You know what I hate the most at the beginning of the new school year? It is the other drivers, specifically the drivers at my children’s schools. Just a handful of the drivers who feel that rules do not apply to them can make those drop off and pick up times dreadful. The beginning of the school year is already hectic enough without their help.

A dad backed into my car during drop off. We both got out of the car, it was a minor bump, no damages. So, he didn’t feel the need to apologize. He flatly told me that he did not see me. We were in the middle of the drop off loop in our school’s parking lot!! Every car was sandwiched between two other cars, with the line backed up all the way onto the streets.

In the afternoon, a mom in this red convertible will bypass two lines of waiting cars that will eventually merge into one pick up line, and will pull to the front, then blinker and wave her arms with a big sassy show to try and cut into the front of the pick up line. Now, once or maybe even twice I could understand, perhaps she is new to the school, or has a real emergency, but every freaking day?!! Clearly, I am not the only parent not falling under this witch’s spells. At least on two occasions, no one yield to let her in. So, she pulled way into the front of the line, and parked at the red zone next to the red cones marked for Fire Lane. Hey, if you don’t mind being obnoxious to everybody every day, why not go all the way.

Then there are the walkers, who neglect to teach their children the importance of looking both sides, disregard the clearly marked walkway. Sometimes, they will even talk on the phone or worse, they text or update their Facebook status. Well, if I had to describe every single offense in detail, this blog will turn into a book.

Pick up and drop off at my 14-year-old’s new High School is significantly more orderly, mostly thanks to the school’s security personal directing traffic at every major high traffic junction. However, on my way to pick up my high schooler, I happened to have to pass an elementary school and a middle school, and I will often sit in their traffic and watch their dramas unfold.

All this is making me MAD and short-tempered. Every tiny infractions other drivers or walkers commit will have me huffing and puffing in the car, and turning me into an ugly fire breathing dragon with big sharp teeth.

This morning, I was transformed into a threatening beast in my car again, and even produced loud hideous sound effect to go with it.

Mad driver


“Mom?” a small voice from the back seat.

“WHAT?!” I growled.

“You are only 5′ 2”.” the baby.

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Big Trouble and Small Trouble for the New School Year

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My 14-year-old will start her new High School this Thursday. On Monday, I took her to school for registration. After standing in lines to check-in, to get school ID picture taken, and to get her new schedule of classes, we were finally in line for school locker.

“Hi, we were told to get in this line for a locker.” I said to the lady that sat at the table.

“Well, you don’t have to get a locker. It is optional.” the nice lady told me with a big smile.

“Optional?!” I wrinkled my eyebrows together. How could a necessity like high school locker be optional? My mind wondered back to when I was in high school. At the end of a school day, I stood there scanning the kids pouring out of the school gate, trying to spot a familiar face, familiar enough to want to help me carry my heavy load of textbooks to the bus stop.

My 14-year-old brought me back to the present time by waving her brand new iPad in front of me.

Our High School requires all student to have an iPad. There will be no paper textbooks, with the exception of a couple of workbooks for Spanish I. All books will be on this iPad.

“Everything I need is on this iPad. I don’t need a locker.” 14-year-old.

Ipad for school


“Only 30% of our students get a locker.” the lady added.

I got us a locker. Just for old times sake.

Previous related post: A Blast to the Past

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No first time visitors to the Big Island can properly visit the island without a rendezvous to Madam Pele’s Volcano. We are proper tourists, and arranged to spend two nights near the volcano.

A live volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii


When we left the sunny Kohala Coast, and into the roam of Hilo, we were immediately greeted by darkening skies, powerful angry sea, and sheets of slapping rain.

Hilo coast

Well, if you are willing to brave the rain, Hilo will generously reward you with gorgeous lush tropical greenery…

Green Hilo

Akaka Falls

Rainbow Falls, except there was no sun to make the rainbow

This massive tree really wow'ed us

Canopy tree road

Local family having fun in this Hilo beach

That night, after dinner, we drove into the Volcano National Park to peak at the live volcano. Wow, RED GLOW, yup, there was hot lava burning underneath us.

Nighttime red glow can be seen in the distance from inside the museum

During the day, you can only see the aftermath of Goddess Pele’s handy work.

Earth's burned crust

New life on Lava

Where the lave met the sea

Aloha.

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Aloha everybody! From the Island of Maui.

