Category Archives: videos

Taking Time for Puddles and Other Important Things

I started writing this blog almost nine years ago(!) as a way to fill in those spaces between photos and videos. I still look at this space in that way, but more and more I see it as a place to remind myself of what’s important in my life—a place of gratitude.

The last few weeks it’s been easy to lose sight of life. I’ve been caught up in work and details of the day-to-day. Sarah’s started a new job with It Works! and that’s been a big adjustment for everyone. It felt as if our life couldn’t get any busier and then it did. More and more I realize that’s just the way it’s going to be—especially as the girls get older and busier themselves—and more and more I’m realizing the importance of taking time to check in here. I need to take time to sort through all our amazing photos and pick out the best ones. I need to try and post some videos and then write about the “spaces in between” here. It’s one way I stay grounded in my life and there’s the added benefit of keeping a family history, too.

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How Long Does One Stay a Babe-in?

It’s been almost seven months since I wrote Babe-in Forever, just before Aliya’s third birthday, and I’m happy to say, Babe-in is still going strong. Not just as an amazing little person, but with her nickname as well. We’ve been wondering on and off how long it will be before she forbids us to call her that, but so far, she’s more than happy to keep the name going.

Our reluctance to let the nickname go, and us hoping she won’t make us stop calling her Babe-in, points to a sort of deeper issue: she’s our baby. The last of three. The only kid in the house left that still has a little baby fat and that way of talking that is so adorable:

  • She still refers to herself as Babe-in.
  • She makes up stuff like “Huna Scala” which we have no idea if it has meaning. She’s used it as a name like, “Huna Scala Mama.”
  • She still has very little concept of time, and it’s getting better, but if you say, “Why don’t you go pee before bed, Babe-in,” she’ll respond, “I went pee last night!”
  • She still drops her Ls and Rs sometimes, “Riving Woom” for “Living Room.”

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Turning Six and Balancing Expectations

maia_turns_sixBirthday’s can be tricky. They’re supposed to be fun and special, but they also tend to get wrapped up in expectations. For the kids, this plays out by them having a hard time enjoying the moment—thinking about the next fun thing—or being disappointed with their presents. We, as parents, want to do what we can to encourage them to enjoy what’s happening as it happens, and have to know that no matter how hard to we try, we’ll never be able to create the perfect birthday for our kids.

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Another Day to Remember

Sometimes our life is so full of those moments when you say, “Man, I really want to remember this,” or “I have to write down what she said when we get home.” Of course, many of those moments never get recorded, being put off until they slowly fade from memory. And I think that’s okay because I certainly don’t want to miss those moments by worrying about how I’m going to remember them. I like to record things but I don’t want to be the dad that sees his kids growing up through the screen of the iPhone.

But I did want to take some time tonight to remember today. The afternoon was more hectic than usual (if that’s possible) because Sarah had to be somewhere and it was “open studio” night for Keana’s ballet class. This meant I had to take all three kids and keep two of them somewhat tame for an hour around dinner time. It turned out better than expected because both Maia and Aliya are in ballet too, so they enjoyed watching the older girls and practicing some of the moves they knew along with them. Not only that, but it was such a joy to see Keana practice. I don’t usually get to go and watch her, and she was amazing. Poised, confident, struggling, succeeding…it was such a gift to be able to take the time to really see what she does every Tuesday night in ballet class.

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Paulina Lake and Letting Go

I haven’t been finding time to write but it’s not just “life getting in the way” or being too busy—at least not completely. I like telling our stories as they happen and sometimes there are stories that are hard to tell. Maybe there’s a lot of detail or pieces to it, or maybe there’s a lot of emotion involved. And the story that covers both these bases, and that’s been holding me up lately, is our trip to Paulina Lake, Oregon that we took in mid-July.

It was a family reunion of sorts, with my mom’s side, but not everyone was there—most notably my Uncle Vic, who committed suicide last December. When family came down from Oregon for the funeral, plans were set in motion to follow through on a “reunion” trip he and our cousin Heidi had talked about earlier. Since 1948 (Grandma will correct me if I’m wrong) the Hubbards/Petersons had been going to Paulina Lake for summer fishing. My brother and I went a few times as kids—it’s where I met and got to know family from Oregon and where I learned to fish. And basically some configuration of that side of our family had been fishing there for what today, I think, classifies as “forever.” My uncle grew up fishing at Paulina, playing on the boat and shores with his sisters and cousins, and always seemed at peace and happy there, as is evidenced by many photos of him. I especially love the classic 80s shots of him up at the lake where he’s got a hat and tank top on, and a mustached smile across his joyful and mischievous face.

