Archive for the ‘Mahalo’ category

Mahalo in 2016

December 27, 2016

Mahalo 2016

Today, I’d like to show my appreciation for some of the people and organizations that have made a positive impact on our lives in 2016:

Mahalo to our public school teachers, Kelcie in fourth grade, Amber who advised the science fair participants, Terrie who coordinated the speech festival, Deanne in summer school, and Kelsi in fifth grade. Mahalo to instructors Jessica and Jessie and all the volunteers at the UH Manoa Saturday Gene-ius Day Program (the graduation extravaganza was fantastic!). Mahalo to inspirational Kaiser High School students for organizing a Play180! Sports Clinic to encourage kids to have healthy lifestyles.

Mahalo to our neighborhood parks, museums, libraries, and volunteer groups: Koko Head District Park for their ceramics studio; our neighborhood libraries for Free Comic Book Day and summer reading programs.

Mahalo to our local companies and shopping centers: POP Fishing and Marine for their family-friendly Expo (the ice raft was a big hit); Home Depot for their Kids Workshops (we love the trophy cell phone holder for Father’s Day); and Koko Marina Shopping Center for the Halloween Trick-or-Treat and Hawaii Kai Holiday Parade.

Mahalo for family-friendly events: the Night in Chinatown, where I tried some delicious Nutella brownies; the 5210 Let’s Go! Keiki Run, which donated money to local schools; Hawaii Junior Golf Day at the Ko’olau Golf Club, where my son got some one-on-one coaching; the Paliku Arts Festival at Windward Community College, where we made wonderful 3D clay paperweights; YMCA Healthy Kids Day  (my vote for best activity: the obstacle course) at the Bishop Museum (“Sweet,” the World of Candy,  was a marvelously fun exhibit); the Mauka to Makai Expo at the Waikiki Aquarium, which gave away free native plants; the ESPN 1420 Sports Festival, where my son challenged himself to “Big Red”; the 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular at Magic Island; the Best of Honolulu Festival, where we treated ourselves to shaved ice and Slush Puppies; and the Children and Youth Day 3k Fun Run at Kakaako Beach Park (16-year old event director Jordan Jones did an amazing job!).

Mahalo for generous giveaways: free eggrolls from Panda Express on Chinese New Year; free Jumbo Jacks in the “Million Burger Giveaway” from Jack-in-the-Box; free Slurpees from 7-Eleven on July 11; and the BK Scholars fundraiser from Burger King (free cones, cookies, and more for just $1).

Thank you for making my days brighter with books and chocolate! This year, I was lucky to win a few books – Scott Sigler’s “Alight” from Random House, Brenda Novak’s “The Secrets She Kept” from GoodReads, and Blake Crouch’s “Dark Matter” from Read It Forward – and a bag of chocolates made by Fine Ass Chocolates from Hawaii.com.

And thank you, Better Hawaii readers, for helping to make Hawaii better.

Which events and celebrations have you attended? Who has helped to make your community better?

A year’s worth of mahalo

December 29, 2015

Mahalo 2015

Every day, people volunteer their time and talents to make someone else’s day better. Here are just of the few people and organizations that enriched our lives in 2015:

Mahalo to our public school teachers, Dawn in third grade, Terrie who coordinated the speech festival, Ross in summer school, and Kelcie in fourth grade. Mahalo to Shifu Vernon, who introduced my son to kung fu and Kehau, who taught a basketball clinic. Mahalo to the instructors and volunteers at the Saturday Gene-ius Day Program (my son loves his lab coat).

Mahalo to our neighborhood parks, museums, libraries, and volunteer groups – Koko Head District Park for their ceramics studio, Easter Egg-stravaganza, and free children’s classes; the Hawaii State Art Museum for their Second Saturdays (my favorite art project was watercolor painting); our neighborhood libraries for the fun and philosophical “Happy” (Brittni and Lavour are awesomely talented!), Free Comic Book Day, summer reading programs, afternoon movie, Star Wars Reads Day, and Spooky Halloween Laboratory.

Mahalo to our local companies and shopping centers: Home Depot for their Kids Workshops (my son’s favorite projects this year were a chalkboard and jet); Olomana Golf Club for hosting a Hawaii Junior Golf Day where my son could practice hitting brightly-colored tennis balls at a “golfopotomus”; Watanabe Floral for their Easter Egg Hunt; 7-Eleven for free slurpees on July 11; and Koko Marina Shopping Center for the Halloween Trick-or-Treat and Festival of Lights Boat Parade.

Mahalo for family-friendly events: the 5210 Let’s Go! Keiki Run, which donated money to local schools; the Mauka to Makai Expo at the Waikiki Aquarium; the Hawaii Book and Music Festival, where we met and sang along with PBS’ Steve Songs; the ESPN Sports Festival, where my son tried out rugby and tennis; the 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular at Magic Island; the Children and Youth Day 3k Fun Run at Kakaako Beach Park; and the SOEST Open House at UH Manoa, where we learned about explosions and ocean waves.

