Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Faking Robyn

I was a very shy child.  I sobbed the first month of kindergarten, and felt like sobbing at the beginning of school for the next several years also.

My father was a physicist, and periodically visiting physicist's kids came over for dinner.  When our parents introduced us, we would stare suspiciously and then ignore one another.

But inevitably, 45 minutes before it was time for them to leave, we'd discover we were meant to be best friends from birth, play hard, and then whine nonstop while their parents dragged them out the door.

By 4th grade, I knew my system of meeting new people wasn't working very well.

Sometime that year, my mother planned a Pearl Ridge Mall outing with her new friend whose daughter was a year ahead of me in school.  A sick pit grew in my stomach as I anticipated being forced into another acquaintance.

When our mothers introduced us, Robyn beamed a big smile and said, "Hi!" in the most friendly cheerful voice ever.  I grunted something in reply and probably looked at my feet.

She and her friend went to wander the mall.  I slunk around with the 2 moms and 3 younger children feeling like a complete loser.

When we re-met an hour later, Robyn and her friend both held a bag of See's candy.  She offered me her favorite--molasses chip and said, "You should hang out with us, it's so much more fun than hanging with the moms!" (eye roll).

I did and had a wonderful time.

I realized Robyn's strategy for making friends was more effective than mine.  From then on, despite debilitating feelings of shyness, I "faked Robyn" every time I met someone new.

And it worked!  Faking Robyn quickly broke the ice in new relationships and I had much more fun.

For the past 21 years, I've held a job that requires me to fake Robyn regularly, especially at this time of the year called "New Student/Faculty Outreach."  It's not that I don't genuinely want to be friendly, but I still experience that inherent reserve/fear of rejection/what-will-this-person-think-of-me feeling that makes reaching out challenging.  It takes energy to be welcoming.

So I fake it.

All 3 of my kids also suffer from shyness.  They got a double whammy because Scott was also a shy kid and shyness is apparently genetic.

I frequently suggest they fake Robyn too.  But because they don't think I know anything about relationships (even though I studied interracial friendship in my doctoral dissertation and have been in ministry for 21 years), none of them have decided to fake Robyn themselves.

That has sad consequences for their social lives, but creates a real problem for me when their lack of reaching out means I have to drive someone to swim practice at 4:45 a.m. because that child won't speak up and get herself in a carpool.

Maybe all us shy folks should just
carry this mug around. . .
I've resorted to threats, including "You can make me the bad guy--tell them your mom's going to force you to quit if you don't get in a carpool."

She made efforts and got a ride yesterday morning.  But by afternoon she somehow got dumped, so there I was, driving her at 4:50 a.m. this morning.  Now I'm REALLY exhausted and grumpy.

So if you see me on campus and I greet you with a warm smile and a big "Hi!  I'm Kathy!  How are you?"  Know that on the inside I feel fear and trembling but truly want to get to know you and welcome you.

On the outside, I'm just faking Robyn again.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!

First day of school, need I say more???  You all have seen the Staples commercial:

But this year, I don't feel as desperately happy as I have in past years.  Why?  Maybe because school's started a week earlier and so my work isn't yet as intense.  Or maybe I'm just mellow after a month in Hawaii.

In fact, I'm not over-the-top annoyed (as I am in other years) that school doesn't really "begin," it meanders.

Today, for example, all 3 kids had a half day.  Ren made the jump to 6th grade and middle-school, which ran from 7:45-10:45 a.m.  Kai (8th) and Ling (10th) both went from 11:15-2:15.  Tomorrow and Thursday are full days, but then Friday and Monday are off.

Give me a break!  Do we really need a 4 day weekend after 2 full days of school?

But today both girls went in early, Kai to meet a friend for breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and Ling to be a "pal" for new freshmen.  Ren went to a friend's house after school, so I had plenty of peace and quiet for my 11 a.m. phone appointment.

So maybe that's the difference.  As my kids are now middle school aged and beyond, they all have not only the capability, but are expected to walk a mile to school and back, which means they're off the leash and free to wander the town as (I hope) responsible human beings.

