Uncategorized

Beach Hopping on North Shore Oahu

The Honolulu/Waikiki beaches may be more popular on Oahu, but you should definitely consider exploring the beaches in the North Shore part of the island.

Our family visited 4 beaches in one day, and each one was so unique. It’s amazing how just traveling a few miles along the coast can make such a difference in current, sand texture, types of trees, rocks, or mountain view.

Banzai Pipeline

The first beach we visited was the Banzai Pipeline, also known as Ehukai Beach. This was the most impressive to us because the waves were huge! We love seeing “pipeline” or barrel waves and watching how powerful they were as they crashed on the shore. Banzai pipeline is known for drawing world class surfers, and national surfing competitions are held here! My daughters and I had watched several surfing movies before coming to Hawaii so it was really fun to see some awesome surfers in real life. The sand here was soft, but there was a steeper slope down to the water than what we were used to due to the current. I didn’t let my kids get in the water here. We liked that there was a restroom and a place to rinse sand off your feet.

Papa’iloa Beach

This was my older daughter’s favorite. The sand was soft, and the view was stunning. To your right, palm trees, and to your left, mountains. The black rocks added more dynamic to an already picturesque landscape. We came to this beach in hopes of spotting sea turtles but never saw any. It is not as well known as some of the more popular ones for sea turtles so this is the one I was most excited about. I was hopeful we could spot turtles and have a really pleasant experience since it wouldn’t be as crowded. I wish we had talked to my friend who lived on Oahu before our trip – she shared after we returned that you can easily spot them under rocks or when snorkeling. I guess we were expecting to just spot them on the beach area. We should have looked more carefully!

You can find it by entering the name of the beach on your GPS, however, the parking lot is in a very nice neighborhood where you will see a “dead end” sign. But keep driving and you’ll see it on your left! The parking lot itself looked a little foreboding with a “lock your car, high theft area” sign and the cars in the lot were very old and run down looking. You couldn’t rinse off your feet here, so in hindsight, we would recommend bringing a jug of water on your visit.

Laniakea Beach

Laniakea Beach is a very popular beach known for spotting sea turtles. We drove by the day before we actually visited, and saw a huge group of people huddled together making videos with their cell phones, We assume it was to video the turtles. When we visited ourselves, there were many cars parked in the lot across the street but it was easy to find a spot close to the beach path. Be careful on your way down and along the beach. Some of the rocks are slippery. We even saw a girl slip and fall pretty hard while we were there. We didn’t see turtles, but as I explained with Papa’iloa Beach, they like to be near the rocks and we didn’t explore very long since my crew was tired from exploring the other three beaches. i would recommend allowing more time here and think we would have seen turtles if we had just stayed longer and looked more closely. I also read in a blog post that they are more easily spotted late afternoon, like after 3pm. Although there was high potential for spotting turtles, with it being so crowded and all the rocks (large and small), I wouldn’t recommend it for snorkeling.

adventures with kids

The Adventures of Oakley and Madeline on Oahu

On our vacation on Oahu, two cousins, Oakley and Madeline had the greatest adventures. You never knew what they would do next!

They had “kids’ meetings” (Madeline and Oak called them “keetings”) to discuss their plans, usually related to the cake they wanted to bake.

One day while they were swimming, Madeline was struggling for air and had gotten water up her nose. She came up and Oakley thought she needed to be saved. He grabbed her, and was reassuring that he was trying to help her. He really cares for his cousin!

Later on, Oakley decided to style Madeline’s hair, only something didn’t go quite as planned. He went to get his mom Emily, and told her he needed her help – he couldn’t get the brush out of her hair. Emily asked if Madeline was panicking and Oakley told her “no.” When his mom saw Madeline’s hair, she saw that the hair was so wound around the brush that the brush wasn’t even visible. She slowly untangled the hair. Oakley said, “Madeline I wish you could have seen your hair. It was so beautiful.” Madeline replied, “I do wish I could have seen it, Oakley.”

It was often a challenge to find the two in the large house we were staying in with many different rooms. One time, we found them in the guest house and Oakley was under the bed!

