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I was a Non-traditional Student

I was a non-traditional student. After our four children had successfully finished their college degrees, I returned to school and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in my fifties. I had helped my husband finish both his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree.

Robert and Liana when they were students at Liahona High School in Tonga

After raising a family and watching as each of my children graduated from college, I resolved to get a diploma of my own.

Straight out of high school, I secured a job that trained me in a skill, and one which I found enjoyable. Being the independent person that I am, I kept on working. My brother was in medical school, and I felt that I could not burden my parents with more expenses. I began taking one or two classes at a time at a nearby vocational school. Thirty years later, I finally got my bachelor’s degree in my fifties. What a jubilant day that was for me. Several of my grandchildren were there to watch me receive my diploma.

Who is considered a mature student?

Any one over the age of 25 is considered a mature student. Other similar terms that are used are nontraditional students, adult learners, or mature learners. Currently, the world’s oldest graduate was a Nola Ochs, a woman from Kansas, who graduated along side her granddaughter.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/LifeStages/story?id=3167970#.T1GDwswWW-M

Reasons for returning to school as a mature student.

Liana graduated from BYU Provo – Nursing

Other motives that may drive a person to return to school include: changing a career, personal ambitions, fulfillment of a dream, learning a new skill, improving an inborn talent, starting a business, or just learning to keep the cobwebs out by stimulating the mind.

Who would subject themselves willingly to homework, lectures and exams? Often individuals have taken time out from their education to have a family, see the world, serve in the military or to serve on a church mission, take care of ailing parents, or a myriad of other reasons.

Differences between regular and mature students

Perhaps the biggest difference in younger and more mature students today is their knowledge of the latest technology. I remember how apprehensive I was when I first started taking my courses. I taught myself how to use the computer, but was not sure if I was up to the level required to complete my assignments. Some classes required class discussions online, and I had to learn this skill. 

Dr. Kinikini and husband, Siope (Doctorate of Nursing)

One reason I wanted to get my degree was to be able to have intelligent conversations with other college graduates and even my children. They were always telling me what they had learned in their university classes and I often found it so interesting. My main reason for returning to school was to prove to myself that I could do it. I was a mediocre student in high school because I did not really apply myself. I knew I had it in me to get better grades. I also wanted to improve my knowledge and skills for personal and professional benefits.

I was older than many of my professors, but the majority of them were very polite, respectful and helpful. I think they knew I wasn’t there to play around, so they were generally eager to assist me.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Kongaika

Just walking in and seeing all the youthful faces was trepidation in itself. Often the teacher would ask us to separate into small groups to discuss the topic at hand. I felt a little awkward, not wanting to push my elderly self into a group that may not appreciate my life experiences. Many of the youthful students were there because someone else wanted them in school, and they were more interested in the social aspects of college life.

In one of my classes I got quite perturbed at the childishness of some students. The same ones would come and sit in the back of the room, and talk and laugh the whole time. The professor didn’t kick them out (although I wish he had), and I couldn’t concentrate with that nonsense. I would turn around and look at them, hoping they would notice my frustration, but it didn’t seem to phase them. 

I was always amused at the students that would put their heads down on their desks and go sound to sleep. The professors usually ignored them, since the students (or their parents) were the ones paying dearly for their naps. 

At one point, I decided to take an online course, thinking that was the way to deal with the impish actions of my classmates. However, I soon discovered that it was harder without personal interaction with the professors. 

So, maturity is definitely a big difference between regular and mature students. Hence, the name “mature student!”

At times I would not understand an abstract idea or not know how to use the appropriate technology, and would ask the student sitting next to me for help. Often they were willing to help me out, but a few of them changed seats the next time we met for class. I tried hard not to bother the younger set with my mental deficiencies, and would save my questions for the professor. 

Joel’s Graduation – Communications (BYU – Hawaii)

Disadvantages to being a mature student

Often the mature students have more obligations. They may have to balance work, family, and school, with multiple pressures from each. Late-night study sessions can take a toll on you when you have to get up and perform at your job the next morning. Babies and little children don’t really care that you are taking classes, because they think that they should be the center of your world. Even spouses need to get on board, otherwise they may feel neglected when you cannot be there because of scholarly obligations.

Unlike the younger students, there are not so many other mature students to interact with. It is advantageous if you can find one of your peers at school to befriend. They can better understand where you are at in life. One thing I did not appreciate was when my classmates called me “madam,” but I guess they could have called me much worse!

