Saturday, December 31, 2011

Give it up for Mele Vasiti and the year 2011

This day, December 31st, last day of 2011 and every year after she was born,  we celebrate her birthday.  My precious,  beautiful and extremely talented Mele Vasiti Toki.  She was born with chunky, glowingly pink cheeks and the biggest, roundest eyes ever.  To this day, she loves when I talk about her pink cheeks.  Mele is now officially a teenager.  She is 13 years old to-day.

Saturday, to-day, the very last remaining day of 2011.  Once gone, will be gone forever.   Vanishes, disappear into the past like a puff of smoke.  Somewhere in time, the past exists only in the dens of our memories and seems but like a fig of our imaginations.

What have I done this year?   No grand accomplishments here but what really counts are the small deeds that mounts up to being grand. What really matters the most.  The love and trust of my husband, children and family.  Finding peace and satisfaction in what God has blessed us with.  Showing gratitude for the smallest and most simple things in life.  True and pure joy, not so much in material things, but that what we have is enough and making do with what we can do without. 

So many things happened this year.   Good and bad, sad and happy.   No matter what happens though, life goes on.  'Time waits for no man."  We have it in our hands but we can't keep it.  So what we do with our time, is so very precious and special.  We need to use time so that we live free of regrets and not be sorry for things we could have done differently.

A celebration of birth to-day.  My Mele, as well as my other children continues to grow every single day.  Also, a celebration of a year end and also another year coming.  2011 will be the past, 2012 will be the present and the future.  Life is what you make it.  We need to be the best that we can be each and every day.  Make it count and serve, love others as we journey on.   

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year Resolution

2012 is just a few days away.   Looking back, the year 2011 seems to just whisk by like a breeze.  Sometimes a gentle breeze and then there were other times where it truly felt like a cyclone of hurricanes or tornadoes.  Brief but devastating and crippling.  Those are the cracks that we can trip over, fall through or camouflage ourselves into during this journey of life.  2011 marks an ending.  Ending of old habits and shedding of old skins.  It's time for  new beginnings and 2012 looks very promising.

This is the year of renewal.  Letting go of old habits and creating new ones.  I have already listed down most of the things I need to work on for this coming year.  They're not new resolutions.  They are old resolutions that subjugate new approaches.  When old methods are no longer effective, new ones are essential and inevitable if we want to succeed in life.

In Pres. Thomas S. Monson's article "Living the Abundant Life", (January. 2012 edition), he challenges everyone to "undertake a personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life-a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings."  He proceeds to offer his own "ABCs" to assist us:

I.  Positive Attitude"The greatest revolution of our generatoin is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." (William James) "So much in life depends on our attitude.  The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference.  To do the best we can and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment."  (Pres. Monson)

II. Believe in Yourself"Don't limit yourself and don't let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do.  Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities.  You can achieve what you believe you can.  Trust and believe and have faith"

III.  Face challenges with Courage"Whatever you do, you need courage.  Whatever course you decide on, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right.  To map out a course of actions and follow it to an end requures some of the same courage that a soldier needs.  Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them."  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

He also went on to say that, "courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one's coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve...Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, "I'll try again tomorrow"."

I'm not anticipating a perfect year, but I'm anticipating a year of great success.  I'm equipping myself with a good attitude.  Armoring myself with courage and shielding away daggers of doubts with self beliefs.  I'm a woman, a mother and a wife and I deserve the best in life.  So bring on the new year 2012.  Some say it's the year the world will end, I say it's only the beginning of a new life... 

Christmas Day

My heart is still full from the Christmas celebration.  Celebrating with those who you love the most and missing those who weren't there.  My sister Ange and my brother Leli.  One in Hawaii, the other in Tonga.  Miss them so much.  It was a humble yet happy Christmas.  It didn't take much to make the children happy.  Patiola, indeed got two much needed pair of jeans.  One from me and one from her older sister Sil.  Mahonrai got a pair of long overdue shoes from me and a pack of socks from Sil.  And the three girls received a Beauty Box from Sil for them to all share.  All hair things as they lack those.

We also had a secret Santa later on that night.  Every thing that was exchanged between us were below $5.  The spirit of Christmas did not come from the presents this day.  It came from church and from spending time with our loved ones.  At 4pm, we had dinner and gift exchange at Leni's house with all her children and grandchildren.  So much love there.  Neits (my sister-in-law) had so many cute gifts for all the women and the children.  Then we headed back home to my family and my two brothers and sister with all their children came over to eat again and visit with our parents.  Both houses were full with excitement, laughter and love.

