Friday, January 2, 2015

christmas 2014

the holidays came & went in a bit of a blur this year. and i'll be honest, i was absolutely horrible at visually documenting all of it. i totally neglected to take any pictures on halloween or thanksgiving. and although, i did remember to take my camera out on Christmas i did not remember to actually use it. so i have a handful of low quality iphone 4 pictures & that is it. pathetic, i know. so i'll do my best to put in to words what i forgot to put on film. 

i opted to keep christmas low key this year. mostly, due to the fact that my energy was totally burned out after our trip to california, tj's birthday, school projects, & being a temporarily single mom while todd crammed for finals. tj & mylo didn't seem to mind one bit. coop, on the other hand, was constantly reminding me of all the forgotten festivities. i did make sure to fulfill his every holiday wish & squeeze in our annual traditions. we made gingerbread houses, scoped out the local christmas lights, watched santa paddle in on a double-hull canoe, visited the lahaina banyan tree in all its lit up wonder, devoured plenty frozen hot chocolate, wrote letters to & made cookies for santa, tracked santa on his trek to maui (which, did you know hawai'i is his last stop according to norad. personally, i think the guy in red gets a little exhausted from all the holiday hustle & bustle ends on hawai'i so he can stick around for a little rest & relaxation. we searched for him around island but we decided he was most likely on moloka'i to avoid all the paparazzi.), grilled christmas dinner on the beach, made sandmen & sand angels, & we baked, a lot, this year we added toffee & peppermint bark to our holiday treat list. every year we do an advent calendar. i've switched it up, sometimes, the boys open little doors to retrieve pieces of chocolate, sometimes they get a new book each day of december, one year they opened little bags with treats & toys. this year, as christmas approached, i noticed there was a little too me-me-me & not enough awareness of others. so our advent calendar involved reading a story about Jesus each day & checking off a list. and for the 12 days of Christmas we did a 12 days of service. this was definitely the most time consuming of our holiday activities & the most rewarding.  early in the month coop & i made a list of 12 acts of service we would do for others as Christmas approached. some days the boys were not at all in to it & i was literally dragging them along. other times they were thoughtfully involved & so happy to serve. i don't know how effective this was for the boys but it was definitely the approach i needed to get my heart in the right place. this is a permanent addition to our Christmas traditions.

i guess all my attempts to keep them grounded through Christmas were totally foiled when i went a little overboard on the presents (due to my lack of planning & delayed shipping times). but i did remind them, multiple times, that they were spoiled this year & they shouldn't expect that many gifts ever again. this was the first year that all three of my boys were really in to Christmas. and i mean really. every thing was new to mylo. it was like he had never seen any of it & every thing was the coolest thing he had every seen. like Christmas lights. he couldn't get enough. and he was obsessed with santa. in fact, mylo has decided that he wants to be santa when he grows up. we made countless visits to the mall to spy the fat guy. but, despite all his amazement, mylo would not come in to contact with his hero. he regressed in to his shy shell every time santa looked his way. i kept most of their presents wrapped at the top of my closet until Christmas morning because i doubted mylo's self-control. but as packages for the boys started rolling in i opted to test putting a few presents under the tree. total mistake. twice i caught mylo curled up under a blanket right in front of the tree quietly opening presents. trouble-maker, i tell you. mylo & tj were very pleased with the constant flow of fresh goodies. they got very good at sneaking sweets whenever my back was turned. tj was really in to the elf on the shelf. he was the first one to spot hoku each morning. and this was the first year he picked out & paid for gifts for his brothers. he was very excited to share in the gift giving. cooper loves it all. from putting up the christmas tree to taking it down he is completely in to the all Christmas has to offer. although, like every seven year old, opening presents is the highlight of his holidays. he's been gift giving for years but every year his favorite gift to give is mine. he always makes me something full of love & thought that just makes my heart melt. this year it was a hand drawn calendar that hangs proudly above my desk.

