Friday, May 24, 2013
I never went to preschool. My school started with kindergarten, but times have changed and I feel children need a year to prepare and get used to what school is all about. When I filled out my application for Matthew to attend St. Anthony School, I wasn't sure if he would be in the preschool or pre-kindergarten class. I wasn't even sure what I wanted for him. I have a Master's degree in education, but when it comes to my own child making decisions is so incredibly difficult. His birthday lies just after the August 1st cutoff, but being a private school, they can make exceptions based on the individual child. When we received the letter saying he was accepted, it said he would be in preschool. I accepted that because I figured I would let the school decide where he belonged. The day of orientation I met with the preschool teacher. As soon as I got home, the pre-kindergarten teacher called me and said he was on her roster. She asked if I could come back and meet with her. I went and talked to her for more than an hour, and she convinced me he was ready for pre-kindergarten. It was the right decision because he would have been so bored in the preschool class. It wasn't easy at first, though. I failed to teach him how to write at home. It's not that I didn't think it was important, but I just didn't realize he needed to learn so soon. The first month or two we struggled through how to hold the pencil and even if he was right handed or left handed. I am right handed, but Mark is left handed. He settled on the right and now he can write Matthew Carpenter, as well as, every letter of the alphabet and his numbers 1 through 20. Granted, his handwriting is not perfect, but he can do it. He doesn't always want to, but he has the ability. This is where our struggles come in. I was always the student who had no problem doing my work, studying and I still enjoy learning. I am hoping as he grows he will develop some of these habits, but this year he showed me how strong his will is on many occassions. It's not that he didn't want to go to school because he can't wait to go each day. He loves it, but he doesn't love work. He loves the social aspect, especially being with other kids. He also likes the structure. He thrives on routine. There were many afternoons where we sat down to do his homework, and I am not sure who cried more, him or me. I beat myself up wondering why is it that some women can handle 3,4,5 6 or 7 kids,and even homeschool them, but at the time I only had 1 and I couldn't handle it. I felt so many days like a failure as a mother. Mark didn't understand because my identity now is nothing more than being a mom, so when you don't do a good job at the only thing that defines you, and you try so hard and care so much, then you can't help but be upset and beat yourself up. The first three months of pre-kindergarten tested every fiber of my being. Matthew would not listen in the morning. He woke up in plenty of time to get dress and eat breakfast, but we still left the house frantic and at the last minute. It is so hard to realize as an adult that children really don't understand time. I dreaded mornings and afternoons. I felt horrible and guilty for feeling this way. Why did I dread the only time now I spent with him? I called myself a horrible mother so many times and really believed I needed to go back to work. Then, Evan was born. This presented a whole new set of challenges. Matthew felt replaced. He was no longer the center of the universe. Someone else was stealing his attention. The next three months I worked so hard to show him that he was still loved just as much, but there were many tears and tantrums along the way. Somehow, things got better. He started doing his work without fights, he got ready in the morning without meltdowns, and he accepted and even loves Evan. I learned some valuable lessons along the way. Here's my list of what I am taking away from pre-kindergarten: 1. As soon as he comes home, give him a snack. He doesn't always eat his lunch, so with a full stomach he is so much more cooperative. 2. Don't give him any foods with red, blue or yellow dyes. He bounces off the wall and turns into a lunatic. I had bought go gurts for snacks and then realized they had the dye and it was affecting his behavior. Now, I only give him organic yogurt. The commissary doesn't sell it, so I make a special trip to Safeway every week to get this one item. It is worth it. 3. I also learned that I need to accept that he is not me nor will he ever be me. I loved learning because it was my ticket to a better life. I wanted more than I had and the only way to get it was through an education. He loves the social aspect of school and the structure. 4. Let him play and run and get out the energy. Kids need it, especially boys. 5. If the teacher tells you he didn't behave so well at school, talk about it. His teacher told me one day that he couldn't keep his hands to himself, so she had to put him in the time out chair. He didn't want to talk about it, but I discussed it with him calmly and the next day I walked him in and made him apologize to her for not listening. It's never too early to learn respect. 6. Talking works so much better than yelling or crying that goes for both of us. I tell him over and over use a calm voice and tell me what is wrong. Don't whine about something you don't like. Problems are easily solved in a calm manner but become bigger challenges when you are worked up. 7. I learn that Mark is better at parenting than me. He has far more patience. This is a hard one to admit, but he also had great examples. His father once told me you can't have discipline without love or love without discipline. Mark really follows that advice. I sometimes give too much love and am lacking in the discipline. 