Monday, December 13, 2010

Countdown to Christmas

Hard to believe it's almost Christmas. When things in my life get "tough" I clam up and don't post much. It's been a tough few months! But, I'll try to be better about posting, if my kids cooperate.
Speaking of not cooperating, we were having a very difficult time with the oldest. Love the kid to death, but he's like every other first born and trying to parent his brothers. On top of being bossy, he's quick to anger and the instigator in most of the problems around the house. So, we took advantage of the season and stole the tradition of the Elf on the Shelf. Santa had the elf delivered to the door with a personal letter to the boys after I called him begging for help. Here's Finn reading the letter. Since Waldorfs (our elfs name) arrival, Finn has been trying to be kinder and less bossy, and he is thrilled when Waldorf brings back letters from Santa.

Last week, we had a short visit with Sol and Sabine. It was very last minute, but my parents arranged for some family photos...that's my parents in costume. Pictures had to be Tuesday afternoon, and afternoons aren't good for my kids, but we pressed on. Pictures didn't turn out very well, but we had a good time with lots of laughs.The twins went to their 4 year old check ups, Finally! I got it right this year and took them on seperate days. 2 screaming kids in one exam room just doesn't work for me, especially when one needs to be held down for shots and the other needs to be cuddled after getting his. Paxton went first and had a little accident, and had to remove his underwear...and I couldn't resist.
He did great, even talked to the Dr a little, whereas Quincy wouldn't cooperate at all and made me carry him to the car because his legs hurt so bad!Alvin picked out our tree this year, because it was easier than all of us trekking out to argue which tree to get. He and the kids did the decorating! I'm a fan of white lights and the boys ALL like colored, so we compromised with colored twinkling lights at the trunk and white all around. This arrangement won't work next year because Finn thinks it's boring...along with all my non kid friendly ornaments. Good thing Dad bought "fun" ornaments because more ornaments were broken in decorating this year than all other years combined.And today, our little friend Waldorf found his seat in the tree. It's a good place to see the entire family area and take all the things he learns back to Santa!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weathering the Storm

Okay, this is a halloween picture, which I never posted. My little cuties loved dressing up, but it was pretty easy. Paxton wanted to wear the same costume as last year, Quincy was sick last year, but was happy to wear our cowboy get up and Finn wanted to be a vampire, just like last year. But since we had borrowed last years costume, I had to make a cape and necklace. They turned out great, and I think the cape will be used a few times. More recently, we had a storm! Monday before Thanksgiving, it starts snowing. I took Finn to the bus stop and there were just traces of snow, but it started snowing again on the way home. When I went to put the twins on their school bus at about 11:00, I felt like I was in the midwest, like putting your kids on the bus in the middle of a snow storm, was normal. I fretted while they were at school and cleaned house. When all the boys were home, I relaxed and prepared for the power to go out.

Okay, where we live, we expect the power to go out! This year, the power company trimmed a ton of tree branches back, but that doesn't do much good when a tree takes down the power lines! We were with out power 41 hours total, from Monday night until Wednesday morning. Normally, that isn't a long time, but along with the 4 inches of snow, we had hard winds and very cold temperatures.

And no power, when you live out from a city, means no water (we are on a well) no heat (we have radiant heat which needs power to circulate the water) as well as no electronics, no lights, etc.

So how'd we do it? Well, I write this in case you are like us and need a few new ideas, or just to have it written down! But, I would also love your ideas that would help us during the next outage.

  • If you have warning, finish your laundry and don't start a new load.
  • Fill up a basin of water (I use a pitcher with a pour spout) and put it by the kitchen sink.
  • Unload the dishwasher and make sure your sink is empty. Rinse dirty dishes in basin and put directly into the dishwasher.
  • Put a pitcher of water in the bathroom (we only have one, but if you have many bathrooms, water goes in each one) use this for washing or toothbrushing.
  • I have a dish soap bottle that I fill with water and add a few drops of soap for washing hands. Just squirt a little water on them!
  • Fill the bathtub! (I'm always amazed when people don't know you can flush a toilet by adding water into the bowl, the faster you pour, the less water it takes to send solids away) We use the water in the tub for hand washing and flushing.
  • Close off unnecessary rooms. Smaller spaces heat faster and since we only have a fireplace, not a wood stove, we can't heat much! We planned for the boys to sleep in the living room and closed off their room.
  • Put towels at base of all doors, to keep drafts out and heat in.
  • When it starts to get dusky, give each child a glow stick (must get more) or bracelet. They can hang them off their bodies with out loosing them and they have a little night light!
  • Down comforters for everyone. Down alternative isn't the same...we all sleep warmly with just a down comforter. (for small children, get an oversized down throw from overstock, and sew it in half)
  • The less you open your refrigerator, the better, so put milk and other foods you get out a lot, outside (if it's cold).
  • Tin Foil dinners! If you rub a cookie sheet with dish soap (helps wash the soot away when finished), you can cook a tin foil dinner on top of the coals for easy removal. Although you won't want to use the cookie sheet for cookies again!
  • Barbeques work for cooking food too, but not so great for casseroles, if you can stand outside to cook it.
  • Wear a hat inside if you start to get cold. My kids always tell me how stupid I look in my down vest and bad hat, but at least I am warm.
  • The minute the power comes on, turn on the dishwasher, wash down the counters and head for the shower (water stays hot for a few days in the water heater), because you never know if it's going to go out again!

