Tuesday, October 16, 2012


After what to me seemed like a VERY long 9 month wait, I'm happy to announce that our little Sofia Sue has finally arrived! My new sweet girlie was born yesterday, October 15, 2012, at 1:06 p.m.  She weighed 8 lbs 10 oz and is 21 in long, and I, for one, am completely in love with this beautiful little lady already!

Sofia has lots of soft, curly dark hair, but almost no eyebrows.  She has the most heartbreaking squeaky high pitched cry that has the super sad quality of Kamila's, but with the volume of Elva Kalea's.  Her eyes are light right now...my mom and I are hoping that one of her grandchildren finally got green eyes like their grandma, but it's still a little early to tell.  Regardless of eye color, we're so very happy that she's here and healthy!

My labor with Sofia was different than any of my others.  With each of my other children, once my water broke, the baby/babies arrived within about 15 minutes to half an hour.  I assumed this one would be similar, but after my doctor broke my water around 8:45 a.m., my labor progressed very slowly and the nurse kept commenting about how "high" Sofia was.  In other words, the contractions were not making her progress down into the birth canal.  So, that was unfortunate.  Also, to add another layer of discomfort to the situation, my nurse had a nursing school student shadowing her...lucky me!  I love having people learn new skills by shoving their hand into my vagina. 

Definitely NOT awesome. 

But, nursing student jokes aside, my actual certified nurse really WAS awesome.  I feel very fortunate to have had her because she was the one who got Sofia into position for delivery.  After about 3 1/2 hours of non-productive labor, my nurse checked me and said that she felt like Sofia was "sunny-side up," meaning that she was facing the wrong direction for delivery, which is why she remained so high up in my uterus and wasn't decending like she should have.  So, she had me lay on my side for what was literally like maybe 45 seconds, Sofia turned and dropped into position, and VOILA! a baby was born mere minutes later!  Happy day!

Another fun thing about Sofia's birth is that she was the first of my babies that they placed directly on my chest after she was born.  That was really fun.  My other ones were whisked away to be cleaned and weighed and measured before I had a chance to hold or see them, so I was grateful for the little bit of time I got to spend with Sofia before they got down to all of the technical stuff.  Thanks to my mom, I got some really good pictures of Sofia and me just after she was born:

So, there you have it, folks!  Peanut #5 is officially part of the Tukuafu family.  We love you sweet Sofia Sue!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Summer 2012 Recap

So, it's been quite a while since my last post.  There have been lots of changes in my life that prompted me to stop writing for a few months, but for the past few weeks I've been feeling a need to get back to blogging -- if only to document the wonderful things that happen in my life so that I can look back and smile at them when I need a quick "pick me up."  So, here I am again...

Since my last blog post was way back in April, I thought a Summer 2012 recap would be an appropriate place to start back up.  I guess the easiest way to recap will be through pictures and captions (after all...pictures ARE worth a thousand words, right?):

Summer started off on an exciting note.  After picking Ilaiasi up on the last day of school, we went straight to my ultrasound appointment and found out that we are expecting another GIRL in October!

The last day of school was also Ilaiasi's 8th birthday, so, of course, a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's was in order.

And we can't forget the cake and ice cream.  Ilaiasi cut his own cake this year...which was...well...interesting.  ;)
We took a trip to the Children's Museum of Houston.

Ilaiasi had fun building and launching paper rockets.
Ilaiasi was baptised on the first Saturday in July.

Lots of cousins from Utah made it down for his big event!

Pod came down from Dallas.
Sunny, Steven, and Westlee also came down for the weekend...it was so fun to have everyone here!


Mid-July 2012 will forever be known as "Barf and Poo Fest 2012."  Ovaka and the girlies spent the better part of a week and a half in the tub, while their lucky mother spent this time cleaning lots and lots and LOTS of barf and poo.

Poor little sickie.

Ilaiasi is the World's Best Helper.  Seriously.  This kid is amazing.  He was so helpful and kind to his sick siblings.

Another sad, sick baby picture.

Barf and Poo Fest 2012...not the best week of my life.
During the last week of July and first week of August, the kids and I went to Salt Lake City to visit Finau's family.
Ilaiasi got a nice little war wound at the beginning of our trip that has finally healed after over a month of bleeding, tenderness, and swelling.  Ouch!

This is Ovaka with his best buddy/mortal enemy Olivia.  He had a blast with all of his cousins, but he and Olivia were super funny together because their personalities are so similar.

Elva Kalea got plenty of love from Finau's sister Elva and all of Elva's kids!

The Billy Goat at lunch time...need I say more?

The girlies were spoiled by all of their cousins.  This is Kamila with Finau's sister Tina's daughter, Za'rya.

This cutie pie with The Goat is named after Finau, and his dad is Finau's brother, Vili.

Another of Vili's kids -- Tivinia -- who spoiled my girlies rotten!  She and her sister had the "magic touch" and were good at getting my girls to go to sleep!

Ovaka, the girlies, and my best friend Angela's daughter, Marla.  It was so good to see them while we were in town!

This is what it looks like when naughty little goats won't be quiet during church.  Ear flicking is a swift and just punishment for noisy irreverent monsters!  :)

By the end of our Salt Lake trip, my four monkeys were exhausted.  They had SO much fun with their cousins!
The girlies are FINALLY eating baby food without problems.  Milk, on the other hand, still gives them SERIOUS constipation.  Yeah...probably too much info there.  Sorry.

