Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Try It, You’ll Like It

Having worked in Waikiki for many years and having gone to many luaus, the one food we tell every tourist to try is poi.  For those of you not familiar with poi, it’s the mashed up root of the taro plant.  It kind of has the consistency of wallpaper paste, and some will even tell you that it tastes like it too.

Personally, I like poi, but I don’t love it.  I’m the guy that sneaks in a little sugar when my wife isn’t looking just to make it a little more palatable.  But it is nutritious and hearty and many island moms feed it to their infants because it is easy to swallow and it is readily available.

A few weeks ago, we were at a graduation party and they were serving up Hawaiian food.  We took the opportunity to introduce Sunny to her very first sampling of poi.  How did she like it?  See for yourself.


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Tastes Like Chicken

You always think that chickens are such mild-mannered, docile birds, but left to their own devices, they are cold-blooded killers.  Yesterday, I came outside to see my sweet, peace-loving chickens tearing apart a small bird they killed.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a short video as proof.

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Even though I have lived in Hawaiʻi my whole life, like so many locals, there are many things that are published in the tourist books that I have never done. I have never been to Mānoa Falls, I hiked Diamond Head only once in my life in elementary school and I didn’t visit the Arizona Memorial until college.

Last night, I crossed off Friday night fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village off my list.

Keao and I had a rare Friday night off so we headed to Waikīkī with the girls to see the festivities.

When we got there two things surprised me. One, it was really crowded with both locals and tourists and two, we were really close to the fireworks.

For the price (free), it was a great show. I read online that some people thought it was too short but really for a free show what do you expect? Truthfully I didn’t think it was short at all but then again Slugger got scared by the big booms so I know it was definitely long enough for her.

20130713-123938.jpgAround the lagoon waiting for the show to start

20130713-123958.jpgSlugger would not stand still for a picture

A 20 second sampling of the fireworks

All in all, it was a very nice evening. There was plenty of seating at the lagoon and except for the two dollars I paid for parking, the price was great! It was a perfect way to spend a Friday evening.

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Happy New Year! Whew, I can’t believe how quickly 2011 passed. It seems like it went by in such a hurry. Well, here we are in 2012 and I know I missed a whole bunch of blogging in 2011 so here’s a quick year in review.

2011 was a year of many firsts for us. We got to see many new things and experience many new experiences individually and as a family. Here are a few of my favorites.

One of the big changes had to do with a change in the way I think about what I eat. In addition to trying to eat healthier (which i often fail at) I also started trying to grow my own food. Here is my attempt at doing aquaponics and growing some lettuce, eggplant and tomatoes. I have since gone on to grow broccoli, green onions and kale and I’m thinking about expanding to more systems in 2012.


A few weeks into growing


Manoa lettuce

For the first time since my wedding in 2007, the Hasselhoffs reunited and played a few gigs. Two to be exact. That may not sound like a lot, but it was more than we played for the last four years!


We’re getting the band back together (not pictured is our drummer, Clinton)

Slugger also got to celebrate her first Easter! We had her all dressed up nicely for church but by the time we took an Easter picture, we had already changed her into something more comfortable.


Happy Easter!

Then in May I revisited the Lone Star State again for a short conference. The trip wasn’t too memorable, but I did get to visit the new Cowboy Stadium. That sucker is impressively massive!


Sitting in the owners box


On the famous star at midfield

After I got back we got to go to the Big Island! We were very excited because it was Slugger’s first time on an airplane and the first time she would be able to meet her Aunty Genesis and Uncle Jordan, Keao’s sister and brother. It was also her first time meeting her cousin who was born just three weeks before her.


Slugger was absolutely glued to the window


Aunty Genesis meets Slugger for the very first time at the rodeo


The cousins weren’t too interested in each other at first


Uncle Jordan and Slugger


Zylin and Aunty Keao


Keao also tried stand-up paddling for the first time too

Rather than make this a super long post, I’ll stop here at six months and bring you up to speed with some highlights from the second half of the new year later. Stay tuned part 2 of 2011 coming at you soon!

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Life Before Facebook

The other day, I was cleaning out one of my dresser drawers at home and I came across an old pile of postcards. I know, I know, in this day of Facebook, Twitter, text messages and instant communication, postcards are an archaic form of communication.

Before I got hired on staff at Hope Chapel, I helped in the youth ministry for ten years. One of my favorite “traditions” I had with the youth was sending postcards. Anytime I went off island I would try to send my MiniChurch a postcard from wherever I was and in return many of them would send them back to me. I don’t know about you, but anytime I get a piece of handwritten mail, whether it be a postcard, thank you card or even an invitation it makes me smile. Ever since I became an adult, it seems like 90% of my mail are either bills or credit card solicitations.