We have downstairs neighbors that have a wood stove and that really helped to keep us warmer! And they could take water downstairs in a pan and warm it up for us. We didn't have warm coffee, but since we cold brew coffee, we did have iced lattes!

What tricks do you use for survival? We also spent time with my mom and dad, who have a wood stove big enough to cook on, but that isn't an option for all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

School Pictures


Who are these handsome boys?



Mimi bought them the shirts before school started and I'd forgotten Finn wore his for school pictures and dressed the twins alike.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bee Stings and Stitches again!

Yesterday started okay, but didn't stay that way for long. I woke the kids up and Finn proceeded to get dressed, but Quincy sat on the couch, refusing milk (unusual for the kid who drinks milk 5 times a day). A little while later he complained that he had to throw up, but didn't. I left to take Finn to the bus and went on my walk (trying to go get some ME time before anyone notices I am missing). When I returned, Alvin informed me that Quincy needed to go to the doctor because he was feverish and his hand was the significantly swollen.
Let me break for a minute and tell you what I haven't blogged about. In Denver, Alvin was digging a trench and dug into a wasp nest (underground) and was stung multiple times...like 25! Finn got stung too. A few days later, while working in the same area, he was stung a few times again. When we returned, he was working at my parents and disturbed a yellowjacket nest (under some plants and he didn't know about it) and was stung again, multiple times. The boys got a few stings here and there, but nothing major. Then Alvin was helping my dad with his honey bees and insisting that he was going to get stung (should have thought positively) and sure enough, he got stung on the forearm. The next day his arm was throbbing and swollen and a trip to the Doctor means Alvin now has a bee allergy. Saturday, I was inside canning and my parents and Alvin were out working on our yard when my mom moved some branches and found ANOTHER yellow jacket nest. Paxton and Quincy were both stung at least 5 times.
Back to my story...

Quincy had been stung on the hand and that was the cause of the swelling, but another sting on his stomach was swollen and feverish. I decided early that morning, that I needed to switch pediatricians. I love our doctor, but a 30 minutes drive was more than I could handle and would likely mean missing school, but I had baked cookies to celebrate Quincys birthday and HE WAS NOT GOING TO MISS SCHOOL. Luckily there is a branch of the clinic locally and they could get us in by 9:15. Ah, my day is going back to easy!

Dr. tells me that it's just an infection and infections in the hand spread very quickly and he needs benedryl and antibiotics. We rush to the pharmacy and that script isn't ready. Pick up a few groceries and it still isn't ready, so Quincy picks out a balloon because he was so good at the doctor, but school is going to start. I go home, make the boys lunch and the 3 of us go to Quincys school. After lunch and celebrating with cookies, Pax and I left and went to get stuff for dinner and Quincy's medicine. Come home, get Quincy off the bus and I hear Quincy telling Paxton that the doctor is really nice and if you go see him, you can get a pirate balloon. Finn gets home a few minutes later and I laid down on my bed while talking to my mom and telling her how exhausting my day had been...when Finn starts yelling! Paxton has hit his head on the corner of the kitchen counter. It's bleeding like head wounds do, but when I looked at it, I had to call my mom back and ask her to come over. We conclude that although the bleeding has stopped, he is going to need stitches. We did wait an hour and 45 minutes, because the local doctors office couldn't squeeze us in for ANOTHER appointment and their urgent care opened at 5:00 (local people, did you know there is an urgent care here now?--opened last week). The doctor confirmed the worst, that we had no other option, since you could see the skull and Pax was terrified. He was a trooper, played on my phone and only cried during the anesthetic shots. By 7:00 we left with 5 stitches and Paxton was the very first person to use the brand new procedure room there!

And it was only after we got the kids in bed, that I realized I had 3 kids coming over in the morning for the twins "birthday party"/ normal tuesday playdate with balloons. Fortunately, today was much better and I haven't had to take anyone to the doctor...YET! Although Finn suggested that I take him in because he had a stuffed up nose and he really wanted a pirate balloon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

They are 4!