There were about 40 family members in each house.  Our Elder missionary Ortigoza and Blanc came by to visit.  It was so sweet,  then to top everything off, my son Eld. Toki called from Hawaii.  We all took forever talking to him.  He's coming home in August and he's not very thrilled about it.  Such a beautiful Christmas and it shows me how so very blessed I am. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

The house is full. "Jingle Bells" song brightens the kitchen as the kids are busily building their very first Gingerbread House.  Thanks to my sister-in-law, Neita, they are finally experiencing this.  If it was up to me, that would never happen.  As much as I strive to lift my spirit up to-day, my heart and mind are heavy with sadness and worry.  Don't know which burdens me more.  The sadness or the worry.  So I got on my knees this morning, and I uttered a fervent prayer for courage and strength.  Just to get through this day and not fall apart.  But as the day wears on my burdens grew heavier.

This morning we buried a newborn baby.   The mom, Priscilla, had her and she lived for 8 hours.  Don't remember the cause of death but I couldn't help crying when I saw the mom's face as they pour dirt into her child's grave.  Pain, grief and mourning.  In the same funeral, I found out one of my old childhood friend is fighting for her life as she have just been diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer.  Then later on this evening, after a few stops to pick up some last minute gifts, I was informed that my niece Rosie's baby, died last night in his sleep.  I couldn't help crying.  Another child's life and more on the line to come and just last week we attended my husband's nephew's funeral in California who had died in a car accident.

Then I think about my own circumstances, how it's nothing compare to what others are going through this Christmas season and I feel selfish and unappreciative of the things that I have.  That here, right this very moment, is life.  Live and let live.  That even with the hardship and hard times, I'm still healthy, my children are alive and healthy and that life is a gift so I should  live it well.  Worries be banned.  Trust in the Lord and remember when one door closes, another door opens.  There's always hope as long as we live and breath.

So tomorrow is Christmas day.  I won't focus on the negatives and what I don't have.  I will focus on the Gift, my Savior Jesus Christ and how he was born this day providing hope and good tidings to all of mankind.  How Mary must have felt knowing her son will be born in a manger, together with the animals, yet he is the King of all Kings.  Born in the lowest of lowliness.  So humble and mild.  I should be so humble.  So this Christmas Eve, let me get over myself and prepare myself to celebrate His birth.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Spirit

"I hate Christmas", he admitted sarcastically.  "People call me the Grinch because I do hate it.  I can't wait 'til it's over!"  This is coming from my brother-in-law with seven children.  Chuckling as he said it, so I know he doesn't really hate Christmas.  He just hates all the spending that goes with it.

Seated in the back I overheard my sweet sister-in-law, Neits gentling, "This is a time of giving.  I just want to make sure we have something to give to everyone."  Neits is one of many people I know that has the biggest heart beating in her chest.  Very giving, kind and loving, yet righteously firm.  My children adores her and I trust her with them, God forbid, should anything happens to me.

I love Christmas.  As a little girl growing up in the island of Tonga, Christmas was focused on celebrating, glorifying and honoring the birth of Jesus Christ.  The gifts we bore to one another was food and door to door caroling.  There were no toys, clothes, money or anything such things.  Only the best food on the island. I was a runner every Christmas.   Delivering food to every door of all our beloved neighbors and receiving food brought by them.

Christmas tree was a gigantic mango branch.  Cut down and decorated with big white balloons.  It was speared deep into the ground of our grassy front yard.  I watched through our window with the enthrallment and fascination of a child, as the wind rustled the leaves and balloons back and forth.  So beautiful and glorious.  I just stared and stared at it. 

I only saw Santa Claus once.  In shock I gaped with my eyes and mouth wide open.  Oh, I've heard about Santa Claus alright, but I didn't know he comes to Tonga.  He was pinning bags of candies to people's doors.  To this day, not once did I spurt a word of it to anyone.  Come to think of it, I think it was one of the white teachers that teaches in the High School across the street.  In a full red suit and white beard.  He actually winked at me. 

As for singing, as soon as the sun goes down, lamps were lit and glitter in the night, while the moon and stars light our paths as we travel from house to house caroling.  The thrills of the Christmas spirit rooted deep within my heart as I developed a childlike love for the babe and Savior Jesus Christ.  So I sang my lungs out, until my voice cracked and then sauntered home as I could barely hold my eyelids open.   The sounds of voices, banjos, guitars and harmonica fades away as I drifted off to sleep.  Exhausted and overwhelmed by all the joy and love I feel during every Christmas season.  I still remember everything as if it was just yesterday.
 