i feel so blessed to have these boys in my life. every day i am grateful to our Lord & Heavenly Father for trusting me with such sweet spirits. being their mother is the second most incredible gift i have ever been given (first, being the atonement). and i strive every day to fulfill my responsibility to lead, guide, comfort, love, nurture, nourish, strengthen, & cherish my beautiful sons. i am also so tremendously grateful for my dear friends & family. like the beautiful & extremely talented alta bills that sketched our family picture featured on the front of our Christmas cards this year. mahalo to you, all. i hope this holiday season was full of happiness, peace, & aloha.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

california 2014

we booked some spontaneous (is spontaneous still applicable when most everything we do is last minute?) flights & took off to california last month. the trip was just too good to pass up. the nflpa takes pretty good care of their retired players. they payed for todd's flight, our hotel, rental car, & room service, all on the condition that todd do some work outs, visit a dietician, & get treatment (aka massages) not far from where he's from. and the timing was impeccable. my parents, my sister, & her family already had their plans booked to be in san diego at the exact same time. basically, it was a win all around.

the boys loved it. we tried to keep the trip a secret but coop is just too smart. he was on to us from the get go. when we finally spilt the beans he was not too surprised, but still very excited. tj was confused about the whole thing. it took about a week of being on california before he finally realized it wasn't just another hawaiian island. the flight over was easy peasy. mylo slept in my arms most of the way & the older two were happily occupied by handheld technology. 

other than a day trip to anaheim we spent the first week & a half in carlsbad. you should have seen the boys faces when we pulled up to our hotel & legoland was next door. i doubt they have ever been that excited before. we picked up season passes & spent just about every day bouncing between the hotel pools & the park. ti's favorites were the dragon ride, & building & racing cars. coop loved the dragon ride, & the incredible designs in miniland. mylo loved the lost kingdom ride, & the boat ride. they were all completely ecstatic to come face-to-face with snow. they've asked about the freezing phenomena for months, years even & couldn't wait to experience it for themselves. i opted to sit that part out since the high 60's weather was enough cold for me. i am still amazed with how well my boys  handled the southern california winter. i was so worried but obviously their skin is much thicker than mine.  

 staying in a hotel is probably my favorite part of vacationing. no cooking or cleaning? throw in a couple of pools & other amenities & i am so there. i may have to fight my germophob fears a little when watching my toddler roll around the hallway floor or sit bare bum in the hotel room chair. but what does it kill 'em makes 'em stronger, right?

i won't lie, i was a little shocked with how beautiful the california beaches were. i mean, don't get me wrong, they've got nothin on maui. like, not even close. but they were gorgeous in a totally different admire-from-a-distance kind of way. (heaven knows, i wasn't about to get hypothermia by jumping in that frigid water.) the boys were so excited when we showed up to the beach. they were literally mad when i told them i didn't bring their swim shorts-well, until they stuck their toes in & realized just how cold the water was. then they were more than happy to keep to the sand.

other than binging on mexican food & in-n-out, the highlight of our trip was family. we spent the last week bunking up with todd's grandparents, my parents, & a couple nieces & nephews. the boys were surrounded by so much love, they could barely handle it. cooper spent most the week touring the city with grama, papa, & jameson getting spoiled every step of the way. tj & mylo were obsessed with   kam, rylie, "auntie kam's mom," & uncle scott. they made some lasting memories that the boys still refer back to on the daily (like never, & which hand). my favorite part was getting a little quality time with my niece & nephews that made the journey to see us. i was beyond excited to watch my nephew, kam, play in a soccer tournament. he is such an amazing athlete & so much fun to watch. 

we had the unique experience of spending thanksgiving with my family & todd's family all together. which means, my dad's mashed potatoes, my mom's rolls, nana's creamed corn, nana's stuffing, & a couple julian's pies. it was everything our hearts & stomachs could wish for. we also got to celebrate nana's 82nd birthday with the lady we all so love & admire. 

it was real california. but this island girl is happy to be home. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

watkins 2014.