Hard to believe it was 4 years ago that our family went from 3 to 5 in just a few minutes. Paxton's first photo!
Quincy's first Photo!
Our first family picture
Today, we celebrated with dinner of Pesto (aka pesto the besto--the boys favorite) homemade bread and spinach dip. Both boys wanted a different kind of cake...strawberry cake for Paxton and applesauce cupcakes for Quincy. The boys have various gifts, but both really wanted a pillow pet! And they will soon be nestled in bed, Paxton with his penguin and Quincy with his lion. Mimi and I took the boys a few weeks ago to one of those paint your own pottery, to make banks for the boys and the results were fantastic. Here are the most recent pictures of the boys, painting their banks!
Paxton painting his birthday gift from Mimi and Bubba
Quincy working on his birthday gift from Mimi and Bubba!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Owls?




I knew we had owls here, I just didn't know they were big ones. Last night, when we got home from dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant this guy was sitting on our swingset. Our camera isn't working well, so these are from my i-phone. The "guy" let me get within 10 feet of him, and then I backed away. Anyone know what kind of owl it is?

FInn's in Second greade!


On Wednesday, Finn started Second grade. He was a little nervous, because he knew nothing about his teacher, but after a visit to the classroom the day before school, he seemed more excited (finding out which of his friends were in class with him helped) .
Coming home from his 3rd day of school, his bus was early so he walked home from the bus himself. Finn hung up his backpack, put his shoes up on the shoe shelf and showered me with love and affection. I asked him where "my" Finn was! He explained that his teacher had talked to the class...and in his own words...
"everybody has an invisible bucket above their head, and it's filled with happiness and love. And whenever someone is mean to you, they dip from your bucket. And when ever they dip into your bucket, you get sadder and angrier. and the way you can fill a bucket is to be nice to them. If they get a smile, you are filling their bucket. And when your bucket is empty, you are really really really angry and sad. " Then he said to me, "I'm doing nice ."things to fill your bucket, because I empty it a lot. And today he is asking if he can help with chores, to fill my bucket. I just want to kiss his teacher today and I hope she reminds them about these buckets often!
Today is Saturday and I think I just heard him say, "I wish today was a school day."
I intend to blog about our trip to Colorado, our great bike ride and trip to the fair/rodeo, but first I must get our house in order, get most of the kids in school, get caught up on laundry or at east want to get away from those tasks long enough to sort through photos and take time to type it all out.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

School Lunches?

It's that time of year...school is starting! I feel terrible for saying this, but I CAN'T WAIT.

I was talking to a friend of mine today about brown bagging lunches. Finn always takes a lunch and usually buys milk. However, often, I find myself laying in bed, wondering what the heck I am going to pack for lunch. Do you do this too? I bet you do!

So, please leave a comment with some of your great lunch ideas. Wednesday, when Finn is at school, I will repost all your comments and toss in a few of my own.

This year is going to be a great one...at least for Finn's lunches!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

200th post!

Sadly, I have been terrible about posting...I tried to upload a video of Finns school concert, where he did sign language to "what a wonderful world," and it wouldn't work. I wanted Alvin's mom to see how serious Finn was, and...well I got bummed out and haven't posted since.

For the 4th of July we actually headed downtown for more than the parade...normally, we skip all the extra stuff, but this year, Finn's teacher was reading stories in a tent and Finn wanted to see her...here they are together. Last night, and the night before, both Paxton and Quincy wet their beds...yeah, that's 4 sheets to wash! SO tonight as I was remaking their beds, Quincy saw a baby blanket that he really wanted to use, Finn wanted one too, and since my friend Sarah gave all the boys blankets for their births, they each went to sleep with their blankets.
Sarah also gave us the crib sheets that are on the boys beds...I'd say these were great gifts!




Finn's toes might get cold, but he's really happy!
For Fathers day, I gave Alvin a GPS so we could go geocaching! It has been a huge hit and so far I have been to many places I haven't been to in all the times I have lived here. Today, we hit the North Kitsap Heritage Park and hiked several miles, all under the guise of looking for caches. We are headed to Oregon next weekend, and then headed to Denver and have already looked at caches in both areas!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paxton can ride a bike!

