CONGRATULATIONS to the Classes of 2011!

I have high school friends, college friends and neighbors who have kids who graduate this year.  CONGRATULATIONS to you all!

I sat in the audience at our daughters’ school graduation ceremony on Tuesday evening in awe. The seniors were dressed in hand-made, light blue and white, form-fitted long dresses with Haku leis (flowers around her head) and long Ti leis around their necks. They sang the school song, a medley of relevant songs to this milestone AND danced a traditional hula. They learned all this and studied all year, wrote essays for colleges, participated in sports, drama and community service. These girls ROCK!

Next year our eldest daughter will take her place in the graduating senior class. I can’t help but remember when she was born in Baltimore, started pre-school in Anaheim Hills, became a Bat Mitzvah, won the Heroes Award and the Girl Scout Silver Award at her first high school in La Habra and moved to Oahu as a Junior. She’s come a long way and made me very proud. I’m sure my fingers will be shaking as I tell you about her graduation next year!

I wish all the graduates a heartfelt Congrats and Best Wishes!!! To all the parents of grads: You did an outstanding job as parents. Your buttons should be busting with pride for not only your students, but for yourselves. Well done!

Strong work everyone!!! Reach for the stars!!

Please enjoy this commentary from one of my favorite mentors, Michael Josephson: http://charactercounts.org/michael/2011/05/the_road_to_significance_7234.html

Aloha,

Denise

How is your summer so far?

Well, I have enjoyed two days of summer so far and IT’S GREAT!!! Sure,  the days were Saturday and Sunday, typically fun days for my family, but still, I was relaxed and responsive. Whatever they wanted to do, I went along willingly!

We went to the Honolulu Zoo (http://www.honoluluzoo.org/) for a few hours…enjoying all the animals and a treat. Mark hadn’t been there yet, so he had a great time. Our girls loved it too. I loved walking around with my family, seeing the animals and being outside. The grounds are beautiful and the animals were happy and entertaining.

Today, I shared in a birthday lunch with some new friends. We went to Mariposa in Neiman-Marcus for Tea (http://www.wherethelocalseat.com/Honolulu-Restaurants/Mariposa-Honolulu-HI-WebID-20103.aspx) . It was delicious, lovely, relaxing, enlightening and inspiring. I think birthdays like this are A-OK.

So far, summer is perfect. I am so grateful and ready for tomorrow. How about you?

Aloha,

Denise

Are you grateful?

I challenge you to wake up in the morning so arrogant with assumption that you are supposed to wake up. As if it is just so, without a single thought or reflection.

This morning be present. Feel completely overwhelmed with gratefulness and affinity for life, health and my relationships.

Today I was given the gift of waking up and the opportunity to love another day. Are you with me?

Aloha,

Denise

Are you counting down until summer?

Today and tomorrow my girls take their final exams. They have worked so hard over the past ten months. I am so proud of them and their accomplishments. They moved to a new place, learned new routines, attended a much smaller school, tried new foods, experienced new cultures and became seasoned city bus travelers.

Each has grown into a sweet, beautiful young lady. They are articulate, clever, technologically adept and charming. I love seeing who they have become and how they have assimilated into the new environment.

As we start our summer, I have all these grand plans. I’m sure they just want to sleep, read, relax and chat with friends on their computers. Instead they have lessons set up: surfing and diving; hills to hike; trails to tackle on bikes and food trucks to eat from.

If you find yourself on Oahu, please call us.  We have two more days until our summer officially starts. Are you counting down until summer?

Aloha,

Denise

P.S. Girls, I love you very much!

Say it, schedule it and savor it!

I have a busy friend who I love and admire. She enjoys her college classes, remodeling her home, playing with her dogs, spending time with her husband and kids. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with her.

A few weeks ago, we spoke on the phone. We said, “let’s have lunch,” and we agreed to do so.  We both pulled out calendar (mine is Google Calendar) and we inked in a date. Today was the day! I met her at her beautiful Club overlooking the ocean and we sat and ate and chatted for two hours (the amount of time we had scheduled.) It was wonderful, empowering, delicious, humorous and very enjoyable. I savored every minute. She even brought me two plants she had rooted for our apt. At the parking lot we agreed to schedule another lunch date.

What’s your mode of staying in touch with friends?

Aloha,

Denise

Splish Splash!

We are in the home stretch of this first school year in Hawaii. Our daughters have enjoyed their new school, made friends, learned how to kayak, sing and act on the stage, eat new foods and sleep in a bunk bed nightly.

To kick-start the summer vacation and offer “kudos for a great school year” we signed them both up for SCUBA lessons! They begin with a two-tank dive, including lessons and formal training. Upon completion, they will earn their Open Water certification from PADI through the Kaimana Divers (www.waikikiscuba.com). I’m so proud of them…we may have a new family sport!

The next day, they have a surf lesson scheduled (www.girlswhosurf.com). They had so much fun last month, they will head out again to conquer the waves. As with most sports, surfing requires a lot of practice.

I will accompany them on the dives and surfing. I must get in on ALL the fun! Splish Splash go the Schnitzer girlz!

How will you spend your first week of summer?

Aloha,

Denise

Do you observe your surroundings?

I was early to my surf lesson so I spread my towel down under a tree to look around.  I observed several interesting things:

Two brides set up for photographers while their white stretch limos waited in the parking lot near the sand,

A man with piercings and tattoos skateboarding back and forth in the parking lot while talking on his cell phone,

Many surfers coming in and going out of the ocean, mostly with short boards,

And sunbathers soaking up the Honolulu sun.

I saw people reading, relaxing, swimming, boating, laughing, playing and working. Sitting there for the few minutes I realized that there is constant activity and I enjoy taking  part in it all.

What did you observe today?

Aloha,

Denise

Dinner dilemma or delight?

Every morning I wake up,  gulp my ice water, check email, Facebook, blog posts and then I drink coffee. I look outside, grateful for the beauty, quiet and stillness.  After all, it’s 5:00am.

Then after I take the girls to school, the worry begins: what do I make  for dinner??? I have one vegetarian, one high-protein-no-dairy, pasta, fruit-only eater, one omnivore and me. I find myself making three main items every night.  This from a woman who rarely cooked! The dinner dilemma!

Well, tonight, I went online to the Food Network and looked up Melissa D’Arabian, who we saw win the crown of The Next Food Network Star of 2009, and pleaded to her for a recipe for dinner. Eureka! I found one. (http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/north-african-meatballs/49282.html) With only a few tweaks, substitutions and deletions, I  made fancy meatballs and rice. Everyone, except our resident vegetarian, was delighted. She got veggie burgers.

Good news, bad news: good news: dinner tonight was great. Bad news: I have to come up with something new tomorrow. My friend KP would be so proud of me.

Any ideas are oh so welcome!!!

Aloha,

Denise

Day after Mother’s Day….

Good Monday morning!

I hope all my mom friends had an exceptional day yesterday. I really did. I can’t remember a more relaxing, delicious day. My kids made me pineapple pancakes, cut fresh papaya and served it bed side with piping hot coffee. Then they gave me hand-made cards, filled with poems, a flattering photo of me, signed in purple ink (my favorite color) and a Murano glass pendant.

It’s cool how our kids grow up with us….I mean they are so much greater and easier now! It’s truly been a joyous ride being a mom ~ from diapers to dances, from Gymboree to Forever 21, from elephant stories to essays.

I hold fond memories of all seventeen of my Mothers’ Days. Every year the day is better than the last. I am blessed with great kids and I’m grateful to be their mom.

Aloha,

Denise

P.S. I accepted the position of Secretary of the Faculty Parent Association at the school for next year.