Happy (Belated) New Year!

Welp, 2016 was officially my worst year for blogging with a whopping FIVE posts, most of which talked about how I don’t really blog anymore. Another blogger called 2016 a “year of rest” from her blog, and I guess mine was on an unintentional sabbatical as well. I can’t say I’ll do much better this year, but I’m going to try to make more of an effort. For example, I switched my website back to an actual blog, so now my writing will be front and center. Having three kids is no walk in the park, and my life has been consumed by so much this past year that blogging necessarily took a back seat. This year looks even busier so we’ll see how things go, but first a quick run-down of things that happened last year:


Printing and shipping shirts and attending events was starting to get overwhelming, and I wasn’t happy or being very creative, so after months of trying to get clear and honest with myself, I came to the conclusion that I had to stop. I began selling everything off, including my heat presses. I’m still not done yet, but most things are gone.

I started taking on more graphic design jobs.

I started my own 100 Day Project, and designed 100 nature inspired patterns in 100 days. I put my favorites onto Society6 and am working on getting them onto Spoonflower as well.

I also randomly started writing psychological reports for a psychologist friend in the last quarter of 2016. It’s fascinating work and it gives me something fairly steady while I work on creating new patterns and building up my Society6 and Spoonflower shops.


Welina turned 1! Whaaaat?! I seriously feel like I JUST gave birth…AAAANND I look like it too…

Leo was diagnosed with autism. We were able to get her into DOE preschool right when she turned 3 in August. So far, she’s thriving there and seems very happy, and we’ve noticed quite a bit of progress socially, though she doesn’t speak (yet.) It’s been an adjustment, and yet it hasn’t, because she’s still our Leo. I’ll probably talk more about this later.

Noweo represented Kindergarten as one of the May Day princesses at school. She looked and did an amazing job and made us so proud!
Noweo represented Kindergarten as one of the May Day princesses at school. She looked and did an amazing job and made us so proud!

Noweo started 1st grade, and started losing teeth this year. Again, Whaaaaat?! What happened to my chubby baby? She’s bright, intelligent, responsible, articulate, and also a crazy 6-year-old. She loves school and has great friends. She’s amazing and I really don’t feel like something as awesome as she is could come from me. 


Having Keola home with me has been great. We’ve learned a lot and have done a lot to support each other, and I think we’ve gotten into a good groove, but we both want him to have a career that he loves, and nothing he’s done so far has really felt like his thing. Ever since he finished his Master’s he’s wanted to get a PhD and become a professor, and we’ve made half-hearted attempts at getting in somewhere, but it never worked out. So, last summer we sat down and decided we were really going to give it our very best effort, and so for the second half of the year we worked our butts off on applications, studying for the GRE, and talking with professors he would like to work with. His application has never been stronger, his scores never higher, and his chances never better. We feel like this year is THE YEAR. Applications are in now, and we’re just waiting to hear back, but if all goes well, we’ll have a white Christmas this year and every year for the next 3-5 years in either Utah, Washington or Oregon. Yay!? Coming to this decision makes it all the more logical to stop selling a physical product for the time being (and probably forever because I like being able to work from anywhere and buying inventory sucks.)

And, to finish off the year, my little brother got married in December! His new wife Mandy is literally the sweetest person you will ever meet. EVER, and we’re sooooo happy for both of them and can’t wait to see what their next moves will be.

Overall, 2016 was a year of reflection, growth, and change. I think we got really honest and clear about what we want (and don’t want) and started to take some real action on it. I can’t wait to see what this new year brings. Hopefully I’ll make the time to blog about it. I’ve missed writing here and I’ve felt the urge to write lately, so I’ll likely be riding that wave in the coming weeks. Talk soon!

Hi Again!

Where do I even start? After all these months of not blogging…I don’t know where to begin. Life has been so full and crazy and BUSY. I guess I’ll just start with an update and move on from there.


1) If your only contact with me is through this blog, then you surely don’t know that I’m PREGNANT! I was trying to find a photo of my belly and I realized I have ZERO belly shots this time around. Oops! Our third girl will be joining us sometime in July (unless she wants to make me suffer and stay in there till August, which is totally possible because she’s due July 24th.) Let’s hope she’s nice and doesn’t make me wait. It’s been tough being pregnant with a 1 year old. She’s constantly climbing all over me and begging me to carry her, etc. (see above). BUT on the flipside dealing with a 1 year old has kept me in pretty decent shape considering I don’t work out AT ALL. Still, it isn’t easy and I get tired a lot.