8. Explore extra-curricular activities, but don't force them to do anything they don't want or that causes them to cry. Matthew did a primetime class after school that he loved. It was only 1 day a week for a half hour, but it was the highlight of his week. I signed him up for a 5 week soccer session, and it didn't go well. He likes kicking the ball, but playing the game was too much for him. The kids were bigger and more aggressive, so we won't try that again until he's older and if he wants to. He loves music, so I signed him up for a half hour a week piano class. He loves it and has even asked for a keyboard. Music and books are his passion. He can't read yet, but he loves books, so I do everything to make sure we have plenty of books around. 9. I learned how important teachers really are. Matthew had the best teacher and assistant teacher. He loves them. Teachers play as big a role in their lives as their parents, so develop a good relationship with the teacher. It takes an amazing person to teach young minds and do it with patience and love. 10. The most important lesson I learned is to show him and tell him over and over again how much he is loved. How proud I am of him. You can never give too many hugs and kisses. I am not a person who pretends to be something I am not or that life is perfect for me, so it was a hard year. It came with a lot of change and a lot of tears, but we got through it. I also spent a lot of time praying that God would help me be a better mother and give me the patience I needed. Those prayers were answered because I don't hide in the closet now and cry about how horrible of a mother I am. I know I will still fail at things and make mistakes, but I feel like next year will be better and this was the hardest. I also feel that I will be better prepared for what's to come with both boys. I guess I learned as much as Matthew did in pre-kindergarten and what we both learned will serve us well the rest of our lives.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
What makes the difference between wishing and realizing our wishes? Lots of things, and it may take months or years for a wish to come true, but it's far more likely to happen when you care so much about a wish that you'll do all you can to make it happen.” Fred Rogers. I said I would do it, and I did. I completed my first triathlon. It became my goal after I gave up my desire to do the Disney Princess half marathon because the thought of travelling to Florida with a 2 month old baby and 4 1/2 half year old from Hawaii seemed way too overwhelming. I learned so much in the 1:42 minutes it took me to complete the event. First and foremost, anyone who ever wants to do a triathlon should do the Boca Lanikai triathlon. It was so professionally done, and I can't even begin to describe just how beautiful of a place serves as the backdrop. The sun rose out of the ocean just as we were preparing to jump in the water. The ocean was amazingly flat and Kona winds rule!!! This is the only time in my almost 8 years in Hawaii I have been grateful for Kona winds. It means it's hot and because of it the ocean is flat. I prayed for a flat ocean. I know that sounds superficial, but I am not a swimmer, so the few times I got in with currents and waves I felt like I would never make it out. I stressed a lot about this swim. I have never swam in my life. When I was in second grade, my mother took me one summer to swim lessons at someone's house. The next time I had a swim lesson I was 39 years old and 7 months pregnant. Is anyone besides me crazy enough to take a swim lesson at 7 months pregnant? It was my only opportunity. It was on Tuesday and Thursday mornings while Matthew was in school and before Evan was born, so I had to do it. I never finished because Evan was born the day of the last class, but I got a good 6 to 7 weeks of classes in before I just couldn't go anymore. I trained by swimming with the ladies after Stroller Strides. We'd take turns wathcing each other's kids. Somedays I would get in my car and cry because I felt like I could not do it, but I couldn't back out either. Quitting is really not in my blood. Today, I hardly put my face in the water, but I swam 500 meters in 17 and something minutes. That may sound like a horrible time for some, but for me, it was great, considering I really have never swam in my life. Luckily, my friend Brittney let me borrow her road bike. It is a celebrity bike. She bought it from someone who was on the Biggest Loser. It is a great bike. The bike was the easiest for me and the most enjoyable. The happiest time on the bike was when I made the turn atop the hill on Marine Corp Base Hawaii. As I came flying down, I saw a scenery I had never noticed before. It was amazing. I could see from the North Shore to Waimanalo. The ocean waves crashing with the Koolau mountains in the background. This scene is forever etched in my mind. At that moment, I took a breath, sort of a sigh of relief, as I realized how much I truly love Hawaii and how it really is home to me. That view was worth every second of misery I felt training and during the race. I also realized a lot about myself. I have no talent. Do you know any athlete, other than gymnasts, who are just over 5 feet tall? Probably not. I am not an athlete and never have