We have just wrapped up our visit to the Big Island of Hawaii. I loved how peaceful,

Mountain road near Kona


tranquil,

Beach inside the Mauna Lani Resort


and laid-back this island is.

Laid-back Cat at the Kona Coffee Plantation

My husband and I had visited the Big Island about 15 years ago before we had kids, and it was only for 3 days. So, this was practically our first time on the island of Hawai’i.

Surrounded by the island’s beauty, my index finger got a great deal of workout clicking away on my Nikon camera, and I flooded my memory card with new pictures.

I tried really hard to filter and re-filter my pictures, but I am afraid that I still ended up with too many of them to show you. Well, you might enjoy these:

Lava field trail to the beach in the Mauna Lani Resort.

Lava field trail

Ancient Fish Pond in the Mauna Lani Resort.

Fish Pond

A very large puffer fish. The Big Island offers some of the best snorkeling of all the Hawaiian islands.

Puffer fish

Big Island often has beautiful sunsets.

Sunset

Some romantic soul made good use of the black sand beach. She probably said yes…

Black sand beach

Kealakekua Bay, A.K.A. Captain Cook’s Monument.

Beautiful waters of the B.I.

Coconuts galore.

Coconuts trees

Red sugar cane.

Sugar Cane

These red bananas fascinated me. I had never seen bananas in this color before.

Red Bananas?

Great news! Next time your doctor tells you to eat more fruit and vegetable, go home and drink more coffee! As it turned out, the coffee beans aren’t beans at all. They are fruits of these trees!

100% Kona Coffee

Hibiscus flowers bloomed everywhere.

Hawaiian flower

Big Island’ alarm clock.

Handsome rooster

Glorious sunset.

Sunset

Come back soon, I will share more pictures from the Hilo side of the Big Island.

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“Ma-Meey!” my 13 year-old rushed into the family room, with the baby trailing closely behind. They both held a piece of paper in their hands.

I looked up at the kids and eyed them with deliberate suspicion.

Whenever my teen calls me “Ma-Meey (her version of mommy)”, I instinctively knew that she wanted something from me. And that something is going to cost a good deal of money.

“What do you want?” me, defiant to the teen’s attempt at endearment.

“Umm…” recognizing her failed charm, she pointed at the 10-year-old and whispered, “YOU tell her.”

The baby shook her head, and repeatedly pointed back at the ring leader.

How bad is this going to be?!!

“What is it? Spit it out.” I ordered.

“We have decided to be Elsa and Anna for Halloween this year. And we are going to make our own costumes this year.” 13-year-old stated.

I do not know my children well. I have no idea why they would be thinking about Halloween just after 4th of July!

“Okay….” me, “Frozen is so popular this year, I am sure around Halloween time, there will be lots of Elsa and Anna costumes.”

“But we want to make our own. And we need you to give us money to buy stuff.” teen. The baby was nodding wildly with a big purposeful smile.

“How much money do you want?” me.

“We need a LOT of money.” teen, pointing to the baby again, and trying to get her to chime in on the pitch.

“Well, how much??” me.

Teen to the baby, “You tell her. And give her your puppy eye look. You are good at that.”

Baby shook her head again.

Teen gave up on her useless little sister, and turned to me, “How much do you think it would cost?”

“Well, I can buy a nice Halloween costume for around $30 dollars. Since you will make your own, it should be much cheaper. But I will still give you $30.” me.

“We need $150 dollars.” teen gave this outrageous budget with a straight face, then quickly add, “Per person! We need $150 per person.”

“Here is our budget.” both kids handed me their pieces of paper.

Elsa and Anna budget list


Ha, ha, ha, I had a good laugh. This pair of Elsa and Anna was crazy.

“How about you just wait until Oct. I will buy you nice Elsa and Anna costumes. It will save you a lot of trouble, and save me a whole bunch of money.” me, trying not to keep laughing.

Hubby sat between us this whole time, and wisely kept to himself.

“No! The Elsa and Anna costumes we wanted online cost $2,000! So, we decided to make our own.” teen.

“Are guys getting married in these costumes?! $2,000 dollars. I am not going to give you $150 a piece. You don’t even know how to sew. I will give you each $30 a piece for your project. If you need more, you will have to use your own piggy bank money!” me.

The kids appeared shocked and saddened by my final verdict.