So we had an opportunity to not only reunite with family but also to have one final celebration of a life cut far too short. I admit it wasn’t easy for me to say yes. I hadn’t seen a lot of the family in over 20 years, and hadn’t even met some of the newer members. I knew it was going to be awkward and hard, and on top of all that, my brother wasn’t going. We had always gone together as kids and even now as an adult, with kids of my own, I still wanted him along to help me navigate the family waters.

The drive up was tough: 10 hours in the car, split into two days. We stopped in Redding knowing that if we tried to drive it all in one day, the kids would not be even remotely close to being able to handle camping, fishing, and meeting new family. When we arrived on Monday, July 15, the mosquitos were horrendous. Cousin Tom had said they were bad, but they were camping too (instead of staying in cabins), so I figured it couldn’t be too bad. BIG mistake. Luckily Grandma Linda had room in her cabin because after one night at the campgrounds, we were done. Literally millions of tiny blood-suckers.

The first full day there we took a boat ride around the lake to scout memorial sites with Great Grandma and Grandpa, and the kids loved being out on the lake in the aluminum 8 ft. boats with outboard motors. It was their first real boat ride and they loved it. No sickness and little fear. Later that day we went out fishing and each of them caught their first fish. I was in the boat with Maia, Aunt Janet, and my mom, and we had barely gotten our lines in the water when Maia said, “I think I have something.” She was so calm and followed my mom’s instructions perfectly. I couldn’t believe that in under 5 minutes of her very first time fishing, she had snagged one. Sure enough, she reeled in a nice little rainbow trout. Maia was excited—maybe even as much as the rest of us—and Grandma Linda cried.

I was excited and proud to see that Keana, who had been out trolling with her Great Grandparents and Grandpa Sam, had caught two of her own. We headed back to the cabins and Great Grandma showed them each how to clean their fish, just as she had done with me 23 or 24 years before. They weren’t really grossed out, mostly fascinated, and Keana loves to eat fish so much, I think she was happy just to know that she had at least two to eat later.

The next night Team Hokama wasn’t so lucky. I was out with Aliya, Sarah, my mom, and Aunt Janet, with no luck for a couple hours. On a final effort before heading in, I snagged a little rainbow and tried to get Aliya to help me reel it in. Upon getting it in the boat we saw that it was barely big enough to keep—maybe 8 inches—but when Aliya saw it she exclaimed, “It’s just my size, Papa!” so my doubts about keeping it pretty much melted away. She was pretty excited about the whole thing so I called it hers and we called it a night.

Throughout our four days there we basically fished, played in the cabins, and visited with family. It was hard to make connections with the family from Oregon, but it was still great to see them again and meet the newer, younger members. There’s really no way to catch up on lifetimes in one fishing trip, so I really saw this as one step in the right direction.

On Thursday, our last day, we all headed out in our boats, 23 of us, across the lake to a quiet shore for one final farewell to Uncle Vic. We all lined up as my mom said a few words and read a prayer, and I played Summertime on my trumpet with an improvised intro based on Flamenco Sketches (by Miles Davis and Bill Evans). As I played, everyone scattered little bottles of Vic’s ashes that my grandma had put together for the occasion. It’s amazing how much grief is left even after 7 months. I found some closure though in sharing stories of him with those that didn’t know him very well or hadn’t had a chance to meet him. It was pretty special to be in that beautiful setting, with the lake and fishing and almost all our family, to bring back happy (and often hilarious) memories of the man we loved.

After the service we all rode back to the docks, leaving a trail of rose petals on a smooth-as-glass lake, and prepared for the last day of fishing and the traditional closing fish-fry. After an early dinner we headed out, but the waters were choppy so we had to reel it in after just a little bit. Even though we had to head in early, I felt very privileged to have spent the last night fishing with my grandparents and two of my daughters (Aliya was in another boat with Sarah, Grandma Linda, Grandpa Sam, and Great Aunt Janet). They weren’t having any luck either until they sprinkled a little bit of Uncle Vic’s ashes over the side of the boat for good luck, and almost immediately, hooked some fish.

We packed early the next morning, said our goodbyes to the family from Oregon/Washington, had breakfast just down the hill in La Pine with the Peterson side, and hit the road. The ride to Redding was rough. The kids were sad to go and tired beyond tired. Somehow we prevailed though through tears and much frustration, and were more than relieved to be at the hotel. The final leg back to Fresno the next day was much smoother, and it felt really good to be back home.

What an epic trip. It was the kids first super-long car ride and first trip to Oregon. We reconnected with a lot of family and paid our final respects to Uncle Vic. There was so much joy and excitement with first fish caught and new, unfamiliar territory, and there was a lot sadness and tears shed too. Letting go is hard—but letting go while opening so many doors at the same time was also healing.

