Saturday, November 24, 2018

Whew, Chile!

I've got blog posts started and not finished, ideas for essays ruminating in my mind, and hilarious stories involving my two littlest loves. 



 Yet, things in my world have gotten hectic and busy and oftentimes absolutely chaotic!  There isn't always the time to write, and I've yet to find the time to "make the time."  It's forthcoming, though.

Buuuuuuut, I wanted to share this video somewhere and here is the only viable online space that I'm currently (very minimally) accessing to share anything these days.

Despite how immersed I've become in Life here lately, I'm not sure HOW I have missed this for the past three months!

Erykah Badu has done a Tiny Desk concert where she performed--of ALL the songs she could have performed from just about any one of her albums that would have had me in such a serious fallin' out, nostalgic, deeply passionate mood--"Green Eyes."

Y'all. 

And here we are 18 years after Mama's Gun dropped with this gem of a song--with her sounding just as she did singing it back then, richer even--and I still get chiiiiiills at how deep, real, and sincere, not just the lyrics are, but at what she emotes in this song.

It's so deep to me. People in the comments who feel just as strongly say they've been listening to it constantly.  I've personally only been able to watch/listen to it once, and I've probably only listened to the actual song on the album a hand full of times over the past several years.  It just touched me in such a deep way the first time that constant, repeated listening wasn't even necessary.  Every single word/sentence/concept/idea/notion/note/sound/transition is imprinted in me forever. I've accessed various of these lines (only mentally) in different situations over the course of making my way into womanhood, not because someone has "done me so wrong."  But because there has been a time or two where I've literally wanted to sing to a person, "You cain't be what I need you to, and I don't know why I **** witchu."  Or because the heart and mind will have you caught up thinking, "I can't leave; it's too late," and so you know exactly what she means.

Anyway, Anyway, AnyWAY.

Here she is.  I'll be writing again soon. :)




Monday, April 23, 2018

Sankofa

I looked over at my three-year-old one day as she casually reached up to the counter to grab something.  When I saw that it was her sister's sippy cup, I was confused.

"Why in the world would she be reaching for that?" I wondered 

Then, as she retracted her arm, sippy cup in hand and heading toward her mouth, I realized she was committed.  The child was about to drink from the cup. I firmly called her name to get her attention, stopping her mid move and asked what she was doing and why and no.  The child proceeded to throw a full blown fit.

Huh?!?! What did I miss?

Admittedly, a big part of my dismay about the scenario has to do with whatever hangups I have around  saliva exchange/contamination, but the very nature of the scenario had me puzzled. Now, I know there's the attention seeking thing that apparently intensifies once a new sibling arrives.  I've been dealing with that for far too long now.  I am also aware of the mimicking of what the baby does that happens in an attempt to get the same attention that the baby does when she behaves a certain way. I mean, I don't say much when my oldest climbs in her sister's stroller and babbles like an infant.  But trying to drink out of a sippy cup at nearly four-years-old, taller than half of my body, a mouth full of teeth, and thinks/analyzes on a level critical enough to trip up the brightest of scholars is just taking it a little bit too far for me.

But I read about this thing called regression.  That's all fine and good, yet it seems to be calling for a certain level of patience that I'm continually striving to rediscover. 

For the most part, though, I try to let her have her moments of reaching back to her babyhood and remembering.  After all, I understand that it will be relatively short-lived.  Plus, she never had a sippy cup or a stroller.  But at her age and with all the characteristics mentioned above, some things are just over. Her breastfeeding days are  surely done. Yes, she will still try it, but there definitely won't be any regression there.  And if her sister doesn't stop with the on purpose biting and laughing, it will soon be a memory for her as well!