been one, yet, I have run 8 half marathons, 1 full marathon, dozens of smaller races and now completed a triathlon. How do I do it? Pure determination, not skill or talent. I wanted to give up so many times today, but my determination would not let me. Then, I realized how my determination is what made me accomplish everything I have in my life, it's not smarts or talents, it's all the will to achieve. This is the same determination I see in Matthew, yet, I spend so much time frustrated with him because of it. I blame Mark and the Carpenter males for it, but today I realized, he is me. The times I have failed or made mistakes are because I channeled that determination in the wrong way. He channels it quite often in the wrong way, but he's 4 and maybe what he is determined to do is truly important to him, even if it seems ridiculous and frustrating to me. I came to realize that it is my job, as his mother, to do what no one has ever done for me, and that is to teach him early on how to channel his determination in a positive way. He told me he can't wait to get big and run with me because he will beat me. I told him I have no doubt he will beat me, and I just hope he waits for me at the finish line. All of this came to me as I pedaled those 12 miles and because I saw the Windward coastline from a whole other view. Then, there was the run. I thought this would be the easiest for me because of all the running I do, but it wasn't. My body sent me a mean message. I had a horrible side cramp. Before I gave birth to Evan, I had never gotten side cramps while running. That has all changed. Since I gave birth to him, I have horrible side cramps and am dehydrated so often. I think the cramp was related to dehydration because after I chugged water at the water station I could enjoy my run. I ran as fast as I could, but it was still one of my slowest 5k times ever. In the end, though, none of the times matter. What matters is that I finished something I thought was impossible for me. At the finish line stood 3 guys I love more than anything in the world. Also, I had some great friends there cheering me on. My friends I trained with are wonderful ladies, and I am thankful for them. Some of my other friends came out and that really meant a lot. Seeing friendly faces along the way is so motivating. There was an elderly lady sitting in her driveway where we ran holding a sign that said, Imua, the Hawaiian translation is "Go Forward Warriors." How sweet and thoughtful of her. I wondered if she once ran races or did triathlons, or did she just feel inspired to see so many people set a goal and work to achieve it. That is what this triathlon was about for me, setting a goal and achieving it. Twenty years ago, I would have never dreamed of doing something like this, but at 40, my life is about setting good examples for my boys and achieving positive results from my goals. Today, I feel accomplished. My time may not be great, but I feel great knowing my determination once again helped me do something I thought impossible. I made great friends along the way. “ I did all I could to make a wish come true, and it did, but I had to "tri" a lot harder!!!
Friday, March 22, 2013
I know it has been such a long time since I have written a blog, and I do feel bad about not keeping up with it. I don't have an excuse other than life has been busy. Now that I have 2 children, I don't have quite as much free time. I have also been helping with St. Anthony School's 60th anniversary Gala and auction coming up on April 13th, and it is time consuming work. I love doing it, though. I am able to use my writing talents and soon my video producing talents, and the best part, they are very much appreciated. I wrote an article that was published in last week's Hawaii Catholic Herald. It has been so long since I have published an article, so it was nice to see my name in print. I have also received a lot of positive feedback, including the Vicar General (the second in charge to the Bishop)of the Archdiocese of Honolulu saying that it was a great article. The video production will begin on April 3rd, so the 10 days leading up to the gala will be quite busy. But, in the midst of it all, I planned a short family getaway. Mark and I have vacationed on the three other main islands besides O'ahu, the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. We decided to try something new and travelled to Lanai. I have always wanted to visit Lanai, but recent visits by some friends who gave it rave reviews convinced me it was time to make it happen. There are really only 3 places to stay on the island, the Four Seasons Koele, the Four Seasons Manele Bay, and Hotel Lanai. We stayed at the Koele. It was so incredibly beautiful. It reminded me of a plantation home. Being from Louisiana, I have seen lots of plantations, but I have never stayed in one. I have always wanted to, so who knew it would be Hawaii where that would happen. Lanai was an island of plantations because that's where most of the pineapple was grown. That is no longer the case, but the Four Seasons has done a fabuluous job of capturing that era and charm at the Koele. When we arrived, we were greeted with lei, cold towel and pineapple juice. We were told to sit by the fireplace while an agent came to us to give us our room information. The room was wonderful. A crib was set up for Evan, bathrobes hung in the closet for Mark, Matthew and me, sponges were cut out to spell Matthew and Evan, baby products and shamppoo, conditioner and bath wash were left for the boys, cookies