But seeing those postcards again made me realize how many places our youth visited and also fun postcards are. Here are a few of my favorites from both near and far.


The road to Hana at Keanae, Maui

I love this one because even though it’s just on Maui, it showed that a postcard was still worth sending.


Paramount’s Great America in Santa Clara, California


Las Vegas, Nevada

I know these aren’t very exotic, but you have to admit that many islanders go there quite frequently.


Sent from Ketchikan, Alaska, just a reminder to stop peeing like pup


A nice shot of the Rockies sent from Denver, Colorado

Still not totally unusual but now we’re getting a little further off the beaten trail.


Possibly the only state with more state pride than Hawaii from Houston, Texas


Not a state but a district, Washington DC


One of my favorite places on earth, the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida


This looks like Scotland, but it’s really Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Now we’re getting a little further east and I’ve received postcards from Texas, DC, Florida and Pennsylvania. But enough of the domestic stuff. Here are a few international ones.


Of course this is Japan and the famous Osaka Castle in Osaka, Japan


This one, from Edinburgh, Scotland, is probably my favorite because of its unusual shape

Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Now that I have a daughter, I think I’m going to start sending her postcards whenever I leave the island so she’ll have a little collection of where I’ve been when she gets old enough to read. However, you can participate too. If you’re going on a trip, I’d love to receive a postcard from you and if you give me your address, I will make sure you get one from me. You can send your address or request mine by emailing me at beiberfever808@gmail.com.

I hope to hear from you and see where you’ve been soon!

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Isn’t it funny how time seems to speed up the older you get? When I was younger, the days just seemed to creep by ever so slowly. I was born on the 25th day of the month and when my birth month arrived it seemed to take forever to finally hit the 25th. Or when you know you’re going to someplace special, like Disneyland, for spring break didn’t it seem like spring break would never arrive?

But now that I’m in the fourth decade of life, the days seem to fly by. How did we get to March already? I meant to do an update blog on Slugger since she did turn six months old in January, but as the days flew by, she’s now more like seven and a half months old and I’m still holding on to this video that I shot when she turned six months.

Sooo, that means I’m about six weeks late. But the video is so cute how could I not share it with you. I mean, it’s not her fault that I’m bad at posting these things. You can’t penalize her for that.

Sometime in late January, Slugger hit the six month mark. For those of you keeping score at home, she arrived around three months prematurely so her adjusted age is right around three months even though she’s six months old. Got that?

By the way, Keao has a much more current blog with Slugger’s progress. You can check that out here. But without further ado, here’s the video (plus some narration from me).

And of course, for your viewing pleasure, here are some post-six-month pictures.


Slugger with Pastor Fumi from Crossroads in Nishinomiya, Japan


She’s such a big girl, she can almost sit up in a shopping cart


Almost. That’s my mom’s hand catching her because I was taking a picture


This is Slugger’s car seat test that was taken in October, 2010


This is her in February, 2011. She’s slightly bigger

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Please click on the newsletter to view a larger (and I’m sure more readable version of the newsletter). You may have to click it again once the new window opens.


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Casey’s Three Month Update

Happy three months Casey! Can you believe that three months ago Keao and I became parents? Looking back, July 28 seems like years ago. Through our daughters’ premature birth, to the 81 days in the NICU and the many nights spent there, to the past 10 days of having Casey home, the last three months have been a whirlwind of emotion both extreme highs and extreme lows.

But today, we celebrate. Today, Casey is three months old. Even though Casey is three months old, she’s actually still around a week away from her due date. It makes it a little complicated when explaining her actual age versus her adjusted age, but it doesn’t really matter because today Casey is at home and she is gaining weight and is healthy.

Casey weighed a mere 2 pounds, 4 ounces at birth and she couldn’t breathe on her own or even eat on her own. Today, she weighs a whopping 7 pounds, 5 ounces and is breathing and eating completely on her own! That’s over three times her birth weight! When we brought Casey home she weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces. So talk about weight gain, she gained over a pound in the past 10 days! Hooray Casey! Keep growing!

Life at home has been an adjustment. Casey needs to eat every 3-4 hours (whether she wants to or not) and so we need to feed her every 3-4 hours. Luckily Keao is such a trooper. She can get by on way less sleep than me. Also, we’re just getting used to her. Her sounds, schedule and smell (don’t worry we make sure we bathe her at least once every other day). She no longer has nurses around 24 hours a day (although we do have quite a few of them on our speed dial) so we are totally left to fend for ourselves.


Casey gobbling up one of her eight daily meals


Caution: slippery when wet


Despite that cute smile, I don’t think she’s very fond of her baths

The other big adjustment we’ve made is our visiting policy (or our non-visiting policy). You see, Casey is not your normal full-term baby. She’s a micro-preemie that came out of the womb way too early. We’ve asked her immature lungs to breathe oxygen when they weren’t meant to breathe oxygen yet. So in addition to her undeveloped immune system she also has immature lungs which means that any cold or flu she catches would be magnified in comparison to you, me or even a full-term baby.