The physical aspects of an older student may affect learning. The inability to see, hear, move freely, and keep up with assignments may be impaired and affect learning. Cognitive impairment and personality disorders can also affect a mature student’s ability to perform in college.

My biggest challenge in going to school as a mature student, was getting over my phobia of tests. I would fret and worry before a test, and get myself into such a state, that I could not recall the facts I had studied so hard. I would read, reread, and review my books and notes until I had it all down. Then I had to force myself to take a break before the test, to watch a show or listen to some music. I learned that taking a bike ride or walk also helped. Once I got to the testing center, I would take a deep breath and then begin the exam. The more I took tests, the better I got at it. Then, of course, I would reward myself afterward with an ice cream cone or chocolate. 

Jacob, the BYU-Hawaii Graduate
with his teacher, M. Alisa
Bachelor of Arts

Advantages to being a mature student

Today’s educational system offers much more for the mature student compared to a decade ago. 

Flexible schedules are offered, which include evening classes on campus and online. Some universities let you take classes at your own pace, rather than expecting you to complete a fixed number of credits in a semester. 

There are grants and scholarships available for nontraditional students, and some institutions will even consider your work experiences and professional qualifications towards your degree.

Some employers are willing to send their employees to school to benefit their business, and pay for tuition and books. Also, educational expenses can be used as a tax break.

Mature students are not as intimidated by the teacher, since they are often their peers. They have usually gained confidence in their former interactions with adults. Because of life experiences, a golden ager can put the class material into context better than an overconfident inexperienced person. Older students have had time to figure out what they really want out of life and they can choose a field of study that they are passionate about. Another advantage to going to school later in life is that you can ask your kids to help you with your homework!

Is it worth the struggle to return to school?

Even though it was difficult to take care of our children, be supportive of my husband, work, and go to school, I feel it was well worth all the sacrifices I may have made. It definitely was not easy being the senior citizen in the group. I felt I had to validate myself to the other students as well as my professor. The sense of achievement I felt after reaching my goal is immeasurable. It was so fun to see the adoring faces of my grandchildren as I accepted their leis and balloons on my graduation day. 

So, is it wise to return to school as a mature student? It definitely is if you have not quenched your desire for knowledge and college is a good match for you. There is so much more in this beautiful world to learn.

Ruth Kongaika

rkongaika@gmail.com

Ruth Elayne Kongaika was raised in the mainland, USA, but has been living in the South Pacific for the past forty years. She enjoys trying to capture the beauty of the islands through her photography, painting and writing. She has a blog which shares some of her art and favorite subjects at:

http://www.grandmabloggers.com

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

My Hometown of Orem Utah

Just in case my grandchildren are a little curious about where I grew up, I will post this here. Many years ago, my parents moved our family from a tiny little farm town in Fairview, Utah to Orem, Utah. This is where I attended elementary school, junior high and high school, held my first job, and dated my husband; hence the majority of my developmental years were spent in Orem.

Kirk, Janet and myself in front of our first home in Orem on Orchard Drive

I remember when we first moved there when I was only four years old, many apple, cherry and other fruit tree orchards covered the acres of fields, and an occasional cluster of homes were developed here and there. The relatively small town was in a valley surrounded by majestic mountains where we enjoyed the four seasons.

One landmark I hope will always be there is the Timpanogos Mountain . I climbed up this rather steep mountain as a youth several times, and there is an awesome cave up there.

The cave consists of three spectacular caverns. Helictites and anthodites and other formations can be found in the cool cave. You can take a guided tour of the cave. The hike takes about one and a half hours going up and a half hour down. The length of the hike is one and a half miles. You don’t want to miss it if you live here or are passing through! Here is a link to a site giving you tips before you go: https://www.nps.gov/tica/planyourvisit/safety.htm

Most of the town’s income in the early years came from the orchards or farms and also from the Geneva Steel Plant, which provided many jobs. I remember that the economy of the town seemed to fluctuate according to the steel industry. If there was a particularly hard winter, the farmers would have a hard year since many of their orchards were lost. The farmers would stay up some nights trying to keep their trees warm during harsh weather.

The main religion in Orem is Mormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the majority of the townspeople are Caucasian until more recently. It was very rare to find anyone that was not a member of the church in the vicinity. I don’t believe I met my first friend that was not Caucasian until I was in junior high school. I remember being intrigued by a young American Indian boy from the reservation who had foster parents in our town. There is not a temple yet in Orem, but that would be a real blessing if there was. The nearest temple is in Provo. That is where we were married.

