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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Savoring The Simplicity Of Childhood

Years ago when I used to babysit a lot—pre kiddos of my own—I used to buy them costumes after Halloween as their Christmas presents. I have always been frugal, even when I didn't have to be, and buying costumes at post-Halloween prices was a great way to get something the kids would love at a fraction of the price.

These days I do this for my own kiddos, though I don't hold out on them until Christmas ;-) I hit up our local Wal-Mart a few days after Halloween and snagged some sweet Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and Owlette costumes for $2.50-$5 each. They have already provided hours of entertainment, joy, and fun! Oh, and the cuteness factor is 😍😍😍

In addition, they've really been getting into Avengers movies, watching Spider-Man do backflips, stunt shows, and Jackie Chan. This has inspired them to take their costumed selves out onto the trampoline and do flips and tricks, and it's adorable.

Since my nose hasn't been plastered in my phone as much lately, it's these kinds of things that I'm learning to appreciate more. These are magical moments that won't last forever. Weeks ago I may have missed out on them, brushed them aside, or been too distracted to appreciate, but these are the moments I want ingrained in my memories:

  • The giggles
  • The dialogue they create
  • How they insist upon calling each other by whatever character name they are currently pretending to be (even if they're pretending to be the same character!)
  • The way Toby strikes a "superhero landing" pose every time he does a somersault
  • Teddy calling himself "spiderweb" because he can never remember to say "Spider-Man," but then he'll pull off his mask and say, "Just kidding. It's me, Teddy!"

Last week I was mourning the loss of so many of our usual holiday activities—Sugar Cane Train rides, Da Maui Sleigh rides, the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at The Grand Wailea, watching Santa arrive on the beach—but you know what? To Toby and Teddy, at this stage of their lives, the littlest things are plenty magical, special, and fun. They are having a bast with their imaginations and so many other things, that it's okay not to have those other activities. We can still go look at Christmas lights and decorate and have parties with groups of close friends, and that's all we need.

I hope this Christmas is one for the books, not because we survived 2020 and it was weird, but because we took the time to soak in all the small, magical stuff—the simple joys of hot cocoa, popcorn, a Christmas movie, making crafts for gifts, decorating cookies, reading Christmas books, and following the star each day as it makes its way over the manger, guiding the wise men to Emanuel, God with us.

Filled with Hope,

Monday, November 23, 2020

Friendsgiving and Mini Pie Chacuterie Recipe Round Up

I've been a member of MOPS (Mothers of Pre Schoolers) for five years now since Toby was just 3 months old. It has been such a blessing to have other mamas to do life with. I'm so thankful for my friends who invited me to join because I thought it was for moms of kiddos that were in preschool as in 3-to-4-year-olds haha 

Generally, we meet twice a month during the school year. We have a speaker who shares on things like motherhood, marriage, friendship, and spiritual growth, discussion time, fellowship, and—pre-COVID—a wonderful potluck! We also get together for monthly playdates and a "mom's night out." This past weekend was my favorite moms night out event: Friendsgiving!

Not long after having kids, a mom will realize that mealtimes will never be the same. Whether it's balancing an infant on one arm while eating with the other, or learning the fine art of cooking THEIR food first so yours is—hopefully—still hot when you actually get around to eating it. Chances are that by the time you sit down they'll be ready for seconds and you'll have to get back up anyway. And that's not counting all the messes you'll have to deal with.

Bottom line: sit-down meals kinda go out the window.

So, that's why I love Friendsgiving with MOPS. We get to eat a meal in peace, enjoying uninterrupted conversations over still-hot plates of food. It's kind of magical.

This year I got the idea to make a pie charcuterie board after seeing one on Pinterest. Of course, I later realized the one I saw had used those 50 cent pies for Walmart on theirs, while I had painstakingly made all of mine completely from scratch - but it was worth it of course.

Here's a roundup of the recipes I used!

Easy Pie Crust - I quadrupled this recipe to make enough dough for all three types of pies I made.

Mini Pumpkin Pies - I used a snowflake cookie cutter to make these pies even cuter. I also discovered that I had to cook them 8-10 minutes longer than the recipe called for. I just kept checking every 2-3 minutes until a knife inserted came out clean.