every year we take family photos. some years we have a photographer. some years we don't. this year i couldn't get todd to agree to a pre-specified time & date for the photos so it became a last minute, do-it-ourselves thing. basically, one sunday afternoon i asked, "when are we going to take our pictures?" todd said, "how about now?" & thirty minutes later we were pulling up to the maui tropical plantation ready to go. thanks to our rebel, tripod, & my very basic photoshop skills we were able to pull off these treasures. 10 points to anyone who can figure out which picture ti's head was edited in to the frame. the location was perfect. just a few miles from our hale & the kids were in heaven feeding the ducks while todd went through a lot of trial & error on the camera settings. this place has a special spot in our hearts. since it's nearby we often stop by for fresh fruits, they are my go to for papaya & mango. we also love to wonder the grounds, feeding ducks, & checking out what's growing. this is also where the little boys & i were for playgroup when a random photographer started taking pictures & asking questions, & one week later our photo showed up on the front page of the maui news. also, this is the home of the infamous "mean duck," mighty my's archenemy. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

tj's cops & robbers party

tj had a hard time narrowing down a party theme this year. he contemplated a star wars party, a truck party, a tool man party, a halloween party,  a cowboy & indian party, & a blue party. but in the end, he went with a "policeman party" which was kind of a given considering his love for all things police. i was not at all excited about his decision. i had no clue how to pull off such a thing. then one day it dawned on me, oh, duh, cops & robbers. ti's only requests were donuts, "lockers" (handcuffs), & all his friends. this party ended up being one of the easiest, yet. a small order to online order, a few late nights crafting, a run to krispy kreme & we were set. we opted to have it at kepaniwai heritage gardens for its location & beauty. but, i totally overlooked the fact that it's the wettest spot in the area & this party was being held in the middle of december. bad call, mommy. thankfully, the kids didn't mind the drizzle (hence my sons' extra frizzy hair)

the party started with finger printing & mug shot coloring & a few rounds of hot money bag (ya know, hot potato with a money bag). tj loves anything that resembles stamping so the finger prints were a highlight for the birthday boy.

next, the kids picked if they wanted a cop or robber treat bag. each was filled with a snack (chocolate milk, donuts, donut holes) & cops & robbers goodies, (tattoos, a robber mask, play jewelry, gold coins, hand cuffs, & a badge). they ate while checking out their goods.

while they were in to their dress ups they posed for their own mugshots. which was pretty hysterical for the adults.

that's when i realized (wink, wink) that the piñata was missing & in its place were some rather suspicious finger prints (originally, i planned to have coop dress as a robber & the kids would have to chase him down to retrieve the stolen goods but since the party was held during school hours i had to adjust my plan). the kids searched the area using the robber's footprints & fingerprints to track down the piñata. they worked together to open the piñata & dig in to the goods. my mother-in-law made the most adorable money bags for the kids to put their candy in & use to haul home their party favors.

while the mom's worked on clean up the kids did car chases, some were cops & some were robbers (originally, i planned to have a chalk board painted box car for each kid that they could decorate with chalk but i got to lazy at the last moment & this happened instead.)

tj loved it all. especially, pretending to be a policeman all day. and opening presents. he woke up the next morning asking if he could have another birthday party.

oh, yea, & i made all the printables for the party so i figured i'd share the labors of my love. if anyone's interested here are the links to the free printables.

mugshot coloring pages

finger print pages

mugshot quote signs

mugshot background (my photoshop skills are very, very basic. these are large files since i printed them large-i went with the industrial print from fedex, something like $3 each. long story short, the files are too large to upload to google docs & i don't know of any other way to upload them. if you'd like these printables email me & i'll send them on over.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

TJ turns 4.

at 10 days early & with only 2 hours of labor tj burst in to the world in a rush, and he's been cruisin' ever since. he's my little roller coaster with the highest highs & the lowest lows. he's got a heart of gold & he is always aware of others. in the words coop, "tj always knows when i'm sad & shares his toys with me. and he always knows when i'm lonely & plays with me." he is a thoughtful & sensitive little snuggle bug, but can throw fits with the best of them. and he isn't afraid to let his lungs loose (as he made obvious the second he was came in to this world with the loudest newborn wail i've ever witnessed). he's a problem solver, a confidence builder, a helper, & a teacher. he's the shyest, most reserved of my bunch, but steal his toy or push his brother & he's quick to put you in your place. he's naturally athletic & pretty dang smart but he has no inclination to show off his abilities. every once in a while, when he's feeling up to it, his true talents shine & my jaw drops. he's got the most incredible memory & never loses a matching game. he is a natural comedian & knows exactly when to throw in the perfect punch line. he loves to dance & makes up his own raps. he can't wait to play on a sport team & earn his own trophy. he loves playing dress up & is almost always found in costume. his current favorites are a tool man, policeman, & fireman. he never wants to cut his hair, and i'm ok with that. his word of the year is "cundanganut" which means pretty much anything. he loves anything with sugar & avoids healthy food like the plague. squished in the middle of two pretty dominate personalities i always worried he would get lost but this kid has his own opinion on everything & nothing can swerve his determination. he has no problem playing up to cooper or down to mylo & every so often he prefers to do his own thing alone. he's a major daddy's boy, like big time. he still insists on being snuggled to sleep every night & since todd started school i get to do the honors. he says the sweetest prayers & always remembers the needs of those around him. every day he warms my heart with the sweet things he says & the thoughtful things he does. he's pretty incredible & he's mine, all mine. happy 4th birthday, todd juniors (his preferred name at this point)

