Sunday Afternoon 7/16/2017

Oxtail soup and rice is the girls’ favorite breakfast at the Tip Top Cafe – so Hawaiian!

It’s been a busy, but quiet week here at Casa Aloha, if that makes sense. The girls’ schedules have kept us hopping, and as well we had to fit in our celebratory breakfast at the Tip Top, get to the farmers’ market, take care of dental appointments and all sorts of other little things. But, nothing was too crazy, we made it to the beach, everything got accomplished, so overall it was a good week and passed quickly.

YaYu has started on her first big college-related application: the Questbridge Scholarship. WenYu was a finalist two years ago, and it opened lots of doors for her, so we’re hoping lightening will strike twice with YaYu. The Questbridge app is fairly intense, so YaYu wanted to get as early a start as possible so that she makes sure everything gets done and gets done well. Applications are due September 27, college rankings are due on October 12, finalists are notified on October 19, extra documents for ranked colleges are due November 1, and match scholarships are awarded December 1. Earning a match scholarship guarantees four fully-funded years at one of the Questbridge partner colleges on your match list, but finalists also have the potential to receive very, very good financial aid packages at Questbridge partner schools if they are accepted at one of them. YaYu will also be applying at a few colleges that are not Questbridge partners, so she has to develop a second essay for the Common Application as well for Questbridge. Once again, both Brett and I will be so glad when this is all over – this whole college application process is very intense!

I did some more in-depth research for next year’s Big Mystery Adventure™ this past week, and discovered that pulling off what we had last settled on would actually cost quite a bit more than we thought – yikes! So Brett and I put our heads together and started tweaking, adjusting, or outright deleting some things and got ourselves back to where we need to be budget-wise. Thankfully we have time to do this. We agreed that we still need to work more on finding ways to cut costs, look for the best prices we can find, and step up our savings game in the meantime.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I started a new book this week, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond. It’s a sociological study of the economic exploitation of low-income and poor families in the United States over housing. The author also provides new ideas for solving a crisis that has become a devastating national problem (it’s a big problem right here on Kaua’i). The book won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, as well as many other awards.
  • Listening to: It’s been a lovely, breezy morning here – I hope it lasts! The winds through the trees sound lovely, and are keeping things cool (and the humidity level is lower than it has been for a while). The girls are chattering away and getting ready to head up to Hanalei on the north side for one of YaYu’s volunteer activities, and some time at the beach there. Brett and I will be stuck here doing the laundry 😦 – the washing machine is already going.
  • Watching: Brett and I finished Bordertown this past week, and started watching 11.22.63 (on Hulu), based on the book by Stephen King. We both think it’s great. We still have plenty to watch on PBS (Great British Baking Show, The Story of China, My Mother and Other Strangers, and Granchester), but some of those sadly end this week. I gave up on Top Chef – too much drama but love cooking shows so started watching Top Chef Masters, where already established chefs compete, and am enjoying it a bit more.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having one of our favorite egg dishes tonight: Chinese stir-fried tomatoes with scrambled eggs. It’s a very simple dish, but sooooo tasty. It’s of course hot today, so the girls will be doing the actually cooking after I do the prep. We’ll have rice and cucumbers with the eggs, and fruit (peaches or melon) for dessert. I baked a chocolate cake last week, and there’s some left, so no baking today.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: The weather this week on our side of the island was once again particularly hot and humid on a few days, so I feel very good that I got in my bike rides every day. Sometimes I wore a chilled, wet tenugui around my neck (like Japanese cooks or laborers sometimes do) in order to stay somewhat more comfortable and get my miles in. I did my language study every day, drank gallons of water every day, and made my Swagbucks first goal every day. The second goal they’ve given me so far this month has been ridiculously high – I don’t even try to make it.
  • Looking forward to this coming week: Brett and I will be doing our monthly Big Shop on Wednesday. We seem to be in a good spot right now as far as supplies on hand, and won’t need to buy as much as usual (famous last words). Other than making it to the beach once or twice, there’s really nothing else on the horizon this week. WenYu will start work tomorrow as a fill-in hostess at the restaurant, but most of the time she’ll still be the busser.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We were thrilled with the terrific discount on the suitcases we want for our travels next year – we saved over $162. Otherwise it’s been a very quiet, good, but busy week with everything happening as it should – nothing really stands out.
  • Grateful for: I’ve written this before, but again I’m feeling so thankful our girls get along so well. I love watching and listening to them spend time together, laugh together, and support each other, even if it’s just over the phone. Growing up, I had quite a competitive relationship with my sister (not of my choosing), so it’s a joy and a blessing to me that our girls’ have developed such close and supportive relationships.
  • Bonus question: What movies have made you cry? I can only think of two right now: Charlotte’s Web, which I watched with our son when he was seven or eight years old had us both sobbing at the end; and Terms of Endearment (with Shirley McClain, Jack Nicholson and Debra Winger). Two scenes bring on tears every time I watch: when a dying Debra Winger says good-bye to her oldest son saying, “well that went well, don’t you think?” and the scene when Shirley McClain realizes that her daughter has died while they were looking at each other – both of those bring on tears. I’m sure I’ve cried during other films, or at least choked up, but I don’t remember them as well as the two above. I don’t cry easily or get emotional, although there are a couple of exceptions: weddings – I always cry – and soldiers’ and sailors’ homecomings after a long deployment. I experienced the latter many times while Brett was in the navy, and it’s an intensely emotional event, so when I see military families reunited all those memories come flooding back, as well as the tears.