Provo City Temple

I have witnessed marked changes in my hometown of Orem. Now there are only a spattering of orchards amidst the many neighborhoods of lower, middle and upper income homes. Malls and parking lots have also replaced them. Freeways make the travel to other towns and cities much quicker. There is now a bus system that goes all the way to Salt Lake City. It used to take at least an hour’s drive to Salt Lake City where we would travel to do major shopping. Now the once lazy little towns like Pleasant Grove, American Fork, and Lindon merge into one another all the way to Salt Lake. The freeway makes it much faster to get around.

Geneva Steel used to be the main industry in Orem, but has been closed due to the foreign competition and higher labor costs. Another problem with the steel plant was the never-ending problem of pollution. Many regulations had to be passed on the smokestacks in order to control the pollution caused by the steel production, and some days the air was obviously dangerous to our health and also the lake that was adjacent to the plant.

Sunset at Utah Lake

The economy changed drastically when the computer emerged and Orem became a center of computer technology. Because the cost of living remained relatively low, many people moved in from California and other more expensive places. People now fly in from all parts of the world to enjoy the great snow just up the canyon from Orem.

The little sleepy orchard town I knew as a youth has grown so much that it is quite hard to recognize. The traffic rivals that of larger cities and the diversity of the population is very obvious. One of the few recognizable landmarks that still remain is the Scera Theatre where I spent many summer nights.

The Scera Theater

Most people that live in Utah have at least one fruit tree in their yards. My father has prunes, apples, and apricots. Some still remember what a great orchard town Orem used to be.

Money Magazine once named Orem as America’s most livable community. It is getting a bit too big now, so not sure if that still applies.

My father still lives in Orem and the back view out of his bay window is the great Timpanogos Mountain (may it forever stand)!

Utah is known during winter for their great ski resorts. Just up the canyon from Orem, there are some ski resorts that can challenge the best or be great training ground for the beginning skiier. Yes, I have been skiing up at Sundance, and it was beautiful and very cold! Park City is not far away as well as many other skiing resorts.

Sundance Resort and ski area actually offer year round activities for everyone, including a ski resort, summer outdoor theater, great dining and shopping.

Approximately 20,000 people attend Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival every year. Several films that premiered at the festival have received Oscar, Emmy and International Film Festival awards.

On the way up the canyon from Orem is an impressive double cataract waterfall. It is called Bridal Veil Falls. It is most impression in Spring and Summer. The falls are 607 feet tall. There is a small park in front of the falls where you can take your lunch and watch the falls.

I have spent many an hour mesmerized by this waterfall, especially in Spring when the runoff is great. It is a wonderful place to chill and enjoy nature at its finest. I believe I have taken all of my grandchildren to see the falls.

Grandpa and some of the grandkids at Bridal Veil Falls

Orem is where my mother is buried and here are some of the grandkids visiting her.

Beauty, Cultures, Finance, food, Grandchildren, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Tweens, Teens, and Onward!

I am at that stage where my grandkids are between the ages of 10-21. I miss them as babies terribly. They were much cuter then! I miss their wanting to play with me and even playing with my toys. Now the only toys I have are the ones I use while tutoring English in China. Oh, well!

Most of our grandchildren have made it through the awkward years while some of them are still awkward! Many of them wore or wear glasses, have worn or wear braces, and some have transitioned from squeaky little voices to deep bass tones. It has all been very slow but steady. Adolescence! Some have had acne, others somehow missed that. Of our children, half had it and the other half didn’t. Accutane helped when we needed it, albeit my pimple-popping self got in the way a bit.

I’m kind of sad that this summer went by so fast! I was able to spend some time with each of the grandchildren, except for one who is trying to graduate from college soon. We had get togethers and some even slept over. The house nearly burned down, but all in all, I feel a bit closer to each of them because of our recent family reunion.

Now that the children are back in school, I find myself missing them more and have taken up a few more hobbies to keep me busy. Even Grandpa is busy driving cars for Budget. He also serves in the temple two days a week and also gives Patriarchal blessings in our stake. I am left to ponder more, study the scriptures, write, paint, make jewelry, sell my used clothes on Poshmark, teach English, and pray. Life is good!

We were blessed with goodly children (isn’t it supposed to be the other way around)? The Lord knew I would need a daughter first who would be my best friend and greatest support. She has so much patience and charity for everyone. Each one of my children have been a great blessing to our family. I could not asked for more!

So, how can I help these grandchildren of ours through the trying “awkward years”?

