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.

\

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!

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, Hawaii, Parenting, photography, travel

Playdate with My Youngest Granddaughter, Lily

Yesterday was a very fun day. My youngest granddaughter, Lily, her mother, and I went to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. I had spent quite a bit of time with my other grandchildren this summer, but this was Lily’s time. It was a day of surprises, delights, and laughter.

There was a butterfly room where a guide would let you have a butterfly for a few minutes. Lily was excited. One flew over and landed on my shoulder.

Lily Ruth gets her middle name from me! She is a joy to our family and very precious. God sent Lily to us and we have learned so much from her. Before she was born, I knew I loved her! I was present at the ultrasound on her mother when it was discovered that Lily had spina bifida. But, that little glitch has not stopped Lily from making a big impression on the world she lives in and all of us! She is 10 and loves school, singing, and playing with Barbies! She also is great at playing tennis, basketball, and giving her brother a hard time!!

Lily’s father and siblings are currently on a long excursion with Grandpa to his tiny islands of Tonga in the South Pacific. Tonga is not very wheelchair friendly, so she stayed behind with her mother. So, we made a playdate to have some fun together.

People can be very curious about Lily but she is used to it, so she isn’t bothered by it. I’m so glad because it was annoying to me!

The local aquarium is located in Draper, Utah, not too far from where I live. You can more about it at thelivingplanet.com We got there around 1:00 pm and stepped into a world of wild and amazing creatures. I had bought Lily a blue dolphin and she carried it around the whole time we were there. She named it “Bubbles”. 

A crabby crab! Looking for a fight!

As you walk in, there are several huge whales hanging from the ceiling! The aquarium is huge and has many passageways into different areas. The first corridor we went down was entitled Discover Utah. It was cool! There were land turtles and huge river fish. Some fish had humps on their backs. Utah has a few endangered fish that are in the aquarium. There were also ducks, salamanders, tarantulas, and other land animals. 

Pretty jellyfish, but watch out – the sting is very painful!

I enjoyed the jellyfish display (could stare at them forever)! A running commentary about the critters and sea life went along with “oohs” and “awws”, and a few shrieks and cringes. Lily told us what she had learned at school about invasive frogs in Australia and the traps they make there. 

By far, my favorite displays (along with Lily’s) was a huge two level tropical room where birds flew around you and it felt like we had stepped back in time and space to Hawaii! The air was moist and warm. There was a tiny little sloth fast asleep in a little pouch. So cute!

Lily, you are a star in my book!

Also, there was a great wall where you could peer into the undersea world with sharks and other sealife. It is awe inspiring. 

Another favorite was the penguin window. The penguins wobbled, walked on water (it seemed), and swam to our delight except for one big chubby penguin that looked as though he thought he was the king of the lot (too funny)!

Lily and I at the aquarium enjoying God’s creations

We got to see two movies in 4D. One was about the melting glaciers and global warming. The other was a cartoon of Ice Age (hilarious). As you watched, air would blow at the back of your head from the chair! Just when I got relaxed, it would blow again (stop)!

There is so much to see at the aquarium and we loved seeing the variety of creations that God has made. The whole time I was taking video on Marco Polo (it’s an app) and sending it to Lily’s family in Tonga so they could experience some of it too.

In one station you could touch the round coral and see the stingrays and starfish (they felt like velcro). Lily got to hold a starfish! Then she wanted to get out of her chair and touch the huge turtle on the floor.

Lily loving on the turtle!

At one time, I asked a guide where the place was you could watch the dolphins jump! Silly me, that was Sea Life Park in Hawaii where we often took our older grandchildren. Maybe they should have one here any way.

Here’s Lily with an anaconda much longer than herself (cringe)! She felt bad for some of the turtles that were not moving under the water. 

Lily acting brave by the anaconda!

The last place we went was a tunnel under the water where you could see huge sharks swimming overhead. I felt a bit vulnerable, but tried to act normal for all of our sakes.

As for wheelchair access, the place was great, but some of the exhibits blocked the few at wheelchair level. That was very unfortunate. 

All in all, we had a marvelous experience! Love you tons, Lily!

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

Intercultural Marriage Significance

I  married a man of a different race and culture when it was not an acceptable thing to do. I do not regret my decision, but that choice has come with interesting and surprising consequences. It took many years for us to get used to each other’s customs and traditions. It has been quite an adventure for both of us.

The children that resulted from this union have struggled to find their own identities. Because I was doing most of the raising, since my husband’s occupation demanded that he travel quite a bit, the children mostly spoke my language and only one child is fluent in his father’s language.

I believe our children have tried to choose the best from each culture. They can also change back and forth between cultures in different circumstances to suit their desires. We have learned as parents what form of discipline worked and what did not since his culture and mine had very different opinions in this regard.

As the mother of these wonderful children that I feel very blessed to have, I have not tried to push my own culture on them. I can see the good points of both cultures and brought those to their attention. I cannot lie that at times I have been a bit sad that they chose their father’s side over mine, but I tried not to let them know that.

My children are very open minded to other cultures and loving towards all kind people. They are all outgoing and have become good citizens of our communities. We lived in my husband’s country for 13 years and now live in my country. This has given our children the foundation they need to really know who they are and develop their own families from there.

