Tag Archives: communication

Establishing Team Meetings

Today we sat down for the first family meeting we’ve had in a long time. Sarah and I thought it would be good to start them up, probably regularly, to keep us all in sync with what we want our family life to be like and what everyone’s responsibilities and expectations are. It seems like it will be especially important and helpful to continue these as the kids get older, more independent, schedules become fuller, and autonomy increases.

We had a “co-captain pre-meeting” to figure out how the meeting might go and what topics we wanted to try to focus on. We wanted to keep it sort of brief, leave it open for the kids to have a chance to suggest other topics, and have room for everyone to ask and answer questions. I think the biggest challenge of the pre-meeting was figuring out how to strike a balance between structuring it so it was productive and useful, and not having so much structure that it seemed like we, the parents, were just laying down the law or dominating the process.

Continue reading Establishing Team Meetings

Working for the Weekend

Aliya, Poodle, and Maia ready for the zoo.
Aliya, Poodle, and Maia ready for the zoo.
One thing we’ve struggled with on the weekends since having kids (especially multiple kids) is finding balance. The balance between resting, relaxing, doing fun stuff as a family, and getting stuff done around the house to keep this crazy ship afloat. Add anything else to the mix, like dance rehearsals or birthday parties, and it all becomes that much harder.

This past weekend was the first weekend without anything extra in a while and we were not prepared. (That’s another thing: after all these years I would think we would be better at this weekend thing.) Anyway, Saturday rolled along and Aliya’s crib had to be switched out for the mini bed we had in the garage, then the flower beds had to be watered since the heat is creeping up now, then the garage had to be reassembled because of course, that bed frame was at the bottom of a delicately layered mountain of camping gear, Christmas decorations, bikes, and old clothes. Then the kids were hungry for lunch (hadn’t we just had breakfast!) and on and on until it was time to make dinner and get them ready for bed. At the end of it I felt, I admit, pretty annoyed that it was Saturday and I was just as worn down as if it had been a Monday, and even questioned the quality of time we spent together as a family.

That night Sarah suggested we make a plan for Sunday so we didn’t have another day that just sailed by without doing what we really wanted. This was another conversation we were quite familiar with, and it was a good idea, but I was feeling a little hopeless. I get this way, especially when the temperature around here starts climbing up into the 90s. I feel like I’m racing nature to get everything done that I want to do outside before the blistering heat and shitty air closes in. That, coupled with an already intense competition for needs and time, is a recipe for an unproductive conversation. Here I was already tired from a “day off” and I couldn’t get past the existing list of house cleaning and grocery shopping that still needed to get done. Plan something fun? Forget about it.

Luckily we were able to persevere through the initial turbulence of this conversation and finish the talk, emerging with a decent plan for a trip to the zoo in the morning, followed by an afternoon (inside away from the heat) doing house cleaning.

And it worked! By God, we had fun and got a lot of shit done! It wasn’t easy of course, and the kids still had a little meltdown (literally) before lunch, but once we cooled off and ate something, the afternoon was fine. I even squeezed in a game of chess with Keana, Maia, and Aliya.

I’m a grown-ass man with three kids and yet I still just want to sleep in and play on the weekends. Maybe some day I’ll accept the fact that that life has packed and sailed (for now), but this one, now, can be navigated well if Sarah and I just chart a course together…before we embark on the journey.

“Thank youuu, Mama.”

She’s almost two. Unbelievable. Aliya our littlest, budding communicator. It’s been amazing witnessing her speech and communication develop. I’ve written about this many times with Keana and Maia, and it is still one of the best parenting experiences to watch and hear your child’s speech and communication develop. All their stylized words and adoptions of gestures are so adorable that you can hardly stand it.

Aliya started out a while ago with “Mama” and calling just about everything “samy”. Then, seemingly overnight, she was saying, “Thank youuu, Mama” holding on to the “u” sound a little longer and pausing slightly before “Mama”. She says this still with just about anything you do, from handing her something, to feeding her, to opening a door—everything. And up until just two weeks ago, everyone was “Mama”. She knew who her mama was, of course, but she had gotten so used to using “mama” in her speech, that even when someone else did things for her, it was still, “Thank youuu, Mama”. Now she says “papa” and “sissy” but still sometimes corrects herself, immediately, by saying, “Thank youuu, Mama, thank youuu, Papa”.