When we got home from Utah, the kids were happy to be reunited with Daddy.  Finau was happy, too...can't you tell?!  Hahaha...his face in this picture is awesome.  It looks exactly like how I FEEL inside multiple times a day EVERY day!  ;)

Apparently outdoor photo op's in Houston in the summer make my babies grumpy.  Can't imagine why...it was only like 102 degrees that day with 90% humidity...

Me and my girlies

Nothing special happened on this day...this is just one of my favorite pictures of the girls.  I love how they always find ways to hold hands while they sleep.

We had pictures taken of the runts right before Ilaiasi started back to school.  Man, I love these kids!!

And, finally...the week school started back up, these little monkeys turned ONE!  This year has flown by...I can't believe my girlies are a year old already!

So, there you have it, folks.  Our summer in a nutshell.  Lots of good times with friends and family...who could ask for more??!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Videos of the Runts...

Today I just feel like sharing some videos of my funny little runts.  All four of them are fun and funny in their own special way, and the twins are really starting to develop their own little personalities. 

This first video is of Ovaka dancing.  My boys love, love, LOVE to dance, and avidly watch the shows Shake It Up and America's Best Dance Crew searching for "new moves."  Ovaka has started trying his hand at break dancing.  It consists mostly of sitting on the floor, occasionally waving his booty or feet around, and then getting back up and dancing again.  You'll get a good surprise if you watch this video all the way to the end -- he surprised even me with his exciting finale.  Pretty sure it's an ABDC ending he picked up along the way.  :)

The next video is of my two boys playing in the water.  This is very typical behavior for my boys: Ilaiasi teasing Ovaka, and Ovaka thinking it's great fun.  So far, this has been a symbiotic interaction, with each child getting his needs met without annoyance or injury to the other -- Ilaiasi doesn't get bored because he is entertained by the fact that he can do crazy things to Ovaka, and Ovaka thinks they are having a grand old time playing together.  However, I am constantly reminding Ilaiasi that he is older and bigger and needs to be careful because he could potentially hurt Ovaka's feelings if he teases him too much, or could really hurt Ovaka if he is too rough with him.  After an incident this afternoon where Ilaiasi hurled a beachball full-speed at Ovaka's face, I also had to remind Ilaiasi that at some point it's likely that Ovaka will be equal to or bigger than him in size, and that little brothers don't forget earlier mistreatment very easily.  It brought back memories of my brothers, who had some seriously funny all-out wars that sometimes turned a bit...physical.  They pranked each other ALL the time.  I remember coming home one day and my mom saying to me, "That glass of lemonade on the table looks SO good.  I've been eyeing it all afternoon.  But, I'm pretty sure that there's a good possibility it's PEE.  The boys have been at it again, and I'm not willing to risk it."  Hahaha.  (For the record, I believe it turned out to be lemonade in the end, but could just as easily have been urine.)  Inevitably, the pranks would escalate until one of the boys got mad, hit the other one, and a small scuffle ensued.  It really freaked my mom out when the boys got into high school and were both bigger than her, because once that happened, she was pretty much powerless to stop them once a fight started.  Luckily, they both have great senses of humor, and got over things quickly, so the actual fights were few and far between.  Anywhooo....when I was talking to Ilaiasi this afternoon, it occurred to me that in a few years, I could be in the position my mom was in a few years ago.  Yikes!  But for now, I'm enjoying the fact that they love to play with each other, and I'm happy that Ovaka is oblivious to the fact that Ilaiasi is sometimes a little too rough or slightly unfriendly with him.  This video makes me laugh every time I watch it because they are both having a great time together.

And, finally, here's a little video of my sweet baby girlies.  They are just the funniest little things because they love to snuggle and are constantly touching each other and sucking on whatever appendage they can get their little lips on.  Usually they go for each others' ears, fingers, or toes, but they are just as happy with hair, forearms, and necks.  Funny, funny girls!  Kamila has a new trick that you'll see a little bit of in the video: she loves to stick her tongue out.  And my funny Ovaka makes a cameo...such a grump!  You'll have to excuse my "mom-talk"...when I took the video, I didn't expect to be posting it on here.  Otherwise, I would probably not have done all the background talking.  ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fitting in...

So...it's been a while since my last post.  I haven't felt much like blogging.  It's a combo of having a lot going on, being super tired because of the three monkeys and their frustratingly irregular sleeping patterns, and being PREGNANT AGAIN and therefore feeling somewhat under the weather due to morning sickness and first trimester fatigue.  That's right...we're having ANOTHER BABY!  I figure, what's one more when you've already got 3, right?  We were actively preventing, so this little one comes as a definite surprise, but although unplanned, this is most certainly not unwanted.  It's funny, because about 5 years ago, Finau and I talked about how many kids we wanted to have, and he told me he wanted TEN.  Yes, TEN.  For those of you who don't know us well, you're probably about to find out way more than you ever thought you wanted to know about us, and be prepared because the upcoming info might throw you for a loop.  Finau was in prison (yes, I said prison) serving a 6 year sentence at the time that he made the comment about wanting ten children.  I didn't think ten was a very reasonable number, considering the circumstances, and so I told him that the way I saw it, we had one already, he used up six chances in the six years he would be absent, so I figured we had two kids, MAYBE three more in our future.  Well...looks like the joke's on me.  Ready or not...here they come!  I'm definitely excited about the prospect of our new arrival...I'm just trying to figure out how we're going to fit four carseats into our car (we're not...we HAVE to get a bigger car), how I'm ever going to be able to leave the house on my own again (I'm not...at least not for a while.  Slowly coming to terms with this concept.  My loss of autonomy is probably the most difficult thing I've had to deal with thus far),  and how we're ever going to provide for another tiny monkey when we're barely hanging on as it is (faith and a whole lot of prayer...that's pretty much all I got so far on this one!).  So...number five it is!  Can't wait to see your little face.  :)

