A Little Time to Myself

One of my hobbies, is what some people would consider a bit geeky, maybe a bit old lady. That’s alright because I embrace both geekiness and my pending old ladyness.

I like making cards. Greeting cards. Stuff for birthdays, christmas, holidays, thank you’s. Anything you could imagine needing a greeting card for I will make it. I’m not particularly good at it (well some people think I am, but if I compare myself to other card makers of the world I think I’m just okay).

Most of the cards I make involve some kind of rubber stamp, some fancy paper and some kind of marker. All three of those things have become a mild obsession for me. Its embarrassing to think about how many different stamps sets I have, the plethora of paper that I own and the amount of money I have spent on Copic markers. It’s all for a good cause though. The cause being my sanity.

Last summer we decided to do a quick little reno of our guest bedroom and i turned it into a nice little dedicated craft room for myself. Just for me (and the random guests we have stay over once a year). It’s a lovely bright inviting room. I have a gigantic desk that stores all my crafty wares, and best of all my kids are not allowed in the room unless I give the little suckers permission to be in there (most of the time they follow the rule).

I haven’t had much time in the last month or so to do any kind of crafting, but I had to get down to it. My youngest daughter had a birthday so I needed to make birthday party invitations, a birthday card and thank you cards for her party gifts.

Without further ado, these are the cards that I came up with. I think they are all pretty cute. The invite and thank you’s were super simple to make, and well I’ve become slightly obsessed with sewing cards recently so that is what happened with the kite one.

Birthday Invite

Birthday Thank You

Happy Birthday

This last card I made for a friend of my older Daughter. She chose the rainbow motif.

Lua pele – The Big Island

Our annual vacation to Hawaii usually involves hanging out on Oahu for three weeks. This year however, we decided to venture a little farther afield and we took a 4 day trip to the Big Island. It was an expensive little jaunt, but totally worth it in the end.

There are basically two places to stay on the Big Island. Kona or Hilo. Everyone we asked that had been there told us to stay in Kona, so instead of doing a little of our own research, we just took the advice we were given and booked a hotel in Kona. Then we started reading. We found out that this trip was now going to involve a lot of driving. Nothing is close to Kona. Hilo – where most of the waterfalls are, and all the good botanical stuff is a 2 hour drive. Volcano National Park is a 3 hour drive. We did not want to waste hours in the car with two kids on this vacation and were so mad at ourselves for booking our stay without doing our own research. Kona was great, but we wasted so much time driving, I kind of wish we had found someplace in Hilo (but I understand there aren’t a lot of choices in Hilo which is why everyone stays in Kona).

We had three things planned for this trip. Of course the Volcano. This was the biggie. It was the thing everyone was looking most forward to. THere was non stop chatter about the volcano and lava and smoke and whatever else you can think of that has anything to do with a volcano for weeks leading up to this trip. And let me tell you, Volcano National Park did not disappoint.

Elephant Tree

Elephant Tree

I had to take a picture of this tree. It was right outside the entrance to the Thurston Lava Tube. I thought it looked like an elephant.

Thurston Lava Tube

Thurston Lava Tube

I’m still not sure how lava tubes are formed. Clearly at some point there was lava flowing through this sucker. It was pretty massive. Impressive that so much “earth” could have flown through there at one time.

Devastation Trail

Devastation Trail

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Prior to the 1958 eruption of Kiluea Iki this area was a rainforest. After the eruption and subsequent lava flow this is what is left. It’s unbelievable how much destruction there is from an eruption.

Trees swallowed by Lava

Trees swallowed by Lava

It took us a while to figure out what these were. The structures covered in lava are trees that did not burn quickly enough when the molten lava hit them. The lava just surrounded them and hardened and this is what was left.

sounded very ominous

sounded very ominous

This sign is what greeted us at the end of the Crater Rim Drive. THere is a five-mile hike across very rocky lava fields to the ocean where the lava is still flowing and creating new land. At one point there was a housing development in this area that was completely devastated just a few years ago by new lava flow. In just a few years the lava has created approx 64 sq miles of new land. Crazy!

Road to No Where

Road to No Where

Road Closed

Road Closed

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Halemaumau Crater

Halemaumau Crater

This crater is currently still active and can be viewed from a number of vantage points. It just looks like a big smoking hole during the day, which in and of itself is neat, but it is really awesome at night.