2) Noweo finished up her first year of preschool and is on to Kindergarten. Here she is stamping the shirt she wore for their little “graduation.” What???!!! Yeah. It’s crazy how old she is. I’ve been doing this motherhood thing for five years???? Half a decade???? Unbelievable. It’s certainly true for me, that the days are long, but the years are short. I considered home schooling…a lot. I’ve read so much about it and wanted to try it out buuuut ultimately we decided to try Noweo at my old elementary school, where my mom also works. It’s an excellent school and much smaller than the one she’s supposed to go to, so I think she’ll get great attention there. I’m looking at her education as a grand experiment where none of our decisions need to be final. We will probably re-evaluate schooling for our children every year and make adjustments as necessary. That took a big weight off my shoulders because I was seriously agonizing over this and putting it off for months.


3) I worked really hard on SoPupuka for the first half of this year, but now I’m kind of running out of steam because I’m very pregnant. I’m constantly at a loss as to what to do and where I should best focus my time/energy/money. This first half of this year was by far my most successful ever, and I’m so happy about that, BUT it’s also quite a lot of work because I’m printing and tagging and packaging and doing it ALL myself. After a long day of wrangling the kids and then working after they went to sleep, my body would be screaming for rest so I’ve had to slow down. I’ve noticed through this whole process that I’m such a control freak and perfectionist that I have a hard time asking for help. I think I need to do that more, and find ways to work smarter, not harder.


4) Keola is facing unemployment again. We’re not sure if his job will receive funding but we are at the point where we’re tired of having our lives dictated by whether or not some nameless feds sign a piece of paper to reinstate funding. There’s simply no security in it. He’s worked his butt off and we’ve all been raised to think that we’ll be rewarded according to how hard we work but that simply isn’t as true as it used to be. The photo above is from a conference he spoke at presenting his own program that he built from the ground up. He’s worked hard and still some stranger has the power to take away everything he’s worked for with the stroke of a pen? How messed up is that? SO, we decided we’d rather try to make it work on our own. Is it scary? You bet. Especially with another little one on the way, but today we talked to a friend about what are plans are, and he said he thought it was cool that we’re going all in and betting on ourselves. I never thought of it that way, but that’s exactly what we’re doing, and the truth is, if you can’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Are we as ready as we’d like to be? No, but we’re a good team, and we’ll figure it out.


5) Keola’s writing a book! It’s actually a REALLY cool concept but he doesn’t like me explaining it because I always do such a horrible job. The basic premise is what if Hawaiian deity were actual people who lived and worked among us? …AAAND that’s all I’ll say about that. The characters have amazing depth and I feel like if I started talking about the actual story, I could go on forever. I’m so excited for him and for this idea. Serious.

And that’s about it. I know I said I wouldn’t blog here anymore, but I had to make changes to SoPupuka which eliminated the blog I was supposed to be writing over there so here I am again. I want to blog a lot more but at the same time I just want to be chill about it and make sure that I’m enjoying what I’m writing and not putting too much pressure on myself.

Talk soon!

A New Year of Blogging


It’s been a long time since I put my thoughts into blog format with any consistency. For a while I completely lost all desire to read blogs OR write myself, so I didn’t try to force it. I felt sort of empty, like I had nothing to say, or that I didn’t care to say it. I had gotten over sharing stuff on the blog. I just didn’t feel like it was all that necessary. The same went for reading blogs. I felt like I was getting too sucked in to other peoples’ lives and there was just too much happening in my own brain to fit anyone else’s words into it.

Looking back on  the past several months of not really blogging, I don’t think that neglecting the blog has made me happier, in fact, I feel like I’m in a darker place without it. Lately my thoughts have been trapped in my head, bouncing between my ears and eating away at my sanity. This blog got me through some of my toughest times because it was my release valve and I feel like I need that now more than ever.

So here’s to a new year of blogging. It’s going to be a crazy year, so I’m excited to get back on the horse. Talk soon.