They don't need me to watch over every minute of their lives anymore.  I might even survive this year with almost no childcare.

Now THAT'S a reason to go dancing in the aisles!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Memories

Hurricane Iwa--see the small yellow Hawaiian islands?
Almost 30 years ago, I prepared for another hurricane, Hurricane Iwa, which hit the Hawaiian Islands 2 days before Thanksgiving.  A high school senior, I worked at Punahou's health center because I was a scholarship kid.  I didn't even know a hurricane was coming, but as we fielded calls from concerned parents, I got a crash course in hurricane prep.

Punahou released us early, and we rushed to Long's Drugs to buy extra masking tape, which we taped in criss-crosses onto our large picture windows.  Every room in our house had at least one giant picture window, which meant there was no safe place to huddle from the possibility of flying glass!

My family of 6 eventually spent the power-free, storming night huddled in sleeping bags by our front door, a door flanked by only 2 narrow panels of glass--the most glass-free space in our entire home.

As a teen, I was excited to experience Hurricane Iwa, and even a little disappointed when I awoke at 3 a.m. to silence.

Even though I'm presumably a mature adult, I still felt the same excitement about experiencing Hurricane Irene, even with my sister's family visiting--more for the adventure!  We made necessary arrangements including buying:
  • flashlights
  • batteries
  • $40 worth of dry ice for our deep freezer and fridge
  • canned corned beef hash and black beans (er, we didn't actually need them given how much food I always have on hand, but I always like having more corned beef hash!) 
We filled every big pot in our house plus our bathtub with water.  Scott shoved every outside piece of furniture into our little backyard shed, even tomato wires, and we rolled the grill behind it.  Because he's considered "emergency personnel" at his hospital, he got all the latest updates on weather-related issues and forwarded them to me.

We were set.  

Yesterday, we awoke at 8 a.m. to trees bending in the wind.  

"Wimpy storm," said Scott.

Church was cancelled, so I was able to make a nice brunch for the 10 of us.  As I cleaned up by the kitchen window, a huge gust of wind blew--enough for my brother-in-law to say, "Look at that gust!"

I looked out the window just in time to see our giant 45-50 foot blue spruce topple over with a "Whump!" and crush 2 of our fences.


Two hours later we lost power.  Did you know that losing power and a tree while hosting your sister's family with 6 house-bound kids isn't as fun as I thought it would be?

Despite it all, I'm extremely grateful to God that our tree conveniently avoided crushing neighbors/children/houses/swimming pools--even our neighbor's plastic playhouse!  If it had to fall, it fell in exactly the place that caused the least damage or loss of life/health/property.

All to say I think I can wait another good 30 years before experiencing another hurricane.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How things change in 5 years, or, my love for Okinawan Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie

Even though I’ve lived on the Mainland almost twice as many years as I lived in Hawaii, and even though I’ve lived an almost an equal time in Boston, Hawaii still feels like home. 

Maybe because my parents live there.  Maybe because there’s something about Hawaii’s culture and people that will always feel familiar.

So it’s a big deal that I didn’t go home for 5 years before this last trip, and didn’t go home for 4 years the time before that.   It’s darn expensive to fly 5 people to Hawaii, even if it’s home!

5 years ago I noticed that that the people of Hawaii, were fatter even though they’re the slimmest in the nation.

This time, I noticed some other changes:

This is the density of the Diamond Head crowd
·      Everything was way more crowded.  The hike up Diamond Head Crater, which in years past always felt like a leisurely stroll with a few other hikers, now felt like Disneyland.  We got there just in time because when we got down from the viewing point there was a gigantic line of folks extending through this long claustrophobic tunnel.
·      Hanauma Bay (of snorkeling fame) looks better, less devastation and more fish than 5 years ago
·      My friends look older—especially the guys who don’t dye their hair. 
·      My friends noticed that I look older—especially because I don’t dye my hair.

