12 March 2014

little white dress

While setting out our church clothes Saturday night, I asked Mahie what she wanted to wear. Lately, she has decided to ONLY wear a certain coral dress that she got in New Zealand for Christmas. Although it keeps her cool here in Samoa, it taken quite a 'beating' from every week of Nursery snacks and spills. Surprisingly, she pointed to a different dress that I almost forgot existed. 

This is a very special white dress. Almost like a little door that takes me back into fond memories of my blissful honeymoon, holding hands with my new husband, and strolling the afternoon markets of steamy Mexico. Me, of course hungry to shop and James, just hungry. I can still remember walking down the main strip of town. Shops lined the rough cobblestone road on the left and the Caribbean ocean lapped gently on the right, taunting the sweaty bodies of the scurrying tourists. There was a man selling wooden puppets, and as we stopped to admire his craftsmanship, my eyes found interest at a dress store in the background. 

It was a very small and stuffy store, filled to the brim with all sort of garments and fabrics. An old woman came over to help and since she barely understood English and I totally forgot all basic Spanish I learned from Paraguay & Argentina…I pointed to my ring and then over to James standing out front waiting and then out to our cruise ship. She smiled and beckoned me to follow. 

I was a bit confused as to why she was showing me layers of adorable little dresses. So light and airy, perfect for keeping cool under Mexico's sun. And then she smiled again, tapped my tummy (which was so flat and fit THEN), smiled over at James, tapped again and smiled at the tiny dresses. Wow, was I ever a "blushing bride" then at that moment! No English required in figuring that one out!!

Then I thought…..hmmmmmm, smiled back at that cheeky old woman and fell in love with this little size 3 white dress. I never showed James what I bought, in fact over time I had put it away and forgotten it. Hidden under life's continuing hustle and bustle, of honeymoon stage turned long nights with a newborn + research papers.  

Tonight as I helped Mahie into this special white dress, so special I tell her she can ONLY wear it to sleep. I watch her walk away, twirling in admiration of her new 'princess dress' and warm memories rush back, ever so clearly. Me and my new husband. Walking down a homely street in Mexico. One hand in his, the other holding a plastic shopping bag. Crowds of tourists rushing back to the cold relief of the cruise ship. 

A little baby girl on my mind. What would she look like?

24 February 2014

While February is still HOT and HAPPENING

February starts our 'slow season' with rental clients, but the kids enjoy running in-between the cars that now overload the front lawn. Evan especially likes to stand at the fence and watch the colorful loud buses pass by. It has been a little gloomy and rainy lately, which I really prefer. Samoa rainy weather = the coolness of a regular day in Hawaii, just still lacking in breeze. The rain here is warm, the kids will not get sick no matter how long they play. 

Maybe it's the American in me, but I always have the urge to decorate according to the month's festivity. Living here however, has made those desires somewhat difficult. So, this is what we settled for: 
(had to make use of all the baby food jars under the house)

Quite a few things have happened this month:

Nana & Papa Aspinall
This wasn't really February, but mid January we said bye to 'Nana & Papa Aspinall' who made a short trip to Samoa for a few errands & a funeral. The kids enjoyed having their grandparents here since we were just all together in New Zealand over Christmas break. It had been Dad's first time back since they relocated to Wellington for his job as a CES Coordinator. They expressed how nice it was to be home and to relax. They wanted to try our favorite steak we always rave about, so off to Kokobana's we all went, even Uncle Joe & Uncle Po'o (Mum's Stevenson brothers) joined in. Mahie enjoyed following her Nana around and Evan surprisingly, was very fond of his Papa….even allowing me to leave him home, tear free, while I did some errands. That NEVER happens.  

Gateau au Yaourt
Mahie made her first cake all by herself, you may have seen my post on Facebook via Instagram. All I did was put the cake in the oven. She even cracked the eggs all by herself. I definitely recommend reading, "French Children Don't Throw Food", by Pamela Druckerman, where she studies the differences between how French children are raised verses American & British. It is very interesting, you don't have to agree with it all, but definitely an eye opener MAJOR food for thought. Like this cake making activity. You think I would EVER consider just giving my two year old ingredients and back off? Nope. (the cake is yummy & a base to add anything else) It also went along with a lesson we had in Relief Society, that at this young age children are naturally willing to help. We shouldn't be quick to shoo them away. Of course we could probably get things done a lot quicker and better without their little hands, but accepting their invitation to help has a much better pay off in the long run as a parent, as a child & as a family. 

