Happy 9th Birthday, Aaron

I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Aaron.

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Happy 9th birthday, Aaron!

Um, hold on…you’re halfway to 18. I need to pause and take a breath, because that fact is blowing my mind. It wasn’t very long ago when you were born and made me a mommy. And now you’re halfway to 18.

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You wanted to celebrate your birthday with pizza, mint ice cream, and a trip to the beach. So that’s what we did.

This year you conquered the 3rd grade. You really love math, to the point of asking us if you can learn more advanced algebra. That love and skill with math comes solely from your dad, by the way. You’re transitioning to a different school next year, and though that means starting over in a new learning environment, you seem up for the challenge.

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Your favorite things to do include playing soccer, running in the waves at the beach, reading Minecraft books, folding origami, and watching Survivor. For a long time you didn’t seem interested in learning how to ride a bike. Then one day this year, you suddenly got motivated, and just started zooming down the street with no help at all. Another new thing this year was getting a family dog. Every day you wake up and feed the dog, and each night you give him a big hug before going to bed.

You make me laugh all the time with your clever insights and wordplay. Here’s my favorite joke of yours:

Q: What’s the difference between a coyote and a flea?
A: One howls on the prairie. The other prowls on the hairy.

You are becoming resourceful and independent. You can now do your own laundry (hooray!), make your own eggs for breakfast, and once made dessert for our family.

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There are so many reasons to celebrate you, Aaron. You are kind and curious. You are content and go with the flow. You’re patient and gracious with me as I learn this whole parenting thing. You are a joy to have as a son.

I love you and am grateful for you.

Love, Mom

Happy 3rd Birthday, Aria

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I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Aria.

Dear Aria,

Happy 3rd birthday!

We celebrated your birthday during a weekend camping retreat with our church community, with your requested dessert, cake and berries. Now, in your parlance, “I FREE! I not a baby, I a toddlah.” You have said that to friends, family, and strangers in the grocery store.

It seems like everywhere you go, you find magical moments that delight you. You are our unicorn child, spreading infectious joy around you. You hear songs, and exclaim, “Oh, I LOVE this song!” even though you haven’t heard it before. You meet a new person, and immediately call them your friend. You tell knock-knock jokes that don’t make any sense at all, yet still manage to make people burst out laughing.

You have so many things that you love. Puzzles, picking out books at the library, playing at the park, getting chased by our dog, splashing in the waves at the beach, and dancing to Michael Jackson songs.

Sometimes you run too fast and fall right onto your face. But what’s childhood without a few bloody noses and scraped knees? Keep running. I love your wild, free spirit.

My favorite thing to do with you is to give you tight squeezy hugs, kiss your chubby toddlah cheeks, and soak in the moment that I already know I’ll miss when it’s gone.

There is a special place in my heart for you, my daughter.

I love you a whole lot.

Mommy

 

Be Prepared With An Emergency Supplies Kit – What and How to Pack

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A few weeks ago, residents in Hawaii were alerted to a ballistic missile threat, and ordered to seek immediate shelter. Fortunately, it ended up being a false alarm. Whoops! Just kidding! Hooray!

Emerging from this experienced caused me to confront the reality that our family needed to be better prepared for emergencies. Even if a ballistic missile never comes our way, we still live in a place where hurricanes and tsunami warnings are an annual seasonal occurrence. Based on those possible emergencies, I decided we needed to prepare to survive on our own with no electricity and running water for two weeks.

I made sure our house is stocked with water, food, and other supplies that will last us for at least 14 days. At one gallon of water per person per day, that is a lot of water! Thankfully we have a garage where we can store most of that stuff.

In terms of food, we have a variety of non-perishable food, including:

  • Canned goods
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola bars
  • Freeze dried meals – This stuff has a really long shelf life (20-30 years), is very portable, and just needs water to make a meal. We have meals from Mountain House and Augason Farms. I researched options for a while, and decided on these brands that were highly recommended.

Additionally, I put together two emergency kits – one large bin to keep in the garage, and one backpack to keep in our van.

I happened to post a photo of our emergency bin on Instagram and Facebook, and received a bunch of requests from friends to share my emergency supplies lists. Apparently I wasn’t the only one feeling underprepared for emergencies. So I decided to put together a post on how to pack an emergency kit of basic disaster supplies. This was a large task that took me hours of research and planning – but I’m sharing it with you so you can be prepared as well.

My list fits the needs of our family of five plus a dog living in Hawaii. You will need to consider your unique needs, and adjust your emergency supplies accordingly. Think about your family’s needs, and also the most likely emergency scenarios in your geographic area.

We had lots of these items stored in random places in our garage or drawers, but had to buy a few things. Now everything is in one easy-to-find place.

This list includes what I packed in the bin for home, what I packed in the grab-and-go backpack, and what other essential things to grab in an emergency, such as our wallets and cell phones.

Emergency Supplies Kit

Print this list

Store supplies in a plastic bin that is easy to carry, and won’t get water damaged, like these Sterlite bins. For a grab-and-go bag, use a sturdy backpack or duffle bag. Print out your inventory list, and keep a copy in your bin so you know what you packed, and date it with the date of when it was put together. Maintain your bin by replacing expired items as needed, such as food, medicine, and batteries. Assess your supplies once a year, and update your kit depending on your changing needs.

What’s in the bin:

What’s in the grab-and-go bag:

  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Cash in small denominations
  • Radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Multitool
  • Important documents in waterproof folder – identification, birth certificates, etc.
  • Food
  • Water
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sanitary wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Duct tape
  • Poncho
  • Carabiner clips
  • Mylar thermal blanket
  • Matches
  • Bungee cords and rope
  • Tarp
  • Travel towel
  • Pencil, pen, and notebook

Additional supplies to grab in emergency:

  • Wallets
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Keys for house and cars
  • Folder of important documents
  • Non-perishable food and water (in garage and storage closet)
  • Sleeping bag or blanket for each person
  • Prescription medication
  • Extra clothes and shoes
  • Pet food and dishes for dog
  • Grab-and-go bag (in car)
  • Camping stove, propane, and pot
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Wrench to turn off utilities

For more resources on emergency preparedness, visit ready.gov.

Let me know what else you’d add to your list!