when siblings become friends

I’m the oldest in my family, and as a result, I’ve spent my whole life waiting for my siblings to “catch up.” There’s an average of about 3 years between each of us – just enough time for each of us to be at different developmental stages at different times. Sure we played together and got along pretty well (for the most part) but as I entered the teen years it got a little difficult to have a meaningful relationship with my siblings, especially my brothers – I loved them, but we were interested in very different things. My sister and I are the oldest and we’re exactly 3 years apart, so as we got older we quickly formed a bond into adulthood. My next brother on the far right is 6 years younger than me – quite a gap, and my youngest brother on the far left is a full 10 years my jr. We are now 26, 23, 21 and 16 respectively, and entering what I think is a new chapter in our relationship.
Since my sister lives in Georgia, my trip to Hilo was the perfect time to get to know my brothers more. I know that sounds weird, but remember, I haven’t lived with them for almost 10 years. When I left home, my oldest brother was 11. Now he’s 21. My youngest brother was 6. Now he’s 16. I basically missed their entire teenage life. I know them, but I don’t REALLY know the people they are right now. Not only that, but they got to know me more as I opened up to them about things that they couldn’t really understand or that they weren’t really interested in. I gotta say, it’s been fantastic becoming friends with my brothers – having long conversations about life and the future and the past. Laughing and joking and watching them turn into fantastic young men. Seriously girls, I think my brothers are the total package. They are intelligent, sweet, affectionate and wise beyond their years (look at me talking like I’m super old or something). They’re better people than I was at their age and I’m just in awe of them.
So here’s to all my siblings. I’m so glad we’re a family, but I’m even happier that we’re friends.
Do you have siblings? How has your relationship with your siblings changed over the years?

aloha from hilo!

Today I’m writing from Hilo! Yes! I’m here, no, it’s not forever (for all you Maui people). So what the heck am I doing here then?
A couple of weeks ago my Dad turned the big 5-0 and my mom planned a little fiesta for the 18th so she flew Noweo and I over to be a part of it and man oh man you should’ve seen the look on my Dad’s face when he saw us (well…more Noweo but she wouldn’t be here without me so he was equally happy to see me haha!). Big tears started to well up in his eyes. My Dad’s such a softie and I love it.
It was a beautiful sunny day (good job Hilo!) and I jokingly told Noweo that there’s more green grass in that area where we were than all of Kahului (yeah, Hun, you heard me.) After really thinking about it though…it might be true.
I got no pictures of that day because I was a single mom keeping one eye on Noweo and one eye on whoever I was talking to but that’s ok because I could really focus on just enjoying the company of so many friends and family that I grew up with. It’s nice to be with new friends, but there’s nothing like being with old friends who’ve known you for years. There was not enough time to talk to everybody but the feeling was just so happy. I’m so glad in came home for that.
I’m here for the week (till Saturday) and we miss Keola but we’re having fun too. Yesterday we went to my Grandma’s place where we’d be living if we came here to Hilo. It’s a beautiful and bright studio space; larger than anything I’ve lived in. The challenge is that it’s one big room (and we have a toddler) but it has the potential to become something really artistic and beautiful, with plenty of room to create. There’s a huge yard that Noweo was already begging to run around in and she got pretty comfortable pretty fast there (good sign!).
The rest of our week is unscheduled, and I’m hoping to fit in some fun activities for Noweo as time and transportation permits. Hopefully I’ll be a good little blogger and take lots of pictures. Mostly we’re just enjoying the rain, the cool air, the greenery and the feeling of being back in my home town.

