No-babies Perfect

By February 13, 2019 #BabyFox, Musings, The Daily Dish

Whenever someone told me, “You’re so lucky. Landon is such an easy baby,” in the back of my mind, I would wonder how long that would last.

Because no one has a perfect kid. At some point, all kids, even the seemingly easy/calm/mellow ones, have their moments.

Well, Landon’s time has come.

Soon after he turned 2 a few months ago, my once-chill kid transformed into someone I didn’t know. He whined, he pouted, he started making demands. No, not leaving the playground, Mommy! No, no, no!

Don’t get me wrong: He’s still a pretty easy kid (from what I hear, anyway). He still happily puts himself to bed (before 6 p.m.) and entertains himself with crayons and excavators (not together). But he’s started to protests bath, which he used to love, and demands very specific things (like a certain T-shirt that’s almost always in the wash or backpack that he won’t end up using, anyway). My once voracious eater is now extremely picky; he suddenly started refusing fruits and eggs—his usual standbys—and won’t try anything new. Some days he’ll eat cheeseburgers or fish sticks; other days he’ll throw them on the ground. And he never used to shout before.

Who is this kid?

I know he’s at that age where he’s started to assert himself, test boundaries, be more independent. I get that he’s frustrated, too. I don’t always understand what he wants or needs, and he has trouble articulating that with words (hence the throwing). And while I expected this, I didn’t really know what this stage would be like. It’s not fun.

It’s so hard to be patient—not one of my virtues to begin with—when your kid is lying in the middle of a playground in protest of my suggestion to leave. I can’t reason with him, either. Saying, “Hey, it’s getting dark, it’s starting to rain, and the new season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is on in 15 minutes,” doesn’t quite work. And you can’t let him lie there forever. (Though I’ve thought about it.)

I know this is just a phase. I know this is an important transition for him. I know that, at some point, he’ll be a normal human who doesn’t need to throw his food at me to let me know he’d rather have a grilled cheese sandwich.

And I also know there will be worse phases—I’m not looking forward to puberty—and times when I’ll wonder why I ever wanted the Terrible Twos to end. (Try Terrible Teens. And that’s a decade!)

So what should a sleep-deprived, Google-addicted parent do?

This is what I’m doing: I’m writing everything he does down. So when he’s older, he can read it. And when he asks for a car, I’ll lie down on the kitchen floor in protest.

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#CatBakes: Super Easy Coffee Cake

By January 28, 2019 Food

I’m always looking for quick and easy breakfast dishes that can double as mid-day (or midnight) snacks.

That’s why this coffee cake recipe is so awesome. It’s quick to make, you’ll probably have most of the ingredients already, and it will satisfy your cravings for something sweet. (Trust me, I know cravings.)

You’ll especially love this cake if you’re like me and really, really love cinnamon. Because this packs a ton of cinnamon in every square. It’s like eating cinnamon toast but on a cake. And topped with melted butter. Right? You need this.

So here you go. And you’re welcome in advance!

Super Easy Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

1 c. oil (I use vegetable oil.)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk (I’ve even used skim milk and it comes out great!)
1 c. sugar
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For the streusel topping:
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, eggs, vanilla and milk. In another bowl, blend sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then pour half the batter into a greased 9×13 pan. In a separate bowl, prepare the streusel topping by combining the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half of the streusel on top of the batter. Add the rest of the batter and then sprinkle the remaining streusel on top. Drizzel with the melted butter. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

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Go-at with the Flow

By January 26, 2019 #CatTravels, Musings
I learned a lot from this Nigerian Dwarf goat at Maui Goat Yoga.

A month ago I left a great job with a great team to do something I had never done before: be a boss.

I took a job at the editor of HAWAI‘I Magazine, a bi-monthly Honolulu-based travel publication, where I would have to manage a team, albeit a very small one. (Like, one person. But still.)

As it got closer to my taking over this role, I started getting nervous. I had managed college students, interns, freelancers and three dogs—but this was different. I would be responsible for budgets, personnel issues, invoices, schedules, vacation requests and possibly office supplies. My decisions, even the smallest ones, would affect more than just me. And that’s not something I’m used to.

As a freelance writer, which has been my main job for more than a decade, I’ve only had to manage one person: me. I kept track of my own schedule, I decided on assignments, I figured out what needed to get done and how to do it. Now that was all changing.