Her vocabulary grows daily, literally. The last two weeks she’s really been into saying “Um on! Um on!” for “C’mon! C’mon!” and waving towards herself. Aliya loves company. Even months ago she would sit down and pat the seat next to her to invite you to sit. Just last night she said, “G’night e(v)erybo(d)y” with a soft “v” and “d” sound that made it just the right about of “baby” to melt your heart. She also still says, “Otay!” for “Okay!”, often with much enthusiasm. Of course she says “bye-bye” but also blows kisses, and will always greet you with a hug, even people she rarely sees. She’ll ask about people too, so when Keana goes off to school, Aliya will often roam around the house asking, “Where’s Sissy? Where’s Sissy?” When she asks about something, “Wha(t)’s that?” and you tell her, she exclaims, “Wowww!” even for the most mundane things, and she’s also started to determine if things are gross by saying, “Ewwwww.”

In Other News

The girl loves her outside time, often asking first thing in the morning, “Ou(t)side Papa? Ou(t)side?” She’s’ gotten into playing chase and throwing the ball and now that it’s getting warmer, she’s really been enjoying our water table and small pool, being fearless of the cold water, and often trying to climb up into the water table to use it as a little pool. Thankfully she doesn’t climb on the kitchen table as much, but she still gets her climbing where she can.

Aliya wants to be included in everything and wants to be doing what everyone else is doing. This mostly applies to whatever Keana and Maia are doing, but watches us carefully too. She’ll wipe up the floor if something spills and insists on clearing her own plate most of the time too, even though she can’t reach the counter. She loves to brush her teeth and expects to have you cup a hand with water in it to rinse, though not knowing how to suck it up, just laps it up like a kitty. She’s getting better and better at potty training and goes long stretches in the day without a diaper, being sure to let us know when she has to pee. After taking care of business, she’ll often fill in whoever missed out by running up to them and exclaiming, “I peed Papa!!!” and whisks a finger in the direction of the toilet. Or, if she has an accident, she’ll say the same thing and bring you to it to help her clean it up. And yes, she likes to get in on cleaning up her own mess, which I can respect even though it can sometimes make the task more difficult.

A couple other incidents to give you an idea of our amazing Aliya:

  • Aliya’s very interested in opening the toilet, using it, putting toilet paper in (thankfully not too much…most of the time), and flushing. She sometimes repeats these steps more times than necessary, but hey, practice makes perfect, right?
  • Tonight, I was asking Sarah if she knew where my phone was and while were talking about it, Aliya ran off, found it, and handed it to me. I didn’t even know she was listening.
  • She loves to walk up to her sisters, especially Maia since they spend the day together, and give her hugs, kisses, or snuggles her stomach when they’re lying down. Maia gets very excited and whispers (as if not to ruin the moment), “Look Mama, she’s snuggling me!”

There are so many things that I haven’t mentioned or can’t even put into words. We have photos and videos, but a lot of the stuff I just wrote down just can’t be captured in those mediums for one reason or another. I’m hoping that by at least getting this much down it will help us remember this magical time even better, months and years down the road, because it really is too special to let slip away completely.

Tell Me All Your Thoughts On God

We had just left Great Grandma Bev’s lake house, driving into the setting sun, when we heard from the backseat, “How did Jesus die?” The only reason I wasn’t totally floored was because Sarah had shared with me another time this happened. At the exact same point in the road, a week or two earlier, Keana had asked that exact question. At that time, Sarah wasn’t sure how much to say and worried about getting in a little over her head, so she punted, telling Keana she should ask me since I probably knew more about that. Lucky me. The conversation that Keana and I had after that first time was pretty brief; she was ready to move on to something else by the time she got home.