how i’m trying NOT to mess up my kid

The other night I was talking to my friend, and she mentioned that all too familiar tug of war every new parent (I think) goes through – striking the right balance when it comes to discipline.When you’re baby’s looking up at you with those big brown eyes, it’s hard not to give him/her whatever their little hearts desire. But what if all that leads to us waking up one day and finding that our kids are disrespectful, irresponsible, spoiled BRATS? I for one will be scratching my head and wondering where my sweet bouncing baby went.
Now that we’re two years into parenthood (which I know is like…30 seconds in the grand scheme of things, but hear me out) we have the benefit of a teensy bit of hindsight perspective, and we’re at that crossroads where our baby is no longer a baby and can begin to take a little bit of responsibility for her actions. I understand strongly now, that our children are learning about us and our parenting style from day one. What we choose to allow will quickly become the norm. So for example if we are lenient about bedtime, snacks, and TV, then they will come to expect these things to go their way. Later on, that might equate to shopping sprees, late nights out, and a NEVER empty nest. In our case, Noweo refuses to be ejected from our bed. Surprise surprise. She’s been there from the beginning.
The good news is (theoretically), that if we establish an acceptable norm from the beginning, they’ll know what to expect from us and they’ll never question it (at least while they’re young) because they won’t know any better.
Have I done this? Have I laid down the ground rules for a disciplined, structured life? Does Noweo eat a variety of healthy foods every day at pre-appointed times? Do I fill pockets of her day with structured, educational play? Does she spend more time reading books than watching the TV? Does she make it to bed at 7:30 every night?
Haha. No. Not the way I envisioned anyway.
Does anybody? Ok there are so many people on this planet, I’m sure some of them do, but I’m not friends with them.
All joking aside, Keola and I tend to be big softies (he the bigger softie), and while we’ve tried to give her set expectations and learned to say “No,” and discipline Noweo according to what she can understand, and read to her and play with her in ways that will enrich her learning experiences, we’re not perfect. We get lazy and and we let things slide. Fortunately, we think our kid’s pretty awesome and happy, and though life has been a little crazy since her birth, she amazes me with her grace and adaptability. Whether our less-than-optiaml parenting choices lead to future headaches remains to be seen though I have yet to see a teen that doesn’t give their parents a headache at least once. Our most important lesson for her is that we love her and that she doesn’t need to look any further than her own front door for the advice she needs, or the people to back her up.
Yeah. The parenting choices we make in infancy (and even earlier) set the stage for the rest of their lives and molds them in imperceptible ways until you look back one day and see how much they’ve changed and realize how much of that has to do with you. I personally can drive myself crazy thinking about this and every possible effect it may have on Noweo’s life, but I think we as parents need to be kinder and gentler to ourselves, and remind ourselves that we’re all new at this. Our kids are new at living, and no matter how many children we have, we as parents are reborn each time we welcome a new life into our family. There’s no way we can be perfect at this, and we’re not supposed to be, but if we spend more time loving our kids (yeah, it does come down to squishy, mushy, touchy-feely love) and less time stressing about trying to be the perfect parent, I think we can churn out some pretty awesome people who love themselves and love us even more than they did when they were first placed in our arms.

around here

Around here we’re anxiously waiting to hear back from Keola’s job in Hilo. The interview went great (he thought) and we were told we’d find out this week, though you know how these things go…
Around here i’m slowly re-working my categories and adding tags to make post navigation more effective. That means going through each and every post and re-categorizing it and tagging it (if necessary). Can we say TEDIOUS?
And while we’re on the topic of blogging and social media, I’ve got a new twitter account:@joelleihilani. I’m still using @sopupuka but I’m using it JUST for SoPupuka stuff, whereas @joelleihilani is full of all sorts of lifestyle randomness. It’s so nice to have that freedom. If you’re not following @joelleihilani, you’re missing out!
Around here I’m trying to speak more Hawaiian to Nōweo. I fail miserably at this…it’s hard when you’re the only one who speaks (and not that well either. Keola insists that I’m fluent. I beg to differ.) We argued this afternoon over what a leaf is called: “Lau.” “No, reeeeef!” “Lau. “Noooo, reeeeef.” She can’t hear “L.” Should I be worried about that?
Around here poor Keola thinks he has strep throat. A fever on Friday followed by a sore, enflamed throat (but no mucus) threw up the red flag. He’s been trying to nurse himself back to health with home remedies, but we’ll probably make a trip to the doc if it doesn’t improve in a day or two. ACV and salt walter gargling seem to be helping. Thank goodness he wasn’t sick in Hilo.
Around here I’ve been studying up a little on Montessori. I don’t know nearly enough about it but I like what I see so far. Anyone have an opinion? I’ve found a blog that I’m currently enjoying called How We Montessori. I’ll be hunting for others soon.
Around here I’ve been DYING to re-vamp my wardrobe because apparently I still look like I’m 16. Seriously limited funds have brought any progress to a halt, but that’s ok because I’m learning how to create a versatile wardrobe by buying pieces that double and triple duty from some friendly, down to earth style bloggers. Check out Audrey from Putting Me Together. She’s my most recent discovery and I love how simply she explains things. I’ve already worked some outfits based on her advice and love the results, but I realize that I have a REALLY BORING wardrobe, so I’m building up a list of things to look for later…you know…when we’ve got mullah.

zooming in to see life’s beauty

This morning I woke up thinking about how important the little things are and how I need to do more to capture the details of life. I think those details hold the most beauty – especially when life is difficult. When I take a macro view of my life, often times all I can see are the BIG LOOMING PROBLEMS. But zoom in to the inner workings, and it’s easy to see that everything around me has the capacity to bring  joy if I let it.
What beautiful things are you surrounded by?