Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkins, pirates, vampires, and earthquakes

It's fun to see the Halloween spirit hit our house. I feel those excited feelings that I once had as a kid.  The anticipation of those few hours where the entire city, or country for that matter, all mingle in a way we would never otherwise do on a regular day.  It's actually kind of funny to think about how easy it is to talk to strangers when they are dressed in costumes.  And how strange it is that we go knocking on strangers doors asking for them to give us stuff for free!  One day, I bet, this won't even be the norm.   Or the feelings when the winds pick up, swirling the leaves everywhere, and joy just hits you for no apparent reason.

I promised the kids we'd decorate really nice this year, because last Halloween we were preparing for a move to our new place and had no time or energy to deal with it.  It was so cute to watch them working together to set up the fake grave stones and skeletons and other dollar store goodies (I know, they won't last until next year).  In fact, the day after we set up the 4 grave stones on our lawn, we woke up to find only 2 left.  Neighbors kindly returned them to us over the next few days, thanks to those October winds.

And it wouldn't be October without an earthquake, right?  The 5.3 quake that hit last weekend sure woke me up.  The rattling of the bunkbeds set my heart racing, as I thought back to the many many earthquakes I survived as a child living between both the San Andreas and Hayward Faults in Berkeley.  My husband, and children, unaware of the quake, slept on and on, while I sat up, almost paralyzed, trying to figure out how to get 2 of my children down off their bunbkeds in case a larger quake was about to hit.
I finally woke my husband up in a panic, hoping he would help bring the girls down, but instead he logged on to the ipad and started listing all the aftershocks, which were coming every second. OK, I thought, at least we aren't feeling those.  And facebook was kind of entertaining, as I realized I had friends from all over the central coast awake at the same time.  And somehow I fell back to sleep.

October gets really busy and yesterday I realized if we didn't hit the pumpkin patch, we might just never even find time.  Robb was working, so I braved the Avila Valley Barn, with about 2,000 other souls in the 85 degree heat.  Sorry to Koa, I didn't take all those cherished "my baby's first halloween" pictures.  I get sort of claustrophobic around crowds, and without another adult to help with the pictures, I just knew they wouldn't happen.  I was able to snap a few shots of the kids in the "photo sets" they have placed about the farm.  Unfortunately we were there early enough that the kids were all blinded as I made them smile at the camera. Sorry about that, guys!  But at least we have a few shots for the memory book.  Well, er, I mean, this blog.

I'll get pictures of the crew in their costumes on Wednesday. And once Wednesday comes, we can prepare for the holidays!  Yippie!

Koa got to drive the hay wagon!

The corn maze was really fun, but since Anu was leading the way, we never quite made it to the exit.  We seem to be better at going in and out of the same door in these things.

I forgot I had kept Anu's pumkin costume when we was one.  So we were going to put Koa in a panda bear costume from my co-worker. But at the last minute this pumpkin outfit appeared out of the tupperware, and I had to put Koa in it.  At 7 months he fits it just fine.

The shadows are actually pretty cool in this picture, but sorry to the kids for getting blinded in this one also.

Hula in October!

Red Dirt Coffee House, one of our favorite Hawaiian hang-out spots, puts on an annual hula festival in October in the Village at Arroyo Grande.  My girls got to perform some hula, both auana and kahiko, and Robb's band, Na Hoa Aloha, played music.  Other hula groups came to the area to perform as well.

My kids love hanging out with Chelsea - an awesome volleyball player from Hawaii who plays on the CalPoly team.  She is the role model for my girls.

Koa hanging with Cindy, one of our favorite people - the wife of  Ric, a bandmember in Na Hoa Aloha

Robb catching a delicious bite before he performs

The keiki almost ready to perform some kahiko chants and hula




Alani and Keanu , doing some hula and blowing the conch

Friday, October 26, 2012

When driving, pretend you are in the Islands

Road rage isn’t a topic I would have expected to be explaining to my kids yesterday on the way to school.  My 3 girls love our little drive to school every morning, because they get to ride in the Volvo.   Otherwise, they are accustomed to riding in our 2000 minivan, with all the normal comforts of this century.

So, why would kids be anxious to ride in a 1985 volvo, no shocks, no electric windows, no stereo, no a/c?  It’s because the oldest gets to sit in the front seat and the other 2 sit right by the window that they can actually roll down by hand.  You may be wondering why my 10 year old gets to ride in the front seat, when the car holds 5 passengers.  Well, the weird thing about this “ultra safe car” – built with steel exterior straps or something like that – is that there are no headrests in the rear seat. Not sure what a Scandinavian car maker was thinking, except that it allows the rear seat to nicely fold down to make a larger wagon cargo area.   Kawai’s head is way taller than that back seat, and by California law she is supposed to sit there for 2 more years.   But since the car doesn’t have air bags, I figure she’s actually safer riding up front in case of whip lash.   And the fact that she is almost my height anyway.

So we were on our way to school, and I had chosen the freeway route, which is never very busy and is quite leisurely.  As I signal to exit at our off-ramp, a newish-looking SUV behind me is also pulling off, and apparently wants to go twice my speed, even though the off-ramp has a sharp 20 mph turn.  I feel panic set in as I see in my rear-view mirror that he actually wants to pass me on the off-ramp but it’s only one lane.  The mother bear inside of me is quickly unleashed, and I think, "how dare you try to run over my cubs".  My adrenaline rises quicker than I can reason with, and I confess: I gave him the finger.

Luckily that didn't really get me into trouble, as he quickly made a left turn on the street, just as I made a right.

