Archive for the ‘Family’ category

Fishing and the art of compromise

June 12, 2018

My husband loves fishing (and poke), and he really looks forward to sharing his love of fishing with our now 11-year old son. They leave early in the morning, before sunrise, and return in the early evening. I am happy that they can spend time together – and I can have a relaxing day.

My son doesn’t love fishing. During spring break, when my son was facing another fishing trip, he came to me and asked me to intercede.

Instead of being a mediator, I thought this was a good opportunity for my son to practice his negotiation skills.

“Suggest a compromise,” I advised him.

I helped him come up with a series of compromises to convince my husband to put off a fishing trip (my husband was going fishing, with or without him). Then I gave him a few tips, like “speak calmly” and “don’t whine,” and I sent him to negotiate.

Here are the compromises my son proposed:

First, he offered to go fishing on another day without complaining. I wasn’t encouraging my son to procrastinate, because this solution would benefit both of them. My son would stay at home today, and my husband would not have to deal with a sullen fishing buddy. Offer: declined.

Then, he offered to limit his “screen time” on the iPad and not watch YouTube all day. I know that we shouldn’t have to bribe our son to turn off the computer and TV, but this reinforced the idea that limiting screen time is important to us. Offer: declined.

Finally, he offered to go fishing on another day without complaining, limit his “screen time” and YouTube, and help unload any fish that my husband catches without complaining. This was a big concession, because my son doesn’t enjoy carrying fish from cooler to fish bag. Offer: accepted.

I think the compromise worked out well – my son stayed home, he practiced his negotiation skills, and my husband will appreciate an uncomplaining fishing buddy the next time.

What kinds of “deals” did you make with your parents? Do you negotiate with your children – and what kinds of compromises worked best?

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Summer reading programs that rock!

May 29, 2018

Reading rocks! If you think reading is boring, you’re probably reading the wrong books. There are books, comic books, graphic novels, ebooks, illustrated guides, and even cookbooks for everyone.

Don’t let the summer by pass by without joining a summer reading program and immersing yourself in new worlds, new ideas, and new adventures – while getting rewarded for reading.

Join a summer reading program in Hawaii:

* Libraries Rock! Hawaii Public Libraries Summer Reading Program, June 2 to July 14, 2018. Children, teens, and adults can join a free reading program, earn rewards, and attend fun programs throughout the summer. Register online and keep an online reading log at librarieshawaii.org. This year, there’s a chance to win a Flyaway Trip for Four from Alaska Airlines.

Stop by the Hawaii State Library on Saturday, June 2 and join the Summer Reading Kick-Off, featuring books, fun activities, refreshments, and music by The Tongan Sisters!

If you want to share your opinions and ideas with other readers, join a book club at your local library. Hawaii public libraries in Aiea, Hawaii State (main branch), Kailua, Kaimuki, Kapolei, Makawao, North Kohala, and Waianae meet monthly – check their website for a complete list of book clubs and eBook clubs.

* The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading program, May 15 to September 3, 2018. Elementary students in grades 1-6 can read 8 books, record them in the Reading Journal, and turn it in at Barnes and Noble for a free book from the book list – to keep, share with a friend, or donate to their classroom library. Download a free printable Reading Journal to help kids keep track of the books they read and their favorite parts. There are stores in Honolulu, Oahu and Lahaina, Maui.

What books will you read this summer? Which books are on your “want to read” list?

I left my sole at the charity walk

May 22, 2018

I left my sole at the Charity Walk.

We woke up early Saturday morning, packed our water bottles and sunblock, and joined the Visitor Industry Charity Walk at Ala Moana Beach Park. It was a beautiful day, with blue skies and a cool breeze. Ala Moana was filling with people leisurely converging on McCoy Pavilion.

This walk was a perfect event for our family. It gave us a chance to talk and enjoy the morning without television, smart phones, or computers. My husband could sample snacks and treats from hotels and restaurants. My son would be rewarded for reaching each checkpoint. And I could support an even that raises money for Hawaii nonprofits.

We picked up our walk bracelets and stamp cards, and listened to the music and welcome speeches. We were in the first “wave” of walkers, and strolled casually down Ala Moana Blvd., down Kalakaua Avenue, and back through Kalia Road to Ala Moana Blvd. No one was in a hurry.

“Be prepared to gain weight,” they warned us. They weren’t kidding. Along the 5.25 mile course, there were 17 stations with food and drinks. Hotels, restaurants, and businesses offered everything from water, POG, and cantaloupe tapioca to granola bars, fruit, cookies, SPAM musubi, and kalua pork tacos.

The most beautifully-presented treat was a paper tray with a crab salad slider and sweet pineapple cornbread dessert from the Halekulani and Waikiki Park Hotel.  The most elaborate offering was a small Chinese take-out box with fried rice from the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

There were some unexpected joys along the way: cold towels at the turn-around point from the Waikiki Resort Hotel, a plumeria flower from the Royal Hawaiian Center, and a Cool Zone that sprayed misty water from the Prince Waikiki.