It would all be easier if Sarah and I didn’t question religion ourselves and went to church every Sunday, and if I just spouted off the classic, generally acceptable answers and stories within the Christian faith. I’ve spent so much time in church or church-related activities that I’m practically ordainable, but it’s only recently, after many years away from it all, that I’m beginning to come back to my childhood faith. Sarah and I have always wanted to provide our kids with a broad understanding of many forms of religion and ideas of God, hoping that when they were really curious and ready, our kids could embark on their own process with a good foundation—a process that wasn’t biased or misinformed. What we’ve come to realize lately though, is that in an attempt to be open, we may actually have been depriving our kids of the opportunity to develop any sort of faith.

So, back to the car. I thought for moment and chose the most direct answer. I explained he was crucified and the basics of what that entailed. I opted to leave out the public ridicule, beatings, crown of thorns, and stabbing—crucifixion seemed like enough. Keana (of course) asked why that was done to him, and I explained that some people don’t like to hear things that are contrary to their own beliefs or way of thinking, and unfortunately, it can and has resulted in some pretty sad and horrible outcomes. That seemed to go over relatively smoothly with the kids—and Maia was actually already drifting off to sleep, being exhausted from the day—which was probably good because Keana’s next question was, “How come you go to a bad place when you kill yourself?”

Yeah. Wasn’t ready for that one.

I think it’s safe to say that Christianity, and going to church regularly, is a pretty big thing in our current town of Fresno. It’s common enough that I’ve been asked on many occasions if I knew so-and-so through [the kids’] school or church. The church option never came up in the Bay Area. Also, a big population of Keana’s school are Mexican/Latino, so Catholicism is pretty prevalent I think, too. This is all to say that after the suicide question, I was pretty sure she was getting all her info from her friends at school.

Holy shit. Suicide? Hell? For first graders? Really people? These are the foundations of faith you’re sharing with your kids? On behalf of parents that are trying not to scar their kids and raise them in fear, I thank you. I calmly went on to tell Keana that there are different flavors of Christianity and in some of those, they believe bad things happen to you when you do certain things. I quickly followed it with the fact that Christianity is really based on love and that is the core principal to pay attention to. Sarah stepped in (thankfully) adding that it’s okay for everyone to believe whatever they want, but it’s important for each of us to make our own choices and respect others’.

The conversation continued for the full 40-minute-ride home and in the end I was a little worn out, but thankful that we could have a talk like that, in that way, as a family. Although there are many things that point to Keana’s maturity and growth, it’s conversations like that that remind me how much she (and all kids in general) pick up on, and how important it is for them to not only be able to talk to their parents or other adults about it, but to be met with an openness that encourages their own thinking and questions, and allows them to explore safely. At least I hope that’s what we did. Damn. That was weeks ago and I’m still processing it; great practice for what’s to come.

Six and Sassy

Keana is six and sassy and not always in that cute, confident way. You ask her to do something and she does the opposite. Examples:

  • Keana’s bothering her sister and I can hear Maia scream “Stop! Stop!” over and over, yet Keana persists. I know she hears us tell her to listen to Maia, and knows herself what “good” choices are, but she continues just a little bit longer.
  • She picks up Aliya and swings her around, and Aliya thinks it’s fun the first time, but of course the second and third time she’s not so sure. We bring Keana’s attention to Aliya’s signs that she doesn’t like it, but she does it again, a minute later.
  • She says she wants to do something like turn on the TV. You say it’s not a good time, that she’s already watched enough, and even as you’re talking, she walks away towards the living room to turn it on. Oh man. That one really gets me.

I get the sense it’s because she needs attention and/or she’s trying out the boundaries of her own power, but we’ve still struggled with how best to handle it. I find myself echoing what I was told growing up: “keep your hands to yourself” and “if you can’t do a good job listening, there will be consequences”. In these moments, my best examples and logic eventually feel like threats, and at the end of the day I worry about what I’m really teaching her. At the same time, of course, we need to keep everyone happy and safe.