As an adult and a mother, I somehow began to loose focus on what Christmas is all about.  Beginning with my two oldest sons and daughter.  I wanted to give them the world.  Buy the most expensive toys and not just one but many.  Piling up the Christmas tree with gifts that we really could not afford, as I gradually began to forget about the true meaning of Christmas.   It took several Christmases and a lack of money, to realize this.  Also, watching my children loose focus too as they centered themselves in receiving and getting, instead of giving and sharing.

So I took a step back deciding that enough is enough.  My children needed to learn that Christmas is not all about receiving and getting.  It's not all about them.  It's about a baby, born to this earth, bearing a much grander gift then material things.  A Redeemer and a Savior of mankind.  He is the GIFT.  God's gift to mankind.  That through a life live for others, serving others and giving to others, only then can we truly feel the true meaning and joy of Christmas. 

No more frantic searching for expensive toys that can break the day after, littering our living room floor. Short lived and void of meaning.  No more endless hours shopping for things they don't need.  One thing is enough.  A pair of boots for the winter snows.  A pair of jeans to replace the torn ones.  A warm jacket to last through two to three winters and perhaps some socks and gloves to go with it.  It wasn't easy but we adjusted and the children got use to it.  They may not all get what they want, but they will get what they need.

May the joy and warmth of the Christmas spirit be felt not only in our hearts but in our homes.  And may it last all year long until the next Christmas as we celebrate again and again.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Officially a Zit Popper

Totally swallowed up digesting a new blog I found through my blogging friend Kristi from "Breathe...Shine...Love...".  Her name is Michelle from "Graceful" and it was her: "My Winding Road to Faith" post that got me MESMERIZED with a capital M!  About how she stole a choker when she was in third grade and out of self-reproach, chose to wear her scapular (first time I've ever learned of such thing) that bore the inscription, "Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire."


As my attention was thoroughly riveted in Michelle's post, I hear this soft, genteel voice asking:  "Mom, could you pop my zit?"  Like a perfect record, ruined and scratched, I slowly turned to her.  Slightly annoyed that she interrupted this intense reading session.  My, not so genteel daughter, Patiola stood before me with a gigantic zit right between her eyes, beckoning me to POP it.  Instantly it dawns on me that not only I am a mother, a cook, laundress, hairdresser, babysitter, handy-woman and comforter, I can add zit popper to my magnificent role in motherhood. 

My mind briefly recalled the amount of times my children has come to me to POP their zits.  Starting from the eldest Leveni, down to number six  Mele.  The youngest, Beverly,  hasn't yet to get to that stage but I'm sure when she does, she will come to mom, The Zit Popper for that.  No one else will do it for them of course because only a mother can stomach being her own children's zit popper.  Who else can do it for them?  DaD?  I don't think so. 

Well, I have become proficient in targeting and extracting those zits.  My aim is deadly accurate and so with that, I proudly and officially declare myself as:  The Zit Popper.  Only for my children though.  Just one more addition to my many roles of being a mother. 

Just another day in Paradise. 

Christmas CD for Eld. Toki

My son Eld. Toki keeps asking for a CD from us and my daughter Sisilia thought it would be a good idea to put together a family CD so we can send it to him for Christmas.  Each girl gets to pick a song that she would want to sing and then have my oldest son, Leveni record it in his home studio.  Beverly chose this one, "When Christmas comes to Town."

At first I thought she would be too nervous to record as this was her very first recording experience, but she actually surprised me.  It two only two takes to record her song and then the beginning part of the "La la la.."  was a separate take itself.  She was very much comfortable and confident.  Toward the end of her song, though there was a little stutter but Leveni thought it would cute to leave it like that.  All and all we only manage to record 2 songs.  "The Chirstmas Song" by Sil and this one by Bev.  The rest we couldn't find the Karaoke for it.  This coming Tuesday though is when we will finish the rest of the other songs by the girls and then send it with his Christmas box on Wednesday.

Last night Patiola and Mahonrai sang at the Stake Youth Fireside Christmas program.  As they were about to come on stage to sing, this guy moved the microphone and it fell to the ground.  The orchestra had already started the music so by the time they had the microphone fixed, they were already half way done with the song.  It was pretty frustrating watching this but they were asked to do it again and they did.  I think that because it was a disaster the first time, they both lost their composure so they didn't sing out as they should have.  These kids need to learn that as performers, you have to be pretty much shameless and grow a new backbone made of steel.  That way if they make mistakes, they'll perfect it the second time around.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

About his Christmas Song


"What the heck?"  Was my very first reaction to his new Christmas song.  S T R A N G E!!! I don't know if I would categorize this as a Christmas song.  I thought to myself.  The beat, the style is not my typical Christmas music.  I don't even know if people are going to like it. 