Though they served us snacks along the way, they also offered us breakfast from the Hyatt Regency Waikiki before the walk (we went straight to the starting line) and lunch from Kyo-ya – sausage hotdogs with chili, salad, fruit, and a shortbread cookie or energy bar.

Mahalo to all the course marshals and volunteers, who prepared and served food, gave us directions and encouragement, handed out water and snacks, and entertained us along the way – live music, hula dancers, Kamehameha High School cheerleaders and the McKinley High School Band – and the police who looked out for us. I am so thankful to the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association for organizing this event every year to give back to the community.

I really enjoyed my first Visitor Industry Charity Walk. It was lively, entertaining, and very delicious, and I plan to make this an annual family event! Next year, I’ll remember to bring a plastic bag or container – and I hope to see recycle bins along the course.

So, how did I lose my sole? Not far from the starting line, before we even reached the first checkpoint, the sole of my shoe started to detach. By the time we reached the Ala Wai Promenade, it came off completely. I walked gingerly, with a slight limp, for the rest of the walk. But I made it through the checkpoints and to the finish line.

What is your favorite local race or walk? What other activities do you do as a family?

Talking about teen anxiety and depression

May 8, 2018

I work for a nonprofit mental health counseling center, and I was happy to realize that the Hawaii Book and Music Festival expanded their program to include Wellness in Hawaii. Books and music strengthen our mind and spirit, and it seems natural to include to mental and physical health.

Because my son is entering the teen years, I was drawn to a panel discussion on “Anxiety, Depression, Teenage Suicide.” It was moderated by University of Hawaii professor Maya Soetoro-Ng, who began the discussion by revealing how teen suicide has touched her personally.

There were five panel participants: psychologist and director at Waimanalo Health Center Sid Hermosura; child and adolescent psychiatrist Sonia Patel; author, professor, and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic Jon Kabat-Zinn; psychologist Julie Takashima-Lacasa; and professor Thao Le, who called for a sense of joy and excitement even when talking about serious issues.

Maya began the discussion by asking, “In a time of great connectedness, why are we so lonely?” Aside from genetic reasons, family situations, and financial circumstances, there was a general consensus that screen time and social media contribute to a sense of loneliness and disconnectedness.

With screen time, “[teens] get caught in their heads,” Sonia said, and parents don’t want to upset kids by limiting it. Julie added that screen time is highly associated with depression, and teens who use over five hours of screen time are 71% more likely to be depressed.

We need to teach teens tools to manage social media, Sid urged, because “likes” and number of followers can become tied to self-esteem. Thao added that we can become addicted to immediate responses and “likes,” and social media makes it too easy to compare and judge ourselves against others.

What solutions are out there? asked Maya. We need to teach mindfulness in schools, Jon recommended, “we need to cultivate emotional intelligence.” Julie agreed, saying that we need to “cultivate self-awareness” and teach emotional regulation so that we can make better decisions. “Anxiety and depression are not individual problems, it’s a collective problem,” Thao stated. She advocated aina-based learning, where we can connect to nature and each other.

Sonia offered three everyday suggestions: sleep, meals with family, and less screen time. Sid suggested that primary care physicians and pediatricians can screen for anxiety and depression.

There wasn’t much time for questions from the audience, but a family court judge asked about ways we can address trauma in teens. Sonia said that in her practice, she helps teens identify trauma, separate trauma from their self, re-write the way they respond to danger to make better choices, and learn what triggers will trick your brain into making poor choices.

The panel discussion opened and closed with performances by singer/songwriter PraiseJesus Artis.

I wish we had more time to discuss the programs that are already in place to help teens, and perhaps even hear from young adults who experienced teen anxiety and depression.

On this day, to the sounds of music and the murmur of readers, the conversation was just beginning.

Read more, go screen-free, and a book and music festival

May 1, 2018

When my son was young, I read to him every day, took him to storytime at libraries and bookstores, and signed him up for summer reading programs. In elementary school, he loved reading the “My Weird School” books. I thought he was well on his way to being a reader.

And then in middle school, things changed. A tablet, a smartphone, and YouTube began to overtake his reading time. One day I realized he hadn’t read a book in a few weeks. I casually suggested that he find a book to read, but inside I was at DEFCON 3.

This week, April 30-May 6, 2018, Children’s Book Week, the annual celebration of books and reading, is partnering with Screen Free Week, when children, families, schools, and communities rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen.

The theme of Children’s Book Week is “One World, Many Stories,” there’s a free downloadable Resources Kit with posters, bookmarks, activities, and more, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.

Books become even more important when you realize that, including multitasking, children ages 8-18 spend an average of 4.5 hours per day watching TV, 1.5 hours using computers, and more than 1 hour playing video games, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study. These hours spent with screens can have a negative impact on learning.

