July 09, 2017

Celebrating The United States of America!

It is still odd being back in the United States for the 4 July celebrations. Yes, we have been back for the third Independence Day in the States. But it is still odd to not have 14 million things to do on the week around the holiday because it is the largest celebration for expats working abroad as Foreign Service Officers. (I miss it).

But this year we did plenty of "American" things.

Lucky Dragon was so excited that for about a week straight there were fireworks as we drove at night. We could see them exploding all over the valleys. Luckily, his birthday is in July because he really wants fireworks on his birthday! We went to the Sandy firework show at their City Hall. It was as much DC-like of a celebration as we could get! There were people sitting as families listening to the concert and then awaiting the fireworks. Sadly, after swimming all day Lucky Dragon fell asleep right before they started. But Little Koala Bear loved them. She was entranced.

She loved the fireworks!

We went fishing and spent time with "Papa and Pluba" and cousins on both sides of the family. The fishing in the river was his favorite. Although he tends to be a bit like I was as a kid and throw in the rocks when we are not catching enough. He was also disappointed we did not keep any of them! In his mind that meant we did not really "catch" them.

We went to a car show. And you would have thought this little 3 year old was in HEAVEN. (Although it was SO hot, it could not be Heaver...my image of Heaven has AC! haha). He wanted to see every car and talk about each one! Again I wonder if this kid should have been born to his uncle Trevor!

Plenty of sun and water to go around! We swam in pools of all sizes and shapes. We also BBQ-ed. At different times we did chicken, burgers, kabobs, peaches and hot dogs. It was delicious food--probably NOT helping us have beach bodies any time soon, but it was enjoyable.

I am thankful for the country we belong to, yes there are times that I wonder what leaders of the country are thinking. And there are times I read the news and am saddened by the hatred and intolerance. I could quote our wise 3-year-old-going-on-20-year-old and say that some days the actions of others are so "Exasperating!" But for the most part there are beautiful people and beautiful parts of the country to enjoy. In fact, the other day as we were walking--something Lucky Dragon and I try to do every day. We were able to pass Muslim families, Latino families, Asian families, white families and Polynesian Families. We were greeted with friendly, open words and were even invited to come in for food several times. There are many differences between us but there are also common values.

True to our experience living in a Muslim country the Muslim family displayed an outpouring of love and acceptance. The last question the patriarch asked me, a total stranger walking down the street in front of his house, reminds me of the person I want to be as and American-- "Is there anything that our family can do to help your family?" Would it not be such a better world if we all lived with that question as our mantra?

So, here's to another Independence Day in the books! It was a good one.

June 29, 2017

Summer! Fires and Hikes

We have tried to take advantage of the summer months already. I mean, if we are going to live in Utah, we might as well enjoy the aspects of the State that many other people plan and pay for trips just to come and do. Most of those happen outside--much to Lucky Dragon's joy.

This includes evening walks to smell the flowers--and to see how all of the toy cars race down complete strangers driveways. It also means that we have gone to the outdoor drive-in theater and found we really like the experience. We have camped--more than the last 10 years combined, we have learned how to do tin-foil dinners, roast marshmallows, dutch oven (chicken, breakfast and cobbler), been sunburned, bitten by bugs and swam. It is really busy, but we love it. (So busy in fact that I have not blogged about it!)

Here are some of our favorite places and the thoughts about them:

"Herriman Beach" Blackridge Reservoir
 We loved it here. It is a small reservoir nestled in a neighborhood and the nearby hills. The city has built fale's for picnics and have brought in sand for kids to play in. We had fun having a family outing just as we would back in Hawaii. I fell asleep and was FRIED!! Even two week later I am still peeling! Not good.

Willow Creek Park
Located in the middle of Lehi, just off Lehi Center street almost to Saratoga Springs. You can camp, have a bonfire and there is plenty of room to run and play.

Heber Valley Camp
This is a camp run by the LDS Church for girls' camps. But on the weekends they rent out the cabins to external people. So you can book them on their website. The cabins are immaculate, have cook stoves, firepits, electricity and bathrooms nearby. For a small fee you can use the boats on the lake and the ropes courses.

Murray City Park 
This park is complete with a pool, space to explore gardens, ducks to feed in the creek, hills to roll down and walking paths. It is easy to get to  and a relaxed atmosphere.

Willow Pond Park
This is located in West Murray near the Taylorsville border. It bridges across I-215 just west of I-15. But you have to drive through residential neighborhoods to get there. It is a long park with soccer fields, three toddler playgrounds, a small splash pad and a creek to play in. We also like to take the "nature walk" up the creek to see the animal life and vegetation.

Wardle Fields Playground and Splash pad
This is a new Salt Lake County park. It is amazing. It is large, has a HUGE splash pad, plenty of slides, swings and some ziplines. It is really popular right now so it gets crowded.

It has been great to be outside and enjoy the world around us. It makes my heart happy to be with my little family. I love them. we have made a good effort to enjoy the summer so far. It will be fun to see how the rest of the summer goes!