It's not really new "news" because he has done it for a while, but it's been too rainy for me to stand outside and take pictures.
Today, we saw that Paxton can get on his bike and get going, with out help (Q still needs assistance). Paxton loves his new talent and was outside at 9am to show my sister his skills.
Here's a video for grandma...or anyone else who wants to be amazed.
And this is what happens when you leave your goggles on too long in your bath.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More on Mothers Day

I was showered with lots of "gifts" from my boys for Mothers day and here are a sampling of some!
Here's Fith with a "cake" all made of Legos! And it says MOM on the top. And Finn made some things in art class: a basket and a clay pocket for flowers (it hangs on the wall)
Quincy made me a lego creation too! ANd some art work from school. Pax did too, but I don't have any pictures of him.
And here's Quincy and I on the beach looking for glass. Alvin got me a trailer hitch and had it put on the car (I just can't call it a mini van, even though it is!). Our goal is to find a bike rack to go on it, second hand! But by far the greatest gift was...this!
Okay, not a shower, or a shower head, but Alvin replaced the bath spout and now our shower sends all the water on my head and shoulders with decent pressure. The old spout was broken and sprayed water all over your legs and feet, and home depot doesn't sell a replacement. I got to take a long shower and it was magnificent!




Monday, May 10, 2010

Mothers Day




Since I last posted, Quincy has quit riding his bike and favors riding behind me on the trail-a-bike. Which is great, when I am riding, but not great for the other times. We took a bike ride from our house to a local beach about a month ago, 5.4 miles each way and Quincy talked to me the whole time and occasionally provided me with "rocket power" when I needed it, and sometimes when I didn't. The following week, we went for a trail ride and I am almost convinced that he sat back there and let me do all the work.

Paxton doesn't have a need to ride a bike and is happy to ride his "no-pedal" bike. We tried him on the trail-a-bike, but he was scared and wants to ride in the trailer behind daddy. He's so cute back there, encouraging us, laughing and egging us on.

Finn was thrilled to ride on the road for that 10+mile ride. We don't let him on the road normally, but we did with 4 adults and I don't think we can reel him back to the trail-a-bike.

Our family has been plagued by a cough for the past week and now Quincy and Finn have it, and had to miss school today, probably tomorrow too! Because of that, we opted to celebrate Mothers Day very casually. Alvin made me breakfast (with mimosas!) and we took the kids to hunt for beach glass at Glass Beach. While we were gone, we left all the windows of the house open, in hopes of blowing all the crud out, but instead I think it let in allergens and Alvin is suffering now.

Because I like to post pictures, the one at the top was a while ago, after a bath with teir cousin Emily. The other is the boys coloring in their new Hawaii shirts, compliments of Cousins Sol and Sabine.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quincy can ride a bike

When I started this blog, it was because Finn had learned to ride a bike. Never did I imagine that Quincy would be riding a bike just 2 years later. But here he is, riding on 2 wheels! We tried to get him on to a smaller bike that he could get on by himself, but he wouldn't have it. So needs someone to hold the bike steady while he gets on, but the rest is all Quincy!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fearless Quincy

If you are a facebook friend, you probably alrady saw this...my little 3 1/2 year old is almost ready for a realy bike, with out training wheels. They sell bikes with no pedals to help kids learn the principals of balance, but I just can't afford $100 for a bike ($200 if I buy for both boys) they will only use for a short time, and I can't find any used. But I really wanted one after watching a video on You Tube.

So I made my own. My mom bought this little bike for Finn when he was 2 and it never worked right. He rode it, as did the twins, but the chain would lock up every few pedals. So I took off the training wheels, the pedals and the chain, pumped a tire, replaced an inner tube and bought new grips and we were good to go.

We are trying to get Paxton to ride it as well, and after today, I think you might see video of him soon!

Best thing I've ever done for myself!

Last night, I went to bed early...10:15 is early for me and it was a great idea. However, one child woke at 11:15 whining, usually a sign that he has to go to the bathroom. I got up with him, then he woke again at 3am and came in my bed and I didn't stop him. I wish I would have because he proceded to wake me ever few minutes by cuddling up to me, kicking or touching me. Then another child woke up at 6:15 and had to come tell me he was awake...why do they do this. I had to get up with him to turn the tv to an appropriate channel and turn the volume down. 20 minutes later he came in to tell me he wanted milk. When I finally got up at 6:45, I walked to the kitchen sink and took 4 advil to combat the massive headache I had.

How do people go with out sleep? I did it for years, and quite frankly, it was a mistake. I think sleep deprivation is partly to blame for my weight issues, because you lack good judgement (what you eat and when can be bad judgement). You think the kids are to blame for the sleep deprivation, don't you? Well, they are partly to blame too!

But this is what I blame...