Maia is now old enough that we’ve been able to have them work things out between the two of them, with one of us facilitating the discussion. We make sure they both get to talk and tell the other how the conflict made them feel and think of ways to remedy the issue together. It’s definitely going to take patience and discipline to work at this higher level, but I know the payoff will be much greater. The really tough times though, are those moments when Ms. Thang pulls her power play at the end of the day, when everyone’s tired, you’re cooking dinner, holding Aliya, and trying to mentally and emotionally wrastle with her.

I really need to get that book, How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, and How to Listen so Your Kids Will Talk. I’ve been saying that for years to myself, but I think it’s finally at the time where I need some back-up. And of course it’s especially difficult, because most of the time Keana is a brilliant, sweet angel, so the contrast in behavior is striking and therefore harder to handle at times. We’ve come to trust and expect a lot from her and maybe that’s part of the problem too. Then there’s always that part of any situation with all of us, really, that we can chalk it up to development. We are all learning and growing, not just the kids, but Sarah and I too. For me though, labeling it as “normal behavior” sure doesn’t make it any easier to know how to deal with it. Basically, I guess, there are just going to be these challenges as a parent, and I really do need to just keep at it with everything I’ve got to avoid falling into bad habits, complacency, and handling these difficult situations with my own damaging behavior.

[big sigh]

Hello? Maia?

“Maia’s sure growin’ and growin’!” exclaims Keana, and indeed she’s right.

The Communication Front
Maia’s always been our little squealer, often producing the loudest, highest, sustained pitches you’ve ever heard. After a few months she augmented that squeal with a low growl, often growling when she’s found something interesting to her. Not long after that she began saying, “Ma-ma, Ma-ma,” these first words confirming what we already knew; this is a mama’s girl. Then in August she began saying, ” Dada” when I appeared. Around the same time Maia also began waving at “good bye” and “hello”, sometimes with both hands. She also started shaking her head, showing a definitive “no” where appropriate. And just two weeks ago she began pointing to where she wanted to go or at what she wanted. Finally, just last week, Maia started mimicking talking on the telephone by picking something up—a spoon, a bear, her hand- producing a huge smile, and sometimes saying, “Hiiii.” Absolutely adorable.

The Movement Front
As just about everyone knows now, Maia started crawling at the end of August, and instead of just moving fast after Miko (the cat), now she moves fast to follow her sister or one of us around the house. She’s a master of the two carpeted steps we have downstairs and has even attempted the full case of wood stairs that goes between levels (not quite up for those yet). She also pulls herself up to a standing position on anything raised off the floor quite easily, and even practices going up and down, up and down. When she’s excited or listens to music she sits on her butt and waves both arms up and downs, sometimes with such force she pulls both her legs off the floor. Two weeks ago she started walking with assistance and it’s really fun to let her lead the way to whatever interests her. She also uses this new-found technique to kick balls around the house like a little soccer player. And to round things out, Maia loves to bounce. She loves to get up on the bed with her sister and jump, jump, jump. She can stand in the crib herself and do this, but on the bed really goes for it when one of us holds her under her armpits.

The Eating Front
So far, Maia really only likes yogurt, black beans, avocado, cheddar cheese, kamut puffs, zucchini, and tofu. She’s still nursing quite a bit and loves sharing sips out of water glasses. No bottle for this one either and since Keana stole her sippy cup, she’s gone straight to glass.

The Sleeping Front
This one’s been tough lately, but for the last couple months she’s gone to sleep pretty easily in our bed when Keana goes to bed around 7:30 p.m. Sarah would take her downstairs, lay with her and nurse her, and she’d drop off to sleep, waking up occasionally until we got down there, then sleep through the night. For the last three weeks though Sarah’s had to rock her to sleep for quite some time, then lay her down, which has been wearing on Sarah. I tried to help out once and I was greeted with a shaking head, signaling “no, no”, and so much crying that she actually threw up. Needless to say, she does not like her papa rocking her to sleep. Nap times are tough too because she really needs Sarah’s undivided attention to sleep, but with Keana running around and thirsting for attention herself, Maia doesn’t always get to sleep. So, as it seems to be with most kids, sleeping and getting enough is an issue, but for the most part we have been pretty spoiled with Maia.