Well, that late afternoon, the kids came home with their dad from a local fabric store with this.

Elsa - fabric


Da-deey came to their rescue.

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The Halloween Fairy

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Summer is best enjoyed with fun and sun. On Monday, I took the kids to the Santa Cruz Board Walk to commence the beginning of our summer.

Santa Cruz Board Walk on the Beach


Upon arrival, we walked up and down the board walk, trying to decide what to eat.

Lots of food vendors along the board walk


Our lunch was junk food galore! The kids were smiling ear to ear enjoying a rare meal that is completely out of the boundary of a healthy meal.

After lunch, the kids went straight for the stomach turning rides. I was impressed with they did not end up experiencing their meal in reverse.

The Cyclone right after lunch


More rides!


In just 2 to 3 hours, they have used up the handful of ride tickets I gave them. So, I lead them onto the sand towards the beach. The beach is free.

Santa Cruz Beach


“Hey! We didn’t bring our bathing suits. Try to stay out of the water, so you don’t get wet.” me.

The kids run towards the water and met the approaching waves. They were soon wet and gleaning with laughter.

I joined them. It’s the summer. Let’s have fun.

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Parents! If you have babies at home, hold them tight, and savor every second! Because these tiny creatures grow up really fast.

In the blink of an eye, my firstborn now stands taller than me, and will be graduating from middle school later this week. Sometimes I don’t recall how this all happened so quickly.

Also, let yourselves be warned that big kids have high dreams.

A couple of weeks ago, we were resting on top of the Nevada Falls during our day hike at Yosemite National Park. My 13-year-old hit me with a new inspiration.

“Mom!” kid.

“Hum?” me.

“Can I go Hang Gliding?” kid paused monetarily just for the request to sink in, then summoned her cutesy look and continued, “You know how I always wished that I could fly.”

Hand Glider over Yosemite


Yes, the kid has wanted to fly since her toddler years. I hate to crush any child’s dreams.

I thought for a while, and came up with an excuse that sounded plausible.

“They don’t allow kids to fly on these things. You will have to wait until you are an adult.” me.

“So, when I am an adult, can I go hang gliding?” kid, still excited and dreamy.

“Well, when you are an adult, you don’t need my permission anymore.” I stated dryly.

“OH!” kid’s eyes popped open really large, “YES! When I am an adult, I can do whatever I want! I don’t need you anymore. HA.”

I got to roll my eyes at the teen.

“Well. Yes. When you turn 18, you won’t need my permission to do things. But you will have a different problem.” me.

“What’s that?” kid.

“You get to do things on your own, when you become an adult. But you will get to pay for them too!” me, “I bet that Hang Gliding is expensive.”

“What?! NO! When I grow up, I want to do whatever I want, but I still want you to pay for them!!!”

“Ha, ha, that is not how it is going to work, kid.” me, laughing.

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Six months ago, on Dec 4th, 2013, an annual doctor checkup landed us in the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Room.

We had been very healthy, and were unprepared by the sight of the ER. It was packed with miserable-looking sick people, waiting to be seen. I feared that we would be stuck there all night, and we were going to miss our dinner.

“Don’t worry. You won’t be waiting here long. You will be seen shortly.” the nurse that checked us in told me plainly.

She was right. We were expedited thanks to our primary doctor who had called us in and made arrangements for us. We were a real emergency.

A hospital staff escorted us to another area of the hospital.

It was their pediatrics’s ER room. I vaguely remembered a colorful room decorated to please young children, with cartoonish posters hung on pastel colored walls, and toys on the tables. The room had very comfortable couch for the parents to sit in.

We sat there with one other family. Their toddler was playing with one of the wooden toys. The mood in the room was grim. Various smiling nurses and ER physicians came in to greet us and tried to calm our nerves.

Soon, we were lead into a room that had just been prepared for us. It had a hospital bed, with a nice flat screen TV hanging from the ceiling. Also in the room was a desk and chair. My 13-year-old promptly plopped down there, and proceeded to do her homework.

The kind nurse told us that there were many cartoons and Disney movies to choose from. But before we started any movies, she helped my 10-year-old into a hospital gown, and settled my baby onto the bed.

My baby.


As soon as a Disney movie was started, physicians and nurses started to come in and out to check the baby’s vitals, and drew blood.