But what really stuck out were some of the changes in the culinary scene:
·      Starbucks is even more quintessential
·      Shave Ice which used to just come with azuki beans and/or vanilla ice cream, now also comes with condensed milk, mochi, ling hing mui powder, and in some places, multiple ice cream choices.
·      No mangoes this year—boo hoo!
·      The explosion of purple food.  Between purple taro products and purple Okinawan sweet potato products, you can get your purple antioxidants all over the place.

Early in my visit, I ate the best dessert of the entire trip—Okinawan Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie at Diamond Head Market and Grill, a take out joint.  With a macadamia nut shortbread crust, sweet potato filling like creamy sweet potato pie only better because it was purple, and a haupia/coconut pudding topping, it was onolicious!

To my delight, I found the recipe online.  To my joy, I found Okinawan sweet potatoes at H-mart, the giant Korean grocery store here in Boston.   And to my utter exultation, I made it today for my Mainland friends and they all liked it! 

Now I can always give myself and my friends a taste of home. . .

Okinawan Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie
Based on the recipe from
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter

1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
 (3 Tbs)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Add chopped macadamia nuts and mix well.  Press lightly into a 13" x 9" baking pan.  Bake at 350°F for 12-17 minutes, until lightly browned.  Set aside.
The recipe for this crust is similar to one for a macadamia nut shortbread.  You may substitute any shortbread recipe for this one.
Okinawan Sweet Potato Layer
2 cups Okinawan sweet potatoes, cooked and whipped

1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup whole milk
or coconut milk (I used coconut milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt
In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Next, fold in whipped Okinawan sweet potatoes.  Then, add in milk, vanilla and salt.  Continue to mix until well combined.  Mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter.  Pour onto crust and bake at 350°F  for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Instead of whipping the Okinawan sweet potatoes, they may be mashed for a more "chunky" texture.  I prefer them whipped.  The texture is smooth, light and fluffy.  Whipping gives this a "melt-in-your-mouth" feel.
Haupia Layer
1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

2 12-ounce cans frozen coconut milk, defrosted (I used 2 cans unfrozen coconut milk—they were 13.5 oz. each, but it still worked OK, I think the haupia was softer but it still held together)
In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add water and stir until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.  In a heavy bottomed pot, heat coconut milk on low until warmed through.  Slowly add in sugar/cornstarch/water mixture, stirring constantly until coconut milk mixture is thickened (about 5-7 minutes).  Let cool slightly, then pour over Okinawan sweet potato mixture.  Refrigerate until firm, about 4-5 hours, overnight is best.
Cut into squares and enjoy!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Adventures with my Mac

Last month I managed to delete 8.5 years worth of writing from my computer. 2 unpublished books, articles, extraneous chapters, both parents life-histories.  

Everything.  Gone.

I still don’t get how I did it.  I was waking at 4 a.m. because of jet lag after arriving in Hawaii and getting a lot of work done while the state of Hawaii slept.  By accident, I copied “Writing” onto the sidebar of my Mac’s finder, as well as made an extra copy in my main folder.  I checked several times to make sure it lived in the main folder before deleting it from the sidebar. 

The Mac made a chomping sound when I emptied the trash.  When I looked in the main folder, everything was gone—all gone.

Palm trees in front of the Ala Moana Apple Store!
I did some mad emailing back and forth to husband and friends on the mainland to see if anyone knew what to do.  All they could suggest was going to the Apple Store in Honolulu.

Now this situation wasn’t as dire as it sounds.  Ever since my colleague lost everything when her hard drive crashed, I’ve been pretty good at backing up on an external hard drive.  I knew my writing still lived on in a small rectangular plastic box back in Boston. 

But I was in Hawaii with 27 more days in paradise before seeing that small rectangular box.  And I still felt overwhelming sick despair in my gut.

I made an appointment with the Honolulu Apple Genius Bar for 9 a.m.  The guy who helped me was very nice, but there was nothing he could do.  For hundreds of dollars, I could buy a restoration program or take it to a shop.  Not worth it with a back-up back in Boston. 