I have come up with a few ideas and will share them here:

  1. Listen to them and validate that their feelings are real. I remember when I was a teen, no one seemed to validate my feelings. My grandparents seemed too “old” to talk to about those things. My parents were too busy and my brother seemed to be the perfect son, achieving high grades, not interested in sports or girls (what?) Then there was me – not academically innate, very clumsy, preferred boys to girls, and emotional. I hope my experiences can help me be more in tune with my grandchildren if and when they are willing to share their thoughts and feelings with me.
  2. Respect! I think it is important to show respect to the grandchildren. I am so happy that my grandchildren are immovable in their faith and commitment to live the Gospel. They have self confidence and are not afraid to put themselves “out there”! I admire how they love others and how they obey their parents. They dress modestly and try to take care of their own responsibilities.
  3. I am aware that our brains do not fully function until we are 25 years old. Any irrational choices we make before could really be excused, but I know these grandchildren are way ahead of where I was at their age! Give them a break! Don’t put them down! Growing up is not easy for anyone that I am aware of. When we understand that, we will give these children space to make mistakes of their own so they can learn from them.
  4. It is not good to compare grandchildren – that happened to me and it was not advantageous in the long scheme of things. I appreciate each grandchild for their uniqueness in abilities and characteristics.
  5. One of my greatest joys each week is attending sacrament meeting with one of my granddaughters. She leads the congregation in hymn and does such a wonderful job. She is cheerful and comes early to make sure everything is set up. Then she comes and sits by me. She is such a great example to me. I know some of my ideas are foreign to her, but she has patience with me. I try to be a good example for her also.
  6. When I was young, I didn’t get the opportunity to share experiences, feelings, and actually just talk to my grandparents. When three of my grandchildren came back from the South Pacific after spending two weeks with their grandpa, they asked questions like, “Why does everyone love grandpa and want to help him when he goes back to his homeland?” I think it was a great experience for them to see that he is not just an old grumpy guy but is well respected in his own society!
  7. One thing I have learned is to watch my words. I know when the grandchildren are around they are listening to everything that comes out of my mouth. I should not gossip, not talk bad about my husband or leaders, never swear, and be as positive as I can (not an easy task). Words said in anger are hard to forget!
  8. Our grandchildren come in varying sizes and shapes. I love each one just the way they are and should never put them down because of the way they look. It is difficult with so much available to eat all the time and I know when they get interested in finding a mate they will take good care of themselves. Body image is a sensitive subject to all of us.
  9. I have enjoyed getting to know more about my grandchildren’s friends. Their friends are very influential and I am always happy to meet them. It is good to know why they like them and what good characteristics they possess.
  10. One thing I have learned recently is that my grandchildren do not want me to know everything about them. They need their privacy and time away from Grandma. Above all is to enjoy whatever time we have together. Make it a happy, beneficial time. Last Christmas I did something totally different than any time before. I am a thrifter and all of my grandchildren know I pick up things that I think they might like during the year. Then during Christmas, I laid them all out and let them choose what they wanted – two gifts. That way I don’t buy something for them they will never use and everyone is happy. I asked one grandchild how they liked it and they told me it was great, so I may have to do it again. Christmas gifting is one of my most difficult challenges.

Sorry to have rambled on and on…feel free to add your ideas on how to interact with grandchildren or what has worked for you. I’m sure there are many more.

Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

God Bless the Child Who Suffers

Baby Lily Ruth

The lyrics from a Shania Twain song beseeches God to bless the child who suffers. Halleluiah! Every time I hear it, I cry a little. It reminds me of my youngest granddaughter. In the womb, her backbone did not develop correctly so she would never be walk alone on this earth. I know that we all have something wrong with us, either physically, mentally, or otherwise. None of us are perfect. Our DNA may be tainted so that we are predisposed to certain conditions. God give us hope. We all need someone to hold our hand and help us through this life.

My journey with Lily began before she was born. Her birth was abruptly followed by two surgeries, one to close her back and one to put a shunt in her head to drain out extra fluid. She has had no feeling below her waist since then. Lily and her family have made the best of what she was given.

Lily was a poster child for a wheelchair company

Lily has a pitch-perfect voice and she is not too shy to sing alone on a stage before hundreds of people. Thanks to Friend to Friend, she is able to participate in musicals every six months.

Now it is ten years later and she just finished three surgeries. She has been blessed with goodly parents who have raised her to participate in many activities, no matter how hard. She has played softball, basketball, tennis, wheelchair dancing, and she recently rode in a hot-air balloon! There is hardly any limit to what Lily can do.