Speaking my Truth and Changing Course


The first paragraph is a journal entry from a few days ago – reminding myself what’s really important.

What is wrong with being completely ordinary? Does ordinary really exist? If we decided to, we could make everything extraordinary. Ordinary is a decision. We can be content and happy if we choose it. We can be bored as well. We can be ungrateful, or we can choose to see every moment of our existence on this planet as a gift that fills our lives with wonder and experience. We don’t need to travel the world, start a fortune 500 company, be the next Oprah or upload the next viral cat video on Youtube. So many of us are scrambling for our 15 minutes of fame, thinking that it’s the same thing as love. It’s not. I know what love is. The vast majority of us do and it can’t be found staring at a screen. Love is the way my Leo bear hugs my legs so I can’t walk, silently beginning me to stop being so busy. Love is a game of chase-master around the sofa. Love is the way Keola grips my hand as we’re driving home after a long day apart. My life is full of love. None of it is worth an Oscar, or a Pulitzer, or will make us a million bucks. It’s so insignificant and so vital – these ordinary moments.

This month I wanted to launch so many products – physical products, but I bit off more than I could chew. Part of the difficulty was financial, part of it was underestimating how much time it would take. Part of it was fear that no one would buy it. Part of it was the amount of space all this stuff would take up in my house. Part of it was knowing that we could easily be living across the country in a year and where would that leave things? But all of those concerns go away if this is really what I want to do, but I don’t know if it is. And if you’re going to get in as deep as I was, you’d better be SURE that this is what you want to do. I wanted to really make some strides with building this business so that maybe one day Keola could be home with us, but the truth is, I am sacrificing the time I have now with the ones I love for something I’m JUST NOT SURE ABOUT.

On Friday I decided I would just be a mom. No attempting to write a blog post. No working on products, no fretting about money and how we’re gonna make things work. I strapped Leo to my back, slowly picked up the house, washed the breakfast dishes, vacuumed, then read books and played with blocks until it was nap time. I felt relaxed, calm, focused, and best of all, not feeling guilty about anything. Amazing.

I know every day won’t be like this. I still need to have my thing, the activities that give me a break from motherhood and stimulate my mind and challenge me to learn and grow. I still love the idea of one day creating a situation for ourselves where Keola doesn’t have to leave us for 8 hours every day, but making and shipping a ton of different things from my house probably isn’t it at the moment. Notecards are here to stay, but everything else would just drive me crazy. So, I’m in pruning mode, trying to be perceptive and notice the things that are really speaking to me, and eliminating the things that aren’t. If I do choose to proceed with other physical products, it will be slowly. There’s no rush.

I really want to focus on doing one thing really well, and for now that one thing will be this blog. It’s already a huge relief to let myself off the hook on everything else. I’m looking forward to spending time with Leo and Noweo and really getting our house in order – ordinary things that make all the difference.

Happy Birthday Leo!

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By the time this post goes live on your birthday, a hurricane will have swept through our island. It’s already done damage to nearby areas. I’m so glad I’m not about to have a baby like I was  year ago when you joined our family Leo. What a way to end your first year! That means your birthday is likely gonna be lame, but we’ll do our best to make it fun for you.

Unlike tonight’s weather, your transition into life on the outside has been mostly smooth and blissful (at least that’s what I remember now.) Giving birth to you was intense and quick. You ate and slept really well from the get-go. You sailed through crawling, decided that didn’t get you around fast enough and graduated to walking a couple months later. You eat EVERYTHING. You can’t get enough. You eat more than Noweo.

You are mischievous, you have an amazing sense of humor, the most infectious laugh that’s part scream. You give big open mouthed wet kisses. You like to grab my face. You dance to Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, Iggy Azalea (Fancy) and the Everybody Loves Raymond theme song. Your smile. It drives everyone nuts it’s so cute.

You and your sister love each other to pieces. The other day you let yourself fall backwards and the back of your head hit her in the face while she was lying next to you. It hurt and she cried and your daddy jokingly asked Noweo if he should give you a spanking. With very serious, tear filled eyes she looked up at him and said “No Daddy, because I love her!” My heart just melted and I was so proud in that moment. I know you don’t have your words yet, but your eyes say it all, and I know you love your sister back.