My little explorers.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Entitled

My family and I really enjoy patronizing public libraries. We're regulars at the one a few blocks from our home and at any given moment might have 20+ books checked out between us all.  (Getting around to actually reading or even opening them all is another story.)  Prior to living in Hawai'i and having acquaintances from countries all over the world (this place is super diverse), I've come to realize that the existence of libraries that are free and open to the public is something that is not a reality everywhere.   Some people have no concept of a public library.   Given the history of lack of access to books and information experienced by my ancestors, this is something I feel a need to be in on and surely can't take for granted.  My girls will are certain to understand this relevancy as well. 
 
All that said, we go to get books and hang out at least once a week.  My three-year-old has been taking part in the weekly story time program since she was six months old and my one-year-old has done the same since her second month of life.  Now that she's walking up a storm, she acts like she owns the place whenever we go--moving all over, taking books off shelves, putting things where she thinks they should go, rearranging kiddie chairs, and not wanting to be told anything in the way of stop/no.  It's a fun place for them both to learn and explore.
 
 
Noni more than three years ago at her first story time.  Wow!
 
 
When selecting books to check out, I think I get more excited about the children's books than I do those for adults.  It's intriguing to discover what makes a children's book captivating enough for the intended audience to even care. One that we currently have on hand and that my oldest child has had me read numerous times in the week and a half that we've had it is called Bob, Not Bob
 
 
 When she chose it from the shelf and I read the title, it was sort of confusing where the authors are coming from.  Yet, it turns out to be a really cute and fun book to read.  Noni gets a kick out of my stuffy nose voice that the authors insist one assume when reading the book.  It really doesn't work without it, though.  I, too, am pretty impressed with my own ability to sound clogged on command.
 
Another book we both enjoyed when we had it a couple months ago is Alfie, a tale of a turtle that disappeared. 
 
 
There's a switch up half way through where the story is then told from the perspective of the turtle.  Very interesting indeed.
 
I'd hoped and am still hopeful to someday do a video series where I read books with my girls.  It hasn't quite worked out as of yet for various reasons, but sometime before they're too old to want to sit and read with me we might be able to get it done.
 
**********
 
This seems like a good place to unpack some of the many library pictures taking space in my various digital storage locations.
 
 
 Noni at about 1.5 years of age stacking blocks at another library in our area. 
 
 The girls in the children's section of our neighborhood library sometime in 2017.
 
 My little one taking charge later in 2017.  She was loving the new rainbow rug that day.
 
 
 
 
 Noni and the great big Earth after viewing a play held at our neighborhood library.  Those are always fun.   
 
 She loves pop-up books.  (Photo taken earlier this week.)
 
After walking all over the place, being told several times to stop standing in chairs, being told five or six times to stop screeching (something she does very loudly when she's excited), and transporting the felt ducks to various locations in the vicinity, she finally decided to get busy with the task of putting the cut outs on the felt board where they belong. (Photo taken earlier this week.) 
 
 And this one of big sister reading to me and little sister while little sister amuses herself in big sister's head.
 
***
 
And here's the first time Noni met her buddy Leilani, which was the same day I met Leilani's mother, who became my friend.  It all started with a random encounter at the library. 
 
 

And in no time, they grew up!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Teach Me, Teacher

I'm a patient person.  My tolerance level for nonsense is typically relatively high; slow or non-moving traffic doesn't bother me much; long lines in stores are a breeze.

I'm patient.  I have no problem waiting or listening and wading through the irrelevant information to get to the gist.  I appreciate that immediacy isn't a big concern of mine.

I'm patient.

I'm patient. 

I'm patient.

I'm patient. 

Well, at least I thought I was patient. 

Then, Wangari came into my life. 
At some point she turned two.
Then she made it to  three and a half.

And somewhere along the way, as she grew and developed and sprouted and yanked at my nerves and rebelled and didn't "mind" and talked and inquired in the endless way that she does, I learned that I need to work on being...patient. 