So I think that’s pretty much the latest and greatest of the one called Maia (a.k.a Deedles a.k.a. Maimi a.k.a. Mimi Maimi a.k.a Snuggy Dugs).

The liberation of Zooba and the war cries of Deedles

Mark the day, April 21, 2008, Zooba was liberated. By Zooba I mean Keana, and by liberated I mean the railing of her crib was removed—again. We tried taking the rail off months ago, but it was really too soon. Keana actually requested we put the railing back on the first time we tried it, so we did- waiting for just the right day, just the right time for total liberation. With the advent of full potty trainage in March, the time seemed right. So Monday night (4/21/08) Keana and I got out the toolbox, got out our screwdrivers, and tore down the proverbial wall of oppression. I almost heard faint echos of David Hasselhoff floating through time and space from 1989 Berlin.

It’s been almost a week and everything is going great with the new-found freedom and responsibility. Keana even gets up and pees on her own in the middle of the night, though she still calls me down in the wee ours of the morning for a social visit disguised as some bathroom-related need, but we’re working through that.

Then there are the piercing screams that now fill our home and our ear canals. Sometimes long but usually short, they are startlingly loud and high pitched, especially when you realize they’re coming from Maia (a.k.a. Deedles). Maia is definitely figuring out her voice and communicating. It’s gone in several phases, first, in early April she would make these gasping sounds that really worried us at first. We still aren’t 100% sure if they were allergy related or what, but my thought is that it was just a new noise she discovered she could make. Second came the lip buzzing coupled with spit-bubble blowing. If you responded in like fashion she’d flash a huge grin. Now what’s happening are the war cries. Very loud and very funny. Deedles is definitely not going to let Keana run the whole verbal show. It is so amazing seeing these beginnings of verbal communication develop. In conjunction with this, we’ve also seen Maia really start to reach for things she wants, and of course put them in her mouth for further exploration. The girl loves to stand as well, and even though we still support her as she learns to stand, we can feel her lunge and actually take steps toward a desired object. She also loves to jump up and down and then look at you with this excited look-what-I-can-do grin. Maia is definitely on track to be another amazingly mobile and communicative member of Team Hokama.

So what are dem kids up to?

Maia is amazing. Everyone’s asking how big she is now and we don’t really know, but we think she’s about 13 lbs. She’s been holding her head up since the beginning, but she’s much stronger now at 9 weeks and swivels that head side-to-side to check out things around her. Her eyes are an amazing shade of blue and they dart around eagerly following movements and sounds, trying to see what’s going on. She smiles much more frequently and the early morning smiles, right when you wake up together are the best. Not only that, but she is one talkative little baby. I wish I had the skill to spell some of the squeals laughs, and screams out, but I guess that’s what video is for. Maia will have long periods where she talks and talks if you keep asking questions and agree with her. It’s so much fun and the most amazing thing to be there when a child finds their voice. We can’t wait to hear more, but she’s certainly telling us all about it now. We had been using Keana’s old swing and it broke down, so we bought the Cadillac of swings using some Target gift cards we had received (THANK YOU Target gift-card-givers out there). The swing goes side-to-side and back-and-forth which is really cool and comes with five or six “noise” settings. She prefers the nature noises and will stay napping in that swing on-and-off throughout the day. Maia likes it so much that I was actually worried it was bad that she was in it so much, but after talking to the pediatrician, I guess those fears are pretty unfounded. Not that I wanted it to be bad. Without that thing, Sarah would never have a moments rest during the day and Keana would be mad as hell fighting for attention.

Speaking of which…what’s up with Keana? Well, Keana is amazing. She continues to be super sweet with Maia, often getting excited whenever Maia wakes up from a nap. At the first sound of Maia’s cry she usually says, “Oh! I think Maia needs us! Let’s go help her!” Down the road, at times, Maia may not think this, but she is very lucky to have Keana for an older sister. Keana loves petting her head and both of them enjoy lying next to each other on the bed and Keana either tells her a story or sing her a song—very sweet. Her nickname for Maia has been “Mi-Mi-Mai-Mi” usually followed by a, “She’s so cutie-cutie-cuuuute,” and a head pet.