Thanks to Oakley’s mom, Madeline and Oak were able to make their cake! Oakley especially loves to cook. At first they planned for it to be a tropical cake with pineapple, but they decided the pineapple could make the cake soggy. They ended up making a vanilla cake with three layers! They took turns stirring and with other parts of the cake making process. They had thought about crumbling something to look like sand on top, but ended up crumbling oreos to look like lava rock and using ocean blue gummy candies to look like water.

Uncategorized

Oahu for Foodies: Best Grocery Stores

When our family travels, one of the things we research before visiting is where to find the best grocery shopping. Lovers of fresh fruit, shellfish, good steaks, poke and really foods of all kinds, it’s important to us to procure the best food available since we tend to cook a lot when we travel.

My husband is a classically trained chef, and on the rare occasions we’ve paid major bucks to eat out when we travel, my daughters and I will often feel that dad could have made the food better and we should have just eaten at home. Hence the importance of finding the best groceries!

We have a Foodland 3 minutes away from where we’re staying in North Shore, which is super convenient for staple items and interestingly, the best tuna poke. But when you’re on Oahu and looking to do the most of your shopping, you’re best bet is to go to Honolulu.

In Honolulu, we were delighted to find two of our absolute favorite grocery stores that we frequented often when we lived in San Francisco: Nijiya and Safeway.

Nijiya is a Japanese supermarket and an absolute gem. We love to grab ikura (salmon roe) and tekka maki (smaller sushi rolls, and we adore raw tuna). We can’t wait so we usually just consume in the car! Just do it! We have also appreciated finding some harder to find produce there such as daikon, and enoki mushrooms. I love their miso and edamame as well as sake.

Safeway is a wonderful and large grocery that we love for two reasons: It has just about everything you could possible think of and need so you can accomplish most of your shopping there, and it’s fairly affordable! There is plenty of parking on the lower level and the store itself is on the top level. They have an outdoor patio on the upper level where you could grab a bite at the deli and eat outdoors. but it was closed when we visited due to Covid. You will also need to wear a mask anywhere you venture indoors (as of the date of this post, July 2021).

I saved the best for last, Foodland Farms. I have heard Foodland Farms referred to as “the Hawaiian Whole Foods, and also as “Whole Foods on Steroids.” Unfortunately, it also shares higher prices as a characteristic of Whole Foods, and as a result, we only bought some specialized items there such as crab legs, shrimp (amazing!!), some fruits, and a few pantry items. The wine section was epic, and also wine can prove to be harder to find on North Shore since it is a dry county. So stock up here!

It is important to note that Hawaiians are huge on respect and the environment. You will want to purchase some reusable bags while you’re there as they frown on waste and you will bag your own groceries as well. They also are on island time, and view someone rushing around, impatient and in a hurry as rude. So just relax!

These three stores in combination are the reason my eyes light up each time I open up our fridge or look in our pantry. It’s so fun having this bounty of foods available to us that we can’t find back home.

personal development · wisdom

You are who God says you are.

Life is challenging during a regular year, but especially during this past year; so many are struggling. Struggling with being the person they want to be, finding the friends they long to have, getting out and doing the things they wish they could do.

I’m reminded of the scene in Disney’s Moana where Moana approaches Te Kā the lava monster. Te Kā had her heart stolen and is blinded by rage and anger. Maybe we have lost heart and have become taken over with bitterness. Maybe we’ve shut others out and like Te Kā, we are blinded by our emotions. A turning point in the film happens when Moana reminds Te Kā, “They have stolen the heart from inside you. But this does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you are.” We may need someone to remind us that we are off course and that we are not defined by what has happened to us or what has been done to us.

Maybe you’ve been hurt or isolated or unworthy. Perhaps you have felt betrayed, excluded, or written off. Maybe you have been misjudged, gossiped about or rejected. Or it could be that you have made legitimate mistakes and experienced guilt and condemnation. Whatever the case may be, you can let circumstances and misperceptions cloud your vision of the person you were put here to be. When this happens, more than any other time, we need God. We need to remember who he says we are and who he put us here to be:

God says you (yes you) are beautiful, unique, loved, special. You are created with a purpose. You are cared for, lovely, and precious. You are strong, important and forgiven. You are a new creation. You are protected and empowered. You are chosen. You are family and you are his.

God is God for all of us, no one is excluded. No one is written off or rejected by him.