Pictured here shortly after overcoming pneumonia!  The elders where I'm from, now ancestors, would be pleased to know she pulled through.  They surely didn't take pneumonia lightly at all, and I was anxious and worried the entire time because of it!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Mālama*

A woman outside my local grocery store asks me for money. "Excuse me, do you have fifty cents?" she asks every time she sees me. I give it to her every single time--fifty cents or whatever change I  have. Sometimes a dollar.   It doesn't matter to her that whenever she sees me I'm hustling to get myself and my two children out of the car and into the store; it matters even less if I'm coming out of the store with heavy bags in addition to the two children I went in with, again, hustling about the car.  If she sees me, she asks.  In fact, she knows our car, her lackadaisical energy shifting toward jittery anticipation if she sees it pull up.

This happens every other month or so.

In the meantime, I see her walk up and down the street--the main one that runs through town--with a tip toey gait, her limited mental capacity evident in her very existence.  She's an intriguing person, one of the many homeless who occupy Oahu, Hawaiian by ethnicity and "local" by affiliation. Lacking a house but not without shelter, she's categorized as homeless right along with so many others who reside in this state and lives in a nearby tent community. But unlike so many others, she's almost always hands-free--never pushing a cart or repurposed stroller. No purse or backpack.  From time to time she can be seen with a bag of food or a soda, the fruits of her face-to-face crowdfunding efforts.  Always sufficiently clothed in clean garments, her demeanor resembles that of an unpopular teenager sent out into the world daily for ultimate achievement before calling it quits.


Hawai'i's largest homeless/houseless encampment is two minutes from my residence.  It extends throughout the clusters of trees pictured in the background.  Photo courtesy of Cory Lum , https://awards.journalists.org/entries/harbor-waianae-homeless-camp-not-youd-expect/

The last time I saw her outside the store she requested change, and I had a request of my own.

"What's your name?" I asked.

"Corinna," She replied, in a manner much like that of an innocent child uncertain of what was to come.

I handed her the change then wished her a good day as I walked away with my girls.

When she catches my eye these days stepping up and down the main road, I think to myself, "There goes Corrina," in a pseudo-familiar way, knowing our next encounter is soon to occur.

*******
Homelessness is a big issue in Hawai'i.  It's a subject of constant discussion and debate.  It afflicts mentally challenged individuals like Corrina as well as those of sound mental capacity who work a job each day and are described with the acronym ALICE.  (This mostly has to do with a high cost of living and low wages.)  To the benefit of those who find themselves in such a predicament, there are numerous generous efforts to improve quality of life for state residents who find themselves living in a car or using a tent or other makeshift covering as shelter on city sidewalks and in public parks.  The most recent of these is a project called HieHie (based on a Hawaiian concept that deals with appearance.)

HieHie (pronounced hee-eh hee-eh) is a mobile hygiene facility that drives to different parts of O'ahu giving homeless individuals 20 minutes to go inside, take a shower, and take advantage of other amenities relating to cleanliness and hygiene. The project took two years to complete and was funded by donations.  I find this very interesting, and it's good to know and witness yet again that people do care.  It's only a small factor in the bigger issue affecting the state, but I'm sure it will have a positive impact on the day-to-day lives of many. 

You can read more about it at HieHie.org


*Mālama is a concept that means to take care of, serve, protect with compassion



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Talk That Talk

My experience living in Hawai'i has been eye-opening for many reasons, one being the exposure I have gained to the Hawaiian language.  While I am familiar with many words and word parts that make up the language, my understanding is not yet to the point where I can decipher sentences or comprehend when it's spoken.  Still, I recognize Hawaiian language as one that is rich with meaning  and subtleties  and compelling in the depth of its overall representation.

As has been the case historically for many people in cultures around the world, Hawaiian people were banned from speaking their native language once outsiders invaded and imposed their customs and attributes, including the English language.  This imposition was strongly enforced in schools and governmental affairs. This year, though, Hawaiians gained a victory on this front.