Okay, you can't really see it, but it's carpal tunnel. I had it for years, but it got worse with pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Finn, I wasn't able to eat with a fork for more than a few bites, with out having to put my hands down and let feeling come back to my fingers (maybe that is why I gained minimal weight with both pregnancies). I tried everything...used to wear a magnetic bracelet, which helped. I had many massages, that left me crying in pain, but ultimately helped for a few weeks. I used to dip my arms in pans of water with tons of ice for 30 seconds at a time (harder than it sounds) and I still wore wrist splints to bed almost every single night. And even then, I would wake with numb fingers, hands or arms.

When the twins were born, I was getting up to feed them every 90 minutes (that's a whole other post) and during my 90 minnutes of sleep, I was waking every 15-20 minutes to roll over and move my arms. And if you knew me then, you might now understand why I couldn't connect words to make a sentence.

Alvin and I decided that it was time to solve the problem. I'm one of those people who like to try alternative medicine and think they have something to offer, but I believe that Western Medicine has great benefits. I had nerve testing done and discovered that my carpal tunnel was moderately severe in one hand and really severe in my other. I had surgery when the twins were 9 months old, first on my right hand (deciding that if it was too hard, I wouldn't do the other, but at least the hand I use for everything, was fixed) and 3 months later on the left.

And since the first night post surgery, I have not woken up because of pain in my hands. Enlarge that picture...you might see a scar, but I had to look at the picture and then look at my hand to find it.

There isn't really a point to my post, except I think I learned not to wait until things got so bad to fix a problem. I wonder how I would have been changed if I had the surgery before I had kids: would I have been a different kind of mother? Would my kids be happier because I was happier with them during those night feedings?

And if you suffer from carpal tunnel (I see tons of people around town with their wrists in braces and I tell them the same thing), go see Dr. Buckmiller in Seattle. Tell him a satisfied customer sent you!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter!

Alvin's gone, again! And we had to opportunity to go with him to Utah, but choose to stay home, in hopes we'd have nice weather and do a little stay-cationing! And we didn't have good weather, but then Utah had snow, so we are sad to say, we didn't have an exciting spring break. But Alvin is going to be later getting back than he had hoped which means I would have had to drive back alone with the kids, or Finn and Quincy would have missed most of next week too!

The beginning of the week, we worked on switching rooms, Again! Alvin hates this task and so I keep doing it when he is away. I've moved all the boys to the big room, and that keeps them, their toys and their noise away from most of the house. They are really excited about the change and the twins really like sleeping with their big brother.

Thursday, we went over to some friends house, but cut our trip short when I noticed Finn's eyes weren't looking too good. We came home and I put some medicine that I had left over in them and by the next morning, they looked healed.

Friday, we headed off in the POURING rain, to Silverdale where we shopped and ate lunch at Red Robin (thanks Clare for the coupons!) as a reward for the boys sleeping in their room all night long! The Boys were on their best behavior and I was really proud of themFriday night, I decided to put meds in Finn's eyes, and it was a struggle. I had to pin him to the floor, put my knees on his elbows and use both hands to open his eyes! Turns out we should have done it a few times on Friday, because by Saturday morning, the pink eye was back.
Saturday was pretty uneventful: cleaned the house, played outside when it wasn't raining and colored our easter eggs. The Easter Bunny came and was very good to the boys (all on sale and I surprised even myself). They were all so happy, I don't think they noticed they didn't get any candy except a choc. bunny. I had to take Finn to the Doctor early, so he could get on antibiotics for a full 24 hours and make it to school tomorrow! When we returned we hunted for easter eggs...and only had hard boiled eggs to search for.After finding them all, the boys all sat on Mimi and Bubba's front porch and ate eggs! Quincy didn't like them much, but Finn and Pax ate at least 2 each. We spent the majority of the day inside playing with our new toys (wii nerf was a big hit, but I probably should have thought about all the shooting before they got it). We had dinner with mim and Bubba later in the day and the boys have gone to bed early! I'm ready for things to return to normal and have a few hours, almost to myself, while Finn and Quincy are in school!

And hopefully, Alvin will return on Wednesday night.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Food Revolution!

Got my computer back just a few hours ago and it's wonderful to be sitting in the center of the house and using it. I'd been using Alvins for a week and while it's nice and fast, it is stuck in a room and not nearly as convenient as mine. This was a lesson to me and I am going to be certain to back up my pictures onto an external hard drive more often (especially since it's always plugged into my computer). Luckily, the only problem was a fried power supply, but it could have been much, much worse!

Tonight, because it's the first night of spring break, I allowed the boys to stay up until 10 (helped that Q had a 3 hour nap this afternoon) and then allwed them to sleep on the floor in Finn's room. However, tonight was the premier of Jamie Olivers Food Revolution on TV and I really wanted to watch it. Lately, Finn has begged to buy lunch at school and I wanted him to watch it too, and so I let the twins watch as well.

