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Attempting Aloha

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mommies Just Like You - Mother's Day Poem


We're in the final stretch before Mother's Day weekend, and I wanted to share this poem that I wrote a few years ago (8!!)  Having lived all over the world, we've been away from "family" for almost our entire 15 years of marriage. Without fail, we always seem to adopt some grandmas and aunties wherever we're planted. I really wanted to be able to thank them for all their help and love, but they're not technically my mom. So I came up with this poem as a way to thank them. It's written from the perspective of my kids

I've also made it as a printable if you would like to share it with your adopted mom tribe/village as well. The lovely watercolor flowers are by Fox and Hazel.

This poem may not be re-typed in its entirety without my permission. It may also not be altered or used for commercial purposes. Please email attemptingaloha @ gmail . com for permission.  Photo may be shared as long as it links back to this page.  Mahalo for spreading the aloha!


Aloha and happy Mother's Day,


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Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Deployment Marathon

Some of you may know that my husband is in the military. He was deployed for 10 months a couple years ago, and I wrote this at that time.

I’ve decided being the spouse of a deployed soldier is like the military throwing you on a treadmill and telling you to run a marathon. The pace is predetermined based on your current life situation. I have 4 kids under age 10, live in a foreign country, 3 of those kids are a in foreign-speaking school and the other is a busy toddler who is at home all day. I have no family living on the same continent, and our base is very small and lacking resources. The few military families here live very spread out, so I have no one near me to help out at a moment’s notice. Needless to say, my pace is set pretty high. Luckily, I had that strange drive to force us all to learn Italian, so our circle of friends has expanded greatly, and that eases up my pace slightly. I’m also pretty independent and have lived in other foreign countries, so that helps.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done any marathon training. I’ve run some 5k’s and 10k’s in the past (we’ve been apart for 4-6 weeks numerous times for trainings and in between big overseas moves), but that doesn’t even come close to preparing someone for running a marathon. Even residency was more like interval training: lots of sprint/walk/sprint/walk. But even then, I was able to get off the treadmill at least every few miles and rest.

The first few miles (weeks) of the marathon were painful. Just the idea that you’re going to be there for a full 26.2 miles is enough to make you want to collapse before you even get through the first mile. But like most things, once you push through the pain, your muscles kind of get into a rhythm, and you just run. It’s more of a mental challenge than a physical one.

Sometimes a friend comes along and slows the pace for you (bringing a meal; or offering to watch the kids, so you can grocery shop alone; or helping with yard work). But 90% of the race is kept at that same fast pace.

Oh, and this whole time you’re running the marathon, your spouse is in danger, so now imagine having baseballs being thrown at you occasionally, and you have to dodge them or get knocked off the treadmill… But keep smiling because you don’t want your kids to see the baseballs!  

But other than that, you just keep running. And dodging baseballs. You’re trying your best to enjoy the scenery and love to hear people cheering you on from the sidelines. You are getting stronger each mile.

You know the percentage of people who actually run this marathon is small, so you find a deep sense of camaraderie with the other runners. It is not a competition. There is no medal at the end. Just a sense of pride in running this particular marathon. Each step you take is a small sacrifice and a service to people in your own country and in other countries around the world. And that makes you proud.



Please ask for permission to reprint this in its entirety. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Kids Artwork Clothespin Hangers

This post contains affiliate links.

We do LOTS of crafts at my house. My kids have grown up around power tools, paint, and glue sticks. SOOO...I let my kids to crafts that aren't your typical "kid crafts". Today we were building and painting. Oh, and gluing. :)

It was a super easy project. We just cut 1x4 boards to 21". Hot glued on some painted clothespins. And screwed some wall hangers onto the back. If I was doing it on my own, it would have taken about 5 minutes to do all three. Luckily I had my "helpers", so we got it done in about 2 hours. Ha!

You can find small clothespins HERE
And the picture hangers HERE

I let my kids be involved in everything from cutting the wood (with a handsaw and miter box, and I hold one end of the saw, and they hold the other); to picking out the paint colors and painting the clothespins; to measuring and marking where the screws need to go and hammering nails into the walls. Yes, I'm brave.

