Books, Kids, parenting, toddlers

Usborne Books, a Launch Party, and a Giveaway for FREE Books!

Today I’m launching  my consultant website at Usborne Books!  How exciting!!!

Usborne Books are great for all ages, all interests and reading levels, homeschool studies, independent or family reading, gifts and more! There’s something for everyone, and you can do a search according to age and/or subject matter.  I love the quality of these books.  They feature bright, beautiful illustrations and colors, offer important childhood lessons and educational insights and they are made to last.

Here are a few of the titles that were in my consultant kit!

The closing of Borders Bookstore in Central Maui brought a lot of disappointment to many people, including myself.  At the time, my son was just about 20 months old and at the age where he could begin recognizing and pointing out and calling out different objects on pages of a board book.  The closing of Borders left a void in our community.  Where would we find books for our children and for ourselves?

Wal-Mart currently has a selection of books, but not a great variety of fiction and non-fiction titles.  There’s a toy store named “Ollie Pop” at our mall that carries a GREAT selection of picture books, phonics readers, and non-fiction titles, offering a lot more than Wal-Mart. Ollie Pop however doesn’t have very many titles.  Downloading books on to my iPad was an option…but the iPad can be a little too distracting for my son.  Many of you know what I mean.  With all that said, I looked online for children’s books and came across Usborne Books and More.

I recently received my set of Usborne books over the weekend and read them with Trey.  He enjoys reading the story Take Turns, Max and Millie and a “touchy feely” book entitled That’s Not My Monkey…

Herman and Trey reading, “That’s Not My Monkey…”

Usborne also offers books for the littlest readers…even for my Lauren!  It’s never too early to get children to read!

Usborne Books has over  2000 titles covering a wide variety of subjects.  They offer activity books on drawing, cute wind up toy books for toddlers, flash cards, sticker books, phonics readers, fiction series for boys and girls, internet-linked science and history encyclopedias, and more.  Usborne also offers a storybook app that you can download on to your iPad! Just be sure to keep the little ones focused on reading!

If you would like to learn more about Usborne and the books that we offer, please visit my website or email me about my book launch happenning this Saturday (June 23, 2012).  Interested in earning some free books?  Contact me for more information!

To celebrate my first book event with Usborne, I’m offering a giveaway!  Here’s your chance to win up to $30 worth of free Usborne books.

First you’ll need to check out my Usborne Books & More website and find titles that interest you.  I’d like to know what you’re interested in!

There are 5 different ways to enter…5 chances to win!
1.  Leave a blog comment below and indicate the title(s) that you’re interested in.

2. Tweet the giveaway!  Copy this:
Check out the  @MauiGirl808 Usborne Books Giveaway!  #giveaway #childrensbooks #books
Then make sure to add an additional comment to this post with your Twitter ID

3.  Facebook the giveaway. Copy this:
Check out the Usborne Books Giveaway!  #giveaway #childrensbooks #books
Then make sure to add an additional comment to this post with your Facebook ID

4.  Attend my launch party.

5.  Sign up to host a book party either online or at your home.

Keep entering until the announcement! The winner will be announced on Monday, June 25, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)

Good Luck and Keep on Reading!!!

Kids, parenting, toddlers

Pre Preschool and a 10-Week Update!

It’s been just about one month since my last blog.  The time just flew by so quickly!

Pre Preschool

During my last month of maternity leave, Herman and I decided to enroll Trey in a preschool program for 2-year olds.  We wanted Trey to socialize with other children, develop his language skills, and be exposed to art activities, music, and reading. The center offered a half-day session, so we thought that it would be a good way to ease Trey into eventually transitioning to a full day of school.

Herman and I had never sent Trey to a sitter or daycare, so we were a bit concerned that he would cry all day and not enjoy any of the learning activities that the center provided.  That wasn’t the case at all.

Trey at the year end celebration.

Herman and I accompanied Trey to school on his first day.  We got his Crocs off his feet, put his bags in his cubby hole, and once he saw the other kids playing with the toys, he immediately followed suit and joined in on the fun.  He was so focused on playing with the other kids that we didn’t get a chance to wish him a good day!  It’s not that we didn’t want to say “bye”, we knew that prolonging our goodbyes would confuse him and make him a little apprehensive about staying in school.  Today, we make it a part of our morning routine to talk about how much fun school is, wish each other a good day, and give him his hugs before we get to the doors of the center.  After entering the door, he gets his shoes off, puts his lunch and water bottle away, and heads off to the different toy centers.