As we head into the flu season one of the biggest threats to Casey is called RSV (or respiratory syncytial virus). It’s kind of like a cold but much more severe. In some extreme cases the mucus is so thick that babies can’t breathe and they have to perform a tracheotomy to open up a path for the air. The scary thing is that most people carry it around and they don’t even know it (especially if they’re around children). Either their immune system takes care of it or they get minor symptoms. For Casey it could be very serious (it’s the number one cause of babies in the hospital under the age of one) and something we want to avoid.  My wife wrote a more detailed blog that’s definitely worth reading.  You can read it here.

So because of that we’ve instituted a strict hand washing policy. We have hand sanitizers set up all around the house as well as anti-bacterial soap set up at all of our sinks. Oh and another thing, we’re not really letting people come over to visit. I know there are many people excited to meet Casey, but we’re just not willing to take a chance. We’re not even taking her to church until at least 2011 (too many people will want to touch or kiss her). Not to say that we don’t love you or want you to meet Casey, we do, it will just have to be after the flu season ends and she gets a little older.


Hand sanitizer on the piano…


By the front door…


And anti-bacterial soap at the kitchen sink

So please don’t be offended if we ask you to not come over. It’s not you, it’s the possible germs you may be carrying (I even change clothes or take a shower if I’ve been out all day before I touch Casey). But if you remember, please continue to pray for Casey and pray that she continues to grow and that she doesn’t catch RSV or any other cold or virus going around. In the meantime, Keao and I will try to continue to post updates so you can follow along.

Thank you for understanding!

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She’s Home!

In 1955, a Midwestern movie maker opened a small amusement park among the orange groves of sunny Southern California. In 2005, Disneyland Resort celebrated its 50th anniversary by having what they called “the happiest homecoming on Earth”. Not to try to outdo Uncle Walt, this past Sunday, we celebrated our own happiest homecoming on Earth.

I know I said I was going to try to highlight some of the people that we met during our 81 days at the Kaiser NICU and hopefully one day I’ll be able to finish, but since Casey’s homecoming is such a monumental event I thought I’d skip ahead and share about this instead.

Saying goodbye to Kaiser definitely qualifies as bittersweet. For one, we’ve befriended so many of the staff and other parents what would it be like out there on our own? No could no longer rely on nurses to be with Casey 24 hours a day and make sure she’s eating and pooping correctly. Also taking her home meant that we would have to be available 24 hours a day and the good Lord knows that I do not do well when I don’t get enough sleep.

But we knew this day would come at some point so we charged ahead and picked up our little girl. The discharge process wasn’t exactly what we expected. There was very little pomp and circumstance considering we had been there for so long. It was almost like we were leaving every other day except this time we were just taking Casey home with us.

Rather than try to tell you about it, I put together this short video. Here, take a look and we’ll talk afterward.

When we got home Stanton (and our neighbor Tracy Bean) surprised us with balloons and signs on our fence. Quite a festive experience. Because Casey’s immune system isn’t developed we aren’t allowed to have visitor until next year. Of course we made an exception for my brother and my parents since they’re family. But other than that, everyone who comes by just waits outside and we hold up Casey Lion King style from 30 feet away.

Stanton was all smiles when we came home and he took some great pictures for us (he even brought us dinner the next evening). My parents also came over a little late to help us get settled in. Where would we be without parents? It was particularly reassuring having my mom there as she did raise three pretty decent kids. She proved to be a great help getting us settled in and helping us wherever she could. In fact throughout the past three months, she was the rock that I leaned on and the shoulder that I cried on. Pat, on the other hand, fell asleep on the couch 🙂 I guess he was so excited that his granddaughter came home that he completely exhausted himself.

But, *sigh* now she’s home (and not leaving for the next 18 years except to go to school and maybe the doctor). Our Kaiser NICU journey is finally over and new adventures await. Thanks everyone for supporting us and praying for us! We couldn’t have done it without you.

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It Takes a Village…

“Oh who are the people in your neighborhood?
The people that you meet each day.”

Today Casey turns 60. 60 days that is. Two of the most roller coasterish months of my life. Keao and I have seen the mountaintop highs, the valley lows and seemingly everything in between. I’m not going to try to rehash the last two months because it would probably be too emotional, but I will say that we’re still chugging along and trying to keep afloat. Thank you all for coming along this journey with us. We would not be where we are today if not for you.

