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.)

Thursday, September 4, 2014


a few months ago my gal pal, lena, & i took our kids hiking through makawao forest. it's a perfect spot to let the kids run free since it's massive, always empty, & there's plenty for the wee-ones to safely explore. along the way we bumped into another mom & her four kids. when it was time for them to go this mom called to her kids & they all came running. i mean it, all four kids dropped what they were doing & without any hesitation came on the very first call. lena & i stood there in awe. oh, & did i mention that they were all smiling. i've been a mommy for seven years, i've been an auntie for twelve, & i've spent my whole life constantly around kids but i have never seen that kind of joyful obedience. so of course i just had to find out this lady's secret. that's when i learned about the pono system & our lives have been so much better ever since. pono is a beautiful hawaiian word meaning righteous, proper, excellent, &/or upright. it pretty much sums up the qualities i want to drive my sons in their day-to-day choices.

i've tweaked & expanded upon the original idea that was pitched to me that rainy day in makawao forest. i've created a more holistic approach to meet the unique needs of my children. that's the beauty of the pono system, you can mold it to your children's individual personality while keeping to the main concept. the original pono system was strictly verbal but my kids are younger so i opted to add the visual aspect.

basically, every week or so we focus on a new pono habit. the amount of time we spend on each pono habit varies based on my boys mastering of the current skill-if they get it quick we move on after a week, if not we may stick to the same skill for two or three weeks. the current pono habit is based on a current  need for improvement or some skill that is lacking among my boys. like when tj was getting a little selfish with his toys our pono theme for the week was sharing is caring. or when cooper was getting a little fed up with his little brothers our theme was we not me. right now our pono theme is wake up & be happy. i thought this was an important habit to get in to-mostly for me-i mean, who doesn't want to start the day off with a smile.

with each new pono i introduce the theme, explain why this habit is important & what we can do to better master this habit, i put visual reminders on our pono wall: one typography print with a catchy saying that will ideally get caught in coop's head every time he looks at it & that i use to remind them throughout the day when i see someone (including me) starting to slip. the second is a pretty graphic print that will help the littles remember their new responsibility. we also have a list of all the pono habits we have covered to serve as a constant reminder.

now here's the best part, the pono jar. this miraculous upcycled raspberry jam jar is the real key to the whole thing. when i catch the boys using their new pono skills they get rewarded with pono points. pono points are money & my kids are willing to do just about anything to see the nickels & dimes grow in their pono jar. the amount of money they receive with each pono point varies, sometimes their act was simple & i just toss in a penny, other times they may get a quarter, it really doesn't matter. my boys just love to hear the sound of metal colliding with glass as a new coin makes its way into the pono jar. in the beginning the points were vital, i mean really, kids aren't just going to start sprinting the first time you call their names without some form of incentive. but over time i've helped the boys internalize the good feelings that result from their pono actions so now i only reward them monetarily about half the time. the rest of the time they are totally content with a word of praise & a pat on the back. the immediate goal is to teach kids good habits but ultimately you have the opportunity to teach your kids to be internally motivated to do good.

the pono system isn't a quick fix. it's a system, it takes time. but it produces real results. i have noticed drastic changes in each of my boys in the few months that we have strived to be more pono. mylo picked up on being pono even before he hit two. often i just need to ask my boys, "are you being pono?" & that's enough to motivate better behavior. they slip, every single day, they struggle & sometimes they are just uncooperative & unwilling to behave, & that's ok. because we all have grumpy moments where no amount of money & no feeling however warm & fuzzy it may be is going to get us on track. when we hit those days, i try to focus on making it to bedtime with as little tears as possible while gently reminding my boys when they are being pono & when they could do better.

**if anyone is ever interested in adopting the pono system for their own home i have a pono board on pinterest i often use to select new themes from, you can access it here

Monday, August 18, 2014

coop hits 7.

cooper is 7. my baby is 7. wow. it's like once he hit 5 he has been growing at a ridiculously fast pace. he's in first grade. that's like legit school, no more baby stuff. he loves it's a lot of work. fortunately, cooper is a genius (it's my blog, i can brag if i want to). he is our rational & reasonable. he understands so much more than the average kid. in fact, if you want him to do something, or not do something, you just need to sit down & explain the reason why & hence forth he will obey. cooper is intellectual & fact driven. he loves to learn. we spent the summer doing science experiments, art activities, & learning spanish & sign language just to satisfy his need for knowledge. we go to the library almost weekly & every time i have to limit him to ten books-which he sees as an almost impossible demand. every book he pics in non-fiction & the topics range from archeology to marine biology. he loves to tell what he knows & make hypothesis & discuss these things. he is polite, kind, & well behaved. he always comes home with the best reports from school & aunties. he loves being the biggest brother. he teaches his brothers & is always the first to come to their aid. mylo has figured out that if mommy won't do something for him (i.e. open another bag of chips or turn on another show) he can ask cooper who always complies. his new thing is reading to his brothers. it's probably my favorite thing ever. he is very well rounded & succeeds at just about everything he does (he gets it from his dada). he is very in tune with his body & has incredible control over his movements-if you teach or show him how to do something he can mimic it almost instantly. he has always had an innate understanding of his physical limits & never pushes himself beyond what he knows he can handle. he always knows when to stop or when to ask for help. he loves sports & insists i cheer the loudest (which is a stretch for this shy mama's limits-but i do it for the sake of my guy) & often plays better when he hears his mommy & daddy yelling. he loves praise & affirmation. this summer coop started earning his keep with daily chores & weekly allowance. he's still pretty shy in one-on-one situations but his confidence shines any time he's in front of a crowd. he loves dominating on the soccer field or presenting in front of an assembly at school (which he was asked to do twice last year). coop has lost four teeth this year & only adult tooth has filled in the gap. i love his gappy smile. it reminds me of the gummy smile he strutted for nine months as a baby. i am amazed by how tall he is. it won't be long until he passes me up. actually, too soon we will be able to swap clothes (not that he'd ever wear mine, but truth be told sometimes i do wish i could borrow his). he's everything i could hope for in an eldest child. he's strong, smart, kind, helpful, & above all a great example for his brothers. he's well aware of the responsibility he has as the biggest brother & he gladly embraces it. he has a gorgeous smile but nothing warms my heart like seeing his eyes light up. his presence adds so much to our family & our days just aren't complete when he's away at school. tj & mylo ask at least once every half hour if we can go pick up coopy & tj constantly tries to trick me into going by saying that he just heard the bell. then tj, mylo, & i compete to see who can be the first to hug coop when we pick him up in the afternoons. when daddy gets home he always reserves quality time with his buddy to chat about cooper's day & read whatever nonfiction has currently captivated coop's mind. we love him more than the sun, the moon, & all the planets & stars. we love him all the water to pluto's farthest moon & back.

1.  cooper's best friend: jai, blake, & andrew
2.  cooper's name: cooper j watkins
3.  cooper prefers to go by: cooper
4.  cooper's favorite animals: megaladon 
5.  what does cooper want to be when he grows up: gemologist or marine biologist
6.  cooper's favorite movie: curious george & ninjago
7.  cooper's favorite song: all the songs on 98.3
8.  what makes cooper happy? getting surprised with something really cool
9.  what makes cooper sad? when it rains & we can't go to really fun places
10.  cooper's favorite food: "square pizza" (little ceaser's)
11.  cooper's favorite place: fun factory
12.  cooper's favorite color: green 
13.  cooper's favorite game: mancala & war
14.  cooper's #1 wish right now: to find a genie & ask for three wishes: 1. a shrinkamajigger to shrink        things 2. a time machine 3. a real megaladon tooth