Friday, November 26, 2010


I'm an armchair inventor of sorts. I've never cobbled together a Rube Goldberg contraption that cooks my breakfast, but I have designed and built an Irish harp or two.

And I can turn a broken umbrella into a kite.
My favorite umbrella, only days before it met with destruction.

My eight-year-old son broke my favorite umbrella by trying to use it as a parachute. The wind blew him off the wall before he was ready to jump, and the umbrella ended up at the bottom of the heap.

End of umbrella.

Instead of throwing the umbrella away, I put it in the corner of the Cove. Someday, I thought, that broken umbrella is going to be a kite.

Yesterday my daughter and I took the old umbrella apart. The carbon fiber rods made perfect material for a kite framework.We were trying to make a fish shape, but it turned out more like half an ice-cream cone with wings.
I sewed the umbrella's triangular panels back together into a sail and my daughter stitched the sail to the frame. The outer layer of the umbrella made a perfect tail. We attached it with a fishing swivel.

Here's the thing with kites: Anything can be a kite! You can make any crazy shape you like. It's a matter of attaching the string at a good angle to the sail, and then adding just enough tail to keep it stable. After a little experimenting with the harness, I found the "sweet spot" for the string and the kite took off.

Not bad for a broken umbrella.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creativity, Cooperation, and a Lot of Hard Work!

Here's a great montage from the Laie Temple Cultural Celebration:

Laie Temple Cultural Celebration .mov

And here's the famous opening number, except the camera ran out of batteries. Well, at least you can get an idea of what they were doing. It was AWESOME!

This incredible number, brilliantly choreographed, honored the ancient Hawaiians who designated Laie as a sacred place of sanctuary:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cars 2

My little brother worked on this movie! OH I AM SO PROUD OF HIM!

Usually when Pixar comes out with a movie I think, "That's crazy! They'll never pull it off." But this time I love the concept. Race cars plus secret agents? Sounds like a perfect match.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Culture of Celebration

Since the year 2004, when 2000 youth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Ghana, Africa celebrated the dedication of their new temple in song, dance and story, youth all around the world have taken part in similar events as temples are built in their own communities: Kiev Ukraine, Sacramento California, Panama, Gila Valley Arizona, Cebu City Philippines, Rexburg Idaho, Curitiba Brazil, and many others. I've watched some of these celebrations on television. I always thought, "How wonderful! What fun! I wish I'd been able to be part of something like that when I was a kid."

Now my own kids are getting that chance. This Saturday we'll be having a temple dedication cultural celebration right here in Laie. My two oldest are at the dress rehearsal as I type this post. One thing I never imagined as I watched all those celebrations: THIS IS A LOT OF HARD WORK.

We've had rehearsals once or twice a week since September. Besides seeing that my offspring make it to rehearsals, I've spent evenings at the church, sewing costumes. I am so looking forward to Saturday. The show will be amazing. It will be wonderful. IT WILL BE OVER!

And yes, it will be worth it. There's nothing better than getting a whole lot of people together to create something grand. I'm glad my children will have this memory, will know what miracles are possible with creativity, cooperation, and a lot of hard work.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Taste of What's Coming

The big yellow school bus lumbered up the black strip of road, squeezing between parked cars on one side and sidewalk on the other. My nerves tingled. That bus would carry my child, my only daughter, on the long winding coastal highway from our tiny country town to the big city of Honolulu.

Fear is my enemy, I told myself. Even now, I could say, "Let's go home. I don't want you to do this." Instead, I pushed away my anxiety and let a rush of pride and excitement take me. Weeks of practice, giving up her lunch hour, coming on Saturday, staying after school, my daughter had worked hard to earn this opportunity. She would have a wonderful day, rehearsing for the big concert on Saturday and spending time with her friends.

Morning sun lit up the mist over the jungle-covered mountains that rose sharply behind the town. I wouldn't see my daughter again until well after dark. I thought of my own mother. Had she felt like this every time I left on an all-day school trip? Had she felt like this the day she dropped me off at college? When I was the child going away, I had felt nothing but delight in the coming adventure, a thrill for the freedom, for the change, and a sturdy sense of confidence in my ability to take care of myself.

My daughter was fine. I was the one having an emotional moment.

And someday, when my daughter goes away for good, It will be the same. I'll watch her go with fear, pride, and joy all mingled together in wonder at the never-ending cycle of life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What's With All the Homework?

When I was in kindergarten, I had NO homework. I remember very clearly the first time I had to do something from school at home, in first grade, and how scandalized I was that the teacher dared to infringe on my time like that.

When my daughter was in kindergarten, she had homework once a week. We did it. I didn't like it, but we did it.

Now, ten years later, my youngest child brings home kindergarten homework every night. Two or more pages of it! Tonight's homework:

Page one: Practice drawing the letter j six times, then color several pictures that start with j.

Page two: Color and cut out eight pictures representing words that start with various letters, then glue them next to the right letter.

Pages three thru eight: Color a whole coloring book of half-sheet pictures of words that start with j.

To do a GOOD JOB on all that coloring would take me thirty minutes. It would take my son hours. So I don't require my son to do a good job on the coloring, even though that's teaching him to rush his work.

In fact, what this homework is teaching my child to do is sit still and do meaningless busywork. I don't want the public school system to manufacture people who will sit still and do meaningless busy work. I want it to turn out people who, among other things, can use their brains to understand things clearly and solve problems.

My son needs to practice making the letter J, yes, but does he need to do all that coloring and cutting? Every night? When there's a back yard and nice island weather outdoors and a whole neighborhood of friends to play with? Coloring and cutting probably isn't going to make him more competitive in the future job market, but good social skills might. I think I'm going to let him go out and play.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Dragons are Loose!

In case you didn't know already, the best dragon movie of all time is now out on dvd (or whatever format they're putting films in for home viewing this week).

I love friendship stories, comedy, epic adventure, flying sequences, great storytelling, good cinematography, and dragons. This film has them all. Oh, and did I mention fire? Yes, lots of fire. And explosions. Hee hee.

And here's the author, simply gushing about how amazing it was to see her book come to life on the big screen. Great job, Dreamworks!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Five Kids, One Pumpkin

I only bought one pumpkin this year.

They're expensive, okay? And we're still paying the mortgage on that house in Las Vegas.

I have five kids, all old enough to want to get into the pumpkin carving action. So what was I to do?

Something clever.

On five little scraps of paper I wrote the name of one facial feature. Left eye, right eye, mouth, nose, and "?" Yes, "?" is a facial feature. The child who picked "?" got to choose an additional feature for the face. Like a beard, or ears. My youngest child ended up with the "?" and picked eyebrows.

I wish I had taken a picture of the jack-o-lantern. It looked freaky, like some kind of modern art--each facial feature done in an entirely different style.

But all I have is a picture of the aftermath.

Want a piece?