Or was it?

In my first month on the job, I realized managing a team is a lot like managing myself. I need to be aware of scheduling, workloads, spending—the same things I juggled as a freelancer. I viewed my job as a contract writer as a small business (which is actually is) and this job, as editor of a magazine, is no different.

And it helps that I have a great team.

I inherited an awesome associate editor, Kevin, and I hired a super talented art director, Kayla. And, in addition to our multitasking digital media manager, Tracy, and a slew of others, everyone has made my transition so easy—and actually fun. We laugh in our meetings, we go on field trips, and we all really enjoy each other. That’s been the best part.

And that was never more evident than a couple of weeks ago when the editorial team, including photographer David Croxford, spent two full days on Maui to work on stories about the island. (When I say, “full,” I mean 16-hour days, always together.) We wandered around small towns, got excited over a coffee shop in Wailuku, spent way too much time driving and too little time in our luxe rooms at the Hotel Wailea, ate too much, talked too much and definitely drank too much coconut water.

The HAWAIʻI Magazine editorial team at Mākena Beach on Maui.
The basement of a record shop we found in Wailuku, Maui.
When on Maui, you drink coconut water.

But it was the morning we spent at Maui Goat Yoga in Kula, an adorable farm on the slopes of Haleakalā that offers yoga classes with its fleet of Nigerian Dwarf goats, that everything started to click. (Read more about our experience here.)

While yoga itself is meditative and, at least for me, really centers my mind, the addition of the goats changed the experience—in a good way. Yes, the goats were disruptive, nibbling on your shirt or deciding to take over your entire mat for a nap. But they were so joyous and present. They didn’t care about anything, even pooping during shavasana. They were happy to be with us, happy to be on this farm (who wouldn’t?), happy to jump on our backs for a few Cheerios and animal crackers. There’s a lot we can learn from these goats.

I know I did. I learned to let go, to be in the moment, to enjoy all the things I’m able to do in this job—travel, write, eat, share stories, meet interesting people—and with people who love what they do, too.

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed about deadlines or projects or my expense report, I just remember these goats and their attitude about life: Every day is a new day—and there are always people willing to give you free treats.

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The Good, The Bad, The Ballistic Missile Alert of 2018

By December 31, 2018 Musings

I remember discussing 2017 with my co-workers. It was unanimous: That was a really bad year. I couldn’t tell you why—it’s amazing how even the most awful memories can fade away with time and tequila—but I remember hoping for a better year in 2018.

And did we get it?

Good question.

All I do know is it’s been a very strange year. It started with the false ballistic missile alert and ended with me, right now, in bed with the stomach flu after recovering from pneumonia. The good thing is everything in between wasn’t worse.

We’ve survived Category 4 hurricanes heading to the Islands, freak flooding on Oʻahu and Kaua‘i, and an erupting volcano on the Big Island. But it hasn’t been all bad. Wailana Coffee Shop and Ryan’s Grill may have closed, but dozens of other restaurants opened. Several friends gave birth this year, others announced pregnancies, others got dogs (which is similar). Some got married, some got divorced (not always a bad thing), some are still happily single. Friends have changed jobs, moved away, came home. “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Thor: Ragnarok” got me excited about movies again. “Riverdale” is weirder than ever. I read a lot of books. And then there was Bruno Mars.

For me, though, it’s been a year of change and evolution. We decided to not try for #Babyfox No. 2. I left my job as food editor at HONOLULU Magazine to head the team at HAWAI‘I, a local travel pub. And I started teaching again — which left me both sleep-deprived and inspired. (I adored my students.)

But the real lesson this year is the one I seem to still be learning.

I got a message through Instagram from my pal at work, someone who knows me way too well. I shared with her — and everyone else on the group chat — that my New Year’s Eve plans had changed. “I have the stomach flu,” I wrote. “Anyone wanna hang out?”

Her response, devoid of sarcasm or snark: “Maybe you should make a resolution to take care of your health in 2019.”