Let me just say, I'm totally opposed to Finn buying school lunch, because even thought they always offer salad, the majority of the offerings are processed...and if you read me regularly, you know I am trying to get away from processed (but I will admit, sometimes it tastes good!) Every morning, I wake and make Finn a lunch. Sometimes he gets chips and cookies, but I still feel good about what he is eating.

So Jamie (we're on a first name basis now) goes into this elementary school and tries to change eating habits of kids...and he is met with adults who are totally opposed to change and don't want to even try to help "our" children, mostly because it means more work for them! At one point, he goes into a first grade class room and asks the students to name the vegetables he is holding up. Not one of them knew what a tomato was (And my kids, age 3, are hollering out the right answers, making their mama proud!)!

Sadly, the lunch ladies were opposed to having a meal that required a knife and fork...and it was pointed out to school staff that they were in the business of teaching children, but they weren't willing to teach them to eat using utensils. Because of that, teachers and principals walked among students to assist and kids ate a healthier lunch. Interesting, more attention, better eating habits! Isn't that why our family eats dinner together!

Anyway, I applaud Jamie, the show, the producers for trying to make Americans healthier. I hope that others are inspired to start a revolution of their own. As for me, we'll be eating even less processed foods, less HFCS, less MSG, less canola oil and healthier portions! And I might even go eat with my kids at school more often!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What I read...


Just finished reading this (well, listening to) and it was incredible.
Jen made me read it, because she wanted someone to talk about the book with. It was so good, you want to share it. Here's the authors web page says about it.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. Here her life is supposed to end—but instead she discovers it is only just beginning. With a vibrant cast of vividly realized characters, Moloka'i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humor, and compassion of this novel that "few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel's story" (mostlyfiction.com).
Moloka’i has become a favorite selection of reading groups across the country and has appeared on the BookSense Extended Paperback Bestseller list, as well as the bestseller lists of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Time, and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association.

"Moloka’i is a big, generous, compassionate, beautifully rendered epic novel...an exquisitely textured tale of darkness and light, tragedy and the triumph of the human spirit, filled with original, fully realized characters who walk right off the page and into our hearts."- Jim Fergus, author of One Thousand White Women: The Journals Of May Dodd
"A dazzling historical saga."- The Washington Post
“A moving story...a vivid picture of Hawaii before it became the Touristland it is today.” - Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove
"Moloka'i is a haunting story of tragedy in a Pacific paradise. The book opens a window on a world of dazzling beauty, and ugly disease and fear, and the courage of a young woman in the Hawaii of a hundred years ago. It is a story of romance and humanity, and struggle with the pain of isolation, in a place faraway in time, yet very close in intimacy and vividness, exact detail, giving us a sense of community and true kinship across time. It is a story of victory." - Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek
"Compellingly original... Brennert's compassion makes Rachel a memorable character, and his smooth storytelling vividly brings early twentieth-century Hawaii to life. Leprosy may seem a macabre subject, but Brennert transforms the material into a touching, lovely account of a woman's journey as she rises above the limitations of a devastating illness." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A generous portrait of a brave full life—Rachel Kalama's disease draws her into healing friendships with troubled Sister Catherine, with roommate Leilani who was born in the wrong body, with her true love Kenji, and more, all in a beautiful land that's both prison and refuge. Alan Brennert has brought eighty years of little-known history to engrossingly specific life—as inspiring as it is heart-breaking." - Jonathan Strong, author of A Circle Around Her
“A poignant story” - Los Angles Times
“Moloka’i transported me to a place I never thought I'd want to go—a 19th century Hawaiian leper colony. But Alan Brennert meticulously paints this world, making it resonate with our own, in which disease is still politicized and made a moral issue. Out of the tragedy of the ostracized and the afflicted, he tells a story of triumph and transcendence.” - Karen Essex, author of Kleopatra and Pharaoh
“A story that has long needed telling... Instead of elaborating on the horrors of the disease in order to build up drama, as a less skillful writer might have done, Brennert recognizes [the patients’] dignity and respects them.” - mostlyfiction.com
"Alan Brennert draws on historical accounts of Kalaupapa and weaves in traditional Hawaiian stories and customs.... Moloka'i is the story of people who had much taken from them but also gained an unexpected new family and community in the process." - Chicago Tribune
“Moloka’i fits my definition of a good book, even a great book, because it wraps a riveting personal story around real-life events.” - BookBrowse.com
“An engrossing story...a most moving novel but based on facts.”- Connie Martinson Talks Books
"[An] absorbing novel...Brennert evokes the evolution of—and hardships on—Moloka'i in engaging prose that conveys a strong sense of place."- National Geographic Traveler
"Moving and elegiac." - Honolulu Star-Bulletin
If you've read it, please leave your thoughts on the book. And let me know when you read it what you thought. And now, I think I want to read his newest book, Honolulu!