If you struggle with seeing yourself irrationally through your own eyes, or make the common error of trying to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. Take a step back, and remember who you are in God’s eyes. That is the only perception that is 100% true and real.

kids · parenting

15 Fun Indoor Ideas for Kids in the Winter: Screen-Free!

In the past year, just like most families, we find ourselves home more, especially in the winter months. We watch movies, learn virtually, and spend lots of time on zooms. My youngest daughter loves her tablet, and my oldest loves her phone. But it is so important to time aside each week and even daily where they need to find something to do, off screen.

I have tried to become intentional about setting time aside and asking them to put all devices away so that they are giving their eyes and minds a break. In the spring, summer and fall we spend lots of time outdoors and we go on lots of adventures outside the house. It has been more challenging as the weather has turned much colder and the wind can make it downright unbearable to go outside. Despite the weather, it is important to me as a parent that our children don’t grow up addicted to screens and that their hearts find delight in the simple pleasures in life. I thought I would share a list of indoor activities we have enjoyed that bring joy with no screen involved. I hope these help and inspire your family and I would love to know if you have suggestions to add in the comments. We are always looking for new ideas.

  1. Reading: We are regulars at our local library! We check out new books every few weeks so they are always options around that are new and enticing.
  2. Blocks: Wooden blocks (we have these), legos, Magformers, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs.
  3. Art: Coloring, painting, cutting and pasting, jewelry making, knitting
  4. Writing: journaling, making lists, goal setting, bucket lists, making cards, writing letters, crossword puzzles, word searches
  5. Board games: Scrabble, Pictionary, Sorry, Connect Four, Guess Who, Checkers, and Yahtzee are some of our favorites.
  6. Music: Play piano (or take up another instrument), play records on the record player, read and learn song lyrics, create a music center (we have harmonicas, kazoos, tambourine, drum, recorder, xylophone and more)
  7. Puzzles: large floor puzzles or consider investing in a puzzle board or table for more complex puzzles.
  8. Build a fort: include blankets, pillows, sheets and flashlights.
  9. Cooking: our kiddos especially enjoy baking and making pizzas.
  10. Chores: there are some they actually like. Both like folding laundry and bringing in and putting away groceries.
  11. Indoor trampoline. One of the best investments we’ve made. It lets them get out energy even when the temp outside is freezing.
  12. Decluttering: Both of my children will take on decluttering willingly. They love the free feeling of getting rid of unwanted things and making space. They also like knowing some other families in need may receive the items they are letting go of.
  13. Make-believe games: Playing house, school or doctor
  14. Tactile fun: kinetic sand, play dough and modeling clay are always a hit.
  15. Bring on the classic toys: Lite Brite, dolls, cars, rubix cube

I hope you and your kids are inspired by this list. Once you are armed with fun ideas, you may find hours go by without anyone wanting to look at a screen. Raising kids who aren’t addicted to screens is really important, and it starts when they are young. The habits you instill in them now will stick with them for years to come.

Uncategorized

6 Healthy Ways to Process Emotions as an Introvert

Processing emotions in a healthy way looks very different when you’re an introvert. Where extroverts may vent and confide in others or go to therapy, introverts can be more at risk of keeping things in. So we have to have strategies and coping skills to allow us to process our feelings too. Here are 6 techniques that any introvert can use to process and move through emotions, and can even help you move to more positive emotions.

1. Quiet time. While someone outgoing can feel replenished by talking with others, it’s draining to an introvert. Quiet time, and especially meditation can help you to recharge your battery and feel refreshed, especially if you have a job or other situations on a daily basis that require you to be social.

Meditation isn’t nearly as complicated or hard as you might think. Just sitting in a quiet place and clearing your mind of thoughts is a form of meditation – no need to chant or repeat a mantra necessary. If you are experiencing negative emotions, clearing your mind and shifting to no emotion will provide you great relief. And if you find sitting and meditating challenging, take a nap!

2. Journaling. It’s so important to have an outlet to express how we feel. Journaling is a great and safe way to release and process our thoughts and feelings. Not only is journaling amazing for releasing and sharing the things that have happened to us, it is a good way to help us create and plan for what’s ahead.

When you’re journaling, a great technique is to make a list of positive aspects. Whatever you’re having negative feelings about, try shifting to thinking of positive qualities about that topic or individual and it will provide you with relief. There aren’t many concepts that don’t have positive aspects.