I used to wonder if I could love anyone as much as I love Noweo, but you taught me that as our family grows, so does my heart and capacity to love. Loving you is effortless – like breathing. I’m sure you’re going to test that love over and over again as the years go by, and we’ll drive each other crazy and that’s just life, but I’m so glad it’s you.

Happy Birthday Leolani.

Around Here

It’s been a few days since we returned from Maui. It’s taken us that long to get back into the swing of things but we’re well on our way to Normal Life, especially here on the blog. Maui was wonderful in so many ways. We saw friends, enjoyed good food, celebrated our anniversary with a night a Lahaina (the first time EVER we’ve both been away from our kids overnight!!), explored new beaches, and hung out with the family.

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It was wonderfully refreshing, and I miss it, but now I’m ready to get back on the horse. I’ve had so many ideas spinning in my head and this post is mostly a brain dump for those new ideas.

Thanks to my new camera, I re-vamped SoPupuka.com, re-photographing and listing everything. I added some new Mahalo cards and a some Honi Honi decals (I have very few of those and will probably need more) so now that’s up and running. It’s not perfect but it’s better and I’m done endlessly tweaking things.

I want to add a few new trucker hats to the mix, some new decals and some tote bags. No ETA yet, but that’s in the works, along with a new @sopupuka Instagram. I’ve decided that’s my platform of choice for the shop and so that’ll be up and running in the next few days.

I have another crazy idea that I’m working on. I could either really love it, or really hate it, but since it’s been something that hasn’t left my mind for along time I think I’m gonna move on it. There’s no harm in trying it out, and I’ve learned that as far as my business goes, there’s no reason I can’t try new things. I used to think that once you start a business, you’re obligated to do whatever it is you started out doing FOREVER, but in looking at the examples of other entrepreneurs, that hardly seems to be the case, and I feel an immense freedom now at the ability to do whatever is speaking to me at any given moment.

BONUS: This podcast episode about thinking productively about your passions falls exactly in line with what I’ve been thinking about lately.

The Gardens at ‘Īao Valley

One thing that I’m coming to understand about myself is that I LOVE taking pictures. I love the challenge of seeing something interesting and trying to capture it with a camera. Sometimes I’m successful, and sometimes…not so much, but I love experimenting with different angles and lighting. I recognized this the other day, when we went to ʻĪao Valley and I went just a little crazy with the camera. It is SO GORGEOUS there and I just had to take pictures of everything.


Truth be told, we didnʻt actually go all the way in to the valley. We stayed in the park area where there are lots of pavilions. Itʻs a popular spot for locals to have parties. Thereʻs nothing special about the pavilions, but the surrounding gardens are amazing. The grounds are divided into different sections and each section represents a different country from which immigrants came to Hawaii. Japan, China, the Philippines and Portugal are the most prominent. Stepping into each area is like stepping into a new world. Thereʻs a traditional house with a surrounding garden in each area. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to exclude the parking lot and cars and other background objects that donʻt belong, so it feels like you’re completely immersed in that cultural world.


I’m sad I didn’t get more pictures of the Japanese house. I just love the minimalist design aesthetic. So calming. Doesn’t it feel like The Last Samurai?

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The Chinese house was much more ornate but I just loved the lines in the architecture and the bold color choices. Keola took that pano and I love it. It’s so striking. I don’t think I’ll decorate like this any time soon, but there’s a lot to draw on from a graphics standpoint.

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I fell completely in love with the Portuguese garden. I guess I’m kind of a sucker for European design. I loved all the white walls with the brown accents, the columns perfectly framing the statue of Mary in the garden.  The tile surrounding the door is amazing and the garden…so full of life and color, offsetting the white statue. I stayed and photographed this area for a while. I couldn’t get enough, but everyone else sure did. Leo was getting antsy and she was in the carrier, which made it REALLY hard to get decent photos. Photography 101: Don’t carry a baby while you’re trying to take pictures.