On a completely different, yet very interconnected note, this morning I've been lamenting the fact that I feel "stuck" between two cultures.  Being half Tongan and half "palangi" (or "white"...specifically Swedish) is a tricky thing.  I've been hesitant to blog about my feelings on the subject for a couple of reasons.  Mostly, it's because this subject is very personal to me and it make me feel vulnerable and, well, the word NAKED comes to mind.  I would say that I'm a fairly confident person, but this area of my life makes me feel extremely inept.  The other reason I hesitate to blog about this is because I feel like no matter how delicately I treat the subject, it will inevitably cause offense to someone, and although confrontation doesn't really bother me, as of late, I've been trying really hard not to cause or go looking for unnecessary contention or offense.  But, after much contemplation, I decided that, hey...this is my blog.  These are my feelings.  I'm not asking anyone to agree...or even to read this.  So, if you don't want to hear my thoughts on being biracial, I'll let you know when to stop reading.  (Not yet...I just thought of a mildly amusing story you might like to hear on your way out.)

One of the few "Tongan" things my dad did involved dating.  I was the only person I knew who was frequently required to take my younger siblings with me when I went on dates.  Now, I can't say for certain that this is a purely Tongan practice, but I do know that I was the only one out of my entire group of high school friends who left the house to go on dates or to go to parties with her six year old brother in tow.  One of my very first dates was with this guy that I had been eyeing for quite some time.  He was funny and good looking and popular, and was just someone that I definitely was excited about getting to know better.  He had his own truck, and when he came to pick me up, he brought me a single red rose, which was, of course, the highlight of my young life up to that point.  I remember my little brother Westlee, who was maybe in first or second grade at the time (just the same age as my sweet Ilaiasi is now, come to think of it!), asking if he could hold my rose.  He was so excited to have it, and I remember his little eyes lighting up as he swished the rose back and forth like a sword.  Well, unfortunately, in his overexcitement, his swish-swish-swishing got a little out of control, and with one fatal swoosh the beautiful rose went flying off its stem and, as fate would have it, hit my date squarely on the forehead.  Alas. 

I remember fighting to hold back the giggles that bubbled up as I watched the unfortunate scene unfold.  I'm ashamed to admit that I frequently laugh at the MOST inappropriate things.  This was no exception.  My date was VERY put out about being smacked in the face with his offering, and was even more offended that, rather than chastise my baby brother, we instead had a good laugh at my date's expense.  This was not one of the times that I was supposed to bring Westlee with me on my date, but I remember having the distinct feeling that I could never truly love someone who didn't think my baby brother was as hysterical as I did because it was entirely possible that Westlee would be hanging out with us more often than not.

Ok, this is where you people who don't want to read anything mildly controversial hop off the Pink Persimmon train and go back to Facebook or Pinterest or whatever you were doing previously because I'm about to share my experience with being biracial from my perspective, and I understand that not everyone is going to agree with me or like what I have to say.  Hopefully, though, there is someone out there that can relate to this.  Maybe someone will have insight to the struggles I've had, and will share something eye-opening and life-changing with me.  I don't know exactly what I hope will happen...I guess I'm just tired of having all of this bottled up in my brain, and I need to unload it.

Like I said before, I've been thinking a lot lately about how being biracial makes me feel like I'm trapped between two cultures.  It's hard.  Really hard.  Growing up, we lived out in the middle of nowhere.  My interactions with the Tongan community were somewhat few and far between, and until high school, involved mostly just my extended family.  I was not "raised Tongan."  My knowledge of the Tongan culture was limited to a few Tongan words and songs, some yummy ethnic foods, and the occasional dances I learned for luaus or weddings.  My dad was the best father I could ever have hoped for -- he was involved in my life, I knew he loved me, he was my coach and my friend and he taught me SO many things that have shaped who I am today.  But, as far as the Tongan culture goes, it just wasn't a focus in our household, and he didn't teach us a whole lot about what is and is not socially acceptable for Tongans.  As a result, I think I have a MUCH more liberal view of life than most Tongans would approve of.  Some of my friends from the Tongan community will probably gasp as they read this, but here's a short list of very "palangi" things that I did growing up:

- I had more male friends than female ones.  We hung out together on a regular basis, and my two very best friends from high school were both guys.  Once I even went on an overnight camping trip with them and their parents.  And one time, one of my guy friends ran away from home and spent the night at my house.  My parents knew about it and called his parents to let them know where he was, but he stayed with us nonetheless.  Gasp...I know.  Scandalous.
- I wore swimsuits to pool parties.  And swam.  In mixed company.
- I watched tv with my brothers.  And it wasn't the Disney Channel.
- I wore shorts and skirts that didn't completely cover my knees, and was known to sport a tank top from time to time.
- I didn't "stay at home with the girls" when my cousins came into town to visit.  I went outside and played football and soccer and tag with the boys.
- I dated.  One-on-one dates, group dates, you name it.  The guys I dated were all very respectful and were good people, and I had a blast. 
- I questioned why my parents did things.  I was encouraged to ask questions if I didn't understand, and was rarely told that I had to do something "just because I said so."  Questioning authority if something seemed amiss was not only acceptable, it was expected.  It was not seen as disrespectful in our household...it was seen as part of the learning process.