A judge recently ruled that a translator will be provided for anyone who chooses to speak Hawaiian in court even if the speaker is also fluent in English.  See, what's been happening outside of the legal venue is a resurgence of and attempt to preserve this gem of a language. It's been taught in schools, promoted in children's books, and accessed regularly by natives and non-natives alike.  Babies speak it as well as adults who learned early and continued the legacy. Despite efforts to suppress it, Hawaiian is alive and growing stronger. It's proliferation is inevitable.  So, when a professor from The University of Hawaii Maui College was issued a bench warrant for choosing  to address the judge and identify himself speaking only his native language, a movement was born. (Although the defendant was standing right there in court, the judge essentially dismissed his presence.) The judge's annoyance revolved around his own lack of knowledge of the language as well as the fact that the man standing before him was indeed fluent in English. 
During the process of writing this post, I learned that February is Hawaiian Language Month.

Protests ensued following the confrontation, and when it was all said and done, the court had relented.  After all, Hawaiian is one of the state's official languages. Now money will be found to pay translators for anyone who chooses to speak Hawaiian during a legal preceding, even if they are perfectly capable of speaking English.

Of course, people are mad as will always be the case, cause, well conformity.  Some feel that Hawaiians should just fall in line, speak English like everybody else. The basic nature of such a premise makes it hard for me to address or pay much attention to.  As far as I'm concerned, this is a substantial win for Hawaiians and  perpetuation of culture that's been at potential risk of being lost.  I personally find it hard to be mad at that. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

One by One

My plan is to homeschool--formally, when the girls reach "kindergarten age" I mean, since learning is already a constant in our home just as it is in many other homes. Given who my oldest is shaping up to be, I'm pretty confident that homeschooling--in our current context--will be the option that allows her to excel the most, and I can see the youngest being very similar in nature. 

While we do attend and have attended a few toddler-focused community programs where parents stay and participate with their children, my three-year-old hasn't been to any sort of day care center or school.   Recently, though, we visited a local preschool, as I was considering enrolling her in one for the upcoming school year to give her a chance to run around with others in her age group and do whatever else is done in such a facility. I mean, I'm not crazy about it (neither is she), but it's something we were looking at. 

Well, the school we visited was great. There's plenty to keep children occupied and learning-- toys, a writing station, outdoor painting, play dough, reading area, drama, puzzles, blocks, building materials, and plenty more. The classroom has an easily accessible restroom and low sinks, the playground is safe and contained, and the overall environment is suitable for the little bodies that occupy it for 5-8 hours a day.  There are three kumu (teachers) in a class of twenty, emphasis on a second language (Hawaiian), eight field trips a year, and students take their own food (which works great for people who are funny about what their babies eat, like me). Beautiful landscape, with mountains all around, etc.

Much about the experience was positive.

So, from the time I left up until this point in which I'm writing these words, I've been trying to figure out why I'm so irked by it!  I mean, something about the entire situation was really working me internally.

Granted, several of the present preschoolers' fascination with my baby's hair translated into their little hands being all in her head at any given point during the 20 minutes we were there, the director's perfume was bothersome, and the space felt tight. Still, as far as preschools go, it's likely one of the best in the area in terms of its offerings. There's no legitimate reason why it should have been getting on my nerves the longer I stood there making sporadic conversation with the teachers while my (suddenly shy and mute) child entertained herself on one side of the room by messing around in a play kitchen.

 
Sliding at a park after the school visit.

The more and more I sit with this I realize that for all that the preschool is good for, there's a reason why I'm considering an alternative approach to education.  Seeing my child in that setting made it clear to me that it's not the right environment for her.  Having had her with me nearly every minute of her short life since birth, this is something I can feel and know rather than verbalize.   So, while I would certainly recommend that particular preschool, I know for sure that we will have to pass on it and keep moving forward with what we've been doing.
**********


This experience inspired me to read a book that I randomly discovered on our book shelf one day.  (Free or cheap books from the library will have any book lover hoarding books they don't even know they own.)


 There's probably much to be learned from the ways in which young children are related to in different cultures when it comes to schooling.  I'm only a few pages into the first chapter but can tell this will be a true eye-opener. 

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