When I explained what I had done, he couldn’t understand how I managed to delete the folder but was too kind to say what my husband, the IT manager says, “Operator error!”

Since I was there, I also asked how to access my year-long “One to One” membership for which I had lost the info packet.  The kind workers managed to see that I never activated it, voided it and signed me up for a new one.

Yesterday, back home in Boston, I tried to restore my writing file.  I plugged in the external hard drive, opened up Time Machine, and couldn’t figure out what next to do. 

So I made an appointment at the Burlington Apple Store Genius Bar and also a 2 hour “Personal Projects” session.  The girls always complain our mall visits are too short, so I might as well learn something while they shop and Ren plays with Ipads.

At the Genius bar the nice guy talked me through plugging in my external hard drive, opening up Time Machine and clicking on the “Writing” folder. 

See the very faint "Restore" button on the bottom right?
Neither did I.
“Now hit ‘Restore,’” he said.  Less than 2 seconds later, 8.5 years worth of writing resided once again on my laptop.

Sheepishly, I said, “I didn’t notice that Restore tab.”

“No!  No!  It’s good!  With something like this it’s always good to have someone look over your shoulder.”

He gets paid to say things like that to computer idiots like me.

During “Personal Projects” I learned how to put my I-photos in date order (click “Sort Photos”, then “By Date”), how to re-date the 1.5 year’s worth of photos that all said they were taken January 1, 1980, and how to put names on Faces.  I didn’t even know there were “Faces.”

Steve Jobs, my heart goes out to you as you battle cancer, but thanks for not only inspiring incredibly user-friendly technology, but also the help centers that make it possible to use the technology.  

Even for computer idiots like me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Surfing USA

Ling wanted to surf in Hawaii. 

The 4 times I tried almost 30 years ago, my church youth group leader taught me—for free.  Another friend gave Scott a lesson about 20 years ago—for free.  So I wasn’t enthusiastic about spending a lot of money, but I’ve run out of surfing friends with flexibility to give free lessons so I promised that I’d look into it.  

Bethany Hamilton surfing
Whew!  Expensive!  

Then we watched “Soul Surfer,” the true-life story of surfer Bethany Hamilton who got her arm bitten off by a tiger shark off the coast of Kauai.  It was an inspiring story of a girl who pursued her dreams despite infirmity and through trusting Jesus.  (I don’t think they actually used the name “Jesus” in the movie, but if you watch the outtakes [which we did], she constantly says she gives glory “to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”)

Big mistake.  The kids loved the movie, but Kai didn’t want to go in the water for fear of sharks after that.  She even googled how many people are killed by sharks every year in the world (5-10) and the shark attacks/year in Hawaii (4-8).  7.4 million visitors come to Hawaii each year, but the math wouldn’t dissuade her—she obviously doesn't get probability yet.  

So she refused to surf.  Good, I thought to myelf, cheaper.

We decided that Scott and Ling would take a lesson in Maui.  But once they committed, then Ren didn’t want to be left out.  Once Ren said he’d do it, I didn’t want to be left out.  And once I said I’d do it, Kai grudgingly said she’d risk the sharks and join in with the rest of the family.

So I signed us up for a family lesson with the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy, earning a $10 discount/person.  Dreyson, the son of the owner, was our teacher. 

And I’m reminded why it’s worth it to invest in lessons.  When Todd taught me how to surf, he just took me and my sister out on a gigantic longboard, told us to paddle as hard as we could and pushed our board to help us catch waves.  Scott says that his one time surfing was one of the hardest things he’s ever done and he doesn’t think he ever got up.

Dreyson promised our money back if we didn’t catch a wave and stand up on his real life surfboard. 

He showed us the basic moves for half an hour on dry land.  He swore that the one reason we would fall is looking down.  I may have forgotten something, but I don’t remember learning actual moves, let alone how to steer or brake a board before. 

After our dryland practice, we paddled into the waves and took turns with Dreyson beginning with Ren.  And he got up first try!  Eventually, we all got up as well.