Trey loves to sing. Here he is singing, “Slippery Fish” with his friends.

Although Trey has only been in school for a month, Herman and I noticed him using his words a little more, showing politeness, identifying shapes (square, triangle, diamond, star, oval, and circle – yes he now knows the difference between a circle and an oval) and colors, and demonstrating a little more confidence and independence.

Herman and I are really happy with the teachers and the teachers’ aides at his preschool.  They’re very nurturing, sweet, patient, and encouraging.  They have well planned activities and also offer diaper changing for kids who aren’t quite potty trained.  The center is also close to work, and is bright, colorful, and spacious.  There’s even an area for large motor activities, which includes a “rock” climbing wall!  How fun is that!?!?

We’re looking forward to having the regular school year start up again and are excited for the learning opportunities ahead.

Trey gets his certificate and a lei at the year end celebration.

10-Week Update

Who’s this little girl?

It’s Little Miss Lauren!

Lauren is currently 10 weeks old, and at her 2-month checkup, Dr. H. described her growth as “exploding”!  She’s now 22.5 inches long, weighs about 12 pounds, and has a head circumference of 15.5 inches.  Big Girl!

Lauren’s also hitting quite a few milestones which include smiling, cooing and mimicking certain sounds and faces that we make at her, batting at toys and grasping at them, sleeping for longer periods at night, and lifting her head during tummy time.  We’ve noticed that she also likes sitting up in our arms, and oh yeah, she really loves her daddy and is showing a preference for him!  Whenever Herman  talks to Lauren, she coos a lot, smiles, bats her eyelids, and even giggles! She’s developing a personality. =)

People often ask how Trey’s doing as a big brother, and I think he’s great.  He acknowledges his sister when we meet up with people, helps me when I’m diapering her, and also tries to comfort her when she cries.  At times, I’ll hear him say, “Don’t cry baby sister.  It’s ok.”  He loves to pet her head and give her kisses.


I recently returned back to work full-time, and we’re all doing well with the transition.  Herman and I are really lucky that my parents are able to babysit.  Mornings are a bit hectic in our house, but I think we’ve developed a good routine that enables us to get out of the house in time…sometimes…=)

While I loved being at home with the kids, I did miss being at work and with my coworkers.  I love my office and it’s great being back there.

So tomorrow is Father’s Day!  Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there, and most especially to my dad Fred, and my husband Herman. Love to you all!

Herman with the kids. Happy Father’s Day, Love!

parenting, toddlers

Meet the newest addition to our family!

She’s finally here!  Meet the newest addition to our family, Lauren!

Lauren with her minky blanket.

Lauren arrived a day before my scheduled C-Section.  Trey woke me up in the middle of the night for something to drink, and when I got up, my water broke.  Yikes!  I alerted my hubby, got changed out of my PJs, got my hospital bag together (which included the blanket, onesies, and the boppy pillow and cover I made for the baby), and called my parents to let them know that we were bringing Trey over to their house.

Things moved pretty quickly after  I checked into the hospital.  I was hooked up to a fetal monitor, consulted with the OB and the anesthesiologist on call, and got prepped for surgery.  This C-Section experience was completely different from the one I had with my son.  I wasn’t as nervous, and I made the best of it by talking with the nurses and with the anesthesiologist who was close by, monitoring my vital signs.  Talking with the staff and letting them know how you’re feeling helps them understand your needs.  I was cold (the OR was about 65 Degrees!), and they put a bair hugger on me to keep me warm.  I started to feel itchy (from all the narcotics), and the anesthesiologist was able to give me something for it after the procedure.  We also talked about things I had been doing to prep for the baby, and before you knew it, we were talking about sewing and quilting and future quilt shows at the arts and cultural center, and at the county fair.  How fun was that!!!

After some time, my daughter’s pediatrician came in, followed by my husband.  The procedure progressed quickly, and before we knew it, the doctor brought Lauren over the partition for hubby and me to see.

Hospital volunteers crochet baby beanies for all newborns.

I must say, the OB staff at Maui Memorial Medical Center, the OB (Dr. McCartin) and anesthesiologist (Dr. Yeskett) on call were all excellent.   They were all so patient and kind.  They answered all of my questions and were always available if I needed something.  There’s also a new program where the hospital offers a special dinner (steak or chicken) for the mommies and their partners when the mommies are ready for regular food.  I was lucky to be one of the first recipients of this new dinner.  I think it adds a nice touch to the stay at the hospital, and I hope that they’re able to keep this special program going.

Dinner comes along with a table cloth and a cute lantern!