And a special mahalo to KHON2 and Living808, who sponsored a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” prize pack giveaway and chose me as a winner! It was an amazing holiday gift.

What are your favorite events and celebrations from 2015? How have you made your community better?

Looking back at 5 years of Better Hawaii

January 6, 2015

Better Hawaii - 5 Years

We’ve just wrapped up 5 years of Better Hawaii. Thank you for sharing these years with me. This blog let me share my ideas and opinions, but it’s you who really make a difference. I appreciate all of you – followers, commentators, and silent lurkers (come out and join the discussions!).

I am surprised that I have so much to write! Since 2010, I’ve written over 250 articles, covering topics on taxes and business, family and education. I’ve shared 60 book reviews, encouraging people to read and discuss books about Hawaii, about choosing to be happier, and about living a life with aloha.

Every week, Better Hawaii tries to follow these 5 principles:

  1. Write with passion. I write about the things I care about.
  2. Offer solutions. I share ideas and opinions for making Hawaii better, families stronger, and government more efficient. If I have a complaint, I try to have a possible solution or call to action.
  3. Be concise. I try to keep the articles brief, with short paragraphs, so they are easy to read.
  4. Proofread. I spend more time than I probably should, editing each article.
  5. Respond to readers. I really appreciate it when you read and comment on an article, and I try to reply to each one.

Here are 5 of my favorite posts over the years:

* We’re growing the wrong tax tree (4/6/10). Our current tax system is an overgrown banyan tree, with roots extending down and spreading over the whole economy… It makes more sense to have a tax system like a strong pine tree, simple and orderly. The federal government, which has national responsibilities and a larger tax base, should have lower tax rates. The states, which directly care for citizens but have smaller tax bases, should have higher tax rates and not rely on the federal government for funding.

* Opening different stores by day and night (6/28/11). What if two businesses could share the same location, the same space, but make their businesses totally different from each other? We could start a new trend of “Day and Night” restaurants and stores – one store by day, and a totally different store by night!

* Encouraging strong study habits in Kindergarten (6/5/12).  My son just finished Kindergarten at a Honolulu public school… I thought I’d take a moment to share 5 ways I helped my son build good study habits:

* Kindness matters (11/12/13). November 13 is World Kindness Day. Tomorrow, and every day, let’s brighten someone’s day with small acts of kindness. Whether it’s a smile, a helping hand, or a simple thank you, we can help make the world a better place.

* If Disneyland ran the IRS… (4/15/14). I visited Disneyland and was impressed by their impressive locations and productions, efficient operations, and attention to detail. I started to wonder: how would things change if Disneyland were in charge of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)?

Thank you for being a part of Better Hawaii and helping to make Hawaii better!

A year’s worth of mahalo

December 23, 2014

Mahalo 2014

My heart is full of thankfulness and appreciation this year! So many people, businesses, and organizations contributed to make 2014 helpful, educational, and exciting.

Mahalo to our public school teachers, Jacky in second grade, Kari in summer school, and Eliane in third grade.

Mahalo to our neighborhood parks and volunteer groups at Koko Head District Park for their Easter Egg-stravaganza and Summer Fun program. Mahalo to our neighborhood libraries for fun movie afternoons, Free Comic Book Day, summer reading programs, and Star Wars Reads Day (my 8-year old son won a Lego Star Wars kit!).

Mahalo to local charging station company Volta, New City Nissan, and the shopping malls that host them for our electric vehicle. Mahalo to the City of Honolulu for free parking.

Mahalo to home improvement stores The Home Depot Kids Workshop and Lowes Build and Grow for their free kids workshops, teaching them to follow directions and take pride in something they built (my son’s favorite projects were the give-and-save bank and claw game).

Mahalo to our local shopping centers: Hawaii Kai Towne Center for the Easter Bunny Celebration and Halloween Spook-tacular; and Koko Marina Shopping Center for the Halloween Trick-or-Treat.

Mahalo to our local companies: Panda Express, for free firecracker chicken on Chinese New Year; Barnes and Noble for their LEGO Movie events and a free cookie in my son’s birthday; the 5210 Let’s Go! Keiki Run, which donated portions of their registration fees to the local school of our choicethe American Red Cross, Hawaii Chapter for their free summer swimming lessons at Ala Moana Beach Park; and 7-Eleven for free slurpees on July 11.

Mahalo to family-friendly local community events: Night in Chinatown; the University of Hawaii Astronomy Open House; the Children’s Discovery Center for HDS Tooth Fairy Fun Day; Iolani Palace for their Royal Egg Hunt (a fun event even in the rain); Watanabe Floral for their Easter Egg Hunt; the Mauka to Makai Expo at the Waikiki Aquarium; the Hawaii Book and Music Festival; the 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular at Magic Island (special thanks to KSSK Radio for their prize wheel); Children and Youth Day and the 3k Fun Run; and the Festival of Lights Boat Parade.