Ren--Dreyson's in back holding onto his board





By the end of the lesson, both Scott and Ling independently caught waves AND stood up all by themselves!

On top of that, we found out that Dreyson's good friends with Bethany Hamilton and that his uncle is her godfather.  How cool is that?

As our family did our annual end of vacation “100 best memories of Hawaii” exercise last night, surfing was the #1 highlight for all of us.  Just goes to show it’s worth it sometimes to break the bank and risk shark attack all at the same time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Romance of Sunrise at Haleakala

Yesterday the whole family awoke at 2:15 a.m. for the drive to see sunrise at Haleakala.  It's been my mother's dream and I thought Scott and I should enjoy this romantic escapade before we die.

My sister wrote that she vaguely remembered doing Haleakala at sunrise with her husband, that it wasn't very romantic, and that they missed the sunrise.

I wrote back saying I'm pretty sure I was her companion, which is why it wasn't romantic, but that she was right--despite rising at 3:30, we missed the sunrise.  

That took place 20 years ago when I had the privilege, as a 25 year old, of chauffeuring her around the outer islands as she collected data for her "homeless families in Hawaii" undergrad honors thesis.  Her grant paid for the hotel and rental car but we had no money for food.  

I was a poor grad student and she was a poor undergrad, so we bought a loaf of bread, peanut butter, and then used the freebies coupons that came with our Budget rent-a-car.  We were so broke we didn't feel bad about ordering the free mahi-mahi dinner at Denny's, splitting it, and leaving a $2 tip.  When our parents joined us on the Big Island for a mini-family vacation, they paid for food and we gorged ourselves on macadamia pancakes and sashimi.

The drive at 2:30 was a little rough.

"Stop leaning on me!"

"Put your head against the window!"

“You’re taking too much space!”

"I can't sleep!"

My mother promised the kids $5 each if they managed to not bicker for 24 hours.  They sure should have lost that moola.  Come to think of it, maybe she should have offered it to me as well because a mama with only 4 hours of sleep isn't much better.

We got to Haleakala by 4:30 a.m.--many kudos to Scott who managed to drive the windy roads with bickering and coffee as his main companions.

Our kids claim I didn't tell them back in Boston about Haleakala and to pack accordingly.  I distinctly remember giving this piece of information about 5 times over the course of a week, but nevertheless, we had 2 girls in capris and yoga pants with a hoodie and a windbreaker.  Good thing my mother thought to bring blankets from the condo--it was 48 degrees at the coldest point on the drive.

We reached the Summit and huddled into the enclosed viewing tower.  Us and 50 other honeymooning couples, families, photographers and tourists. 

Ren insisted on being wrapped in his king-sized blanket so he looked like a gnome and couldn’t use his hands, but his blanket kept unwrapping, so he'd demand being re-wound like a mummy. 

It was pitch black when we arrived, but somewhere around 4:50, a faint pink dot appeared in the horizon.  For the next hour, we watched that dot grow and bloom into a full-blown sunrise.  Us and the 200 other sun-gazers who arrived wrapped in hotel towels and blankets, including a boy who made loud snorting noises every 2 minutes or so. 

Sunrise at Haleakala--not my picture, but this is what it looked like
I leaned against Scott and whispered that perhaps you just couldn’t feel romantic with your kids, parents and snorting boys along for the ride.

But it sure was beautiful. . .

Friday, August 12, 2011

Grazing Our Way through Paradise

"What do you want to do while we're in Hawaii?" I asked the kids before leaving Boston.

"Bubbies mochi ice cream!"

"Matsumoto's shave ice!"
Matsumoto's Shave ice

"Char Siu Bao!"  (Manapua to locals, but hey, my kids aren't locals)

Char-siu bao aka manapua
"Genki Sushi!" (Sushi comes out on a rotating conveyer belt and you grab what you want to eat)
Genki Sushi's conveyer belt

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  No talk of beaches or quality time with grandparents (at least not initially), only talk of food.

When I called my brother to wish him happy birthday, I also asked, "What should we do while we're here?"