View all pics from the trip…

A Story to Own

All StyleI don’t want Aliya’s birthday to always be about her dramatic entrance into the world followed by a recount of the emergency plane ride to UCSF’s NICU and her week-long stay there. I don’t want her birthday to become some sort of quasi-joyous occasion with the shadow of how she got here always looming with looks of concern or pity around the room. Yet, as much as I don’t want that, it is part of her story and it’s part of what makes her life with us, now, so amazing. And maybe because it’s a story with a happy ending, it’s a pretty damn exciting birthday story to have.

How she got here aside, every day she grows and develops into a less and less tiny bundle of the best of both of us. Just like her sisters before her, she amazes us with her brilliance, wit, agility, creativity, ferocity, sweetness, and just plain kick-assery. I mean, if “kick-ass” can’t be used to define three, what can? What else is there to say? Happy Birthday Aliya. You’re three and you earned it.

Sharing Through Performance

Maia the Munchkin FlowerAs the end of the school year approaches, so do the performances. At this point we’re not performance heavy, but there’s still enough to keep us busy on these last few weekends before summer.

On April 25 Keana had her “Notables” “thing” which was a chance for all the second-graders to dress up like a famous person in history they had been learning about, and share a short spoken piece about their person. Being drawn to strong women, Keana chose Sacagawea and was especially excited about the dressing up part. We borrowed some authentic Native American pieces from Grandma Jennie and even wrapped up a little baby to further authenticate the performance. Learning about Sacagawea was also a great experience for Keana to process a different culture and a different place in history and amidst the sharing of facts that she learned along the way, she often had lots of questions about why certain things happened and why they’re different (or the same) now.

This last weekend, May 11, Maia performed in the California Arts Academy production of The Wizard of Oz. Keana and Maia are both in ballet, but the performance-specific class was only open for Maia’s category by the time we enrolled in January. Grandma Linda and Grandpa Sam drove over from Sacramento and from Fresno, Tia, Grandma Jennie, and Grandma Bev were all in attendance.

For her little performance as a flower in Munchkin Land, there sure were a lot of extra rehearsals. Maia absolutely loved every minute of it—especially the extra rehearsals at different locations—but I’m looking forward to her having a bigger part in the future. I know she’s only five, but she is really drawn to performing and seems to have a lot of natural talent. Most importantly, she loves it. It also doesn’t hurt that the teachers she’s had so far have been very impressed by her and encouraged her (and Keana too) to really pursue dancing. So we’ll see. Gotta keep my competitive nature in check, but still try and make these opportunities available for the girls…and maybe give them a little push to get out there.

Unfortunately we couldn’t tape Maia’s performance, but you’ll just have to imagine how adorable she was and what a joy she was to watch. Sarah and I both got a little teary-eyed for sure. I don’t think it matters what your kid is doing on that stage. For that brief moment it’s as if there’s a single spotlight and mic just for them. I think it’s an important skill to have—being able to perform in front of an audience—and I think it’s a great way for kids to share something they create with other kids and adults. Definitely looking forward to more of this.

Next up: “Authors Night” at Keana’s school where all the students share a book they’ve written and illustrated in a sort of book fair, open to the school community. Always one of Keana’s favorite school events.

A New Season

Freshly 8, Keana Swings on The Swing We MadeFor those of you that know me, you know I love baseball and I love my Giants. I also happen to be one of those people that believes baseball is a metaphor for just about everything in life. Don’t worry, this won’t be a baseball analogy post, but the Giants just started their new season, and as they were starting spring training, lots of things were in transition with Team Hokama too.

First and foremost, Keana turned 8. Somewhere between getting ready for her party, my good friend Larry’s wedding, and a landslide of work, I have yet to document this momentous occasion. So here it is, the official entry in our record books. We did our usual trip to sushi and over spring break hosted a party for her friends. The only problem was that no one showed. I know, very disappointing. We took a risk having it over break and we’ll never do that again. We know every one of her friends really wanted to come, but it wasn’t totally up to them. It was one of those tough “life moments” as a parent, having to watch your child experience that kind of disappointment, and not being able to fix it. Luckily Tia and Cousin Olivia came, so that made it more special. We were at the park, so we ran around a bunch and played chase on the play structure, and of course had plenty of chocolate cake.

Keana is growing up in every way imaginable. She’s able to communicate any thought or feeling with just about any type of person. The more she learns and understands the world around her, the taller and brighter she seems. It’s like that shift you see as a parent when your kid leaps (seemingly overnight) from being a toddler to a “real kid”—there’s been an almost a perceptible change in the eyes, as if you can actually see them seeing the world differently. She’s tall, freckled, elegant, hilarious, determined, brilliant, beautiful, and completely comfortable in her own skin. And she still doesn’t mind us calling her Zooba, which I love. Tonight she helped me barbecue chicken, putting it on the grill and painting the sauce on, and I told her I had images of her being the only one of her friends in college that could properly grill. Watching her blaze the trail before her sisters is awe-inspiring and somehow heartbreaking at the same time.