If that seems too difficult, or you’re too upset to write on that topic, consider making a general list of positive aspects – things that are going really well in your life or things that you are grateful for. Sometimes you’ll find you need to completely change the subject to feel some relief.

3. Get outdoors. When emotions are getting the better of you, there is no better distractor than Mother Nature. Taking a short walk or just standing outside and watching the clouds move across the sky or the trees blow in the breeze will soothe you and calm you. Grounding is effective too. If the weather is nicer, try taking a barefoot stroll: this is grounding. It shifts your energy and can be very relaxing.

4. Tap into your five senses. By tapping into one or more of your five senses you can calm yourself pretty quickly. Take a deep breath, and if you’re at home, feel the texture of a nearby blanket or fabric. If you’re at work, feel the smooth surface of your desktop or workspace. If you’re driving, just feel the texture of your steering wheel with your fingertips. Have a healthy snack or a drink of water. Turn on one of your favorite songs, or sometimes it’s helpful to turn the music off and listen to the air conditioning or heating unit which may sound like white noise. Look around you and notice your surroundings. Tapping into your five senses may sound simple, but it forces you to be present and stops the momentum of your worry or concern.

5. Self-care. Indulge in a form of self-care. For you, maybe that’s a relaxing bath, getting your nails done, or making yourself a cup of tea. Do whatever you know brings you peace and calms you.

6. Get crafty and be creative. Creativity is one of the best outlets we have available to us. Whether it’s creating art, music, writing, or maybe a craft like knitting or baking, it gives us a way to express ourselves and in the act of creation we feel a sense of renewal. You may or may not consider yourself to be artistic, but regardless of that, you will find that expressing yourself and making something new will force you to be present and be in the here and now.

In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’s character Maria sings “My Favorite Things,” where she recounts the things that bring her joy, and help her cope when she is down, and to her list I would add all of the above. I hope this list inspires you and brings you hope, calming and peace.

health · quarantine

Supplements to take during Pandemic

Vitamin B, C and D.

Do you have these? I’ve noticed lately that these are recommended for those who test positive. I also know well before this these same vitamins were recommended to stay healthy and be taken preventatively. I take all three daily and will continue to do so.

Do you know why each of these are needed?

Vitamin C probably goes without saying, during the winter months especially.

Vitamin B is great for energy! Super B contains all the B vitamins you need.

Vitamin D is what you take in from the sun and is lacking in winter months. I read recently that 80% of those who tested positive had low vitamin D levels. Take a look at the graphs below of this correlation. Low vitamin D is also linked to depression.

I encourage you to add these to your daily supplements

essential oils · health · natural lifestyle · Uncategorized

Natural Ways to Protect, Support and Improve Memory

Several years ago, my mom was becoming more and more forgetful. I worried about her and at times I was even afraid for her. Later, she was diagnosed with dementia and the beginning stages of Alzheimers. I researched foods, essential oils and natural regimens to help my mom. Now, years after she has passed, I still use these protocols to support memory for my family, since memory-related illnesses are genetic. I hope sharing these here can help others as well.

Foods

First, I want to share some foods that you will want to make a part of your weekly and perhaps even daily diet. I began my research by reading about the benefits of coconut oil. You can find tons of research and articles on coconut oil and ways to use it. Have a tablespoon a day to boost memory.

There are so many memory boosting foods you can enjoy at breakfast time. Eat plenty of bananas and almond or peanut butter which are good for the brain, and I love these together! Greek yogurt is also excellent. I love the Chobani coconut with either ground chia or flax seeds mixed in. Flax seed and chia seed are among the top foods for brain health, and they have very little flavor, but add a nice crunch. They are excellent for smoothies as well.  Avocado toast with a sunny side up egg on top would be amazing, since avocado and eggs are both good for the brain. Add blueberries to your list (or any berry for that matter). Berries help with memory since they are high in antioxidants, and caffeine improves focus so go ahead and have that second cup of coffee.

Essential Oils

Several essential oils boost memory and brain health. Some single oils include: rosemary, frankincense, vetiver, basil, and cedarwood. Powerful essential oil blends include: Brain Power, Clarity, Common Sense and Grounding. I use Young Living Essential Oils, and they also have several other products for memory that I use regularly.