Halemaumau Crater  by Night

Halemaumau Crater by Night

After the day we had at the National Park we decided to take it a little easier. We drove to Hilo and toured some waterfalls, went on a few nice hikes and saw some really unique flowers and some of the most beautiful orchids at the Botanical Gardens

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Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

Apparently if you arrive at Rainbow falls on a sunny day, and there has been substantial rainfall, you will see a spectacular rainbow forming in the spray.  Clearly we were not there on a sunny day, nor after a period of heavy rain (although the nigh before I could have sworn the whole island was going to be flooded based on the amount of rain that came down)

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

Our last day on the Big Island we did what my kids would probably say was the highlight of the entire trip. We visited a Seahorse farm. I have to admit it was pretty darn awesome (expensive but awesome). The farm breeds seahorses for retail sales so that they do not have to be removed from their natural habitats in the ocean. It was a fascinating little out-of-the-way place to visit. And we got to hold a seahorse

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Aloha Kakou – Part I

Vacation.  Oh how I love thee.   I have always loved travelling.  Travelling is not the same as it used to be and I don’t think that is something I can get back, no matter how hard I try.  I have kids, and when it comes to vacations I just have to accept it.  Sure I can go away without my kids, but they are always in the back of my mind, and well then there are family vacations.  So vacation is what it is now.  Travelling is what it is.  Its still awesome, just in a different way.

We just returned from our annual family vacation to Hawaii.  My older sister lives in Hawaii with her family, so it is a great excuse to get away from the frozen tundra that is the GTA and get a little Vitamin D.   Every year my parents rent a  beach house on the North Shore of Oahu, just north of a town called Kahuku on Kawela Bay.   It is a little slice of Heaven.  We generally just go and hang out, but this year was a little different, so I’m going to spread out my posts about our trip and do it in three parts, since we were there for three weeks, and each week was different from the other.  Its  mostly about the pictures (I have over 750, I went a little crazy) because really no one wants to hear my silly stories about the plane trip, or getting up early, dealing with jet lag, cranky kids, expensive groceries yadda yadda, it’s the pictures.

So here is the first week of our trip

A House with A View

A House with A View

That is the view from the Lanai of the beach house.  Its spectacular.  Its beautiful when its sunny, its amazing when its stormy and windy.  It’s just crazy awesome

No waves

No waves

Kawela Bay

Kawela Bay

A while ago I read a book by Alan Brennert titled Honolulu.  It’s a fantastic book and has a great history of the island.  A major part of the book discusses what life was like as a worker on a sugar cane plantation.   Although we had been to Oahu 5 times prior to this trip, we had never discovered the Plantation Village historical site.  It was a great place for myself and my kids to learn about plantation life and what growing up on a plantation meant.   We had a wonderful tour guide, Espe, who did in fact grow up on one, and she really gave us a good idea of what life was like for those families.  It was fascinating.

Plantation Village

Plantation Village

One of my kids favourite places in Honolulu is the zoo.  It is a pretty awesome zoo as far as zoo’s go.  Everyone (at least in Toronto anyway) is always saying how amazing the Toronto zoo is, but it’s not.  Its horrible, at least in comparison to the Honolulu Zoo.   At the Honolulu Zoo the animals are always very active, they don’t seem to be stressed out in any way and they are always on full view.  We saw so many amazing things this year.  We heard some crazy birds making some really loud calls, we had an orangutan come up to the fence (which was about three feet away from us) and make a very loud call, and then there are monkey’s.  The monkey’s and lemurs are so cool.

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In the water about 50 ft off the shore, there is a very large reef.  When tide is low, which isn’t often on the north shore in the winter (its known for its huge swells), you can walk on this reef and explore (its not coral its volcanic so nothing is being destroyed by walking on it).  It also means there are nice shallow pools that are extremely calm.  It’s the perfect place to just hang out and cool off.

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My kids are getting older and slightly more bold.  This year they decided that snorkelling was on the docket.  Just south of the house is a place called Shark’s Cove.  It is a very rocky outcropping in the ocean just off shore.  When the waves are big, it’s a scary place.  When the waves are small it is the perfect place to snorkel.  It has all kinds of sea life, including Hawaii’s state fish the Humahumanukanukaapuaa (say that 10 times fast).  My kids gave it a go.  One kind of successfully, the other one not so much.  My little one did not like it all.

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We usually just hang out at the beaches close to the house but this year we decided to adventure to other beaches on the island because of stormy weather on the North Shore.  It’s amazing how different the beaches are in the South (and how different the weather is) than the North.  They are so calm, the water is beautiful and warmer and the colour is spectacular.  Everything a nice tropical beach should be.  One of our new favs is Waimanalo

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That would be my little head bobbing around in the ocean

Our first week came to a close and we were off to go and check out the Big Island and the Volcano.  Stay tuned for Part II

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Abandoned

I go and start this new blog and then I essentially abandon it.  I didn’t do it on purpose.  Life just got in the way, and trying to blog on an Ipad with a touch screen keyboard is pretty much my definition of hell.

I have been in Hawaii for the last three weeks.  I just got back around 1 am on Sunday morning.  I’m still running on fumes and am five hours behind.  Jet lag has a strong hold on me.

I will be  back in the next day or so with a post about my vacation, I love travelling more than anything in life (well except my family and dog maybe) and love talking about, love talking about doing it again.  I always have some vacation planning going on in the back of my head.  So I will for sure be back with the entire lowdown on my three weeks in Paradise.

If you are reading my blog I really do appreciate it, and sorry for the abandonment.