Lily skiing.

Lily had been so active going up and down stairs unassisted until her leg got swollen and it was discovered that she had broken one of her legs. Because of where her leg was broken, that leg stopped growing.

Lily is outgoing and makes friends easily. Her personality overcomes any obstacles that may get in her way.

Lily is very expressive in her dancing.

Lily’s father and siblings recently made a trip to the South Pacific with her Grandpa ‘Isi. For those with disabilities, traveling internationally can be very challenging. Third-world countries rarely have ramps or doors that open for wheelchairs. Lily stayed with her mother and waited for news from the islands. America is quite aware of and make efforts to help people in wheelchairs, but not all places are accessible. The LDS church just put out a video which is quite telling.

Thought provoking video.
Lily loves the beach. This was on a visit in Hawaii!

Lily’s family, including both parents and siblings, were born and raised in Hawaii. The medical care there was not sufficient to handle the needs of a child born with severe spina bifida. So, the family moved to Utah.

Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City as well as Shriners have helped immensely when she got sick or needed special medical help.

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Lily has brought so much to our family. More empathy, more kindness, more understanding, more service, and so much more. I can’t imagine my life without Lily!! I love her so much!


She has enriched our lives and make us feel closer to heaven. She recently gave me a ride on her chair lift up and down the stairs. Her parents have done all they could to meet her needs.

Lily Ruth Kongaika

We are so grateful she came to earth and look forward to a time when Heavenly Father will bless her with a whole perfect body.

Here is an exceptional young man with spina bifida who made the best of things, Aaron Fotherinham!

Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, health, home, Music, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Tongatapu, Ha’apai, and Vava’u Mission Reunion Trip 2019 with the Kongaikas

Isi met Joel and kids in Auckland, New Zealand. Ruth, Meilani, and Lily awaited anxiously for any news, pictures, and videos from the islands.

Welcoming Committee

The missionaries had planned all of the reunion in the respective islands of Tonga. They had arranged for a place to stay for the travelers, transportation, food to eat, and entertainment. They outdid themselves royally! Many thanks to all who helped out in any way to take care of this bunch.

Here are some good looking people that took care of ‘Isi, Joel, and the three grandchildren.

Of course, a Tongan Mission Reunion would not be complete without a trip to the temple and a service project. Also, our missionaries ministered to several of our RMs including widows, sick, and those in prison as Jesus has taught each of us to do.

There was feasting, dancing, and loving.

Tonga Nuku’alofa Temple

Pictures of ministering:

Feasting:

More feasting at Kanokupolu Resort

Dancing!

We are as popular as the Jets! haha

It is good to know we are still remembered in the islands. We have the souvenir of the poster with our family on it and a water bottle with our picture on it also. Then there were two different colors of t-shirts that referenced our mission. We are so grateful for all the love that was shown to us by our missionaries.

One highlight of the trip was for President Kongaika to meet with Elder and Sister Fie’eiki who served as our senior office couple. I don’t know how we could have done it without them.

‘Ofa atu Elder mo Sister Fie’eiki mo famili!

Isi, Joel and the kids stayed at Liahona where we used to live for ten years before our mission call.

Temporary home at Liahona High School

The Hahake Group also had a feast and a dance at Pelehake Chapel.More pictures – sorry if I left anyone out. Please tag everyone!

Brother Kongaika even got to visit his home in Kahoua that his father built.

Maybe we could all move back to Tonga and live in our little house in Kahoua!!

To be continued…next – Ha’apai!!

Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, health, home, Music, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Kongaika Tonga Reunion Trip August 2019

‘Isileli Tupou Kongaika served as the Mission President in the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission from 1989-1992. His family including wife, Ruth and children, Liana, Robert, Joel, and Jacob lived in the Sopu Mission Home those three years.

Since then, he has lived in Hawaii and then retired to the Salt Lake City area in Utah. In August, 2019, he met with Joel, his son, and three grandchildren, Anna, Eryn, and Joseph in Tonga and they stayed for two weeks traveling around Tongatapu, to the island of Pangai, Ha’apai, and Vava’u.  Grandma Kongaika stayed home as well as Joel’s wife Meilani and daughter, Lily.

On the way to Tonga, ‘Isi stopped over in Auckland, New Zealand, where he met with many of his former missionaries and families. They shared memories of their missions and treated their old president with much love and respect. They fed him and encouraged him to speak, but alas, he had lost his voice due to a bad cold. 