But then if you know my son, then you'd understand how he does his music.  He has his own style and he's determine to stay true to that style.  IT'S HIS WAY OR NO WAY AT ALL. 

And if you don't know about the West side, then you won't understand the depth of loyalty and love he has for the place.  Moved from California, we rooted ourselves there.   Where all our children had their names, footprints and hands,  engraved on the driveway of our old house.  That's where he grew from boy to man.  Where money was hard to come by but love came in abundance.  From his huge families and his get rich or die trying friends.  And always, grounded with the love of God, Jesus Christ and the Gospel.  

So I played and played until his song grows on me.  It's funny, witty and heart warming.  A different kind of Christmas song.  A West side Christmas song more like it.  Makes me smile 'cause this son loves to eat lu and turkey.  He loves his family and his wife like crazy.  So let me end with a quote from his younger brother in his letter home.  "Me coming home early from my mission, is like Leveni trying to loose weight.  It ain't never gonna happen."  (Leveni) is the name my son Sione goes by.  So as for that "new year resolution", I just don't know if I should believe my missionary or my singer.  Of course I'm only their #1 fan for life so I'll just have to wait and see. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.  Let's let bygones be bygones and let's enjoy Christmas and this song.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

All on Facebook

News travel at the speed of lightning when it comes to Facebook.  There's no easing anything in.
It's BADA BING BADA BANG BADA BOOM  and you're in for it.  You pop in for just a peek and before you know it, your mouth drops, your heart shatters and your eyeballs widened with disbelief.  News travel far and across with just a click of a mouse.  Tragedy and non-tragedy in extremities.

The other day, I popped in to catch up with the rest of the world.  Simply, because, I do get all the latest updates on Facebook, accurate or not.  Shocked to find out about Vena Finau.   A few days after, I logged in again and WHAM!  Another shocker, I found out about the death of my husband's nephew Talai.  "R.I.P Talai Livai".

Briskly I rolled the mouse and glimpsed at a couple of RIPs for Talai and immediately logged out.  Shook my head and assured myself that they're talking about uncle Talai.  My mother-in-law's brother.  But didn't uncle Talai died eons ago?  I thought sadly.  He did live in Tonga and must be a hundred years old so it's his time to go.  Not the young and vivacious Talai!   

That same evening my husband validated the FB statuses.  Young Talaiasi Livai died from a car crash.   After spearing me with an:  "Are you becoming senile woman" look as he mumbled vexingly,  "My uncle Talai died 10 years ago".  I realized how in denial I had been.  My heart broke for this young man and the abrupt way his life had ended.  Ache for his mother, Fatai, and what she must be going through trying to deal with this ordeal.  The death of her child.  So fresh, devastating and sad.  A grief, that I, can only imagine.

I love what Facebook does in ways of communications and delegations.  In sensitive cases, it would be nice to hear about it instead of reading about it. Not that there's too much difference, yet, it's that much of a difference that can soften the blows.  R.I.P Talaiasi Livai.  Until we meet again.  R.I.P Vena Finau. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm blogging here!

It's absolutely annoying when a marvelous idea hits home and you want to blog about it immediately, just to come across some brackish obstacles hindering your attempt.  Typical ones such as these:

"Mom I'm hungry", one yells
"Feed me woman", someone else demands
"Mom what is more important, your facebook or me?"  another one remarks. 
"I am not on Facebook.  I am blogging." I yelled back
"What's blogging mom?"
"It's just something I'm doing on the computer." 
"Don't lie mom, you're on FB aren't you.  You're a camper?"
Sighing
Then how about my 21 year old daughter Sisilia:  "Can anyone hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?  I  a m  h u n g a r y!" 

If it's not feeding hour, its help locate something hour, take me somewhere hour or help put my husband's socks on or scratch his head.   

All the terrific ideas that I was going to blog about flies out the window.  
Just like I can't have time for a decent blog, trot or crock without someone needing my service, my attention or calling out my name.

Mom, Mom, mother, mom, mom, mommy, momma........

And we've just got done with breakfast!  Hello!  I'm blogging here.  It's my time to blog people.  You all have two hands, please go and grab something for yourselves to eat again.  I'm not a house maid to wait on everyone every moment of the damn day.

So I'm always having a devil of time trying to siege some decent blogging times without my brains scattering in the air because a piece of me is needed somewhere else.