This has been a long year of that. It started with some kind of ocular event in February that had one ER doctor thinking it was a seizure. And in between I’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, cancer scares and migraines. And then, in late October, I started coughing. Bronchitis. Then pneumonia. Then, now, stomach flu. All the while I’ve been caring for Landon, who’s been sick, too. I feel like I can’t catch a break with my health, that I haven’t had time to recover, to enjoy a stretch of good health. I can’t even remember not coughing. And since I’ve been so busy taking care of my family and working, at times, two jobs, I haven’t had a chance to do anything about my health. The only times I’ve been able to see the doctor is at the emergency room, when it’s gotten so bad I can’t function. And that’s when I hear it, the voice in my head emerging from the mouth of an ER doctor or nurse: “Why did you wait so long?”

It’s frustrating to start 2019 like this, sick, in bed, unable to do much more than lift the remote control to change the channel on the TV. But it’s also a good reminder of what I don’t want to do in the coming year: If all I want to do is take care of others, I can’t very well do that if I’m not healthy myself. So maybe I’ll heed the words of my Millennial friend and start focusing on my health. Because, let’s face it, no one else will.

You never know when another false ballistic missile alert may happen and I need to be ready for it.

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Cheers To Change

By December 8, 2018 Musings

Yes, it’s scary, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

It’s official.

Yesterday was my last day as the food editor at HONOLULU Magazine.

I’ve been at the magazine for just over three years, covering everything from new restaurants opening to the farmers who grow the food we’re eating. I’ve eaten alcohol-infused fro-yo, fried chicken drenched in adobo butter and a teppanyaki dinner that cost $200—without drinks.

I had never, ever planned to be a food writer. (Read this.) I like to eat food and make food—but I never really thought about critiquing food. To me, food, in its many incarnations, is subjective. You like what you like. You hate what you hate. That’s it. I mean, how can I be an objective food writer if I’m partial to mayo and loathe peas?

Then again, how could I complain, either?

My job is to eat and write about it. I get paid to try out new restaurants or talk story with some of the most interesting, hard-working people around. It’s really not a bad gig.

So why in the world would I quit?

It’s not the job that I’m quitting. It’s not the company or my co-workers. I left because I needed to. I wanted to do something different, challenge myself, get outside my comfort zone. While I can’t say right now what, exactly, that new gig is, I can say I’ll still be writing—and I’ll still be working at the same company. (Just a different magazine.)

I could never do the same job for the rest of my life. In fact, if you look back at my work experience, I’ve done everything from making bouquets at a florist to working in an accounting department to assisting on a marine conservation campaign for a nonprofit. And I enjoyed all of it.

I like learning new things, working with new people, seeing jobs and companies evolve—and, even better, seeing people evolve. There’s nothing more gratifying that watching co-workers get promoted or move on, quit and start businesses or families or travel the world. Life has to keep moving forward, and we all need to ride the changing tides.

The one thing, though, that I’ve done the entire time, no matter where I’ve worked or what title I’ve had, is write. I love writing. I always have. From the time I could—around second grade—I penned stories. About horses, about magic dragons, about three fish with Chinese names. That has never changed.

And with this new job, that won’t change, either. I’ll still be writing—just not so much about food. And I’m looking forward to it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love sampling new menu items and interviewing the passionate people behind all the restaurants, bars and bakeries I’ve covered. And I’ll still be doing that—just not exclusively. (More to come, I promise!) But I needed to step outside the confines of food and write about other experiences, get uncomfortable and, in doing so, grow as a writer and person.

At least that’s my intention.

It was incredibly hard to walk away from such an enviable job, one that came with great medical benefits and an expense account. And I got to work with a pretty amazing team over the last three years: art directors who are incredibly creative and work longer hours than anyone else because they care about their work; talented writers who love to help, share and collaborate; editors who only want you to be better and write the stories you’re passionate about. I have made friendships with many of my co-workers—including an entire cadre of millenials—who are compassionate, funny, loyal and aggressively fun-loving. These people have been there for me through everything: the stress from audits, a tough pregnancy, my transition to motherhood, and all the ear infections, concussions, migraines and hospital visits I’ve had in three years. They have been so kind to me, throwing me baby showers, writing me cards when I’m stressed, buying Landon random gifts just because they were thinking about him, sewing me squids made out of socks, putting chocolate on my desk because they know I love it. And there were A LOT of hugs. You don’t find co-workers like these very often.

The good news is I’ll still be working with them, though not as closely as I was before. But we’ll still meet for lunch and take breaks to 7-Eleven. That’s made this decision a little easier, for sure.

So stay tuned! I’ll have more to announce soon. But just know, it’s all good.

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