The three grandchildren had not been in Tonga before and enjoyed learning more about their grandfather and father’s culture. They endured culture shock, Tongan feasting, mosquitos, cockroaches, high humidity, grandpas long stories, and sea sickness. 

As their grandmother, I was acutely aware of the hazards that the grandchildren might experience. I prayed every day for their safety and well being. Thankfully, all of them survived their trip and made new friends. Grandpa had them very involved with the Tongan missionaries and school children in Tonga. 

All of the traveling group became ill on the trip, but are now on the mend. Grandma was asked several times why she didn’t go also. My excuse is that I had a pretty bad year health wise and didn’t want to get sick again. 

Joel was too excited to return to Tonga and relive his childhood. To be continued…

Artwork, Beauty, buy, Cultures, Finance, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Parenting, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Doing Good at Goodwill Outlet

So, since my husband has been away for a couple of weeks, I decided to do some thrifting at a place not regularly on my radar. I have previously donated to Goodwill on occasion, but have not shopped there. Some friends have seen my recent posts on Facebook about meeting some of our missionaries there, so here is my story.

My first experience at Goodwill was an exciting one. I stood at the front door since I was a bit early for the opening. There were about fourteen individuals that looked primed and ready to go into this large establishment by the train tracks in SLC, Utah. I had no idea what to expect, but had great anticipation since I knew you pay by the pound, not the label.

Once the door was opened, there was a rush to get carts and then off to grab anything of value. You had to watch your step or you might get plowed under in the commotion that ensued. Since I had not been in there before, I was not familiar with the rules of the hunt, so I tried to keep a low profile and stay out of people’s way. Every 15 minutes or so a gang of highly qualified individuals come and take out a row of the bins and replaces it with new bins full of whatever belongs in that spot.

There are well-marked lines on the cement floor where the bins of items have to go. There are about 40 or so bins filled with second-hand clothes, shoes, toys, purses, books, sheets, and the like. The bins at the far end from the cash register have all books. Some people went straight for those bins in an attempt (as I noticed) to gather all the textbooks, no doubt to sell online to students. After gathering up those, they would have a checklist to mark them all off.

Others went straight for the clothes bins. Arms were flying and some would scoop their arms down under the piles of clothes and turn them all upside down in an attempt to be able to see what was at the bottom. The first day I tried to do that and my arms got really sore. Hey, this is good exercise and not for the weary in mind or body! I spent a lot of time looking at labels and found a few items in my size.

There were also quite a few bins of toys, purses, shoes, kitchen gear, and other paraphernalia all mingled together. Good luck finding two shoes that match. They are supposed to be rubber banded together, but that doesn’t last long in the hubbub. However, the first day I brought home five pair of shoes, several pieces of clothing, bags, a few purses, scarves, ties (one was a Giorgio Armani), hats , a Andy Warhol t-shirt, pants for my husband, and decorative doilies for the house. When my arms felt like rubber and I felt I had retrieved a few treasures, I went to weigh the cart. The kind cashier is very helpful. They weigh the cart and all then minus the weight of the cart from the total and that is what you pay. My first haul only cost $30. Wow, I was hooked! Oh, no!

I think of thrifting as a huge treasure hunt. I know there is something that belongs to me in there and I am willing to keep going until I find it! On one of my first trips to Goodwill, I found a beautiful Native American doll with long black hair and the front locks were braided. She was mesmerizing! My mother has an Indian doll and I have always admired it. I was in love! My husband better come back soon or I will spend all my time in this place.

Isn’t she lovely! I feel she was worth more than I paid for all the things I found. Don’t be jealous! If you want her, $50 please.


I found another doll, only this one I have written about before. She is an authentic Madame Alexander Collectible! (with papers) . I was so excited to find her and glad no one else cares about dolls the way I do. She is amongst the First Ladies of the United States series – her name is Betty Taylor Bliss 1849-1850. The clothes are very detailed as well as her face and hair. Again, if you want her, $50 please.

I would like to welcome all my friends and family to join me (unless you think you’re too good to go in there)! Honestly, there is plenty for everyone and since we are all different sizes and have different tastes, there is only a small chance we will want the same things. The only caution is: please stagger your visits because if all the Polys in the valley go at once, we’re in big trouble!

Just as a side note, if you get 24 pounds worth, you will need to go back to get one more pound since it will be cheaper that way. That happened this last time so I went to the book bins and found a huge book about Mary, Queen of Scots (relative), and that threw me into the next category.