and box milk were on a plate with a note for "Master Matthew and Master Evan," two stuffed ponies were on a bed, and the refrigerator was stocked with water. They made such an effort to make children feel welcome and special. Matthew was so excited about his sponges, stuffed pony and cookies. The lodge has many activities including, croquest, putt putt golf, full golf course, clay shooting, archery, horseback riding, ATV riding, lawn bowling and a heated pool. Matthew was too young for horseback riding, so we let him ride a pony instead. He loved it, but his favorite place to be was the pool. I was happy it was heated because it does get a bit chilly there. Even Evan enjoyed hanging by the pool. It doesn't matter what Four Seasons Resort you stay at, you can still visit the other by taking a shuttle that runs every half hour. The Four Seasons Manele Bay is on the ocean. It is a beach getaway. The beach is remote and beautiful. The waves are gentle enough for children to play in it. The resort workers were so kind to set us up with chairs, umbrellas and even a pack n play. Every half hour or so, they bring cold water around. They also come by with towels, spritz, and other treats. I got a crab wonton and pineapple and Matthew and Mark a smoothie. They just hand these out to everyone sitting on the beach. We spent most of one day at that beach and it was so relaxing. If this wasn't a family vacation, we would have rented a jeep and drove around because most of the roads on the island are dirt roads. I would have also liked to hike more. I did get to do one hike, but I can't say it was a lot of fun because I carried a 36 pound, stubborn 4 year old on my back. The Koloiki Hike starts at the Koele Lodge. It is 5 miles roundtrip. When you reach the peak, you get a beautiful view of both Molokai and Maui. It is an easy hike. Matthew could have done it, but he was being Matthew this day and not cooperating. We started out with Evan in the ergo, until we couldn't take anymore of Matthew's whining. Mark was going to carry Evan, and Matthew would be in the ergo, but we decided it was too much for Evan because he started to cry as soon as we took him out of the ergo. Mark went back with him and Matthew, and I continued on. I felt bad that Mark missed it, but in all fairness, he travels the world and flies over the islands all the time, so I deserved this one hike to get an incredible view. Lanai city looks like nothing more than a 4 block square. I am sure it is a little bigger, but we decided one night to go there for dinner because it is costly to eat at the Four Seasons and the menu doesn't change. We opted for a place called Blue Ginger. I wasn't impressed because it was order at the counter, and the menu was written on white boards. It was basically a plate lunch style place, which is NOT part of my lifestyle. I ordered off the healthy options white board. I had ono with salad and rice. I gave Matthew most of the rice, and the ono was overcooked. I didn't feel like it was healthy, but Mark seemed to like his mixed plate. There are two little markets in town, so you could always pick up food, or in our case a bottle of wine. The trip did get off to a rough start, but we didn't let it get us down. We flew Mokulele Express. This is a 9 passenger plane. When we got off the plane at the Lanai airport our checked luggage was not there. Of course, I had diapers and formula in a bag with me on the plane, but I only had enough for the day. I didn't put enough for the night. They told us the luggage would be sent on a later flight, and it did eventually get there, but we had to call at least 3 times to make sure. Then, on our return, we didn't even have to go through security. I am certain this has to violate some FAA rule. I don't think I would fly Mokulele again, but I would stay at a Four Seasons Resort anywhere in the world. Their customer service is top notch. The reason we stayed at the Koele was because they offer great Kamaaina rates. If you stay Monday through Thursday, the rate is only $249 a night. It is worth every penny of that. I am not sure if the Manele has Kamaaina rates, but I plan to find out because I definitely want to go back to Lanai. Mark calls it Hawaii's Best Kept Secret. It truly is an amazing place, especially when you come from O'ahu which is busy and crowded. It is the place to escape it all. I have one more island to visit and that is Molokai. I've always dreamed of going to the Vatican, but I know that won't happen for at least another 10 to 20 years. But, I can capture some Catholic history by visiting Molokai. Recently Father Damien and Sister Marianne Cope were canonized and became Saint Damien and Saint Marianne. Both are from Hawaii and became Saints because of their work at Kalaupapa, the leper colony, on Molokai. I really want to visit this place before the day comes when I have to bid Aloha to Hawaii. Last summer, I was planning a trip there, despite being pregnant. As I researched, I found out that children under 16 are not allowed to visit the colony, which meant we couldn't go. I found another option, but I am waiting for Evan to be a little older before I leave him all day. There are day trips that fly into the colony and give you a tour and then fly back. You spend the day there and come straight home. Once I feel comfortable leaving them for a full day, Mark and I will take that trip. It is the last thing on my Hawaii to do list. Once I leave Hawaii, I think any trips back will include a stay on Lanai because it really is Hawaii's Best Kept Secret.