And that’s a wrap for this week at Casa Aloha! How was your week? What good things happened for you?




7 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon 7/16/2017

  1. Evicted is definitely one of the best books I’ve read all year. Serious topic, well written, reads like a novel. Very educational to me…so much I didn’t understand or know.

    I so understand why you’re glad your girls get along. Although I have four brothers, I only had one sister and she died at a fairly young age (33) of a brain tumor. It was just awful and I still miss her, especially when I see friends with close sisters as we age.

    Many movies make me tear up, but the ones that really make me cry (like, sob uncontrollably for a while) really stick in my head. So far I remember doing that at Out of Africa, The Killing Fields, and Sophie’s Choice. Oh, and The Sixth Sense…I think because I saw it so soon after my sister died and didn’t realize the Bruce Willis character was dead. So that twist just sent me over the edge. I’ve never watched any of these movies again, because they were just so devastating at the time.


    1. I am learning a lot from Evicted as well, and it is well-written and easy to understand and follow. This is another part of what it’s like being poor in this country that far too many people don’t understand, and why it is so difficult to get out of being poor.

      I didn’t cry at the end of Sophie’s Choice or Out of Africa because I had read the books first and knew what was going to happen, and could prepare myself. My throat did tighten though at the end of Out of Africa, and if I’d been with someone who did cry I probably would have too, whether I’d read the book or not. That’s what happened with Charlotte’s Web – I was choked up, but when my son started to sob, so did I. And boy, did we cry!


  2. There is an older book called Nickel and Dimed (On (not) getting by in america) by Barbara Ehrenreich. If you haven’t already read it, it is a very good book.

    My father and I both cry at movies, too many to mention but I have never seen my mother cry.


    1. I read Nickel and Dimed when it came out – I remember that part of the book was set in Key West. We lived there for two years (Brett was stationed at NAS Key West), and I worked with many people who struggled like those highlighted in the book, and worked two and three jobs just to get by. That’s what’s happening here on Kaua’i. It’s the same resort economy, with lots of hospitality jobs that don’t pay very well, housing is limited and expensive, food is expensive, etc. But people still want to complain that if only the working poor worked harder, they’d be able to climb out of poverty.


    1. Yes!! When I couldn’t get the book earlier, we watched the movie so knew what was happening (the movie, on Netflix, was VERY good) but I still loved every minute of the book. Such a good story about a good man, and the power of human decency.


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