Now I have a Madame Alexander doll with her guarantee papers as well as a new Christmas fairy doll. I have listed many of my items on Poshmark where I resell things literally from my closet. My user name is elayne001. So if you are interested, check out:

https://poshmark.com/closet/elayne001

I could spend every morning at Goodwill if it weren’t so far away (takes me about 30 minutes to get there). Also, my bank account would diminish if I keep it up for too long.

The friends I have made there are forever! We don’t try to steal each others stuff and are very considerate. When someone finds a treasure they don’t shout it out to make others feel bad. Once I saw what another person found and I wanted it. He said you can buy it for $50 – such is the life of a reseller.

I ran into some friends from Tonga I hadn’t seen in years. They thrift to send things home to their families in Tonga. Overseas remittances are the greatest income for the little islands. My husband will be surprised when he sees the nice things I found for him at Goodwill, I hope! He took several of his own clothes to give away while he was in his home country.

https://vimeo.com/manage/353130903/general

Check out the video I made after my first treasure hunt at Goodwill. See you there!

Also, if you want to see where I resell items I purchase that are very good, check out my Poshmark closet:

https://poshmark.com/closet/elayne001

Cultures, Finance, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Our 50th Class Reunion

Since I have been a grandmother for over 21 years, it was inevitable (if I lived long enough) that I would have a 50th class reunion from the time I graduated from Orem High School. Fifty whole years! Half a century! The invitation to the 50th 1969 Class Reunion arrived at my house and I just stared at it. Indeed, I felt lucky to still be alive since I was aware of several classmates who had passed to the other side. But, still! Where had all that time gone? What had I been up to all of those seconds, minutes, weeks, month, and years?

I attended a few of my class reunions through the years. Some were good experiences and others not so good. I remember our tenth-year reunion. Classmates gathered in their old little groups and it was held at the Elk’s Club in Provo, Utah. I was excited to see my friends and acquaintances and enjoyed visiting with them. Most were recognizable since only a bit of time had passed.

There were dancing and drinking. Wild dancing and drinking (a lot of it). Weren’t we mostly brought up as L.D.S. (aka Mormon)? I was shocked at the state of some of the less sober people I knew. The bars were open for the whole evening. Some shared their successes and some told of their struggles. They announced who had the most children since graduation. The winner was a girl who had gotten pregnant during high school and then continued to have one every other year since. I won’t mention names here.

My two friends and I playing around before our Sadie Hawkins Dance

Some had a spouse attached to their arm and others were single. A few told their stories of abandonment and divorce. Others had been abused while some of their classmates went on to fame and fortune. There was a little bit of everything that could be expected through life. Good and bad! A memorial was read for those that had died in a short ten years. This included our senior class president from a motorcycle accident which had left his wife and child fatherless. What a cold, cruel world it had been for some.

Same friends and I 50 years later!!

Then there were some dressed to the extreme in fashion who took it to a whole new level of debauchery. I am from the “hippie” era but what I was seeing was shocking. I recall wearing mini skirts in high school and being one of the first of our class to be married (and divorced). I remarried to a gentle Polynesian man and that is where my life changed drastically from what I had known before (but I definitely have the cutest grandchildren)!!

Some of my great friends! I’m in blue and green.

Fast forward forty years from our 10th class reunion to today. This recent 50th class reunion was a whole other story. Very surreal and in some ways shocking, but unlike the lasciviousness of the 60s and 70s, current situations made our reunion much calmer and comparatively docile. There was no loud music playing (up until the end), no inappropriate dancing, and no alcoholic beverages being served. Everyone was well behaved and contrite. An occasional outburst was heard when someone finally recognized friends from years gone by.

There were some of us with canes, walkers, oxygen, toupees, and wigs. Some had lost so much weight due to sickness or running too many marathons. Others looked quite well for their advancing age. I heard my friend tell me that at the previous reunion (five years earlier) she had been elected as the one who had changed the least. I agreed with her since that was the best thing for both of us.

This time, our reunion was held at Orem High School (the new one). They had the nerve to tear down our high school and replace it with a newer model. It was air-conditioned and had the latest technology, and I noticed that even the toilets flushed by themselves (we didn’t have that)!

I went to the reunion with a dear friend who had been one of the bridesmaids at my first wedding. Her husband recently passed away and she was now a widow and enjoying life. Several of our classmates had lost their spouse over the years.

I kinda think the lyrics said it all!