They started an I.V. for the baby to provide for the nutrient for her missing dinner, and to make drawing additional blood work easier. I wasn’t hungry for my dinner. I had long lost my appetite.

They threatened to keep us overnight.

Around 10PM, an ER doctor entered the room and introduced himself.

“We won’t have the blood test results until tomorrow. But we are fairly certain that your child has Type 1 Diabetes.” said the young doctor. Clearly, he was used to giving people terrible news all day long.

DIABETES??! How could this be? Isn’t this a disease for old people, and people who tend to be a little rounder than the general population…I looked down at my baby, who looked thin, who had lost a lot of weight recently. Who was intently watching her Disney movie.

“We can discharge you, and let you all go home tonight. But you must promise to bring her back to our hospital first thing tomorrow morning.” said the doctor.

His discharge offer sounded as if we still had time to just run away from the disease.

Early the next morning, we arrived at the hospital’s pediatrics’s endocrinology clinic. They were expecting us, and after filling out a few forms, we were conducted into a room with a table and some chairs.

We were warmly greeted by 2 or 3 doctors, and two diabetes educators. They introduced themselves as our diabetes team.

The disease comes with its own team? This wasn’t comforting.

We spent most of the day with Barry.

Barry had a warm smile and kind eyes. He spoke with a certain clarity and directness. His mild mannered sense of humor was a god send. These qualities enabled him to effectively articulate all the horrors of living with Type 1 Diabetes while curbing mothers from submitting into uncontrollable sobbing.

“Two things first.” Barry.

“First. I want you to forget all that you have heard or know about Diabetes.” Barry, waving his hands no wildly.

Lucky! I already knew almost nothing to nothing about Diabetes. It doesn’t run in our families.

“Most of what you heard, or what’s out there about Diabetes is for Type 2 Diabetes.” Barry paused, then continued:

“Type 1 Diabetes is nothing like Type 2 Diabetes. They are entirely different.”

We nodded.

“Type 1 Diabetes represents about 5% of diabetic population. It mostly struck young children. That is why it used to be called Juvenile Diabetes. But we do have young adults being diagnosed with it also, so we call it Type 1 Diabetes now. It is the second most common chronic childhood disease after asthma.” Barry.

“T1D is an autoimmune disease. For unknown reasons, the patient’s own immune system starts to mistakenly attacks its body’s own cells. Specifically, the beta cells in the pancreas responsible for making the hormone insulin. With these beta cells destroyed, the body no longer makes insulin, which cause blood sugar level to rise. The child develops Type 1 Diabetes and becomes insulin dependent.” Barry, our educator.

“How is Type 2 different?” me.

“Type 2 diabetics have working beta cells in their pancreas, and produce insulin. But their bodies grow insensitive to insulin, and do not respond to the hormone, causing their blood sugar to rise. They are not insulin dependent. So, they often prescribed with strict dietary restrictions, and heavy exercise. Sometimes, they are given medication to help their body more sensitive to insulin.” Barry.

“Here is my second point to make.” Barry.

I looked at him wide eyed.

He pointed at my baby, and said, “It isn’t your fault that you have Type 1 Diabetes.”

He then pointed at me, and said, “And it isn’t your fault that you child has Type 1 Diabetes.”

“Oh, bless your heart.” I said to him weakly, and may have shed a tear there.

Barry smiled, and explained further to the baby, “You didn’t get your diabetes from eating too much candy, or if you like sugary cereal for breakfast, or maybe you had an extra muffin one day.”

He then bend low to face the baby and grinned, “So, the good thing about Type 1 Diabetes is that there is no dietary restrictions for you at all. You can continue to eat as you please.”

The baby was smiling big. She was probably relieved that she is not doomed to eat boiled vegetables. I was gravely misinformed, and may have warned her that people with diabetes can only eat boiled vegetables and not much else.

“Another great thing about T1D is that with good management, you can continue to live a healthy long life, and you can do anything you want with you life.” Barry.

Then he turned on us, and gave us a long list of the bad things about T1D. It hit us like a ton of bricks.

T1D comes with an evil treatment plan.

T1D Supplies


MDI, it stands for multiple daily injections. We must inject our 10-year-old with insulin whenever she eats meals or snacks with carbohydrates.

“For how long?” I asked.

“Well, there is no cure, remember?” Barry sounded sorry.

“Forever!” me. I tried really hard to not cry. I didn’t want to freak out the baby.