These are just a few things that I thought of off the top of my head, but there are innumerable instances of other things that were completely normal to me growing up, that are big no-no's for a "good" Tongan girl.  I didn't know they were abnormal or unacceptable until I got to college and started mingling with Tongans outside my extended family.  It was very eye-opening to me to realize how much liberty I took for granted.  I didn't realize that not everyone lived like me.  And I certainly didn't realize that the way I grew up was not only frowned upon, but was considered "wrong." 

It's a very strange feeling to be an "insider" and an "outsider" at the same time.  I can honestly say that I've never felt uncomfortably different around any group EXCEPT for Tongans.  It's so weird and hard to explain.  I feel like I can walk into a room full of people of all ethnicities and feel like I can fit in, but if I walk into a room full of Tongans I'm like a fish out of water.  I'm different.  And not "different in a good way."  Different in a "look at her...she doesn't act right" kind of way.  One of the hardest things about the Tongan culture for me to grasp is the "I'm older, therefore, I'm right" mentality.  Age is a very important thing to Tongans.  Younger siblings are expected to defer to their older siblings no matter what, simply because they are older (which is fine because I'm the oldest, but it still doesn't sit right with me.)  It is disrespectful to question or disagree with family members who are older than you, because they are to be respected simply because they are older.  I understand the importance of respecting your elders, but I just can't wrap my head around this.  I've seen people do things that they KNEW were wrong, simply because, to them, it was MORE wrong to go against what someone older than them said.  I don't know...maybe I'm dense, but I just don't get it.  To me, respect is earned by your actions, not simply by your birth order.  I don't understand this part of Tongan culture, but I recognize that it is important and I respect that.  It just doesn't work for me.

It's taken me a good 15 years to process the information and figure out for myself who I am and what I'm all about, but I feel like I can finally look at my two cultures objectively, take the good, leave the bad, and be ok with the fact that there will be many people who judge me and don't like what they see.  The reason this has been brought into focus in my life is because I am trying to figure out exactly what I want to teach my children.  Finau and I were raised SO differently, and we have different, often conflicting views of what we want to teach our children.  It's a constant struggle, and I know it's not just because of the culture...every marriage has to find a balance between where each spouse came from and where they want to go together...but culture does play a big role in our parenting struggles. 

I hope I teach my children that "different" doesn't equal "wrong."  I always tell my volleyball players that there are lots of right ways to do things in volleyball.  Some things are definitely wrong, but, for the most part, there are lots of right techniques that will give you desired results, and just because I have them do things one way, that doesn't mean that if their school coach asks them to do it another way then she is wrong.  It's just different.  I feel the same way about culture.  When Finau tells me that our girls will never wear shorts, I just smile to myself and wonder what he's going to do when they start playing volleyball.  I'm sure if he had it his way, they'd be playing in their warm-up sweat pants, but that's obviously not going to happen.  And that's ok.  I hope my children are respectful towards all people, and that they are considerate of their elders, but I hope they also learn to think for themselves and question the things that don't seem to make sense.  I think you can disagree without being disrespectful, and I hope I teach my children that you don't have to agree with something to acknowledge that it is important to somebody else.  Most of all, I hope my children learn to be loving and compassionate, and that they are able to fit into our two worlds more easily than I do.  I hope they can learn all of the good things that I never knew about the Tongan culture from their dad, and still have room for my mostly "palangi" ways.  And I hope that when the time comes, they will enjoy taking their siblings with them on their dates!  :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's Ok to be Sad...

So, I've been feeling sad.  I put off writing, hoping that week one of my little Happiness Project would lend itself to more happiness than it has thus far.  However, it is now Tuesday, the 7th, and I have resigned myself to the fact that my first week did not go as planned.  And after a good deal of contemplation yesterday, I realized that even though I am working on being happier, sometimes feeling sad is ok.

The past month or so has seemed like a big, long, drawn out, stressful trial for me.  It started before Christmas, and is on-going, and I have been feeling this undercurrent of sadness that seems to always be just below the surface, eager to rise up and swallow any positive feelings I have if I'll let it.  I'm thinking that's probably why I was drawn to the Happiness Project book when I saw it on the shelf.  Something about the idea of working towards happiness -- and the concept that it DOES actually require WORK to be happy -- appealed to me.  The author, Gretchen Rubin, begins her project by working on her energy, and I decided that it seemed a logical place for me to start also.  Specifically, I want to work on eating healthier, getting more rest, and clearing away the clutter from my house to improve the atmosphere and energy in my home. 