He needed no translation.  He didn't suggest windsurfing or the paddleboarding or hiking Manoa Falls.  Instead, he launched into a list of dishes and restaurants to try--garlic chicken, malasadas (Champion vs. Leonard's), fresh fish, etc. . .

I've tried to limit us to one treat/day while we're here, so I warn the kids to think ahead.  Don't eat the gigantic chocolate almond crusted ice cream bar from Costco if you want shave ice later!

But what to do as the mom who can't afford to eat a treat a day without blowing up like a balloon?  The same mom who gained 5 lbs in 4 days eating on a Kauai mother/daughter get-a-way?  Not to mention that I WAS on the I-diet.

But I'm in paradise, catching up with friends and eating the food of my childhood.  Yum.

Come to think of it, still haven't gotten to those malasadas yet. . .

Thursday, August 11, 2011

If I wanted a Do-Over

(This will be my last post on my mother-daughter trip to Kauai with Kai.  Read Rites of Passage, Fact of Life #1, Fact of Life #2, Fact of Life #3 ,Tips for a Mother-Teen Trip if you're interested!)

Overall, our trip to Kauai went amazingly well.  But here are some things I’d change or suggest if you’re thinking of doing a similar trip:

1.     Don’t get a manicure on the first day (or maybe any day) if you’re also using sunscreen or bug spray.  Who knew?  Both melt nail polish.  Kai-Kai’s #1 goal was a manicure/pedicure, so that was our first stop.  But then we went to the pool, and by evening, her purple fingernails had melted into sludge.  Vanity and beaching don’t mix.
2.     Consider a nature trip:  Both of my mother-daughter getaways were touristy trips—NYC and Kauai.  But the author of the book that inspired me took his daughters on a canoe/camping trip.  I suspect hiking the Appalachian trail or canoeing and camping, basically getting away from the distractions of glitz, screens, and gift shops, might offer more opportunities for deep conversation.  But I’d need to bring my Eagle Scout husband along to survive anything that strenuous, which defeats the purpose of a mother-daughter trip.
3.     Don’t live an “adult” schedule:  Staying up late and waking early to get to attractions makes for a grouchy teen, which results in a grouchy mom.  Kai and I did pretty well at this—we even went to bed one night at 9 p.m.  But even then she had a hard time waking at 7.  Teens need a lot of sleep!
4.     Don’t trust your kid to sunscreen your back.  OK, OK, this didn’t happen on our Kauai trip, but today I asked Kai to spray my back at the beginning of our 5.5 hour Waimea Beach trek.  Only as we were gathering our stuff to leave did the kids notice that my back now looked like modern art with artful light and red splotches.  “What did you do?” I asked her.  “I don’t know.  I thought I sprayed your back”  Sigh.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tips for a Mother-Teen Trip

(This continues my postings on my mother-daughter trip to Kauai with Kai.  Read Rites of PassageFact of Life #1Fact of Life #2Fact of Life #3 if you're interested!)

Now that I’ve got 2 mother-daughter 13 year coming-of-age trips under my belt, here are some things that worked well:

1.     Do whatever the kid wants, within reason.  I didn’t want to eat fettucine alfredo instead of saimin, or have Mexican food when there are so many great local foods to sample, but eating what Kai wanted was easy to accommodate.  (Although I put on 5 lbs in 4 days—whew!)
2.     Do something active each day, whether the kid wants to or not.  We kayaked, we snorkeled, we biked.  Kai wasn’t thrilled about biking, and I worried when we got caught in a rainstorm that I’d never hear the end of it.  But at the end of the trip, she said biking was a highlight.  Active adventures create better memories than watching a movie or lounging by the pool.
The Kapaa bike trail that lined the ocean--4.5 miles of beauty (and rain) 
3.     Make plans:  Teens get bored quickly.  Plan ahead to prevent whining!   Some attractions also sell out (like the Statue of Liberty in NYC, and kayaks in Kauai), so booking ahead of time was crucial.  It was fun to do something indigenous to the place—so Ling and I saw 2 Broadway shows, while Kai and I went to a luau.
4.     Make plans with set boundaries:  While I might have preferred renting a kayak for a day rather than paying extra for a guided tour, the guided tour worked better because there was a set amount of time it would take.  Plus there were others there so whining about how much work it was to kayak was too embarrassing.  If I rented a kayak, the trip might have lasted an hour (the same amount of time we snorkeled and biked).  With the guided tour, we kayaked and hiked for 5!
Guided Tour on Wailua River
5.     Employ as many languages of love as possible.  I’ve written before that my kids seem to have all 5 love languages, I seem to have none.  But here were my attempts:
a.     Physical Touch:  Hugging, holding hands, even crawling into her bed to hug her all seemed appreciated
b.     Quality Time:  4 straight days
c.      Giving gifts:  I bought her a turtle/honu charm to go on the charm bracelet I gave her for her 13th birthday.  This has gone far!
d.     Words of Affirmation:  Although she said my blog on her kindness was cheesy, she lapped up the chance to hear positive words.
e.     Acts of Service:  I planned the whole darn trip!  But I’m not sure a 13 year old can appreciate the work that was involved.
6.     Just do it!  The kids looked forward to it, and Ling still refers to our time together, we’ll wait to see what Kai says.  Ren’s already begging to come back to Hawaii in 2 years because he wants to go to an outer island too!  (Don’t know if we’ll be able to swing it, but his other idea is to kayak and hunt for diamonds in North Carolina.  “Why don’t you do that with Daddy?” I ask.  “Because I want to go skiing with him!”)

Sometime soon I’ll write about what I would do differently or change—but for now, got to go to the Honolulu Aquarium and Waikiki beach—keeping the kids busy and avoiding boredom!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Facts of Life #3

(Blog # 4 about my mother/daughter trip with Kai-Kai.  Read #1, #2, #3)

When Kai asked me for another fact of life, the only one that I could think of was my theory of male/female "resonance"—that God created males and females to "resonate" with one another.  In other words, as Harry said to Sally (in my favorite rom-com of all times):

Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way. 
                                                         –Billy Crystal, “When Harry Met Sally”

Or, as I said to Kai, “It’s hard to be friends without one person falling in love with the other.  If you both fall for one another, then it’s great!  But usually only one of you ‘likes’ the other and it gets all messy.”

Now when I was about Kai’s age, my mother basically said the same thing and I argued with her nonstop.  After all, with my many years of experience, I knew better.

And I didn’t want her sentiments to be true.  I wanted to have guy and girl friends galore.  But now, many years later, I have to admit that Mama was right. 

Now I don’t completely agree with Mama and Harry’s sentiment.  I believe men and women CAN be friends.  Male friendships are important to me.  One reason I’ve kept working throughout the mommy period is the desire to have male relationships other than my husband.  If I stopped working I’d live in an almost completely female social world.  And ladies, I love you all, but only socializing with you would be a bit boring.

Through my 21 years in ministry, I’ve enjoyed wonderful friendships with male colleagues, students and faculty.  These friendships are also often partnerships, which as a student/friend once pointed out, can be the best sort of friendship there is—friendship with a larger purpose.

BUT you’ve always got to be aware of the sex part, even with guys who are 30 years younger or 30 years older than you. 

Here are some tips she wasn’t that interested in hearing (because she just wanted to hear personal stories)

·      Make great guy friendships!  Befriending many guys teaches you tons, and breaks your heart (and theirs) a lot less than dating lots of guys.
·      If your friend’s “taken,” befriend his significant other.  If that’s not possible, ask about her regularly so she’s acknowledged in the relationship
·      Beware of “emotional adultery.”  Avoid inappropriate emotional intimacies with someone not your spouse or someone who’s “taken.”  In other words, don't get closer to someone than you are with your own significant other, or than he is with his.
·      When it comes to male/female friendships, Jesus’s words are best “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves”

So here’s to Kai as she learns her own “facts of life”! 

Just remember though, Mama knows best!