We each wore name tags so that when we met someone we didn’t recognize, we could quickly glance at their name and act as though we remembered them well. It was a blast! There was no dancing, but they played some music from the 60s including The Beatles and The Doors. The funniest moment of the night for me was when the lady in charge was told to turn down the music since it was blowing out some of the attendees hearing aides. I almost died right there!

After the meal, there was a short memorial for those who had died in the past five years. They were all men and it seemed that many of them had been football players. In my opinion, that is what shortened their life, but I am not a doctor. I have a friend who is among the few that has not had any surgeries her whole life. I attribute it to the fact that she was married three times and is now a widow. She doesn’t worry about what people think of her and has a happy-go-lucky attitude about things.

It became acutely apparent that the most important aspect of the evening was the quality of the food and that there would be plenty of it. I’m sure it was because of the many classmates that had to take their evening pills with food. Thanks to those who administered the event, the catering did a great job. We could have our choice of chicken or beef or both. The desserts were yummy and plentiful. No one complained about the quality of the food or lack of it, so it was a success.

My father is still alive and kicking (at least with one leg). He has kept me informed about his recent class reunions. His 75th was attended by two, himself included. I should be so lucky, but that will have to be determined at a later time since I need to go take my arrhythmia medication after all the excitement!

Onward, Orem High School! May our posterity find happiness and prosper!

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Photographing Grandchildren

Hold still! Look this way! Trying to capture the perfect shot of grandchildren is next to impossible unless you just go with the flow. Catching that once in a lifetime shot can be done with patience and a few secrets (and perhaps luck). This hub discusses some skills needed for a grandma photographer to get her work to a higher level. The first is to remember that kids are people and to talk to them kindly and treat them with respect. Another is to remember how you were when you were a child – for some of us that may be a long time ago!

One of our grandchildren (his mother is holding him). Loved the expression!

I remember when I first tried to get some cute pictures of my grandchildren. I would see them do something adorable and then reach for my camera but by then it was too late. Just as I snapped the shot, they would turn to the side and I ended up with a nice photo of the back of their head. This became very frustrating and so I tried to remember what I saw in the professional photography studios.

Our youngest granddaughter. Love the colors!

It is important to have everything set up and ready for the shoot beforehand. That way you can concentrate on developing rapport with the grandchild. Learning to connect with the grandchild right off the bat is probably the best way to get a great photograph. Ask them questions about themselves. If you do not feel at ease, they will sense it and act accordingly, pulling into themselves. Use a gentle voice and touch when working with the children and they will usually respond positively. Be sincere because they can tell if you are just “putting it on”. Be charming and show your love for them and they will melt.

One of our precious granddaughters and her parents in Hawaii. You don’t always need a smiley face!

Children will do and say the most unpredictable things. If you catch them at that perfect moment, you will be rewarded greatly. Just let them act the way they usually do and snap as many shots as you can during the time you have with them. You are certain to come up with a few great ones. Children forced to sit still and pose in a certain way usually look unnatural, so you have to get them to think it is fun and playful. If you want them to look a certain direction, put a toy or picture there so they have something attractive to focus on.

Having fun photographing one of my grandsons

Use props that children will enjoy so they feel at ease. To get a particularly fun shot give them a box that has a surprise inside. If they are afraid of the flash, let them see it several times before the real shots to get used to it. Make up a song like “Pop goes the weasel” to go along with the flashes. The looks of curiosity and excitement will show through on the photos.

I think my son took this picture of his monkey child! Great catch!

Do not use candy or treats unless you are ready to deal with a mess on their clothes plus their parents may not appreciate it. Little toys, books and balls can keep their attention and may even add to the character of the photo. I’m sure you will have had frantic moments in your experience in photographing children. You can make them more pleasurable and capture a professional shot with just a bit of preparation and a positive attitude. The extra effort will be evident in your photographs.

The patience it takes to capture children, but worth it!

I remember when we lived in Tonga when our children were very small. We did not have a decent camera but would buy disposable ones on rare occasions. Here are a few precious photos from those days.

Our oldest in black and white.
The first photo of our first son in black and white. (Notice the plastic pants of long ago)!
Our second in black and white in Tonga
Our youngest in American Samoa.

We are so lucky to have phones that can take pictures almost as good as professional cameras. Also, there is plenty of instruction online about capturing different types of photos. Filters and editing apps are numerous. I cherish the photos of my children when they were babies and now my grandchildren as they are growing.

Black and white can be as effective as color!

One thing for sure, I will not stop taking photos no matter what instrument I have to take it with. Many of my grandchildren have become victims of my props (hats, artificial flowers and foilage). If they weren’t so cute, I would stop.