I realized rather quickly that my three babies have obviously not read The Happiness Project, and were definitely NOT on board with these resolutions I've made.  In fact, after a week of trying to work on the resolutions, I've come to realize that maybe at this point in my life, these are not the most attainable or realistic goals I could have chosen.  I mean, come on...MORE REST??!!  SERIOUSLY??  Who am I kidding?  Immediately upon making this resolution, both of my girls came down with ear infections.  Which, in turn, resulted in lots and lots and lots and LOTS of cranky screaming at all hours of the day and night.  You can probably guess that this is not the most effective sleep aid.  And because they've been super needy, Ovaka, OF COURSE, has been like a human suction cup that doesn't want to let me go ANYWHERE alone, because CLEARLY if the other two are crying and want to be held, it only makes sense that he should cry and want me to hold him, too, right?  So, these little curve balls coupled with the fact that I had already been feeling down about some other non-baby-related issues created a kind of energy-vacuum that seemed to suck what little energy I was previously able to muster right out of me.

But, my epiphany that it's ok to be sad came not because of the personal stress I've been feeling, but rather as a result of my contemplating the struggles of my loved ones.  This has been a truly heartwrenching week for several of the people I care about, and I've been super sad for/concerned about many of my friends or family members who are struggling under much greater weight than the burdens I've been carrying.  I have become aware of multiple friends who were/are pregnant and received devastating news about their unborn children, had both friends and family members lose close loved ones, and had friends or family members of friends suffer serious, life altering injuries.  The trials of my loved ones have been weighing heavily on my mind, and last night as I thought of these people that I care so much about, I wondered how feeling sad because they were hurting fit into the grand scheme of my resolutions to be happier.

As I was turning this idea over in my mind and trying to reconcile the ideas of pursuing happiness vs feeling sorrow because of my own trials as well as the trials of my friends and family, a bunch of Bible and Book of Mormon verses started coming to my mind.  It's funny, because it seems like the more I pursue happiness, the more open my mind is to spiritual ideology.  Well, I guess that's not actually all that funny.  Or surprising.  It only makes sense that if "men are that they might have joy," (2 Nephi 2:25) and I am seeking to be happy and joyful, then greater spiritual awareness would be the natural consequence of striving to do something that God wants me to do.  Anyway, most of the biblical verses that came to my mind were from the epistles of Paul.  Oh, how I love Paul!  I took a New Testament class at BYU that turned me into a big Paul superfan.  I love his steadfastness.  I love his unwavering resolve.  I love that he threw himself wholeheartedly into the cause of whatever he believed to be right, and that he had the humility to recognize when he was wrong and change his course.  His conversion brings to mind a saying that I've heard Oprah say many times.  It is something along the lines of, "we do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better."  Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure she was quoting Maya Angelou.  But don't quote me on that.  ;)  At any rate, there were several little nuggets of wisdom that Paul imparted to the Galatians and the Romans that bubbled up in my mind as I was thinking last night. 

I was thinking about my Aunt Sue and my cousin Adam, who this weekend had to put their dog to sleep that had been their companion for the past 16 years.  I was thinking how silly it seemed that I had been crying over a stupid dog that I didn't even particularly care for, and wondering why I was such a big crybaby.  As I was tearing up YET AGAIN just thinking about how sad Sue looked when I saw her, a verse from Romans 12 (ok, ok, I had to look up the scripture...I am admittedly not a Biblical scholar, but I DID know that it was in the Pauline epistles!) came to my mind.  In verse 15, Paul encourages the Romans to "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."  AHA!  This is the first part of my "it's ok to feel sad" epiphany.  If we are instructed to "weep with them that weep," then obviously some sadness is acceptable.  I had unwittingly been feeling guilty about the fact that my happiness project hadn't magically transformed my life into one big happy shiny never ending broadway musical, but this short passage eased my mind a little bit and allowed me to feel ok about being sad.  Conversely, it also had the beneficial effect of making me feel HAPPY about my crybaby-ness, as I realized that we are commanded by a prophet to cry with those who are crying.  (I come by it very naturally -- my mom is quite possibly the biggest crybaby I know.  Not in a bad way.  In an I'm-sad-because-you're-sad kind of way.  Ok, maybe I'M the biggest crybaby I know.  She would definitely be a close second, though.  Whatever.  Moving on...)

The second part of my epiphony is found in Galatians 6, where Paul instructs the Galatians, saying, "bear ye one anothers burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ...And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap , if we faint not.  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men..."  I realized that by crying with/for those of my friends who have been struggling, I was doing my part to "bear another's burdens."  I think, also, I realized that by sharing in the burdens of another, we are sometimes able to find meaning in our own struggles.  I've been thinking a lot about one of my friends who miscarried last week, and her current trial brought back feelings I had when I miscarried.  I think that although the pain and sadness of my experience will always be there, it has made me more sensitive to and empathetic of the needs of others who have had a similar experience.  But this morning as I was pondering the passage in Galatians, I realized that just sharing a common experience isn't enough.  The rest of Galatians 6 is what really brought everything together for me.  "Let us not be weary in well doing...and if we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men."  I think this is the key to my epiphony that it's ok to be sad.  Yes, I've been feeling sad.  And, quite honestly, weary describes the mood of my entire week (ok, MONTH) quite nicely.  However, although it is ok to be sad, that sadness should move me to ACTION.  In order to "bear the burdens" of those that I've been mourning with, I need to take the trials as an opportunity to "do good."  So, that is my new resolution for the month of February.  If I can't find a way to get more sleep or keep my house clean because I have three screaming banshees hollering in my ear, I resolve to at least generate more positive energy by taking the sadness I've felt over the struggles of my loved ones and using it as an opportunity to do good.  I will bear the burdens of my friends and family and "faint not," and I will ACT so that they know that I love them and I am thinking about them.  It's not enough just to feel sad.  The important part is choosing to ACT.  So, there you have it...my epiphany.  It's ok to feel sad.