Our family was lucky to win a few contests this year! Mahalo to KHON2 for hosting a “24: Live Another Day” preview event, Legacy Isle Publishing for encouraging writers and giving away “Writing the Hawaii Memoir,” Honolulu Family Magazine for tickets to “A Bollywood Robin Hood,” KSSK Radio for Oahu Ghost Tour tickets (just in time for Halloween), and Hawaii.com for delicious Honolulu Gourmet Co. Chocolate Pineapples.

What are you thankful for? Who will you thank today?

A year’s worth of mahalo

December 24, 2013

Mahalo in 2013

2013 has been filled with helpful people, businesses that give back to the community and volunteers who become friends. We remember to thank our family and friends, but I’d like to take a moment to thank some of the people and businesses that have touched our lives.

Mahalo to our neighborhood parks and volunteer groups at Koko Head District Park for their Easter Egg-stravaganza. Mahalo to our neighborhood libraries for special events, movies, Free Comic Book Day, Star Wars Reads Day (my son won cool Star Wars wall decals!), and Christmas ornaments.

Mahalo to our public school teachers, Karen in first grade and Jackie in second grade. Mahalo to Hawaii Kai Youth Baseball and the volunteer coaches, Chelsea and Justin, and the parent supporters on my son’s baseball team this summer. I really appreciate their time and patience!

Mahalo to local charging station companies Volta and the now-closed Better Place (and the shopping malls that made room for them) for our electric vehicle (we really appreciate the free miles when we run errands far from home).

Mahalo to home improvement stores The Home Depot and Lowe’s for their free monthly kids workshops, teaching them to follow directions and take pride in something they built (my son’s favorite projects were a football goal post game and a race car).

Mahalo to our local shopping centers: Salt Lake Shopping Center for the Easter Egg-stravanganza and Storybook Halloween; Hawaii Kai Towne Center for the Halloween Spooktacular; and Koko Marina Shopping Center for the Halloween Trick-or-Treat and Christmas Carnival.

Mahalo to our local museums and theatres: Bishop Museum for their Xtreme Bugs, giving us a new and up-close perspective of tiny creatures; the Hawaii State Art Museum for their free Second Saturday (we got to paint watercolor notecards with the Hawaii Watercolor Society); the Honolulu Museum of Art and Bank of Hawaii for their free Family Sundays (we had fun with the photo booth during their “Picture This” event); Spauling House for ArtSpree (we enjoyed making clay ornaments with the Hawaii Potter’s Guild); and the Hawaii Opera Theatre for their free Family Day (we learned about state lighting and got to watch the excellent “The Curse of Lou-Ling”).

Mahalo to our local companies who sponsored charity programs: Ala Moana Center for donating $20 on my behalf to DonorsChoose.org (and letting me choose the classroom project); Foodland for donating $350,000 to local schools and non-profits through Give Aloha, a community matching campaign; and the 5210 Let’s Go! Keiki Run (formerly the Keiki Great Aloha Run) and Honolulu 5k For Kids, which donated portions of their registration fees to local schools (my son raced ahead of me!).

Mahalo to our local companies: 7-Eleven for free slurpies on July 11; the Children’s Discovery Center for hosting a keiki swap meet (my son enjoyed selling his toys, meeting customers, and earning money); Panda Express, which gave away free Samurai Surf-and-Turf in April and free honey sesame chicken in October; Watanabe Floral for their Easter coloring contest and Easter Egg Hunt (I was so proud that my son won third place in the coloring contest!); and Central Pacific Bank for free chow mein and crispy gau gee during the holidays. And I can’t forget Costco for their free samples!

Mahalo to family-friendly local community events: Night in Chinatown, the YMCA Healthy Kids Day, the University of Hawaii Astronomy Open House, Independence Day at Maunalua Bay, Children and Youth Day, the Hawaii Fishing and Seafood Festival, the Leeward Discovery Fair, and the Festival of Lights Boat Parade.

What are you thankful for? Who will you thank today?

Four years, four bookprints

January 1, 2013

Like footprints in the sand, a Bookprint is the mark that a book leaves on your life. The “You Are What You Read” campaign encourages readers to share our Bookprints, the five books that most influenced our lives. I felt overwhelmed when I tried to choose the books that have had a big impact on my entire life, so I decided to start with the books that have only recently changed my life.