Herman had the steak and I had chicken.

The picture doesn’t do much justice to the meal, but believe me, it was great!  Dessert included tiramisu and red velvet cupcakes!

I must also add something about Lauren’s pediatrician, Dr. Hirayama who was also wonderful. I am however, a little biased since I’ve known him from when I was a little girl.  He also lived next door to my family’s home and would make house calls whenever my brother or I got sick.  He’s always been great and caring.  In fact, all of the pediatricians at Maui Medical Group are terrific!

My stay at the hospital was pretty short, just two nights.  I felt better on my second day at the hospital and felt ready to go.  Although I was ready to go home, I actually liked being at the hospital…I didn’t have to worry about anything!  This reminds me to make an advertisement for the Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation. Please consider making a donation to the foundation.  The foundation works with the staff at the hospital to provide funding for state-of-the-art medical purchases and to support patient care and healthcare outreach in our community.

The transition to having one child to two has been quite a challenge.  It takes a little longer to get ready, there are more diapers to change (although we’re getting Trey toilet trained), when one child is sick, we try to keep the two apart (which we’re experiencing now as Trey is getting over a cold), and overall making sure each child’s needs are fulfilled.

Trey is trying really hard to be a great big brother.  He loves his little sister, but I can tell that he feels a little left out at times, especially when I’m holding Lauren or feeding her.  I think he’s starting to understand that he has to share mommy and daddy.  Herman and I make it a point to let him know that he’s special to us and that he’s a wonderful little boy.

Brother and sister! Lauren is wearing a applique onesie that I made a few months ago.

One of my favorite pics of the two. I’m soooo in love with my kiddos!

Notice the quilt they’re sleeping on?  It was in one of my previous posts!

Herman and I are adjusting well with having two kids and making sure that we spend a good amount of quality time with them and with each other.  Parenthood is an amazing experience!

DIY, parenting, Pregnancy, quilting, Sewing, toddlers

Echo Quilt Progress, Heart Pillows for Mastectomy Patients, Final Weeks of Trimester 3

Before I begin my report on my progress, I have to extend a big “mahalo” or thank you to my husband for getting me a new sewing machine. He bought it for me a few weeks ago, but I never got a chance to thank him on my blog. Thank you sweetie!

Buying a new machine was completely his idea. In fact, I think it was meant more for him. =) Here it is…a Brother SE-400.

It’s a much quieter machine than my Singer, and it has all of the fun stuff to make sewing more efficient (automatic threader, thread cutter, drop in bobbin). I was ok with my old Singer machine, but my husband thought it would be a good idea to get a sewing machine that also did some embroidery. I have yet to try the embroidery functions (he’s already tried it out and loves it!), but what I love is that this machine allows me to do free motion quilting! This leads to the next topic…

Echo Quilt Progress

I’ve been making slow progress on my Echo print quilt, but I finally took some time yesterday to piece the backing together, add the batting, and run it through my machine using my new quilting foot (yay!). Here’s what I have so far:

This was the first “large” quilt that I have ever put together, measuring about 76″x76″. Since January, I’ve made two small baby quilts (patchwork and a rag quilt), each at about 36″x36″, a super easy “quilt as you go” quilt for my son, and a yellow/black quilt that he uses when he takes a nap in the afternoon.

One thing different about this quilt from the others that I’ve completed is that I used a free motion quilting foot for the first time and attempted to “stipple” this quilt. Each quilt that I’ve made so far have been all “stitch in the ditch” quilts. If you’re like me, and completely new to free motion quilting, my advice to you is to practice, practice, and practice…and also to learn the different quilting functions on your machine. I practiced a lot using leftover scraps of batting and broadcloth, but my biggest mistake was not knowing which quilting functions worked best for the stitching that I was aiming for.

I had completed the outside (white) border with what I thought was the stippling stitch, when the “light bulb” went off in my head, prompting me to try a different stitch. I think you can see the stitching in the next photo which shows the back of the quilt.

There were a great many number of errors, but the optimistic side of me believes that this was a great learning experience! I thought of giving this quilt to my parents or to my brother and his family, but I’ve gotten so attached to it that I might keep it for myself. I know…pretty selfish, but it’s just that this was the first “big” quilt that I put together. Besides, I had so many mistakes on it…maybe it’s best to keep it for myself for now. =) I promise to post pictures of the completed quilt with the binding. I hope to get that done in the next few days!

