADVENTURE. i promise to sit down one day soon and share stories and excerpts from the wonderful wedding weekend ... but until then, here are some tidbits. thanks, wendy, for taking the time to document this special weekend for us! if i ever make fun of you being camera-happy again, smack me! =)

 the night before our wedding, we had an impromptu dinner gathering in our turtle bay condo ... chili and drinks for everyone ... and there were LOTS of aussies too!

 our family and friends were the ones who made this weekend happen for us. everyone was SO AMAZING in creating and executing the vision that our wedding-planning-extraordinaire, Cheri Teranishi-Hashimoto, had dreamed us for us. our poor aussie family has yet to make it hawai'i for a simple vacation - everytime they come over, we put them to work. i promise, shane, you'll be able to enjoy your next one ... work free!!
 set-up included a few cocktails ... of course!! 
brother (shane) and sister (panda) ... how cute!!! seriously ... you can TOTALLY tell they're siblings!

 i love that our friends had fun and laughed all the way through the set-up ... at least as far as i could tell ... 
i've finally figured out why i wasn't allowed to help with set-up - apparently i don't direction well but other peeps do! yep, that's my cousin, michi, in the background ... can you tell that she's happy on life ... and had a few cocktails! iris is determined to get things done and sym's just enjoying life!

 we wanted a guestbook that we would keep and be able to continue to add to, so we chose a coffee-table book that we adore. so, anytime you peeps come to visit our home, please continue to add to the 
APLS 'Ohana guestbook

 our AWESOME brother-in-law, D ... who is also the bestest bartender!!

 we had friends and family from around the world join us for this spectacular day!!! 
donnna and tracy ... our volcano peeps ... we LOVE you guys!!
our vows were simple, short and sweet ... there was a lot more laughter than tears!
kaleo stood with us as we shared our vows and he held our rings until we were ready for them.

 then it was time to party!! the soccer gals ROCK!

 tell us what you REALLY think, kido! these guys worked hard to help everything run smoothly

 the food was DELICIOUS! or so we were told ... didn't have too much time to eat =( 
Uncle Masa sure knows how to feed a hungry crowd!

 our officiants were my cousins ... joy and michelle ... they represented the new zealand side of the family

 there's our handsome boy!! anytime mama can steal a kiss, she does!

 our over-the-top wedding surprise ... Ms. Geralyn Kamaha'olani Camarillo ... making photo magic happen. all the while, panda's checking out the party and looking forward to visiting the bar

our angels ... D & Reech ... talk about an amazing pair!

our DJ (shawn), wedding-weekend-documenter (wendy), friends julie and nat ... gotta love life!

more to come ... again, thank you wendy ~ and everyone ~ for the pictures and the memories!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 ROCKS!!!

oh my goodness! OH MY GOODNESS!!

2011 has exited and 2012 has entered ... and it ALREADY ROCKS!!!!

i haven't had much of a chance to catch my breath ... mainly because the amazingness of what the first week of 2012 has made me breathless ... but here are a few tidbits of what will soon follow ...

 amazing friends who created a spectacular dreamscape for our 'ohana

 a time and space for us to recognize and celebrate the 'ohana that we've created

symbols of the commitment that we have for one another and our 'ohana

i promise!!! i'll be back soon to share with all of you our simply perfect wedding day ...

happy 2012, everyone ... may it be as blessed and filled with love as ours is!