I’d like to share four books that have inspired me over the past four years:

* “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” (2008) by Alex Harris and Brett Harris.
Before I even started this blog, I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone by 19-year old twin brothers Alex and Brett Harris in their book, “Do Hard Things.” They encourage teenagers and everyone to do hard things instead of just getting by; and the first suggestion they make is to do hard things that take you out of your comfort zone. I wasn’t ready for a blog just yet, but they threw down the challenge. I submitted ideas to the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s 2009 “DOE Trim the Fat” contest – and won second place for ideas to improve our public libraries. Last year, I headed a school fundraiser and joined the board of my homeowners association.

* “Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone” (2009) by Mitch Joel.
It really started with GoodReads.com, because they sent me this book. I was a little overwhelmed, but one line jumped out at me: “Start your own blog – now” (page 262). Just five words, practical and blunt, words I’ve heard before and an idea I’ve thought of before, coming at the right time – a time when I wanted to be heard, and WordPress gave me a voice. The first “Better Hawaii” post was published on January 2, 2010.

* “Start Something That Matters” (2011) by Blake Mycoskie.
Mycoskie challenges us to redefine capitalism and find solutions through entrepreneurship, not charity.  As Mycoskie’s story unfolds, you can see his shift from making money to helping people to inspiring people to help others. DonorsChoose.org was only briefly mentioned in the book, but its mission stuck with me: to help people donate to classrooms in need. My first donation was to a classroom in Kea‘au, Hawaii, where my mother was born, to help students learn about marine science. Though the book is not about education, I also started reading a lot more about public education and what makes great teachers, because parents and teachers have the opportunity to inspire children every single day. We don’t all have to start something new – we can start doing things that matter.

* “Living Artfully: A Heart-full Guide of Ideas and Inspirations That Celebrate Life, Love, and Moments That Matter” (2006) by Sandra Magsamen.
“To live artfully is to live life fully, with meaning and a purpose – to bring beauty into being” (page 4), Magsamen says passionately. Just reading the first chapter inspired me: instead of buying holiday decorations, I made my own cardboard cut-outs of Santa, a reindeer, a gingerbread man, and a surfing menehune (elf) using pens, paints, and a utility knife. I signed up for a ceramics class at a community center, throwing my first pots and hand-making leaf and fish plates.

What books have inspired you? What books have left their bookprints on your life?

A year’s worth of mahalo

December 18, 2012

The year isn’t over yet, but 2012 has been filled with helpful people, some of whom we meet only once, and may not even know their names; and fun, exciting events sponsored by businesses who are dedicated to being good neighbors.

We remember to thank our family and friends, but I’d like to take a moment to thank some of the people and businesses that have touched our lives.

Mahalo to our neighborhood parks at Koko Head and Kamilo Iki for their free after-school classes. My 6-year old son has played basketball, table tennis, and games; and learned to draw and paint with friendly teachers. Mahalo to our neighborhood libraries in Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina, and Kaimuki for storytimes, puzzletimes, and special events.

Mahalo to Hawaii Kai Youth Baseball and the volunteer coaches, Chelsea and Justin, and the parent supporters on my son’s baseball team this summer. I really appreciate their time and patience!

Mahalo to the concerned man who made sure that I was okay and the thoughtful woman who bought me a Sprite to make sure that I was hydrated when I had a dizzy spell at a Home Depot Kids Workshop in July. I felt cared for.

Mahalo to Barnes and Noble for their weekly storytimes and special events; and for the free cupcake on my son’s birthday. Mahalo to The Home Depot and Lowe’s for their free monthly kids workshops, teaching them about careful building and giving them a sense of accomplishment (my son’s favorite projects have been a “savings shed” and a race car). Mahalo to the Honolulu Museum of Art and Bank of Hawaii for their free Family Sundays (the haunted house in October was so much fun!). Mahalo to the Lego Store for their monthly mini-build Lego events (my son built an owl and a black cat).

Mahalo to Iolani Palace for their Royal Easter Egg Hunt and Ward Centers for the Easter Bunny Treat Trail. Mahalo to Hawaii Kai Town Center for their Halloween Spooktacular and Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony; Koko Marina Center for their Halloween Trick-or-Treat, Keiki Kalikimaka Parade, and Christmas Carnival; and Salt Lake Shopping Center for their Fun-in-the-Sun Mele Kalikimaka.

Mahalo to 7-Eleven, which gave away free slurpees on July 11. Mahalo to Arby’s, which gave away free curly fries on Tax Day in April. Mahalo to Burger King, which gave away free onion rings to celebrate the Super Bowl in February. Mahalo to Cinnabon, which tried to make Tax Day a little sweeter with two free Bites in April. Mahalo to IHOP, which gave away free pancakes on National Pancake Day in March. Mahalo to Panda Express, which gave away free firecracker chicken in honor of the Chinese New Year in January; and free peppercorn shrimp in February. Mahalo to Yogurtland, which gave away free yogurt on National Frozen Yogurt Day in February.

What are you thankful for? Who will you thank today?