We spent the rest of the day practicing pricking our fingers to check for blood sugar, learning about food and their carbohydrates, and gave ourselves shots filled with saline solution.

Admirably, the baby did everything with great stride, not a single tear, and even with smiles.

After an exhausting 9 hours of T1D crash course, and feeling quite qualified to become a nurse, we were given a nice blue backpack filled with a huge binder with all the information. A starter supply of insulin, syringes, glucose meter, a phone number to check in with them daily, and Rufus, a teddy bear with T1D.

Rufus-our T1D bear from JDRF


We thanked Barry, and took our T1D home with us.

Previous related post: Dear Child

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Over Memorial Day weekend, the four of us drove the 4 hours and arrived at Yosemite National Park.

Half Dome - Yosemite

We came here for a highly anticipated day hike. We plotted to hike the 2.5 mile Mist Trail over two huge waterfalls, with an elevation gain of 3000 feet. Then we would take the longer but flatter 4.2 miles John Muir Trail back.

We got up at 6:20AM Sunday morning, ate a big meal, parked our car at the Curry Village, and took the shuttle to the start of the trail.

As soon as we got off the bus, the kids couldn’t contain their excitement, and run towards the trail head.

Kids running towards the trail head

“Kids! Save your energy for the uphill hike.” I shouted after them.

Soon, we were ascending on a flight of 600 steep and huge granite stairs alongside the Vernal Fall.

Vernal Fall

This trail is called the Mist Trail for a very good reason. The section of the trail that lay next to the fall is soaking wet from the fall’s powerful mist. And guess what else the mist makes when splashed against the sunlight?

The brightest rainbows you will ever see!

Mist Trail Rainbow

Soon, we reached the top of the fall.

Top of the Vernal Fall

A roaring emerald hued rushing stream that drains into the Vernal Fall quickly reminded us that there is still an even bigger Nevada Fall further up waiting for us to conquer.

Yosemite Stream

Soon we embarked on an even steeper path towards the Nevada Fall.

Rocky path towards the Nevada Fall

Did I mention the Mist Trail is 2.5 miles going up and up?

Hike up alongside the Nevada Fall on the Mist Trail

Finally, just after 12PM, we arrived at the top of the Nevada Fall. And we took in the powerful Yosemite Granite cliff views from the top.

Top of Nevada Fall-Yosemite

After a much necessary and unapptizing lunch, we rested a while on the top, and started to head down towards the valley on the John Muir trail.

The John Muir trail is quite a bit longer, but much flatter than the Mist Trail, and it offers a different view of the falls and the surrounding Yosemite National Park.

Nevada Fall from the John Muir trail

After a 2.5 mile steep ascend, hiking down on the John Muir, it felt as if my knees were about to buckle. But my baby was still bursting with energy. The kid practically danced and bounced her way down.

Kids doing the day hike with ease

We got back down to the Valley by 2:30PM. We still had half an afternoon to spare!

A hot shower and a nap sounded about right.

The beautiful Yosemite

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“I WON!! I won my classroom Science Fair Project!” the baby screaming into my ear, and instantly filling the car with excitement.

“WHAT?!” me, shocked, disbelieving.

“I WON. HA!” the baby waved a fist across her chest, and gave me a triumphed look.

That was the science project that I had made fun of before.

When I first found out that the plot of the project was to explode pumpkins, I condemned it with a strong dose of bad attitude. Then I had told these dimwits (hubby and the baby) that there were no pumpkins this time of the year.

Undeterred, hubby came home with comprises. Soon our kitchen was filled with watermelons, cantaloupes, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and unfamiliar squashes.

Melons and Squashes


Then hubby and the baby spent three good weekend afternoons, counting and wrapping rubber bands onto their victims, and strangle them with snail speed to their uncommon demise.

Exploding the squashes with rubber bands!

split in half!


Every time a squash or melon split apart, rubber bands, squash parts, and their messy guts flew, and they would cheer gleefully.

Mess...


I would shake my head, and yell out to the backyard, “You guys better clean this stuff up!”

As it turned out, they did have a scientific hypotheses for all their trouble, and it was confirmed by the experiment.

The Winning Project


It even won. The teacher liked it, because she thought it was creative. The kids liked it, because they wish they had thought of it, and got to spend their afternoons torturing squashes.

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