1.  tj's best friend: cooper, mylo, kam, and august
2.  tj's name: teejay
3.  tj prefers to go by: todd juniors
4.  tj's favorite animals: dogs 
5.  what does tj want to be when he grows up: a wild kratts 
6.  tj's favorite movie: star wars 
7.  tj's favorite song: justin beiber "baby", & pharrell "happy"
8.  what makes tj happy? treats
9.  what makes tj sad? when my brothers don't play with me
10.  tj's favorite food:  pizza
11.  tj's favorite place: legoland 
12.  tj's favorite color: silver & blue
13.  tj's favorite game: lego star wars
14.  tj's #1 wish right now: a penny

Thursday, October 23, 2014

dirty 30.

can i get a big, hell yea for turning 30 (like two months ago, but hey, when you turn 20 you kind of quit counting)! woop! here's to another decade under my belt & the start of something great. 20's were definitely a whirlwind. i did more in 10 years than i really ever hoped. i earned a bachelor's & a master's degree, married the man of my dreams, birthed 3 healthy happy children, & miscarried 1 tender soul. traveled all over the usa, & moved to paradise. i saw so many amazing ups & a few difficult downs. i worked hard & got my hands dirty. i dressed up & enjoyed some fancy parties. i met so many inspiring people & crossed paths with a few people i'd care to forget. i saw true love & devastating heart break. i fought some foul fights & ran from a few. i laughed, i cried, i almost died. i'm in the best shape of my life, mentally, physically, spiritually, & emotionally.

20 things i learned in my 20's

1. when you feel grateful show it. never hide the good in the world.
2. when you make a choice own it. it doesn't matter if you make a good choice or a bad one. once you've done it, it's yours. if you were wrong, admit it, apologize. learn & grow. if you were in the right defend your decision. never hide. never slurk.
3. a smile & a good laugh can cure anything.
4. hold tight to good people. it's so rare to come across them. 
5. set your expectations high & never settle. you'll never regret the junk you missed out on but you will regret compromising yourself.
6. you really can't ever be over educated or over dressed. always better to over achieve than risk under achieving.
7. being kind is a million times better than being right.
8. a smart mouth isn't smart at all. in fact, it's rude.
9. the true keys to happiness are service, love, & dedication to family, friends, & the Lord. if you aren't happy you probably need a little more of these in your life.
10. quality over quantity every time.
11. moderation is always the best, except when it comes to family, friends, & the Lord. in those cases, give it all.
12. never return an empty plate.
13. homemade is the way to go. except in the case of shave ice, then ululani's is no ka oi.
14. when life gets hard, as it inevitably will, slow down & take time to revel in the simple things.
15. everything is better with chocolate & children.
16. don't compare or envy. it will only hurt you. if ever you feel insecure just compliment those around you. uplifting others is the best way to feel uplifted about yourself.
17. every person has something unique & beautiful about them that no other person in the entire world possesses. search out that bit & admire it, both in yourself & in others.
18. if there is something about your life that doesn't make you happy change it. you can do that. whether it's where you live or your job or a personal characteristic, it is never to late to change.
19. the ability to do better & be better is limitless. never stop progressing.
20. time & love are the greatest presents. they are the only ways that stick with us forever.

we celebrated my 30th with a little staycation to ka'anapali. and it was just what this ol' gal needed. no cooking, no cleaning, swimming from sun up to sun down (well, way way past sun down), and the company of my four favorite men. all the perks of a vacation without all the hassle. plus, let's be honest, i live on the greatest island in the world, why would i want to go anywhere else? honestly, though, i didn't even want to go on the staycation. in my mind the perfect birthday entailed a day at the beach with my boys, a nice dinner, & an endless flow of desserts. luckily, my husband knew just what i needed & totally disregarded my wishes.