I hope this post didn't thoroughly depress you.  In an effort to bring more happiness to your life as well as to mine, I will leave you with a few pictures of my funny little munchkins, and bid you all a good day!

Sweet kisses from my funny Ovaka.  True story: last night, he came up to me and did this very thing...put his chubby little hands on each side of my face, puckered up, leaned in...and then SNEEZED A BIG LOOGEY ONTO MY FOREHEAD!!  AHAHAHAHA...super gross!  Best part?  I don't know who was more surprised, him or me!

Another picture of my cutie pie Ovaka

Funny little sleeping girls with cute flowers on their butts


Oh, how I love my sweet helper Ilaiasi.  Such a good big brother!

Elva Kalea minutes after getting 3 immunizations.  Definitely NOT HAPPY.  (but still cute)

Sweet Kamila cried herself right to sleep after her shots.  Look at her big wet eyelashes.  :(


This is currently my favorite video of Ovaka dancing.  This guy swears he should be a member of the Disney Channel tv show Shake It Up.  :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

When I Grow Up...

Well, it's official: when I grow up, I want to be like Julia Child.  Or, at the very least, I want to be like the Julia Child that is depicted in the movie Julie and Julia.  Have you ever seen it?  Such a great movie.  For those who haven't had the good fortune of watching it, here's a little recap:

Julie is a young secretary for a government agency who wants to be a writer.  On a whim, and with the support of her husband who suggested the project, she decides to cook her way through Julia Child's cookbook and blog about the experience.  The movie cuts back and forth between Julie's cooking/blogging experiences and Julia Child's life.  Meryl Streep is amazing as Julia Child, and portrays her as such a fun, energetic, accessible person.

Anyway, after watching the movie, I decided I wanted to know more about this Julia Child person.  Was she really as great as she seemed to be in this movie?  Was her life depicted accurately?  Did she really do all the things the movie said she did?  From what I gathered in my 2 or 3 hours of online research (ok, possibly not the most reliable sources, but when one is home bound due to an overabundance of little screamy munchkins, one takes what is most readily available!), Julia Child seems to have been a person that I would like to emulate. 

I know what you're probably thinking, and while I would like to "master the art of French cooking," that's not really the trait I most admired about her.  Actually, what most impressed me about Julia Child was the fact that she didn't let any of her circumstances keep her from achieving her goals.  Specifically, I was drawn to the fact that this lady was SIX FOOT TWO back in the 1930s, when the average height of a female American was FIVE FOOT FOUR (yes, I researched this information...again, I'm aware that I am a nerd, but weird random facts like this fascinate me).  So, basically, she was gigantic -- almost an entire foot taller than most other people -- and yet she went on to be a famous tv personality with a cooking show. 

Why did this feat strike such a chord with me?  Well, to be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with my height.  I'm not absurdly tall like Julia was in her day...pushing 6' is really just slightly taller than average now a days.  However, I've been this height since 8th grade.  And six feet tall is mighty stretchy for an 8th grader.  My height made me a force to be reckoned with on the volleyball and basketball courts, but also made me vulnerable to lovely nicknames like the "Jolly Green Giant" (obviously every adolescent girl's dream nickname...I know you're jealous.)  As I continue to gather information and refine my goals for my big New Year's Resolutions project, I've done a lot of reflecting on my life, trying to figure out why I have the strengths and weaknesses I currently possess, and trying to determine what pieces of my past and present I need to confront in order to make my future happier.  When I see someone whose traits I admire -- as I did with Julia Child when I watched the movie -- I've been trying to also figure out WHY I find those characteristics so admirable.  What deficit in my own character is causing me to pause and take notice of her particular strengths?