And guess who’s going to follow in big sissy’s footsteps in just 4 short months? That’s right, Big Maíj has been accepted to kindergarten at Keana’s school. It’s not really a surprise, but we’re trying to make this leap as special and unique as we can for Maia. Of course she’s a little apprehensive and scared now, but it’s fun to see how ready she is and that hidden excitement behind the fear. The sleep chart with stickers is still working like a charm and she seems to be the one responding the best to our not-so-new gluten/dairy-free diet. I’m not sure I’ve seen any behavioral changes necessarily, but certainly there have been some improvements in the digestive realm. She, too, is seeing and understanding more of the world and for Maia, I think a big part of what that means is more risk-taking. In physical ways she’s been more adventurous than Keana, but socially that hasn’t necessarily been the case. I recently made some trapeze bars and swings for the trees in our front yard and she was the first one to figure out how to hang from them upside down and run and jump onto them, sending herself spinning in a mini-whirlwind. Maia’s athletic prowess is really fun and exciting to watch and I’m excited to watch her grow and thrive in “regular” school soon.

Last but never least, Aliya. Aliya Aliya Aliya. What a spirit. The leap in her ability to communicate this past month has been phenomenal. She can tell you just about anything she has on her mind and has been asking tons of questions about everything she sees and hears. She’s recently stopped fighting putting on a diaper at night—she’s totally potty trained during the day—but on 3/10 she fought the nightly diaper fiercely, and when Sarah was getting Maia ready for bed and pulled out Maia’s underwear, she said, “Hey! Those are my underwear!” So Sarah asked if she wanted to try sleeping without a diaper and she said yes. Then before Sarah turned out the light she reminded Aliya that she didn’t have a diaper on and she said, “I’m not going to pee in my crib.” So that was pretty definitive and we thought it might just be time. The next morning I asked Aliya how the night went without diaper and she said, “I peed in my underwear. I peed in my crib.” Very matter-of-fact…and she’s still wearing the diaper at night. However, she has recently been asking to sleep in a “normal” bed, so I see some big changes on the way for her. I have to admit I’m not quite ready to make another night-time-sleeping transition, but who am I to stand in the way of progress?

One thing I absolutely love about Aliya is her confidence. I don’t know how many times a day I tell her to be careful and every time she replies, “I am careful, Papa.” It’s this same confidence that has certainly landed her the award for “baby that’s fallen the most,” but she doesn’t let it stop her, and I love that—even if it scares me. Last night, as I waited to drift off to sleep, a memory from the day’s events played through my mind like a movie: we were in the front yard, with Maia, having (barefoot) foot races up and down the driveway, and without any reason or prompting, Aliya takes off full speed. As she’s careening around the corner—and as I’m wincing with worry that she’s going to bail on the concrete—I shout, “Careful Babe-in!” She whips out of sight but I hear her adorable voice trailing off, “I know Papa. I am careful!”

She didn’t fall. In fact, as she came running back, careening around that same corner towards me, she had a huge smile of shear joy plastered on her face as if to say, “See Papa. I’m fine. Let’s do it again.”

To the Snow!

Papa and His Snow MonkeysWell, it wasn’t easy, but we did it. And we brought Tia and Cousin Olivia with us. After a night and morning scrambling to acquire snow gear and pack it, our caravan headed up to Shaver Lake to play in the snow.

We weren’t exactly sure where to go, but luckily Sarah remembered there was a snow park up the hill from the lake. Just when we thought we had gone too far, it appeared. The only catch was that we didn’t buy snow park permits when we were in town. We considered rolling the dice, but decided the $94.50 fine was too much to gamble with. (And yes, where the hell do you come up with a fine of that value? $94.50? Not $90 or $95. So. Silly.) So I ran back to town to get our $5 permits so we could play without worry.

In general, the kids had a blast. I think Aliya had a little sledding wipeout with Sarah that made her a little weary of the snow, but she was also tired. In fact, she fell asleep in Sarah’s arms and they hung out under a pine tree while we played. Keana and Maia handled a little hill on their own, helping each other up it and sailing down with Maia in front (see video below). When I got back from getting our permits, I took Maia and Keana on a bigger hill and had so much fun sledding with them. Now that they’re older we can do more daring things, which I love. And to be out in the crisp, fresh air, surrounded by beautiful, snowy scenery—it was really what this vacation needed.