Been a While

So in the time I didn't update my blog, a lot has happened. And I would love to post pictures, but...you knew there was a but, right? A power outage 2 days ago took out my computer. It's hopefully just a power issue and not the hard drive, so I am trying to stay calm...all the boys pictures are on there and not backed up.

Finn celebrated his 7th birthday, the day we returned from Saint Thomas. His mimi got him a remote control hummer that he LOVES. Alvin and I bought him this toy that he saw on a commercial and HAD to have...he's pleased with it, but it isn't something he can really use around his brothers.

Alvin and I had an argument (I probably started it) and I told him he needed to have more passion in his life. This got him motivated (I think) to start work on the garage. In just a few weeks, he has redone the power to the garage and he can now use the tools that have been gathering rust for 4 years. If you don't know what he is capable of building yet, you will be surprised. He is so talented and remodeling kitchens and bathrooms just doesn't show his skill. I doubt that will pay the bills, but at least he can continue to do remodels. He discovered this week that the entire back wall of the garage has to be rebuilt because it's rotten and hopefully that will be an easy task and he can add some windows to make it less dreary.

This weekend we got the garden ready and I planted peas before St. Patricks day. In utah, we were alwasys told to plant peas then, but I have been told to do it about Presidents day here...oops.

While Paxton and I were planting peas, because the power had gone out and we had nothing else to do, my cell phone rang. It's unusual that I would have my cell phone in my pocket, but I was glad I did. It was Quincy's school. The power was also out there, but while he was on the playground, he had a fall. He hit his head on the pole that holds up the monkey bars and was sporting a goose egg and because of it, they didn't want to send him home on the bus. I rushed to the school, a trip that normally takes less than 10 minutes, but it took more than 20 because of the trees that had knocked out the power. And of course, now school was out and I had to try to find a place to park in the chaos of parents picking up their kids (Come on people...let them ride the bus!). His teacher said she had never seen a bump develop so quickly and she was very worried because of it...I confessed to her on the phone when she called the next morning that he already had a bump there from a previous injury and there was just a little swelling on top. We asked Q what happened and he said he was trying to go across on the monkey bars and let go when he realized he wasn't going to make it. I would have been surprised if Paxton did that, but not Quincy.

Quincy is loving school. Well, he despises the bus, but I think he's a bit afraid of the bus driver. He says he had a good day at school every day and likes talking about his friends there.

Paxton loves speech therapy, but I felt like that wasn't enough and enrolled him in swimming. We have a lot of water around the farm and swimming is a skill I think our kids have to have. Paxton disagrees and after 2 weeks of swimming, refused to get in the pool and would not let the teacher touch him. I finally pulled him out because it wasn't worth the effort I was putting into it. However, I am going to try to get him to go swimming with me when Quincy is in school 2 days a week. BUT his speech has drastically improved and he likes to tell you that babies say things, but he can say it not like a baby anymore.

Sun has finally started making appearances in our days. HOORAY! It's beautiful out there, but COLD today. But I threw the arguing kids out there and suppose I should go check on them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

St. Thomas Recap

Had a great time and nothing more needs to be said, but since this is like my journal, here's how the trip went.