Heart Pillows (For Mastectomy Patients)

I had some other projects that I had been working on since my last blog, but I think the most important ones were the pillows that I made for someone dear to me who will be undergoing a mastectomy in a few days. I’ll blog more about my thoughts on breast cancer and how it has affected my family and circle of friends in an upcoming blog post, but I did want to share what these pillows looked like and how they bring comfort to patients who have undergone a mastectomy.

My mother had a mastectomy in 1999, and during her recovery, she received a small, rectangular shaped pillow from the volunteers at the American Cancer Society (ACS). She was encouraged to use the pillow under her arm so that it could relieve any pressure on the stitches from the surgery. Recovering from a mastectomy can be a very painful experience. From what I understand from my mother, the pillow made a difference in helping ease her pain and making her recovery a little more comfortable.

I think it’s so wonderful that there are volunteers at ACS who took the time to create these pillows for patients recovering from a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. When I found out that a “special” person in my life would be undergoing a mastectomy, I decided to create a pillow that would help ease some of her pain.

I searched the web to find a unique pillow pattern and came across a website called Heart Pillow Project. The instructions are simple and so easy, and the stories shared on the website are wonderful. I’m inspired to make more of these for other patients!

One variation that I made with these pillows is that I added ribbons at the top and tied them together so that the pillow would hang on the patient’s shoulder. I also added a little tag that reads “Made with Love”, just to give it a personal touch.

If you’d like to join me in making these pillows and giving them away to patients or to your local hospital or American Cancer Society office, let me know by sending me a comment or an e-mail. Also, post pictures of your completed work on my Flickr group, Heart Pillow Project 808.

I think this is a great way to make a difference in someone’s life. It lets a patient know that they’re not alone in their recovery, and that someone is thinking of them.

Final Weeks of Trimester 3

I’m about to enter the last stretch of my pregnancy (38 1/2 weeks and counting) and about to “go” any day now! This last phase of pregnancy involves a lot more back aches and difficulty getting up from bed or from a chair. Argh….But I’m so excited to be able to meet my little girl! She’s been very active in these past few weeks, sometimes putting on a show for her dad, her grandparents and for her cousins. My nieces and nephew think it’s so weird when my belly jumps and rolls. Trey’s also been a little more aware of the things that will belong to his little sister and pointing them out to us; her car seat, clothes, diapers, the crib that once belonged to him…=) What’s helped is this book called “The Baby Sister” by Tomie DePaola.

Tomie is one of my favorite children’s book authors, and he’s starting to become one of Trey’s favorite authors as well! Every night, before going to bed, Trey will ask me to read this story to him. After reading the story, I’ll put his hand on my tummy, and we’ll talk about him having a baby sister. It’s been a great way to get him ready for bed and for the big change coming up in our lives!

That’s it for now! Maternity leave starts this week, and I’ll be using this time to get odds and ends squared away and to get some rest. Yay!

DIY, quilting, Sewing, toddlers, Uncategorized

A New Diaper Bag! (With Link to Tutorial)

These past few weeks, I’ve been admiring a number of Vera Bradley tote bags at a store in our local mall.  Each time my husband and I would pass by the storefront, I’d often stop and tell him how much I like the vibrant colors and patterns, and the design of the bags.  They’re beautiful!  But I just couldn’t see myself buying one knowing that I could probably make it myself.  And so began my next challenge…a new diaper bag!

I made a diaper bag a few weeks ago using a tutorial from Moda Bakeshop. It had blues and greens in it, perfect for my son!  This time however, I decided to use fabrics in pink and yellow, and to use a tutorial from Andrea’s Originals.  It’s a more “boxier” style than my first diaper bag, but what I like about it are the pockets and that it’s much bigger.  I modified the size a bit to make a wider bag.  My finished bag measures 16″x12″x5″.

I started with these fabrics from Robert Kaufman’s “Free to Grow” collection by Nancy Mimms.

I already had the yellow fabric in my stash, but needed the others for the front and back pockets and the handles.  These fabrics were from Sew Special, one of our local fabric stores on Maui.  The girls there were great in helping me find what I needed!  What I don’t have pictured here is a hot pink gingham print that I used for my lining.

When I pieced the bag together, I decided to sew all the panels first, rather than sew them on to the bottom of the bag.

After sewing the panels, I pinned the bottom section to the panels and sewed around all four sides, starting with the long sides first and finishing off with the shorter sides.

A couple nights ago, I showed my husband my new diaper bag and asked him what he thought.  He asked where I had bought it from.  I found that to be the most perfect compliment!