Anywhooo...long story short, or at least slightly shorter, I don't want to let the things that I can't change about my physical appearance keep me from reaching my goals.  Sadly, I have come to the realization that my body will NEVER EVER EVER be the same after carrying two almost 7 pound twins to 35 weeks.  EVER.  It makes me a little sad, I'm not gonna lie.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and don't even recognize the person staring back at me.  Occasionally, on a particularly bad day, I look in the mirror and wonder if I am witnessing an evolutionary miracle, and hippos have begun to walk upright on two legs.  Ok, maybe that's a little extreme.  But you get the idea.  I'm tall.  I've always been tall.  After thirty-something years, I've come to terms with the fact that I will be the tallest person in the room approximately 80% of the time.  People will probably look at me and think, "Wow...she's pretty tall!"  And that's ok with me.  However, I have NOT always been "big and tall."  Alas.  But I've decided that on those awful days when I look in the mirror and feel like Shirley Temple would have been thrilled to unwrap me for Christmas (please tell me you've heard this song...it is by FAR my favorite non-spiritual Christmas song, and you seriously need to look it up if you haven't heard it), I will think of Julia Child and remember how, at six foot two, she boldly took on the cold, often snooty culture of the French and MADE them love her.  She waltzed into a male-dominated, highly respected culinary institute and did whatever it took to make herself successful.  At six foot two, she didn't think to herself, "I'm humongous...what will people think if I do a COOKING show?"  Or, maybe she did.  I don't know.  But I do know this: if that thought ever ran through her head, she silenced it, conquered her fear, and went on to greatness.  So, add this to my list of things to incorporate into my magnum opus of a Resolution project: Someday, I want to be like Julia Child.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I can't remember if I've said this in my blog or not, but I've decided to start my New Year's Resolutions in February this year. January has been, and will continue to be, my planning period, as I am cooking up something really special for 2012.  I've been reading like crazy, and I have some REALLY good ideas for what I want to do.  I just have to organize those ideas into one cohesive, massive project.  Have any of you read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin?  I'm almost through with this book, and it will be the foundation for my 2012 Resolutions.  I'm also reading a really beautiful book called A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik, and I'm hoping to incorporate elements from this book into my project as well.  Anywhooo...I'll update you on my resolutions as soon as I get them down on paper and organize them coherently.  But, in the mean time, I have an interesting question for you to consider.  Typically, when I begin reading and pondering a subject, ideas about that subject seem to inundate my brain from all directions.  Such is the case right now as I strive to better myself and create a happier, improved version of myself in 2012.  A question was posed to me the other day that I've been thinking about a whole lot ever since:

Are you who you are today BECAUSE OF the people in your life, or IN SPITE OF them?

In other words, do the people around you lift you up and encourage you to become the best version of yourself that you can possibly be, or are you striving to become a better person even though the people around you are (either intentionally or inadvertently) weighing you down or holding you back?  Isn't that an interesting question?  I had never really thought of the people in my life in these terms, and it has really made me step back and take a good look at the people I've surrounded myself with and the relationships I've fostered and nurtured.  I'm happy to say that, for the most part, I think I am who I am today BECAUSE OF the people I've let get close to me, with only a few exceptions. 

This question, in turn, made me think about my role in the lives of others.  Am I the kind of person that others would say helped them become better people?  Or would they say that they have become who they are despite my influence?  My mind immediately went to coaching and teaching, and I started wondering how much of a difference I really made in the lives of those I've taught.  It's funny, but I think the years when I struggled the most are the ones where I made the most difference in the classroom. 

My first year of teaching at Magnolia West HS was such a challenge.  I was given classes FULL of kids who, to me, seemed to be striving to survive or even excel IN SPITE OF the people around them.  My students struggled with absentee parents, poor choices in friendships, even other teachers who had written them off as "stupid" or "problem children"...the list seemed to go on and on.  These kids seemed to have so many problems that teaching them the content of my class seemed kind of trivial and ridiculous.  How do you teach a kid whose parent just went to jail AGAIN for selling drugs to care about what is going on in South America?  How do you get a kid who lives in a tiny trailer with no electricity and has never traveled outside the area of his zip code interested in Chinese culture?  In the grand scheme of things, did learning World Geography REALLY matter to this group of students?

I think it did.  Not because they will ever need to identify a fjord in real life...they will probably never travel to Scandinavia.  I can't imagine many of them having a practical use for knowledge about quipu (for you non-geography buffs, quipu were these cool knotted cords used in the Incan empire for record keeping even though they had no written language...yeah, I find this stuff fascinating...I know, I'm a nerd.  I've come to terms with it.)  Realistically, they probably won't ever even need to use most of the information we discussed about the United States.  However, I do think that it was important for me to teach these concepts to this particular group of students.  I think the message I sent that very first year at MWHS was this: YOU MATTER.  YOU CAN LEARN.  YOU CANNOT JUST SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS IN MY CLASS BECAUSE YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO ME.  I hope that some of these kids felt my love for them, and that it made a small difference in the way they saw themselves and in the choices they made.

My mind was also immediately drawn to the kids I've coached.  The girls I had my very first year as a club coach will always have a special place in my heart.  I was blessed with the most amazing little team of 13 year old girls that year, and they have since grown up to become the most wonderful, talented, smart group of young women.  Who they have become, in my opinion, is a testament to the many wonderful people they've had in their lives.  I have seen first hand the HUGE advantage kids with involved and interested parents have over kids who lack this support, and this team of girls had some of the best parents ever.  Many of the moms and dads I got to work with that first year helped shape who I am as a parent today.  These were people who, through their example, became "BECAUSE OF" people in my life, and I hope that I was able to give back to them by being a "BECAUSE OF" person to their child.

So, to you, my one or two loyal readers, I pose the question:  Are you who you are today BECAUSE OF the people you've made important in your life, or IN SPITE OF their influence?  And, likewise, are others that share their lives with you better off BECAUSE OF you, or IN SPITE OF you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mental Tantrums and Other Lovely Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation...

Ok, how many of you have seen the movie Meet the Parents?  This morning, I had a Meet the Parents moment.  You know the part where Greg is on the airplane and they want him to check his bag, but he doesn't want to, so he gets into an argument with the flight attendant?  Well, here's the exact quote from the movie, and then I'll explain how it relates:

Greg Focker: If you would take a second...and take the little sticks out of your head and clean out your ears, maybe you would see that I'm a person who has feelings, and all I have to do is do what I wanna do!  All I wanna do is hold onto my bag and not listen to you!