Other Products to Support Memory

Young Living offers several products to support memory. Mindwise (a tablespoon a day), Ningxia Red (a shotglass a day of this antioxidant Powerhouse), and Omegagize (an Omega 3 fish oil supplement). If you would like to learn more about Mindwise, I wrote a post on this product specifically. You can purchase Young Living Products here.

In addition to Young Living Products, I also take a turmeric supplement daily. Be sure to take one that includes black pepper, otherwise, the body cannot effectively absorb the turmeric and it just passes right through you.

Foods and Products to Avoid

It’s important to know what you can do to help with memory, but just as important to know what to avoid. Avoid exposure to aluminum. Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s and other memory related illnesses. Avoid drinking from aluminum cans, and avoid deodorants containing aluminum. You would be surprised how many brands do!

Cut out artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, Splenda, Sweet and Low, and Equal. You can read so much research-based literature out there on the link between artificial sweeteners and decreased memory! It is linked to Alzheimers. This was very upsetting to me and I became very passionate about educating others on this.

Finally, avoid sugar, gluten and processed foods to stay clear-headed. This would be good advice for anyone, but especially anyone seeking clarity and a sound mind.

 

kids · parenting · wisdom

You are good.

Last school year, when my youngest daughter was in kindergarten, she had homework to write three “I am” sentences. Three sentences that began with “I am” that were true about herself. As I was going through some of her old papers this week, I came across this homework paper again.

Her first sentence brought tears to my eyes:

I AM A GOOD PERSON.

I echoed back to her, “You sure are a good person.”

Don’t we all need to hear that? And to know that is powerful.

But the truth is we all have times in our life when we question our goodness. We feel less than. We allow the words or perspectives of others taint our self-image, or we let our disappointment in our own thoughts, words or actions affect how we view ourselves. The Eleanor Roosevelt quote comes to mind, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

But why did her words cause me to tear up? I think it was for two reasons:

1. I questioned if I ever made her feel she is not good somehow? As a parent, am I affirming her enough? Does she really know she is good? What can I do to make sure this precious child never questions that statement and maintains her self-worth?

2. Am I good? I want to be good – a good person, a good mom, a good friend, a good teacher. I want to be seen as good, perhaps more than anything.

A few of years ago, I picked “good” as my word for that year and thought I would share some words that brought me comfort then and even still as I reflect on them now.

In a world where we see evil at every turn, I want a constant reminder to combat it with GOOD.

When I hear complaining and gossip around me and feel tempted to join in, instead I need to remember to look for the GOOD.

When I have a conversation, interaction, Facebook post, or decision to make, I want to make sure I’m adding GOOD to the world with my words and choices.

When I feel envious, angry, hurt or resentful, I can choose to act on my emotions or I can choose to see it as an opportunity to do rise above and model what is right and good.

When those around me feel less than or unworthy, I will make sure they know that they are good, that there is much more right about them than wrong.

You are good.

 

adventures with kids · quarantine · Tennessee · travel with kids

Visiting Machine Falls with Kids

If you’ve been wanting to chase waterfalls, but wanting to social distance and choose one that’s not so crowded, Machine Falls is a great choice!

We took our daughters, ages 6 and 11, and ran into maybe 10 other families the entire time we were there, including our hike to the falls and back.

Machine Falls was about an hour hike down for us, but I will admit we intentionally took our time so that our youngest would feel safe and comfortable, especially on the slippery rocks toward the end.

Things to know before you go: (I was so glad I did research before visiting!)

  • Wear sneakers or shoes with good traction, and consider bringing water shoes or sandals for the tail end of the hike. You will be hiking down the creek to get to the falls. And the water is COLD.
  • Parking lot is by the big white water tower. Put this address in your GPS: 1861 Short Springs Rd. Tullahoma, TN. Machine Falls is located in Short Springs Natural Area.
  • The trailhead is across the street from the lot.
  • When you begin the trail, you will notice the sign for Machine Falls points in BOTH directions! The path on the right is much easier! We took the path on the left going to the falls and the right path coming back so we know from experience! If you take the more strenuous path on the left, watch out for tree roots and rocks sticking up out of the pathway at the start of your hike. Regardless of which path you choose, as you get closer to the falls, the climb becomes steeper, and some of the steps are loose.
  • When you come upon the little bridge, this is good time to change your footwear.