But you should see their faces when they show their artwork walls to their friends and say, "I MADE that!"  Totally worth the extra effort it takes on my part to allow them to be involved. :)



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Free - Halloween BINGO Printable for Little Kids


I'm getting ready for a Halloween party here in Italy this week, and with the combination of languages, I was afraid the other version of BINGO might just be a little too much for this group. We also have quite a few really young kids, so I wanted something that wouldn't take as much time (short attention spans and all, you know?).

So here's a 4x4 BINGO. Each item/drawing is only repeated once, so there's no hassle with putting the items back in, etc.

And HERE IS THE LINK for the printable. Some people said the font I used for BINGO wasn't showing up correctly, so you may have to download the actual font. It's called Halloween Spider and is free on DaFont.com.  

And if you're looking for the original version, here is a link to that post

Happy Halloween!!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Personalized Burlap Stockings


Well the Christmas season has arrived in Italy! We brought a little of it with us, and I am excited to spend a few of them here in this beautiful country. :)

I made our family theses burlap stockings a couple years ago, and I have loved them, but they've been really generic without our names on them because I wasn't exactly sure what to do on the burlap. It's difficult to paint and keep in the lines and looking tidy/professional.

This year, I ventured into the world of the Silhouette Cameo, and I am smitten!

My only problem was finding a material that would iron-on well to the jute webbing/burlap that I have around the cuff...

Until I was browsing the HappyCrafters.com website and found this awesome stuff and decided to give it a try!

It's called "Flock" iron-on vinyl. I took a pic of it close up, so you can kind of see the texture. It's really velvety and smooth. I did a test run on a piece of the jute webbing, and it worked like a charm! I can't tell you how excited I was to find something that worked AND matched perfectly! 

 My stockings were inspired by these Ballard Designs stockings.

I looked for a link to their stockings, but again, this was two years ago, so they no longer sell this exact style.

But since we have 4 girls in our house, I knew the plain tan wasn't going to cut the cheese. So I had to girly them up a bit. You can visit my tutorial here on how to make pleats. I think they turned out almost perfect. ;)

My only word of caution with the red burlap (since I've also used it to cover ornaments for our Christmas tree) is that it fades to almost an orange color if left in direct sunlight. I keep my stockings away from windows, and they've kept their original deep color for 2.5 Christmas seasons. :)

It's strange to not have a mantle this year. I guess that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make to live in Tuscany. ;)

I was able to fit all 6 family members and the dog on one 12x15 sheet of flock vinyl. An excellent $5.25 investment if I might say!



DISCLAIMER: I received product and compensation from HappyCrafters.com for this post. The opinions, ideas, and tutorials are my own.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Candy and Origami Money Lei


I'm writing this post ahead of time, but by the time it goes live, I WILL BE IN ITALY!!! YAY!!!!!!!

Even though I'm now living in Italy, I'm still trying to live an "aloha life", and a chunk of my heart is still in Hawaii. So today's post is perfect.

I'm representing Hawaii in Beckie's blogging tour of the U.S.--"Show Your State Pride". Visit her amazing blog Infarrantly Creative to see what the other states have in store for you as well!

This is a blog hop, so if you're following along, you should have just visited from Gina at The Shabby Creek Cottage

This is a fun little project that is perfect to give away for almost any occasion. A birthday boy or girl would be thrilled to have this as their gift or added to their gift!


* Curling ribbon
* Saran Wrap
* Treats
* Cash (optional)

That's it! Super basic supplies that most moms have on-hand, right?!

This week we spent a lot of time waiting for dad to out-process (military translation: spend a full week driving around your post getting random signatures and waiting in lots and lots of lines and meetings). During one of those meetings, I had to get creative with 4 bored children, so I started busting out my origami skills with some dollars.

If you've spent much time on Oahu, you may know that the Japanese culture also has a large presence on the island. My kids' school actually teaches both Hawaiian and Japanese, and they spend some time doing origami. I've always enjoyed tinkering with paper, and with three girls, it provides hours of entertainment!

This day's creations were a fish, a jumping frog, and a heart flower. You can find decent tutorials for those on YouTube, so I'd recommend searching there if you'd like to add them to your lei as well.

Now let's get working on our leis!

Spread out your cling wrap on a flat surface. The length will depend on the size of the recipient. If you scroll to the end, you can see mine is on a 7-year-old, and the length of my wrap was about 30".

Position your treats on the wrap. I put them in about 2" from the front edge, so it's easier to make the first wrap.  I use 6 or 7 treats depending on their size.