Friday, January 11, 2013
Since I was a little girl and saw Sandy Duncan fly through the Saenger Theater in New Orleans in a Broadway production of Peter Pan, I have always been a fan of live theater. Maybe it’s because of my 30 plus years of dance classes or my dream of being a Rockette, of course my vertical challenges prevented me from ever pursuing this dream, but I have always loved watching a live stage show far more than a movie on the big screen. Last year when Hawaiian Airlines started offering direct, affordable flights to New York City from Honolulu, I thought about going to the Big Apple by myself just to see Broadway shows. Mommy guilt kicked in and I realized how selfish of me to spend money so frivolously on myself, so I didn’t do it. Around September I saw that Wicked was coming to Hawaii, but the dates of November through January didn’t seem like a good time, considering Evan was born in early November. Once Mark found out his parents were coming for a visit and would be thrilled to babysit, he bought tickets for us as my Christmas present. We went to a Thursday matinee because we just are too tired to do anything at night. It was such a wonderful, thoughtful present. We had third row seats and the show was fabulous. It was better than I even imagined. I was excited that Kim Zimmer, who I watched for years on the Guiding Light as Reva Shane, was in the show. My friend even told me I reminded her of the good witch, which was a big compliment because she was cute, funny and put on a great performance. I am writing about this experience because most people think of beaches when they think of Hawaii, but it is also a place full of cultural venues. Working in the television news industry, I met several people who also performed in live, local theater shows. The island of O’ahu has some beautiful old theaters. Amongst those are Diamond Head Theater, the Hawaii Theater, Manoa Theater, the Blaisdell performance Hall, Castle High School’s theater and the Paliku Theater at Windward Community College, to name a few. I don’t know all of the theaters here, but these are the ones where I have either seen shows or know someone who performed in a show there. Most of the shows I’ve seen were at Diamond Head Theater, including Chicago and South Pacific. I saw Jesus Christ Superstar at Castle High School’s theater, and I saw Riverdance and Wicked at the Blaisdell Performance Hall. I know I’ve seen more shows, but I am still sleep deprived, so I can’t remember and just want to share info on how great Hawaii’s theater scene can be. I actually had the opportunity to perform on Diamond Head Theater’s stage. In 2003 and 2005, I was part of the Society of Professional Journalism’s Gridiron show.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
It’s been a while since I could sit down and write because I am happy to announce that my sweet baby boy, Evan Jacob, blessed us with his presence on November 8 at 6:11 a.m. He is such a joy. I never thought I could love anyone as much as Matthew, but I have found that my heart overflows with love for both Evan and Matthew. I feel like my life and my family are now complete. I waited almost 40 years to have a real family, so I have been trying to enjoy every moment, even the sleep deprived ones.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Just because the sun is blazing hot and a shave ice tastes a whole lot better than a warm apple cider, does not mean that Hawaii isn’t celebrating Halloween right. The spooktacular holiday sweeps in with big celebrations for ghosts and goblins of all ages. At this stage in my life, it is all about pumpkin patches and trick or treating. Speaking of pumpkin patches, there are actually two on O’ahu. One is located on the Windward side in Waimanalo. It is smaller in size, but still offers lots of fun. This is the third year Waimanalo Farms has hosted the event. We were fortunate enough to get our own tour their first year. I arranged for our Stroller Strides group to go on a weekday morning. The children wore their costumes, had a hayride, found their way through a corn maze and just enjoyed being with each other. It was a great time!
Monday, August 20, 2012
The town of Kahala is located a few miles east of Waikiki. It has a reputation for being home to some of the wealthier people of Hawaii. It is quite evident, too, by the beautiful houses that line the streets. There are some beach parks there, but I have never visited any of them because Kailua beach is my backyard. For those who live in Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina, Niu Valley, and Kaimuki, those parks are the most convenient for beach days. There's also a mall in Kahala which isn't quite as big as Ala Moana Shopping Center, but it is home to many great stores, even local owned boutique style. Whole Foods and Macy's are the big name stores you'll find there. If you want to escape the tourists, it is a great place to shop. You will also find the Waialae Country Club in Kahala. It is famous for hosting the Sony Open every January. My Kahala Experience has been spent mainly at the Kahala Hotel and Resort, formerly named the Kahala Mandarin. I had heard how beautiful this resort is but did not visit it until December of 2005 when my husband's (then boyfriend's) Christmas Party was held there. I was very impressed with the old Hawaii charm the resort captured, but in a modern way. The party was a lot of fun. The food was served buffet style and quite delicious.