(helping at dinner)

February Relief Society Meeting
I planned my second Additional Relief Society Meeting (aka Enrichment), which to be honest, was very stressful. It felt like there was always a lack of communication and unwillingness from others to help. (Why did I have flashbacks of college group projects?) I also realized how difficult it is to want to provide something nice with a lack of reasonable resources (Walmart, thrift stores, media labs, etc.) and funds. However, the show continued on, and I am very grateful for the support and guidance of my Pesega Lima Relief Society President, and various sisters that I can truly call RELIABLE. Our theme was, "How to Sweeten our Marriage and Family Relations". Originally we had planned on having a panel of three different couples that would answer and/or give advice on questions submitted by the sisters (Similar to the Newlywed game). I was really excited, having already attended a few during youth and YSA and it was always hilarious and informative. However, I guess they just aren't as open to that activity here in Samoa, well the husbands were a definite NO. I think I asked….pleaded….with about 9 couples. Anyways, the only people actually willing and happy about participating were the senior missionary couples. And THAT would've been just fine, except they ALL were scheduled to work the evening shift that week. What the heck. Except for one, the Lamareaux's. And they were awesome all on their own. (Thank goodness!)

They are from Orem, Utah. They met when he was 19 and she was 16!!!! Married shortly after. He became a lawyer and she stayed home and raised all FOURTEEN of their children. Their youngest is my age. They have been all around the world. So yes, they were definitely the right couple for this activity. It was fun.

Ward Baptism
Two girl's in our ward were getting baptized and I thought it would be great to take Mahie. It was a very different experience to ones that I attended back home in Hawaii. The entire ward shows their support (Wow), felt like I was at Church. It was a little long, talks + testimonies + musical numbers X2 before AND after the actual baptism. I'm used to 1-2 speakers, musical number, the testimony of the child getting baptized and then member of the Bishopric (total people involved). Again, I felt like I was at Church, lol, and Mahie kept asking when she was going to Nursery. Maybe it was because it was a double baptism, so double everything. And although the irreverence was a big shocker to me with kids running in the chapel and surrounding the font, I knew those in attendance shared a love and admiration for the two newest members of the Church. I thought it was super cute that their two older brothers baptized them.
And boy was there a FEAST afterwards, like literally, if I wasn't too shame, I would've brought home dinner!! Congratulations to Miss Paramore and Miss Arp.

Hanging out with P5 Sisters
Most of the friends we've made have come from our ward, which ward members live everywhere & work everywhere! I gladly attended a baby shower for Phaedra Ekeroma, it was hilarious. When we surprised her she not only looked confused but VERY irritated. Haha. The Ekeroma's are Mahie's Nursery leaders. They just had their baby boy this past weekend.

I also enjoy stopping by The Plantation House owned by my talented visiting teaching companion, Marita Wendt. She is definitely one of a kind, and I am so happy to be her friend. Talking story, shopping and being awe struck over her latest projects!

Hau'oli la Hanau
We celebrated my 25th birthday, woop woop! The best thing about being married to someone 5 years older than you……is that they make you look FOREVER YOUNG! 

Kinda New Calling, still in Young Men
James has been called to be the Deacon's advisor, they moved him from the Teacher's. It's cool that the Young Men prepare and teach their lessons. What a great way to prepare for teaching in the mission field. Sucky thing is that their class sits outside under a 'lawn tent', whatever they're called, in the middle of the chapel grounds. I'll try and get a picture. I know James dies of heat. He's also busy preparing for the yearly car registration for our taxi's.