Keana is active as always. In the house she loves running around and jumping up and down (especially on the bed) and still finds time for some “downward dog” and somersaults. She loves dressing up and the latest has been dressing up like Cinderella or a princess, using some of Sarah’s old jewelry as a crown and one of Tia’s old dresses for her “fancy dress”. This girl’s imagination remains quite active and we love seeing where she takes it. All last week she was really into having a “lovely apple”. Taking the idea from Snow White, she’ll get an apple from the fruit bowl asking either Sarah or I to offer it to her. She says, “You can say ‘here, take one of my lovely apples!’”. That’s another thing, she like role playing. So she’ll tell us what to say or how she wants us to react to get it started, then we take it from there. An interesting part of this is that she likes to role play defiance. For instance she’ll say, “You can say ‘no, don’t do that!’” and of course she’ll do it anyway. Luckily this is only a game at this point and she’s very respectful of the rules we’ve set. She definitely pushes those boundaries, but she continues to be such a good kid.

There have been some issues around going to bed though. They started before Maia was born, then mellowed out, then picked back up when I went back to work. Basically she tries to avoid going to sleep by coming up with every possible excuse or problem known to man. First it’s usually “I’m thirsty” followed by “My feet hurt” or “My stomach hurts”. I’m terrible at this, often folding at every request (though I have gotten better). Sarah does an amazing job with it and has gotten it back on track for the most part. I take regular discipline classes at the School of Mama Sarah. So there were a couple nights of very angry yelling and screaming, but for the most part it’s fine.

Another interesting development has been Keana’s love of movies. We always swore the TV wouldn’t be a baby-sitter, but honestly, sometimes there’s really no other way. When we’re both home, it’s different cause one of us can play with Keana and the other can watch Maia, but when Sarah’s there alone with both of them, there has to be a compromise involving the TV. Her consumption is still quite low, especially compared to the national average I’m sure, and we’re keeping it in check. This last weekend Grandma Jennie brought all the old Disney video tapes so I think it’s great that we have variety, but we’re definitely going to have to watch this. It’s another one of those things that you have opinions and theories about before you become a parent, then form new opinions and theories when you’re actually faced with it.


So, we had a baby. It’s not news any more, but indeed on November 25, at 3:11 a.m., Maia Ilani Hokama was born. Actually, “Baby Girl” was born as we didn’t have a name chosen yet, but it was beautiful. I will be writing all about the details of the birth in her birth story, but here’s the two second version: at midnight we called Cindy the midwife, and shortly after she called her assist, I woke up Keana and Iana—who was in town to help out with Keana during The Event—and three hours later Maia was born. It all happened pretty quick and she came out, arms springing into the air, reaching out to her new world. I know, exciting huh? But I don’t have time to get into it now, so you’ll just have to wait for her “official” birth story. I will say that the love and support our family, friends, and co-workers have shown us is amazing and we are truly thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives.

Anyway, I just got an urge to sit down and write here because it’s been WAY too long. Keana has practically grown up. She forms her thoughts well in wonderful sentences and gains new ways to express herself in words and other actions every day. Growling has been a great one lately, often growling to show frustration but to also tease. This isn’t exactly new, but she’ll growl a word or a name as a type of joke which is hilarious. I’ll be sitting upstairs after her bedtime and will hear a growling, “pApAaaaa!” through the monitor. We’ve been decorating for Christmas and her new word is “breakaful”. Don’t be fooled though, this is one articulate two-year-and-nine-month-old! Her physical activity has grown too. She now goes down all the slides at the park by herself, even the tall twisty one. She also likes to climb things and has even ventured to the top of the arched monkey bars (with my assistance though). In stores Keana refuses to hold hands but follows closely behind, often galloping or dancing down the isles. Everywhere we go, especially at the local natural foods store, she is truly the star. Some of her latest phrases also include persuasion, like “C’mon, just do it!” or “Maybe we can buy one?” Yes, she has discovered how we attain all the wonderful material objects around us. You can’t get through a store with stuffed animals without at least one very sweet, tame plea for a cuddly, furry friend. My latest way around this is enlisting a “finding friend”, just while we’re at the store, to help us get what we actually need. Two days ago it was a panda that helped us find the Christmas tree skirt. I find that a short relationship, with a hug at the end, often makes for a satisfying way around buying her everything she wants (or a very sad departure). Yes folks, Keana is growing up fast and we love her more and more every day, if that’s even possible.