And I leave maybe 2" or 3" between each item, depending on their size.

Fold the bottom edge up and over your treats.

Continue rolling the rest of the wrap with the items in it until it is all rolled up. I did this project with a class of 2nd graders and a class of 1st graders, and they got really nervous about this part. DON'T STRESS YOURSELF OUT! It's all going to look about the same anyway. Just roll it up! :) It doesn't have to be perfection.

You can see my fishy was kind of hard to make out once he was all wrapped up, but I wasn't too worried. I know they'll see $$ and will be thrilled! Then once they get it open, they'll be excited to see it's in a shape. ;)

Cut your curling ribbon into pieces about 6" long (longer if you want bigger curls), and tie them at the ends and between each of the treats.

BONUS:  As always, I was looking for extra things to keep my girls content and occupied while I was working on this, and they love to "help", so I put them to work cutting out tons of these little flowers. I drew a template for them, and they got to work. Then I just slid them on near the pieces of ribbon for a little added color. The center holes of some were a bit too large, so they fell off. If you're going to do this step, I'd recommend adding a piece of tape to close that slit end back together after attaching them to the lei.

I loved all the colors, though! And keeping my kids entertained, involved, and in the same room as me is always an added bonus.

Curl your ribbons and then take the two ends and tie them in a knot together. You can trim the excess plastic if it bugs you too much. It didn't bother me until I was editing my photos and noticed it. Ha!

And there's your super easy, inexpensive gift that will brighten anyone's day!

 Next on the tour is Kim at Today's Creative Blog. Go check out what Washington has in store for you!



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Barn Wood Subway Art Sign

Well, folks, I finally jumped on the Silhouette bandwagon. Are you hooked yet?  This was my first project, and I am amazed! 

It took me a minute to get it figured out and able to do what I wanted, but once it started cutting all those letters out, I just wanted to sit and watch it work its magic. So fun!

I mentioned my new prize to my sister-in-law, Jami, and we started brainstorming projects we could do. She mentioned there's a little barn near her house being torn down, and we knew it would be the perfect background for our artwork. 

This is actually right on the ground, and the walls are spread out on the ground around it. Pretty cool, though!

The wall planks are tongue-in-groove, so it made a nice tight fit. We sanded off some of the crap (literally) that was on it but were careful to leave the chippy paint and character that the fading made. Then we lined them up so the faded ends were staggered and measured our pieces.

Our finished sign was 40" wide x about 32" high. If you're recreating something similar and don't have a barn nearby to use wood from, I'd use 6" wood. You'd need three 8' pieces, but it would still be less than $15! You can even weather or age the wood using steel wool and vinegar! Visit THIS tutorial from my friend Being Brook

Here's an example of her weathered headboad:

We ended up deciding on subway art using words that have to do with their family

In order to maximize my vinyl and not waste, I created my artwork in InDesign first and then just duplicated the words and fonts in the Silhouette program but crunched it all in the space provided (maximum 12" width). 

My vinyl is from HappyCrafters.com. Their white matte comes in 12x24 and 12x12, and their prices beat big stores even with a 40% off coupon! They also ship to Hawaii and overseas military addresses. Wahoo! 

Then I cut out each word, and Jami and I painstakingly placed each letter. Truthfully, it would have been a 30 minute project, but with 8 kids running around, we may have stretched it out to 2 hours. Ha!  

But tell me it's not totally worth it for the end result?! And it fits their adorable family to a T.

Tell me that's not one of the cutest families you've ever seen!

This was also a room transformation. It previously had a forest green wall, so we made Mike paint painted it a more neutral color and found some great burlap chevron  pillow covers at Hobby Lobby. And I sewed the small brown/silver pillow. It was my first attempt at piping! Not bad, but my corners need a little work. Don't look too close. ;)

I love Jami's style. She has a great eye and knows how to accessorize and pull a room together. Here's the wall where you first walk into the room:

And now the main entry room:

For more of Jami's projects, visit MY PROJECTS page and scroll to the bottom to see a few links to her work!

And if you love a bargain and are just starting to build up your vinyl collection, HappyCrafters.com is offering a free sheet of black iron-on vinyl. Just visit their home page and see for yourself. No coupon codes needed!

This post was partially sponsored by HappyCrafters.com. All work, photography, ideas, and opinions are my own.