The cost of the materials added with the time I spent on this bag probably amounted to the same as the cost of those Vera Bradley bags that I saw at the mall, but it was worth the effort and time.  It was sure worth knowing that it was something that I could make for myself!

DIY, Pregnancy, Sewing, toddlers, Uncategorized

Weekend Projects: Boppy Pillow Cover, Rocket Applique T-Shirt, Echo Pillow Cover

I woke up on Saturday morning at about 5:00 a.m. wanting to make a couple things.  Both Trey and Herman were still asleep, so I quietly walked into the craft room to get started.

First thing I started on was a Boppy pillow cover.  Boppy pillows are a great thing to have when you’re nursing or if you need extra support while holding baby in your arms.  My first pregnancy was a C-section, so having a Boppy pillow made nursing a little more comfortable.  When Trey was born, my husband bought me a Boppy pillow with a boyish cover; a blue print with cute green alligators.  Since we’re having a girl in a few weeks, I decided to use some existing “girly” fabric that I had in my stash.  This time, I used a grey and pink asian inspired print for the front, and a coordinating pink print for the back. Here are a few pictures:

I found the tutorial and pattern for this cover on a blog called Vanilla Joy.  The pattern was simple enough to piece together and easy to understand.  The pattern however, called for an invisible zipper.  I had never sewed zippers before, and was pretty fearful of what the end result would look like, but it came out well!  Here are a few more pictures:

It’s not quite an “invisible” zipper, but it does the job.  Best part?  I didn’t break a needle while sewing it on to my fabric!

And finally, here’s what the two prints look like next to each other.  I believe I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance when I sewed the front and back pieces together.  The cover fits the pillow perfectly!

Next project was a no-sew applique project.  My son has been talking about rockets and using words such as, “mission control” or “blast off to space”, so I thought it would be cute to make him a t-shirt with a rocket applique.

Here’s what it looks like and the fabrics I used…

I found a few pictures of rocket appliques from several websites to use as examples, and drew a rocket on to a piece of paper to create a template.  After creating the template pieces, I transferred them on to a piece of Heat n Bond paper, making sure to reverse the template pieces and tracing them on to the bumpy or adhesive side of the Heat n Bond paper.  The next step was to iron the pieces on to the fabric, cut them out, lay them on to Trey’s shirt, and iron.  That easy!

I had just finished the t-shirt when Trey woke up and walked into my craft room.  After wishing him a good morning, I showed him the shirt, and his words were, “Oooh, Mommy…it’s a rocket ship!”  At that moment, he tugged at his pajama shirt as if to take it off so that he could wear his new rocket ship shirt.  I’m so happy that he liked it!

Some things I’d want to do the next time I work on an applique project:

First, use a more thicker shirt.  For this shirt, I used a Hanes shirt that I think is more of an undershirt. We had a couple of these that we bought for his Halloween costume and for wearing under a Barong.   You can’t tell from the picture, but these kinds of shirts look a bit transparent…I really didn’t like that.

Next, although this was meant to be a quick and easy project with no sewing involved, I think I’d want to try an embroidery stitch and outline the design.  I’ve seen other designs where the image was outlined.  It just looks more tailored.  But like I said earlier, this was a fun, quick and easy project that anyone can do!  Here’s a great applique tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Company:

Okay, last project…I didn’t quite complete this on Saturday morning, but on Friday night.

I had some leftover jelly roll pieces from my Echo quilt, and I decided to use them for a cover for my 12″x16″ pillow.

Yup…another quick and easy project!  I’ll probably make a few more slip covers using the rest of the left over jelly roll strips in the next few weeks!

That’s it for now.  Hope you all had a great weekend!

parenting, Pregnancy, toddlers

Ultrasound at 35 Weeks and Big Brother

We got to see our baby girl at our 35 week ultrasound on Monday evening, and she’s doing well! She looks great on screen too! 🙂


The ultrasound pics dont always look the best, but images of her on the screen were amazing! We were told that she weighs in at approximately 5 lbs. and 13 oz., that her heart rate is fine, and that her growth and development are on track. Just one more month and she’s here!

My husband and our 2-year old son accompanied me to my appointment. My husband has always been at every ultrasound appointment, but what made this visit extra special was having our little boy there with us.

Here he is with my husband after our ultrasound visit.


We’ve been getting our son prepared with the arrival of his little sister by reading books about siblings and watching videos. Some of the things my husband and I constantly do is remind him of how much we love him, that he’s a smart and good boy, and tell him how he’ll be a great big brother to his little sister. I’m pretty confident that he’ll be a great big brother when the baby arrives.