Always in Tune

Music.  It’s a word that as soon as you say it people know exactly what you are talking about.  However, the idea of what Music actually is to people varies greatly.  For me Music is so many things.  Its part of who I am.  Its something I attach to my fondest memories, its something that helps me remember special moments in my life.  Music is something I love to share.  Music is so many things to me.  So much more than just a noise, or a melody or lyrics put to that melody.

When I was four years old I started piano lessons.  Every week my Mom and I would pile into a family friends huge van and off we would go to Yamaha group lessons with a few kids that lived in our neighbourhood.   These are the earliest memories I have of music being something that really would shape my life.  I remember all the little songs that we played, especially Sayanora, the song that would be played and sung at the end of our lessons.  I can still sing all the words to it, even though its been almost 34 years since I learned the song.

Piano lessons were always a struggle.  I loved playing.  I didn’t love the discipline involved when it came to learning.  Practicing was something else.  There were a lot of tears, a lot of screaming, a lot of temper tantrums.  Finally by age 12 my Mom had enough and she gave me the choice to quit.  I took the opportunity and said Sayanora to piano lessons.

Little did I know that I really had a love for piano that ran deep.  A love for learning new songs.  A love for the escape that sitting down and hammering out a tune gave me.   3 years later I asked my Mom to find me a teacher so I could start taking lessons again.  And I did until I completed a decent level through the Royal Conservatory’s music program.

After highschool, piano fell by the wayside.  Lessons ended as I moved on to University.  Then when I finished Uni, I moved out of my parents house and I no longer had a piano to play.  I vowed that one of the first things I would get when I bought my first house would be a piano.  It took me another 5 1/2 years to fulfill that vow.  I got married, lived in downtown TO in a tiny condo, got pregnant and moved to the burbs.  We bought a house with a front room that I knew would be perfect for the piano I had been longing for.   So a year after my oldest was born, we bought a piano.  We bought a Heintzman baby grand.   And oh it is grand.  The problem though was I had no time to play my newest baby.  I was busy with a toddler, and was on my way to having my second daughter.  Once she was born the following spring, my ability to find time to even touch my piano was at pretty much zero.

While my kids were in their toddler years I would sit and play silly kids songs for them so they could dance around.  I would try my best to play more sophisticated pieces, but inevitably someone would interrupt with a demand, or a tantrum or whatever else it is that toddlers do.

My kids are both in school now for at least a portion of every week day.  So this means I finally have time to sit and tickle the old ivories if I feel like it.  In December, after some procrastination I got the piano tuned.  It sounds lovely.  I still didn’t really bother with it.  Then my youngest daughter asked me to play a very specific song for her.  I had no idea how to as I am horrible at playing by ear.  But it was the kick in the butt I needed.  I went off to the music store and bought some sheet music.  The song she requested was Skyfall.  For some reason my four-year old knows all about James Bond and Adele and loves it (it also appears that music may play a similar role in her life as it has mine.  She just loves anything musical and is very musically inclined, which makes me happy).

So for the last week I’ve gotten back at it.  I’ve been practicing.  My 38-year-old fingers sure as heck do not work as well as they used to.  They don’t move fast enough, my muscle memory is total crap.  I can’t sight read worth a darn.  But I plug away at it.  I think I have played the first two lines of the song about 700 times and it’s still not really up to my standards, but I will continue until its perfect and then I will move on to the next two.  Maybe sometime in a few years I will have mastered the entire song :p.   Even with all that it really does make me genuinely happy to sit in front of a keyboard, in front of a beautifully made instrument with wonderful tone.  It makes me happy to make music again.

I did actually take the time to record those first two lines, as bad as they were but for some reason I cannot get them to upload.  I’ll work on it and hopefully get back to include it, just so you can hear how awful old fingers that haven’t played much more than Itsy Bitsy Spider in 15 years sound.

A New Year means some new changes (hopefully)

Welcome to my Blog.   I’m a 30 (almost 40) something Stay At Home Mom with a hardworking kind husband and two little girls that I love to death.  7 years ago I made the decision to leave my career to take on the role of SAHM.  It has been both the best and worst decision of my life.  I couldn’t imagine not being at home with my girls fulltime.  I hated my job (I was a researcher for a major North American stock market regulator), and didn’t really want to move forward with the career choices that were ahead of me.  I was in the fortunate position to be able to say “screw it” to the working world and stay home.   What I didn’t realize at the time that I made this decision was, how much of myself was wrapped up in my job,  my adventures before becoming a Mom, and living a downtown kind of life.

Since I have had my children I have lost myself, like a needle in a haystack, my old life has pretty much been impossible to find, and parts of that life I really miss.  I miss being able to look out for myself first and doing the things that I love to do.  I’m always the last person in my house (heck sometimes I even come after the friggin dog) and its time to change that.

I am looking forward to a journey of rediscovering the things that I love to do, and finding new interests.  Finally putting myself first for once, but still having a great time with the life that I’ve chosen.