 the boys loved the pirate ship, the park, the slides, & the bathtub-basically everything water related. mylo was a maniac in the pool. he would insist on jumping in the water sans floaties then he would float in the water looking at everything until finally reaching for help to surface. he swears he can swim. tj could have gone down the slide a billion times, actually, i'm pretty sure he did. coop is so much like his mama. he wanted nothing more than to float through the massive pools playing fish. todd had a pretty rad & somewhat life-threatening experience with a moray eel (more on that to come, later).

Monday, October 6, 2014

student athletes

we've now got three student athletes on the watkins team. 

1. cooper's loving the first grade. he lucked out and got the kind of teacher that every mother dreams of. he amazes me with his school work. since he's one of the oldest in the class & kind of brilliant it makes sense that he would be the smartest in the class. but that's not the amazing part. what's so rad about this guy is how he uses his down time at school. he finishes all of his assignments in record time & rather than sit around he challenges himself to take his assignments one step further. if the teacher asks them to copy his spelling words he will copy his spelling words then write sentences for each word. if the teacher asks for sentences he writes paragraphs. oh, and he rarely comes home with homework because this time-manager finishes most of it while in class. he's just like his mama. and i couldn't be more proud. he just started another year of soccer & he couldn't be more excited. soccer season is his favorite time of the year. he got his favorite coach, daddy, again this year. he's kind of a natural when it comes to managing sports & school. when cooper's teacher asked him what made him special he said, "i'm super fast & super smart." (coop was asked to write sentences for his spelling words. the word was hat. he wrote "the man had 1 hat on monday, he had 3 hats on tuesday, the net week he had 10 hats!" so creative. then for the word what he wrote, "what was the present? it was a surprise. i wonder what it will be. a boat? or a big toy master? now it is night time i woke up and it was a big remote boat. it was my first guess! yesssssss!" um, brilliant.

2. tj started preschool. it's called storybook school & it's a co-op. so far he loves it. i wasn't sure how he would do but since a few of his old friends are in the class he seems pretty comfortable & confident. i taught the first week & loved it. the kids are awesome, the curriculum is so fun, & i just love seeing a different side of tj. on days he doesn't go to storybook school tj & i do our homeschool. we've been doing "school" since january but we've really stepped it up this school year. we have our homeschool preschool every morning (he insists. in fact, he won't leave the house until his school is done.) so far he's mastered shapes, colors, & coating, & he's half way through numbers. we have weekly themes & field trips. each day we have art, reading, a fine motor-skill, & a gross motor-skill activities beyond our worksheets. i love this quality time i get with my middlest child & he amazes me with how quickly he catches on to everything. he has a unique way of thinking & every day he comes up with something brilliant that just amazes me. he has an incredible memory, & a real knack for distinguishing differences, & navigating problems. tj was going to start soccer this year but with two other student athletes in the house i decided i couldn't take on another time commitment. but he thinks he's on cooper's team & participates in all the practices. 

3. todd started the executive mba program at university of hawaii. this is a distance learning program so he's able to do most of his schooling from maui & just travels to oahu every month or so. he couldn't be more excited about this new phase of his life. needless to say, this is a real adjustment for our whole family. he now works full-time & attends school full-time, which combined equals about a billion hours a week. so we squeeze in family time every chance we get. between school, work, & coaching todd doesn't get much downtime but when he does you can usually spot him on the waves or passing a ball at the park.

(just cause it doesn't feel right writing about 3 of the 4 i'll add a little tid-bit about the mighty. if he's awake while tj & i do our homeschool he always joins in. he either colors in his favorite coloring book for the day or he works on color activities with me. so far he knows blue, orange, white, & "hulk smash". and he's a huge fan of the number 4. he hates the 3 hours a week when tj is away at school. i was so excited to have some alone time with my baby but he prefers the company of his brothers. he may love soccer more than any of my other boys. he wants to play all the time. and he insists on practicing with cooper's team, through the entire 2 hour practice. he dribbles, passes, & shoots right along with the u8's.)