June 19, 2017

How Do You Know You Are A Dad?

So, yes, it is easy to be a Father--or father a child--but when do you know you are a Dad? I think that hit me this past weekend while we celebrated Father's Day. I officially became a father several years ago and more permanently when our Lucky Dragon was born. Now we have added Koala Bear to the family too. But it was when I went to church on Sunday that I realized the how I have truly become a Dad!

You see many of you know I have a vain side and prefer to dress and look nice. I have always been particularly picky about the ties I wear. I knew I wanted to marry a woman that could choose a good tie--and I trust Lady Hiva's taste to the highest degree, if you were wondering. I just never understood why guys would wear ugly ties. I suppose that sometimes they may think those ties are fashionable or their style, other times it is because they were given the tie by a loved one. For years I knew that if I was given a tie I did not like, I would not wear it. I have not had to worry for the past 9 years because ties given to me by Lady Hiva are perfect. This year Tau'aho chose a Hilfiger tie with turtles on it.

It is navy blue and has hundreds of small turtles. This was not surprising because he loves turtles and owls. He has a turtle he sleeps with and we have watched the Smithsonian Turtle series several times over. It is not a tie I would choose to wear or buy. But I should have known that was what I would be wearing to Church.

Every Sunday we have this routine where he chooses what tie I wear and which cuff links. I also bought him a French Cuff shirt so we both wear cuff links. He gets to choose them for us both. Last week we both wore cars, we also have our initials. This Sunday he had me wear my turtle tie and turtle cuff links and he was so proud. And guess what...I was so proud to wear turtle like I have never done before. In that moment I had proof I was a dad--if the definition of dad is that we are willing to do things for those we love that we would not do otherwise.

Now, yes, it could be worse. The tie could be uglier or the task/sacrifice that we make is harder, but I still felt the same. I am grateful for my little family. Lady Hiva truly made it a special day. She cooked a beautiful breakfast and delicious dinner. They also gave me some wonderful gifts--legos, bright colored shirts and ties. Lucky Dragon made a card in Primary at church and his card said his favorite thing to do with his dad is camping. It is good we have been doing A LOT of that lately, and I guess we will do more. He also gave me some candy he chose and they were grape flavored! I detest grape flavoring. I like grapes, but the flavoring is horrible. I throw away grape Skittles rather than eat them (or give them to Lady Hiva). But he was so excited that I wanted to "share" them with him haha.

Yes, being a dad has opened a new world of happiness. I love watching our little ones grow. I want to be better for them. It also means I don't have to justify playing with legos. I can now name all of the Monster Trucks we see, sing theme songs to many cartoons, was SO excited for Disney's Cars 3 come out last week that I bought us tickets months ago for the opening night and have grown to love demolition derbies like never before. Who knows what will happen with Koala Bear gets older and has her own interests.

So yes, I wear turtles and go to monster truck rallies and I LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT. And this is why:

May 31, 2017

A Sandy Beach In Utah

When you come from Hawaii you become a bit of a "beach snob." Not many places live up to the serenity of a Hawaiian beach with a beautiful sunset, clear blue water and perfect sand. Yes, there are some...but not many.

Living in Utah has been interesting for Lady Hiva and I because it is the first time that we have lived away from some sort of water--a lake, the Bosphorus, the ocean etc. So we are constantly looking for places to recreate something close to home. This weekend we were invited to join some family to Pineview Reservoir just East of Ogden, UT. We were happy to go along for the journey.

The night before we had spent having our own little family bonfire and we all loved that. We had gone to Willow Creek campground in Lehi, UT. It was perfect for a nice day trip or camping. There is water, plenty of green field space to play games and fire pits. Lucky Dragon was mesmerized by the fire (takes after me) and wanted to throw everything in. He thought it was so much fun to watch the marshmallows grow as they melted. In fact, he said he would rather eat the carrots and burn the candy than the other way around (again, my kid!).  But when presented with a chance to join family at a body of water, we jumped for it!

Mum makes a good goalie!

I had never been up there before. If Huntsville, UT was not so far away from Salt Lake City I would not think twice about moving there. I would spend every evening at the water.

We found a spot on the beach of sand--along with hundreds of other Memorial day celebrators. It was a sunny, perfect day. Lucky Dragon was in HEAVEN. I don't think he stopped for even a few minutes. We rode canoes, we built sand castles, we used the stand up paddle board and we laughed...as I said, it was a perfect day. Lady Hiva and I would take turns taking Lucky Dragon out on the stand up paddle board. He would sit down by our feet as we went. On one of the trips a large wake from a speed boat caught us broadside and we tipped over. The poor guy panicked! But he is so incredibly brave. Once we talked about the importance of the life jacket and that he was fine, he went out with us a few more time. Although, after that he was SURE that his mum was a far better athlete than I because "she never tipped me off." He may be right.

So if you are looking for a place to get away from the city. Lehi and Huntsville both offer some amazing options! We had a good weekend. I ended it with so much gratitude for my little family. It is hard to go back to work after spending so much time with them!