I’ve decided that since Keao seems to have the larger more loyal fan base and I have maybe four regular readers (and you know who you are) I would let Keao handle the play-by-play and I would do the color commentary. So keep a lookout for her blogs on Sundays and Wednesdays. Mine will continue to be sporadic. By the way, if you don’t know where her blog is you can find it here.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. One couple cannot do everything themselves. The first time I really heard this phrase being used was right after Mikey and Liz gave birth to their first child Haley. I thought they said it just so that they could make their friends babysit and change stinky diapers (which they did liberally). Of course, we love them and had no problems being a part of their village (in fact it provided excellent practice for Casey and Haley and Lexie are two of the coolest little girls around). But after spending 60 days with Casey in the NICU I have truly come to understand the meaning of the phrase.

Right after Allison passed away, the Kaiser staff moved us into a different room. It turned out to be a great idea as we would not have been able to manage visits to her old room. As we entered the new room we were a little hesitant and nervous (not to mention emotional) but one of the nurses came and gave us a hug. We thanked her for her kindness and she turned, smiled and said, “don’t worry, you’re family.” Indeed after two months of being with the NICU staff, they are indeed family. Other than work or sleep, we spend more time there than anywhere else. So it would make sense that we have become quite close with the staff.

Over the next month or so I’ll try to highlight some of the wonderful people we have met in the NICU. Not everyone wants to be in a blog so I will definitely respect their privacy (that’s my little clause in case you don’t get mentioned) but for those that don’t mind, watch out, you’re about to be introduced to my four regular readers.

Keao chastised me for saying that Mariko may be our number one nurse. Let me clarify that I did not say she was our number one nurse but simply that some may say she’s our favorite. Who is that “some”? Dunno. But it’s out there. The truth is we’re quite fond of all of our nurses. Like I said earlier, they’re family.

So today’s feature spotlight falls on the very popular Aunty Arlene!

I know I’m not the first to feature Arlene in a blog and that is just a testament to how incredible she is. She is one of the most gentle and kindest people I have ever met (and not to brag, but I have met quite a few people in my day). While her communication skills with us are wonderful she really excels with Casey.


You know she loves her job because that smile is ever present.

One night I ended up talking to this one nurse, who we won’t name, but whose name is remarkably similar to Arlene, and I mentioned that she never takes care of Casey anymore. She responded by telling me that it’s most likely because Arlene was working that night. She went on to say that Arlene is “great with preemies.” Comforting I thought, but shouldn’t all the nurses be great with preemies? Correcting herself, this unnamed nurse replied, “Micro-preemies. Arlene is exceptional with micro-preemies.”


Here she is placing Casey ever so gently on my thick, muscular chest

One of the wonderful traits of Arlene is her thoughtfulness. We normally call ahead to let the staff know when we’re coming in so if there’s anything special we need to do or know about we can be prepared. Little did I know that sometimes when we call ahead they prepare for us as well. It is not uncommon to come in and see the room set up like this:


One chair for me, one chair for Keao

This set up may not look like a lot, but it really is. One chair is there for the parent that is carrying Casey (complete with a pillow for under your bum) and the other is set up with a little table to do some work or write thank you cards. Who else but Arlene would set up the room like this for us? Seriously, who else? She’s the only one that does it. In the biz, I would imagine it’s that kind of preparedness that gives Arlene such an edge on the competition.

Another night I mentioned that I had a hard time dressing Casey (in my defense, it was my first time and she’s extremely small and squirrelly). Next time we come in what do we find?


Not Casey

Arlene had brought in a doll so I could practice my dressing technique. Since I had never been a girl and had never played with dolls, I had never learned to dress them (good thing GI Joes and He-Man’s clothes weren’t removable). Not content to leave me to learn and struggle Arlene gave me a crash course. She demonstrated and then made me practice. And practice. And practice until I got it right. Now I can dress Casey in a flash. Thanks Coach Arlene!

Lastly, with Arlene, you never know what kind of little surprises will show up every now and then (when I say lastly, I mean lastly in this post. Arlene has many other outstanding features, like her trademark braid, but I’d be writing for a few more hours if I tried to list them all). We first noticed a name tag. When we asked to made it and stuck it on Casey’s isolette everyone guessed it was Arlene (turns out they were right). Then we saw one month old card. Followed by some beautiful pictures. Nothing breaks up the monotony of coming to the hospital every day like find little treasures every now and then (Arlene, if you’re reading this, we’re not trying to pressure you into making us more cards, you’ve done so much already).


Here’s a little sampling of what Casey has received (took it with my phone so the picture doesn’t do it justice)

But I really believe that working in the NICU is a calling. It’s not for everyone. Dealing with preemies, parents, other staff. I’m sure that it can be a brute. Luckily for us we found a nurse who I believe is definitely walking in her calling and by doing so manages to bless us and everyone else as well.

Thank you Aunty Arlene! We are so thankful that you are taking care of Casey and in our lives!

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