Friday, left the kids with Brooke and headed for the airport at 10:30am. Arrived in Houston in time for dinner (their time) and was there unil midnight. Flew into Puerto Rico, and was there as the sun rose and we waited for a few more hours. All these delays were because we were trying to escape the snow in the east, but it was a little long. We finally arrived at the resort in St. Thomas at 9:00am Saturday, and they were surprised that we wanted to check in so early! We actually ate, then checked in, showered and hit the beach. Amy and Bob got back from their dive in time to have lunch with us and we kicked around (snorkled) until our scuba refresher class that afternoon. For dinner I had my first one pound lobster tail and we had a little get together with all Amy's family that night before finally going to bed.
Sunday we woke in time for breakfast with all the other divers and headed out on the boat for our first dive in open water in 8+ years. It was as fantastic as I remembered, but I had some challenges with bouyancy. Alvin buddied with Bob and I with Amy and we saw some amazing things. I've been told you can see the same things snorkeling that you can diving, but that is not at all accurate! Amy loves looking at the little things and when you can't really communicate it's hard to understand what you are seeing. Amy had told me about Pederson shrimp that will give you a little manicure and she kept trying to get me to rest my hand down and wait for it to get down to business, but I just couldn't do it. Our room was being made up when we got back, so we went to lunch in our bathing suits (weird for me). We headed into town, thinking we could do some souvenier shopping, but the cruise ships were heading out and the vendors were closing shop. We returned in time for dinner, more lobster and super bowl party on the beach. Actually, I watched a few minutes of the game and went to put pictures on here for the boys and chat with Amy.
Monday, more diving! Amy brought her camera and let me take some pictures (can't seem to load them on here because they are TIFF files and can't change them to JPEG). On the boat, there are talk of eels, and how they have curved teeth that don't let go if they bite you. Down in the water, we see an eel and I'm up close trying to get a picture, but feeling too close and uneasy, when Alvin comes and grabs my leg. Well, Amy said he touched me, but I was so afraid of that little eel, that I screamed and jumped toward the eel. Nothing happened, but I was terrified. Can't recall the day activities, but we had dinner with 16 people that lasted forever and I ate Lobster, again!
Tuesday, was our day to sleep in and opted not to go diving. We went to breakfast and took out a kayak into the bay. We got called back by one of the resort guys, who I swear, was just looking for an excuse to go out on the jet ski! We went out for our first ever night dive...and it was fascinating. Keep in mind it's dark and the only lights come from our flashlights, so Amy points to something and all the sudden, I'm brave and I think, "I'll go for that shrimp mani now," and I put my hand down in front of what she is pointing at. She is an amazing friend...she smacks my hand away when she realizes what I am thinking, because that is an arrowhead crab (again, can't get pictures) that can apparently draw blood with it's sharp pointy claws! We saw the red eyes of shrimp, all kinds of fish and Bioluminescence (but you had to turn off your light for that -I was scared at first). We saw a few little sting rays which scared me, but as we were coming up to the surface, we saw 2 of these.


And this one was bigger than my dining room table! I couldn't get to a safe spot fast enough. When we got to the surface, it was pitch black with more stars visible in the sky than I'd ever imagined! Of course, there were 2 cruise ships lit up like cities floating off on the horizon so we could see where the water ended and the sky began. Back to shore, had a late dinner and that night I didn't have lobster.

Wednesday was Amy's big day. Alvin went out diving and I slept in again! Alvin said it was the best day of diving he had (so I missed out!). Instead, I got to have breakfast with my dear friend and her mother and grandmother. We then headed out on the water on an aqua trike for a little fun time before she had to start getting ready! I had lunch with Alvin and Bob while fetching lunch for Amy (service was pretty slow). I got ready and hung out with Amy while she finished getting ready. The wedding was on the beach and it was beautiful! After the wedding, the couple had rented the catamaran and took all the wedding guests out for a sunset cruise! It was amazing, but my camera batteries had died! (I'm waiting for Amy to return and compile everyone's pictures on a CD for me). We all had dinner at the beach bar, which was celebrating Carnival that night, and laughed as Amy, the good sport that she is, stood on a table and sang "Take me out to the Ball Game" in front of 200 plus guest that came for the Resorts Festivities!

Thursday, it came to an end, after breakfast and packing, we departed for the airport at 11am and prayed for snow in Newark the entire way to the airport. We finally arrived back home at midnight local time. And it took me 4 days to not feel jet lagged anymore!

It was a great trip and made better by good friends and new friends! Today, I spent the day looking for tropical family trips...not that we will be able to afford them for a few years!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More vacation pictures!

So, I really want to be with Amy right now, partly because she had a freak accident on day 2 of her honeymoon but mostly because she is still in the Caribbean! Somehow, she had a full scuba tank, connected to weights and gear dropped on her head and she ended up with stitches and can't dive: sad, because their honeymoon was planned around diving.

So, we made it home about midnight on Thursday and picked up the kids from my parents on Friday morning...all was well with them, except they seem to have picked up a cold! I have a bit of jet lag and don't have much patience so here are some pictures to take me back! I haven't done wash yet, so I could still go stimulate another sense to take me there.

Me and AlvinMe in a swim through, basically swimming through short tunnels (it was a first for me and I just wished I had 2 gloves)On the dive boat, going on our night dive (no pictures from that yet)FishDive boat and hottie dive masterAlvin's uninvited lunch guest...the iguanas were really pests, because guests feed them when they shouldn't.Amy and Bobs wedding!What is she thinking?It really was a lovely ceremony and spot. Funny enough, the dive boat came in from a dive in the middle of it.Amy's shoes, just like mine with different ribbons...sorry Jeanette, no picture of me in my shoes.Not a great one of me, but none were! That the problem with taking off my sunglasses.At the airport and time to go home...I was crossing my fingers for a snow delay of a few days! We had a great time and met some new friends and saw old friends. And no sunburn thanks to spf 85! Of course, that means no tan either.