I mumbled some sort of thing about crazy drivers making me give them the finger, and then my darling, innocent 7 year old asks, “what does that mean, mom?”

“It means I’m mad at him, he wanted to run us over, in fact, he almost did.”

“Oh….are you supposed to give them the finger?”


“Does Dad do that?”

That got me wondering, why am I the one who is quick to honk my horn in traffic, or wave the bird, but my honey never seems to do that sort of thing.

Then it all clicked into place.  He is from the aloha state, where road rage does not yet exist.  I am from the bay area, where road rage and many other things have existed long before I was born there.  I probably learned to flip a driver off from my 9th grade Driver’s ed teacher at Berkeley High School.
So, when I first moved to Hawaii, I was in disbelief at how nice the drivers were.  We didn't even live on Moloka’i where there is only one stop sign to have to obey. We lived in Honolulu where there is plenty of gridlock, one-way streets, streets that turn one-way at different times of the day, 45 minute commutes to go 8 miles. Yet the drivers are as polite as could be. If you want to cut in, you make your friendly shaka and the driver behind smiles and slows down just for you.  If you missed your turn and want to quick get back into your lane, no problem, the drivers will wave you on with a shaka.

Amazing how quickly you can adjust to aloha-style driving.  And then after I had been acclimated to this for about 2 years, we moved to the mainland.  I didn’t even get 8 miles into the state of Utah before my road rage was reentering my system.  How unfriendly those drivers were. They speed past you, tailgate, cut you off, don’t let you merge, never with any friendly waves or smiles.  I was in such culture shock, that my first item of business was going to be a letter to the editor asking all Utahns to drive with aloha.

But after a few weeks of living in Utah, I forgot that aloha driving even existed.  You would never ever know that unless you experienced it first-hand. The keiki of Hawaii have probably never even heard the word road rage and I hope it stays that way forever.

So next time I feel my adrenaline rise to almost overflowing, because some vehicle infringes on my space, or doesn't act in accordance with my preferred driving style, I am going to try to pretend I am in Hawaii and see what happens.  And if we all did that, could we truly eliminate mainland roadrage?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Navigational challenges of a mom

As a mom, it's kind of embarrassing when your husband knows how to do "mom" things better than you. While I have a good explanation for being less of a mom than he is (I work full time, he works part-time and gets to be with the kids for more hours each day), my ego is still noticing and counting my faults and screw-ups. Take for example yesterday.  I had a day off, thanks to the State furlough program.  So while dad was still at work, I got to take the kids to school.  

After dropping the 3 girls off, I told the little boys in the van, "Let's go to the bank real fast and deposit some money, and then we can go home and ride bikes."
"Where is the office?" asks my 3 year old?  
"Oh we're not going to my office today, we're going to the bank," I reply sweetly.  "It's just right up the road. It'll be really fast, and then we can go home."

So I patiently wait to make a left-turn onto a busy street, and then pull into a narrow lane which leads into a shopping mall.  I squeeze into a tight parking stall (aren't all parking stalls tight if you are in a mini-van?).  I look up at the ATM and realize that is not even my bank. That was the bank we went to up until about 3 years ago.  Silly me!   Glad my husband wasn't with us, he'd be laughing so hard at me right now.

"Oops," I tell the boys.  That's not our bank. I know where our bank is. We just have to drive downtown."
I turn out of the shopping mall onto another narrow street.  We cruise a mile or so into the downtown. Here is where it gets a little tricky for me. I know the downtown of SLO is only like 4 or 6 square blocks, but why do all the streets look the same to me?  I should know which street my bank is on, I mean, come on, I've been there hundreds of times.

So I squint up at the street sign, as I'm blinded by the low fall sun that is always in my eyes.  "Oh, I'm on Chorro, cool.  I just keep on going and I'll see the bank soon."
Thinking a little more, though, I realize, no it's not on Chorro, it's on Broad.  So I turn down Monterey, change lanes, make another left, and am proud of myself. I can do this no problem.  

Only the problem now is that where I have imagined my bank is, is actually another branch of the bank I was just at - our old bank.  This time I don't let the boys know my little mistake.  I decide maybe my bank is up on Chorro as I was originally thinking.  

Another quick left turn, then a right, and I'm back on Chorro.  Voila!  I see the bank!  Yay for small victories.

Good thing the boys are only 3 years old and 7 months old, or they would have been laughing at me by then.

So after a quick ATM deposit, I make my way home with the boys. Daddy is also just arriving home from work as we pull up.  He's probably wondering why I am getting home at 9:15 when school starts at 8:30 and we only live 8 minutes away. Of course he must think I spent a little time chatting with moms or letting the kids play at the playground. I didn't let him in on my little navigational challenges.  I'll just let him assume I actually know where I am going in our town.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Portrait Session at Sycamore

Check out Kawai's cross-eyes!

Amazing nobody fell off the log (I was perched just below Koa, holding onto his foot)

My 5 sweetie pies from Heaven

Number 1 and Number 4 - aren't they sweet?

Kawai and her mini-me

Frame-girl in front of the labyrinth

Koa, where are you going in that suitcase?

My 2 sweetie-pies

Mana got her own little session

She chose the center of the labyrinth, very fitting indeed

This almost looks like when we only had one kid!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Star Farms - Central Coast Kama'aina Pa'ina

This year the Central Coast Kama'aina labor day Pa'ina was held in October.  The weather was way cooler than it has been on Labor Day (80s vs. 100s) so that was really nice.  The lake was still really refreshing.  However, there were way less people there this year, so it was a smaller gathering. Still had ono food and good music, and the kids didn't have to fight for the kayaks and the trampoline as much. They all had a blast.