Mini Apple Pies - These came together quickly! The only trouble I had was moving the lattice onto the pies, so enlisted the help of a spatula which made it much easier.

Reese's Pie - I messaged my mom for this recipe from an old cookbook she has. It's been a family favorite holiday pie for most of my life!

Reese's Pie

1 baked pie shell
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 large box chocolate pudding, made according to directions.
Cool Whip

Mix peanut butter and powdered sugar. Put 3/4 of the mixture into the pie shell. Pour prepared pudding on top. Sprinkle the remaining peanut butter mixture over the pudding. Then top with Cool Whip. Cool and serve.

For the mini pies, I cut out 20 (because that was more than enough for what I needed) three-inch circles of dough and pressed them into greased muffin pans, making sure the dough reached the top of the pan. Pierce the dough several times with a fork. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes or until cooked through. You can use the flat side of a spoon to press the pie shells down on the bottom and sides as they may puff up while baking. Allow to cool completely before sprinkling a little of the peanut butter mixture into the bottom, spreading prepared pudding on top, sprinkling more of the peanut butter mixture on, and topping off with Cool Whip. I did have leftover filling, even with making 20 mini pies, so I just put them in cups and the boys were happy to have a special snack.

With Thanksgiving this week I'd love to hear your favorite dish or family recipe!! Another must-have at our gatherings is sweet potato casserole (not the marshmallow kind) I also brought that to Friendgiving and returned with a completely empty dish! Let me know if you want that family recipe! 

Filled with Hope,

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Our Favorite Keiki Beach

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
The boys and I managed three trips to our favorite keiki (Hawaiian word for child) beach this week: the Kelepolepo Fishpond. It's our favorite because there's a beautiful man-made rock wall that keeps out the bigger waves, and on calm days at low tide, it's almost as calm as a swimming pool. We also spot a lot of honu (Hawaiian word for turtle). This past Thursday we counted 17, which was the most I'd ever counted there at one time.

The uncle (Hawaiian term for any older man, especially if you don't know their name) that has been rebuilding the wall this year said that because this site is now better protected it attracts more honu to rest on the wall. He also built a shelf next to the wall, that sits just under the water, that makes an attractive nesting spot for the honu.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
The honu we see here are Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, which are the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world. They are native to Hawaii and are considered endangered. You are required by local and federal law to not go closer than 10 feet to them. Thankfully our boys have gotten used to this and they're pretty respectful of the turtle's space. So, if you ever come visit our beautiful island, please don't be that tourist who takes a photo sitting right next to one.

We love meeting friends at this beach and hanging out. A group of us moms with young kiddos started a group text so we can share when we are going and plan meet-ups.

It's fun to finally be at this stage with the boys where I can bring my chair and actually "sittervise" (supervising from a sitting position 😂), and visit with friends. It's the one thing that feels close to normal in this crazy world.

Kalepolepo Fishpond Wall
There are 14 honu in this photo! Can you spot any?

Kalepolepo Fishpond Kihei Maui
I thought being off of social media would leave me feeling isolated, but in the last few weeks, as I've kissed Facebook and Instagram goodbye for a spell, I've become more intentional about socializing face-to-face. Social media often gives us a false sense of socialization, making us feel like we're connected to people and relating to others, but the truth is it's just a poor counterfeit of the real deal. You can never replace in-person conversations where you can read body language, facial expressions, and enjoy conversations that go deeper than a meme.

Anyway, we've had a blast spending quality time with our friends at the Fishpond. It's been said that if you're lucky enough to live on an island, you're lucky enough. But I think we are awful blessed too!

Filled with Hope,

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Invitation To Create Playdough Turkeys

About a year ago I came across an idea on Pinterest called "Invitation to Create."

Basically what you do is gather a bunch of art supplies and put them in a container. Then give it to your kiddos along with an idea of what they are going to create. After that, you just sit back and allow them the freedom to run with it and make it their own. Whatever their little minds and hands decide to do is what they do. This is also called "open-ended crafting." We've created monsters, leaf people, easter eggs, and more!