Screen Free Week, sponsored by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, put together a persuasive and helpful Organizer’s Kit. I highly recommend the media literacy activities. One lesson is about needs vs. wants, in which kids count how many of the ads they see that are trying to get you to buy things that you really need. Another lesson is about being a product placement detective, challenging kids to spot the ads hidden inside television shows and electronic games. There’s also a pledge card, a certificate of achievement, and a list of 101 screen-free activities.

Crowning the week is the Hawaii Book and Music Festival, May 5-6, 2018, on the Frank F. Fasi Civic Grounds and Honolulu Hale. It’s a gathering that honors books, music, and story-telling, and promotes literacy and life-long learning. Beyond books, and music, there’s also a “Wellness in Hawaii” track with panel discussions about issues that affect our physical and mental health in the islands.

What was the last children’s book you read? Will you go screen-free this week?

Loving and remembering our pets

February 20, 2018

Today, the Hawaiian Humane Society is celebrating Love Your Pet Day, dedicated to our close relationships and bonds with our pets.

It’s been two months since we said goodbye to our yellow Lab, twelve years since we said goodbye to our cat, and we miss them. While I don’t have a pet to pamper today, I want to remember our pets and appreciate the ways they enriched our lives.

Our cat was very independent. He was not a lap cat, though he mellowed when he got older. He would only come to us when he was hungry, and he wasn’t afraid to stick a paw onto our plates to steal some food. He loved to sit on high places, where he could look down at us with superiority or distrust. When we had an aquarium, he would sit on top of the cover, and leisurely swipe his paw down by the glass to scare the fish. He loved mangoes; I remember peeling mangoes at the kitchen sink, and he would jump up and lick the mango juice on the peels. I would cut up small pieces of mango and feed them to him.

The day that we adopted our dog, she was eight weeks old, and I wrote in my journal, “She came up to both of us, then chewed on an electrical cord, examined slippers and shoes, tried to escape into the next room, chewed on more shoelaces, almost escaped out the front door, examined some weight-lifting equipment, then wandered back to the electrical cord before we put her back in the enclosure.”

Our cat wasn’t excited to meet her. I noted, “He retreats to the kitchen countertop, where he can look down on her suspiciously. She learned that he has a food dish, and keeps trying to steal his food when we’re not looking.”

When our son was born, our dog was very gentle and patient him. She let him pull on her tail and even sit on her as if she were a horse. But one day when he was about a year old, she was a diaper thief… I heard her chewing on something, and when I looked over, it was my son’s diaper! She had stolen it right off him, and he was standing in his onesie. We don’t know how she stole it or why he let her steal it without raising a fuss.

To say goodbye to our dog, my 11-year old son wrote this poem:

I miss my dog by BWL
The morning I wake up and I lean over, hoping to see her precious face, and now gone,
Leaving for school, I would say my goodbyes, now I truly say one last goodbye,
As we come home, I still imagine and wish I could see her beautiful head and tail in the window of my door,
When we eat dinner I can hear her barking for demanding more food, wish I still could hear it.
Before bed, I miss her comforting us, I miss her furry smell, I miss her loud barks, I miss everything about her.

If you are thinking of adopting a pet, or if you want a refresher on how to take care of your pet, the Hawaiian Humane Society has a collection of helpful resources on their “Pets are Family” page.

Do you have a pet in your life? What is the best thing about your relationship with your pet?

First sunrise of 2018

January 9, 2018

Instead of staying up late to watch fireworks or writing New Year’s Resolutions that would be broken, we got up early on New Year’s Day and walked the First Day Hike up the Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail.

I wanted to start the new year with something we could do as a family, something we had never done before, and something that we could also share with other people. A hike, even an easy one on a paved road with a gradual ascent, seemed like the perfect way to start the new year: a little bit of effort, clean air, and gorgeous views of the Kaiwi coast.

With jackets, flashlights, and water bottles, we walked up the clean road, stopping at the lookout points to peer down at the ocean. The near-full moon was a bright disk over Koko Crater, giving us enough light on the first part of the hike. The wind was cool and temperate; no sudden gusts pushed us towards the edge of the trail or seeped through our warm clothes. Above us, people ghosted across the mountain on smaller trails. Like mountain goats, people sat on the slope below the Point and made themselves comfortable.

I sat cross-legged on a rock wall at one of the Makapu‘u Point lookouts, before the top of the trail. I closed my eyes and could hear the waves crashing against the rocks, the murmur of voices in the early dawn. The dark gray clouds slowly lighted from cobalt to blush to orange crème.

Facing the sun, we couldn’t see any lights from homes or the highway. We were in a private family circle, part of the community.

At sunrise we walked up to the Point and listened to the pu, the oli, the bagpipes, and taiko drums welcome the new year.

The hike down the trail was quicker in the morning light. Energetic runners jogged past us on their return trip. A boy sat on a rock facing the ocean. A woman danced on a boulder.

It wasn’t even 8 am yet, and we had the whole day ahead of us, the whole year ahead of us.

How did you celebrate the new year? What do you look forward to in 2018?