When we got married, I was very curious what our children would look like. I have blue eyes and blondish hair and my husband has a darker complexion with black hair and brown eyes. Each of our children drew their looks and characteristics from both of us. Then when our grandchildren came along, I was happy to see the variety in personality and appearance. We have a couple of blue-eyed granddaughters with light hair.

Tau’olunga by one of our granddaughters
Three of our granddaughters – Dancing Queens

A few of my grandchildren are visiting Tonga this summer. I hope they can feel the spirit of the Tongan people and love and respect they show to others. Most of them were born in Polynesian, but now they all live in the United States. I love the freedoms we enjoy in America, but a bit of respect and true love for others is waning. Aloha!

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

Made it to Number Ten!

Some people ask me why I only have four children. That is especially true in Polynesian Cultures and also in our church’s culture. Truly I feel blessed to have the four I do have, but some of our friends have many more children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren than we do. Not to feel sorry for myself or just in case you are thinking “why does this grandma think she is qualified to have a Grandma Blog”, since she only has 12 grandchildren?

After our first two children we born, we were told that we could not have any more. That was disheartening for my husband and I. After many doctor visits, prayers, and blessings, we were told we could have maybe one more. That is when we had our third son. What a blessing he has been to us. We call him our “Saturday’s Warrior” baby (it is a musical). When it came time for him to have what would be his first and only son, we were ecstatic. I even had a dream and was told that the new baby’s name would be Joseph. When I told my son and his wife about my dream, they were surprised because that is the name they had already chosen!

Joseph James (after his maternal grandfather) was a healthy cute baby. He was adored by his big sisters and of course me. As he grew, he reminded me so much of when his father was younger. We still lived in Hawaii then and were so happy to visit with the family often. Jojo, as we called him adored his grandma and she loved spending time with him and the girls.He was very clever and would tolerate grandma taking fun pictures of him.

Joseph was born the same day that my mother passed away. It was a bitter-sweet day and I like to think that they passed along the way.

Jojo had an affinity for pacifiers. He could not be without several during the day and night.

Jojo and his pacifiers!
Be sure to have a supply of pacifiers on hand!
home, Uncategorized

A Tribute to Our Mothers

http://hubpages.com/hub/A-Tribute-to-Our-Mothers

Both my husband’s mother and my mother died the same year, 2007. Both of them had sacrificed all of their lives to take care of those around them.

My mother, Carol, had a beautiful soprano voice, and she was a featured soloist in her choir in high school. She sometimes sang duets with her father. She was raised in a small town in Sanpete County, Utah. She loved ice skating, dancing, and singing. She met my father at a dance. Once she was married, mother developed her talents of cooking. She made the best pies, tomato soup cake, raisin-filled cookies, and other baked goods. She also enjoyed beautifying her home, painting ceramics, doing embroidery and other handwork. Mother lovingly cared for her own mother and her mother-in-law in their latter years and sacrificing her own health in doing so.

Here is a poem I shared at my mother’s funeral:
As I reflect on the times that I remember her best,
it seems she was always enduring a test.
Of a life changing moment a love one had faced
or the choice of a path that was taken in haste.

She watched all her children,
as each found their way,
and each of the four knew where their place lay.
In the heart and the mind of a woman who knew
each child was a flower with its own special hue.

She left us too early, but she’s not really gone,
as she’s in all of us, so her beauty goes on.
And the wisdom and humor she showed through her days
is in each of us and displayed many ways.

She lives on in her children and in their children as well,
and all the great grands the uniqueness we’ll tell.
Of this very special person with a heart full of love
who left with us memories and thoughts from above.

Her passing left the world a little less colorful and a lot less interesting. But even in grief, we know we are so lucky to have had this loving woman in our lives, and now in our hearts forever.

My husband’s mother, Luisa, was half Caucasian and half Tongan. She was a beautiful lady with many gifts. She could sew, cook, dance and always had a smile on her face. Besides her eight natural children, she took care of many other children who consider her their mother. She and her husband served several missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She also worked as a dorm mother at Liahona High School in Tonga.

When we lived in Tonga, I would often leave my children with Luisa and Vili, her husband. I was often surprised when I returned to pick up the children only to find she had sewn them new outfits. She was an excellent seamstress and would sew without patterns. She would also bake cakes and then decorate them beautifully. She lived most of her life in Tonga until her husband passed away after which she remained in the United States, living with her children and their families.

Her children rise up and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. ~ Proverbs 31:28-29

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. ~ Proverbs 31:30-31

I shall never forget my mother, for it was she who planted and nurtured the first seeds of good within me. ~ Immanuel Kant

Beauty is God’s handwriting. ~ Charles Kingsley

Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed. ~ Storm Jameson

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her. ~ George Washington.

Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence. ~ Plato

There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother. ~ Washington Irving

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. ~ W.R. Wallace

From A – Z, a mother is an: administrator, baker, counselor, diplomat, efficiency expert, friend, gardener, home economist, inspirationalist, judge, kitchen authority, leader, mediator, nurturer, organizer, pedagogue, quality analyst, recreation leader, spiritual director, teacher, umpire, vacation planner, willing worker, holiday activities director, youth playground supervisor and a zest-filled encourager.

Sayings and quotes from Mother, I Love You by Helen Steiner Rice.