This week we did a two-part "Invitation to Create," and the boys loved it so much that I thought I would share it with you.


First I made playdough, a double batch:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp oil

Mix the dry ingredients together in a pot. Add water and oil. Cook over medium/low heat until the dough looks dry, making sure to stir it constantly and flipping it over at the end. Let it rest until cool enough to handle.

I separated the playdough into six balls, dropped some food coloring into each ball, and let the boys do the work of mixing in the color. We added scents to the balls, too—ie. cinnamon to our red and nutmeg to our orange.

Don't walk away for 5 minutes because you'll come back to find the dough smooshed all over the porch tiles 😫

Anyway, that was day one. We bagged up our dough, placed it in ziplock bags, and stored it in the fridge.


A couple days later I put together a tray of feathers, beads, pipe cleaners, corn kernels, and googly eyes. The Invitation to Create involved using these fun accessories to turn our balls of playdough into turkeys. Toby and Teddy made a whole flock!

One of my favorite things about this craft is that we took apart our creations when we were done—we put all the accessories away to save for another day and stored the playdough back in the fridge. This meant that we didn't have a whole family of turkeys to find a shelf for. Whew! I think any mom of young kiddos can appreciate not accumulating more trinkets, no matter how adorable they are. We took pictures of our creations and put everything away.

The boys love playdough, so I plan to do more activities like this in the coming months.

Since saying goodbye to social media a few weeks ago, it's been such a delight to be more present with the boys. I find myself cherishing these moments a bit more, relishing in their little smiles and their little hands and the little funny things they say and do.

Some funny things Toby says that I want to remember is, "lawning the grass," which is his term for mowing the grass, and "winching the wipers," aka spraying windshield washer fluid on the car.

Last night at bedtime Teddy wanted to do high-fives with Daddy—you know the traditional "Up high... down low... TOO SLOW!" But instead, he said, "Up high... down low... never mind!" 😂 Teddy has also recently learned Jingle Bells and I catch him singing it throughout the day in the cutest little voice 😍

And yes, you may have noticed our Christmas tree in the background of some of the photos because we are already decorated for Christmas, but I'll save that story for another post! When does your family put up the Christmas tree?

Filled with Hope,

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Don't Be Scared Of Halloween

Teddy has recently gotten hooked on the YouTube show Steve and Maggie (Jake and I find it completely obnoxious, but there could be worse things he wants to watch I suppose.) There are several Halloween specials that Teddy just adores; in fact, it's kinda funny how he is so enthralled with Halloween and yet Toby loves all things Christmas. Anyway, Teddy sings, in the cutest little voice, "don't be scared of Halloween, when witches and ghosts come out to play..." And, folks, lemme tell ya, it's adorable 😍

Halloween looked different for us this year with there being so many restrictions due to the pandemic. Our church normally hosts a Trunk or Treat event, and we have participated every year we've lived here, but they made the hard decision to not have it due to regulations here on Maui. Thankfully some friends invited us to a Halloween party and the boys had a blast—donut eating contest, pinata smashing, ziplines, and way too much candy! 

Originally our family was planning to coordinate Halloween costumes, but when I went to the store to get a few things for our Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf outfits—Teddy was going to be the wolf 😂—the boys weren't having it. Teddy didn't want to be a wolf or a pig, so I asked him what he would like to be. He found a fireman's hat and declared "FIREMAN SAM!" After much debate, Toby decided to be the same thing. Sigh. Ok, fine. I'd rather them have fun with it then force them into something they don't want to do.

So that left me and Jake. We haven't really done many "couple costumes," but I settled on a magician and his rabbit. 

It was a fantastic night, lots of laughs, so many friends, and something that felt truly normal. Now we are into November and Christmas lists are on my mind, Christmas cards have been ordered, and we are working on decorating the house 😆

Many of the traditions we have made around the holidays in years past will not be happening this year, so I'd love to hear some of your favorite traditions that you have done that we could still do. Please share them below! One of our favorite traditions is a walk through a neighborhood to admire the Christmas lights while chowing down on—don't judge us—McDonald's. 

Filled with Hope,