Hahaha...just thinking about that part of the movie makes me giggle.  But, this morning, I seriously thought I was going to have a meltdown.  Here's a very condensed version of the backstory:

Last night, the girls didn't go to bed until around 3:00 a.m.  Then, Finau woke me up at 4:00 when he went to work and I didn't get back to sleep until around 5:00.  Then, Ilaiasi had to be at the bus stop by 6:30 (I'm ashamed to admit that I slept through my alarm, and Ilaiasi had to come and wake ME up at 6:15 to tell me he was ready for school...love that kid!).  And, to top it all off, Ovaka woke up at 7:00, just as I was drifting back off to sleep, and I had to get up for the day.  DANG IT!!! So, needless to say, my morning has been a little rough since I'm running on almost no sleep.  Anywhooo...at one point this morning, all three kids were screaming their adorable little faces off, and for just a split second, the Meet the Parents scene flashed before my eyes and I wanted to crumble up in a little ball and do my own version of Greg's airplane rant.  In my mind, I screamed, "I'm a person who has feelings, and all I have to do is do what I wanna do! All I wanna do is GO TO SLEEP and not listen to you!"  Hehehe...the moment has passed, so I can giggle about it now, but there was definitely a second there when I was seriously contemplating throwing my own little fit, sticking every baby in a crib, and crawling back under the covers for a little mid-morning snooze.

So, three cheers for me for NOT neglecting my sweet babies this morning!  Sadly, it's come to that: me patting myself on the back for doing just slightly more than the bare minimum.  Pretty much all day long, I give myself little pep talks and kuddos for things I totally took for granted once-upon-a-time-in-a-lifetime-far-far-FAR AWAY.  I vaguely remember the days when I was able to clean my entire kitchen -- or, heck, my entire HOUSE if I was ambitious enough -- without interruption.  Now, I feel like I deserve some grand award if I'm able to do multiple loads of dishes and/or laundry in the same day.  Seriously.  No, SERIOUSLY.  It's either very comical or extremely depressing, depending on your viewpoint.  I'm choosing to see it as funny.  The smell eminating from my undone dishes...somewhat less funny.  Luckily, I got one load of dishes done yesterday and another done this morning, so I only have about half a load left, and my kitchen is decidedly less smelly than it was yesterday.  What's that, you say?  You'd like to congratulate me on my awesome time management and parenting skills?  AND you want to give me an AWARD for my efforts?  Well, WOW...I don't know what to say...this is so unexpected...HAHAHAHA...yes, I am having another mental conversation with myself.  I'm really hoping the continuous mental dialogue is a side effect of the sleep deprivation and not a permanent personality defect.  It may also have something to do with the lack of adult interaction in my life...I'm not sure.  At any rate, it's nice to blog because then at least it FEELS like I'm talking to someone besides myself...whether or not that's actually true is a bit irrelevant to me at this point.

So, to update you on my Christmas presents from Pod (if you don't know what I'm talking about, read the previous blog post), I did, in fact, get a soldering iron, a MINI blowtorch (thank goodness it's tiny...not at all what I was picturing, and much more useful than what I had envisioned as well!), some solder (I don't think it's the right kind for my jewelry, but I'm not sure yet), some flux (used with the solder to fuse pieces of metal together), and he also threw in some random junk for good measure: wood touch-up markers in varying colors, a $15 Olive Garden gift card, and I know there's something else I'm forgetting, but I can't think of what it is just now.  Have I mentioned how much I love my dad's presents?  I mean, come on...how many of you got an assortment of markers designed to touch up any nicks or scratches on your wood furniture from YOUR dad for Christmas?  I'm betting none of you were so fortunate.  I love my Pod...he's NUTS.  Anyway, my stepdad Bryan came over and showed me how to use the soldering iron.  Not nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be.  It seems pretty straight forward...you heat up the item you want to stick something to, slather on a little bit of flux, melt the solder onto the flux whilst holding your two pieces together, and voila! your pieces are joined for good.  Bryan made it look easy.  I'll be honest...I'm still kinda scared.  I'm going to go to the little bead and jewelry shop that I frequent and see if they can give me any tips.  They have a soldering class that I want to take, but they only do it once a month, and this month I have to coach a tournament on that day, so maybe February will be my month.  We'll see.  Until then, do any of you have any words of wisdom or good soldering advice for me?  Does anyone out there know if it's even possible to solder non-tarnish wire without ruining the color of the wire?  I may have to get some new wire...I'm not sure yet.  I'm very eager to learn, though, and can't wait to get started.  One of these days, when my kitchen is FINALLY clean and the 3 ft. deep pile of laundry is done, I'll start making jewelry again.  Don't worry...it's one of my New Year Resolutions...along with my resolution to "keep this year's resolutions."  No, really...I'm going to do it this year.  No, REALLY.  What, are you calling me a liar?  Oh, sorry...conversing with myself again.  Another resolution?  POSITIVE SELF TALK.  But, let's save my resolutions for another post.  Until then...HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody!!  Have a marvelous day.  Get some sleep if you're fortunate enough to have that luxury.  And feel free to leave me a comment so that I know I'm not talking to myself on here, too.  ;)