Keola told me that even though he spent his childhood playing in these gardens, he never understood what they represented. I couldn’t help feeling a little sad as I walked through them, thinking about all the people who left their homes and families to try to make a life in a completely foreign place. Today the internet makes moving relatively easy. There’s so much we can learn about a place before going there, but these people stepped into complete darkness with no clue what their lives would look like when they arrived, and not knowing if they would ever return to their homeland. Many did not, and that makes my heart ache a little. It also made me grateful. Being Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese and German, I wouldn’t be here if my ancestors didn’t take that leap of faith. But they did, and they made Hawai’i their home, and pieced together new families, a new language and a new culture.

Someday Iʻd like to go back to my other homelands – homelands I know almost nothing about, partly to learn more deeply about where I came from, but after this day, I feel the need to do it to (in a way) bring my ancestors home.

Celebrating Awesome No. 2

Every week I’m sharing things from around the web that moved me – whether it was to laugh, cry, ponder or cheer. There is some really awesome stuff happening all around us and I want to celebrate it.

Ok I lied. I now listen to two podcasts. This one is right up my alley!

THIS is what I need to be doing. Only read if you want to be told the hard truth about writing.

Tania I’ve missed you!

Cute Asian baby dancing. Need I say more?

I’m an aunty! I’m SO stoked and proud of my little sister for delivering a GORGEOUS baby girl. Welcome to motherhood!

Have a great weekend! We’ll be cleaning and packing and getting ready to go to M-A-U-I for two and a half weeks. I. CANNOT. WAIT.

Checking in


Last week we were all sick sick sick! Now we’re finally out of the fog, Keola’s gone to California for a conference, and I’m flying solo till Thursday.

But that’s not the real reason I barely blogged last week. I’ve been thinking really hard about the different directions I could take my work, and when I start doing that, everything sort of gets put on hold. I really do think I want to make more shifts toward freelance design. Not having Adobe software was a big deterrent to really pursuing a career in design, and now that I have it, there’s really nothing standing in my way other than my own knowledge of the software.

This means that this website might be making some shifts. Some will be shifts in content. I want to start sharing more of what I’m creating as I’m learning Photoshop and Illustrator and make printables, brushes and patterns.  Some shifts may be to the site itself, for example, switching to a premium theme to give this place a more professional look. I use Atahualpa right now and while it’s really customizable, it’s just not as slick as I would like it to be.

I think I’m gonna love where this is going. I hope you do too!

One Little Word Check-in

Periodically I plan to do a little self-evaluation and to see how I’m doing with my one little word for this year, “thrive.” Looking back on that post, there are some things that are going well, and some things that aren’t, which comes as no surprise:

“I want to write more. I want to really get this blog off the ground. I want to make more things, I want to simplify our food, and my wardrobe. I want to get more art on the walls, and take my business more seriously. I want to make more room for things I’m curious about, things I want to learn, and I want to spend more time learning with my children.”

I’m blogging more, but not really journaling the way I want to. I’m not really making things because I haven’t really found anything that I want to make. Food is something I still haven’t really gotten a handle on. To be honest, cooking is one of the HARDEST things for me to get the motivation to do, but once I get going I enjoy it. I HAVE put up more art on the walls and will publish an update soon. I am taking my business more seriously than at any other time. I’m thrilled by it, but I’m still trying to figure out how to make it all work.

Here is where I’m really struggling right now:

“…thriving is about lightening our load so that we can move quicker, do more, have more energy, more light-heartedness. It’s about having a mindset of abundance, it’s about being grateful. It’s about savoring the moment and really, really being in the present…”

I feel like I’ve allowed too much stuff into this house and I’m starting to feel that claustrophobic feeling, so I’ve been doing some binge-purging. I’ve found that if I take stuff out and put it in the car, that I’ll be 100% more likely to donate it when I’m near a thrift store. Getting stuff out of this house and keeping stuff from coming in is a huge priority for me, and a battle I feel I’m currently losing. As a result I’m feeling a little bit sluggish.

We’re also beginning to accept the fact that Keola might not have a job by August of next year (his job is funded by a federal grant), and I used to be completely confident that the right opportunities will come, but the closer and closer we get, the easier it is to let worry seep in, which messes with my desire to have an attitude of abundance.  Worrying about the future is making it hard to live in the moment.

Yes, I am a little stressed. Some things are working, some things aren’t. I am still confident however, that you do not need much to thrive. It can be done in the best of times and the worst of times and there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for.