Now what about Maia? Well, she’s two weeks old (two weeks and nine months I guess). She actually sleeps in three, four, and five hour stretches allowing us to catch up on sleep or other daily tasks relatively easily. What I’ve been loving are those mid-sleep and waking sputters and honks that babies make. Not to mention those adorable little baby stretches. Her eyes are getting lighter and I think we may have another blue-eyed beauty in the house. She’s got that serious new baby expression with that not-quite-focusing-but-looking-at-something-intently gaze, with unbelievable smirks and smiles while sleeping. At first her eyes crossed pretty easily, but with gentle reminders from Sarah that her nose wasn’t going anywhere, those cross-eyed moments are fewer and fewer. Maia also has the longest eyelashes anyone’s ever seen on a baby (but then maybe people didn’t see her sister’s). She’s gaining weight like a champ and is starting to get some chubby cheeks, so I hope their prepared for all the kisses and squeezes that they’re in for.

Sarah is feeling better every day and has been healing at a record pace. Two weeks after the birth she’s starting to feel normal again and says if feels great. She did a phenomenal job giving birth and amazed all those around her. Those at the birth not only marveled at the alertness and vitality of Maia, but also the strength and grace of Sarah throughout the occasion. She continues to be a great mother and nothing makes me happier than to see her caught up in one one of those loving, motherly stares at Maia or Keana. We are so lucky to have her holding down the role of Mama in our house.

Last but not least, me. I’ve been amazed, happy, tired, excited, frustrated, totally stressed out, and popping with love. It’s been hard adjusting to our new life, but I think we’re doing really well. I already feel like our fridge and our garbage can reflect our new number of four.

Which brings me to the title “Quadripod”. It’s a term I started using just before Maia was born, inspired by the word “tripod”. As we all know, a tripod is a three-legged device that usual supports a camera, but all the legs come to one point and in so doing also support each other. This is kind of how I saw Sarah, Keana, and I before Maia was born. Not knowing what a four-legged device would be called I just started saying “quadripod” and funnily enough, no one even batted an eye when I used it in sentences. Example, “Yup, this new little one will make us a quadripod.” See? Sounds almost scientifically correct. Anyway, that’s what we are now and for you conventionalist, we can also stick with “family of four”, though that’s certainly less glamorous.

What else can I say? It’s been a wild ride so far, already complete with ups and downs, and I assume it will continue on in this fashion more or less, but I can already see we’re up for it and ready to roll.


Keana’s been doing funny things with names lately- she’s figured out our first names. The other day she said, “You’re Luke!” and her “Ls” aren’t quite right yet, so it was more like “Yuke”—it was hilarious. And yesterday she was pretending to talk on the phone with “Luke”—having a full conversation inserting my name frequently throughout. She still calls me Papa, but there’s something strange about hearing your first name come out of your kid’s mouth. It always makes me think of those “coming of age” movies where the rebellious teen calls their parents by their first names just to annoy them, and it’s always said with a sarcastic tone and some eye-rolling. Keana’s also been calling Sarah by her first name too—I think slightly before she got my name she realized her mama’s name was Sarah.

But the real kicker is she’s learned her last name! She and Sarah were playing downstairs last week and Keana was writing in one of Sarah’s old checkbooks and as she was writing she was saying, “H-o-kama” over and over. I have no idea how she learned that we write our last names out. Actually, I think it was at the campout because she and Grandma Jennie were writing “papa” and “mama” and “grandma” in different colors. Of course they were all scribbled circles, but I think the connection was made.

(A funny side note on the checkbook thing—as I was picking up some of Keana’s toys in her room, in her little cash register I found some checks Sarah had written. One was made out to Keana Hokama for $2000.00 and the other to Big Bird for $200.00. It made my day.)