The Kiddies
Mahie has finally bid GOODBYE to diapers, or "nappies" as they say here. She's been day potty trained since her 2nd birthday, however we put her to bed wearing one. We were too lazy to commit to waking up  at midnight to sit her on the toilet. By the end of January, we were so sick of paying almost $60 tala for toddler pull-ups….so we were forced to "commit". It's not too bad and  she still has accidents here and there when we forget to take her. Well, just her father forgets! Good job Mahie. Not only does she ask to help me bake, but other tasks around the house. She can fold her underwear, put her dirty clothes in the basket, load the washing machine and dryer, put toys away and grab our daily scripture book for family prayer. Still trying to get her to LOVE Nursery. Her first dentist appointment is coming up, fingers crossed!
(took the kids to see the turtles, Mahie jumped for joy when they swam up to us. Evan slept the entire time in the car)
(To Sua trench)
Evan needs a smack on the bum, hehe. Everyone just needs to stay out of his way, and life is good…for all of us. He is a good eater, and finally feeds himself, also finally picking up his cup. Weaning him is very difficult, especially at night. I feel like all of a sudden, he wants to nurse more than usual. I can't believe in two months I can officially leave him in Nursery, however I can't see that happening….probably ever. He is my little opihi, GLUED to my hip. His latest obsession is tearing off his diaper and running around naked. We always need to have shorts or a diaper cover on him to prevent this. He needs to learn how to be nice and share with his sister. He gets excited around Mahie, just punks her at times :)

Happy Birthday to my second oldest brother "Uncle Eric" Kaleolani Kaohi'ai Ka'ahanui, just felt like writing his whole name, haha. He is 27years old!! One of the hardest workers I know....and the WORST person to vent or gossip to, LOL....cause he just don't care. But he sure is a VERY loving Uncle to his niece and nephews. 
(Love you Ericky!)

And Happy Birthday to my beautiful and only nephew Isaac (named after his Dad, my oldest brother), who also shares the Eric's Hawaiian name :) Mahie says, "Happy Birthday Baby Isaat" <--with a="" p="" t="">

Just one more week of the month of love. This year is flying by quick. When we moved here last January, it felt like the days couldn't pass by any faster…..but HELLLLO it's practically March! And tomorrow is the day Mahie has been WAITING for…..finally can download Disney's Frozen on iTunes. No more wasting our internet! 

21 February 2014


Today I am 25 years old and it feels like I'm still 24 & 23….not really 22 because there's nothing special about being 22, but I DEFINITELY don't feel like I am 21. I was engaged at 20 and married by 21, and was such a different person then. Looking back at the things I once worried about makes me shake my head and laugh. I'm pretty sure when I reach 30 I'll have this same experience of reminiscing and rolling my eyes...but 30 is too harsh and OLD for me to care about right now, haha. Let's get back to today and 25. 

I was born at Kahuku, Hospital (back in the day along with all the other BYU-Hawaii TVA college babies) on Valentine's Day 1989. Apparently I was the first baby born that day……….in Hawaii (haha) so my Mom was gifted roses and Valentine's goodies to her room. I forget the company that congratulated her. I was delivered via c-section, so was that cheating? Well I was an 8 pounder, and the 'smallest' of my 4 siblings. 
I am the 3rd in line and the oldest girl. My Dad named me after his mother, 'Ashlyn' Ululani Ka'onohi who passed away due to asthma complications, when he was a young boy. I have always loved my name and felt a special connection to my grandmother because of it. My Dad also gave me my Hawaiian name, Ka'iulani, after the alii Princess Victoria Ka'iulani, meaning "the highest point of Heaven". 


James came home on Thursday (day before my birthday) from doing errands and said we were to leave in a few hours to a hotel he had booked. Those hours turned into a grey and rainy day which reminded me of my birthday last year. We had stayed at Le Uaina and it rained non stop: wet, sand and freezing a.c was not fun. Sooooo, we decided to just stay home. It was better that way. We decided to treat ourselves to one of our favorite restaurants, Kokobanana's for dinner. BEST NZ sirloin on island. 

Apart of my birthday spoils included me telling James what to bake. He is a very talented man and can whip up anything, usually not following any recipe. I requested peanut butter cheesecake with brownie crust (found recipe on Facebook). That was a flop. Yucky. And yellow cake with chocolate frosting for my birthday cake. He went straight to work on the cheesecake so it could set overnight (so much effort put in to a poorly written recipe) and I got on the phone to chat with my parents back in Hawaii. I miss my family a lot and am so grateful that James lets me indulge in phone calls and Skype when my heart feels heavy. In Samoa these types of communication are used sparingly. At midnight the kids and James wished me Happy Birthday.
(Me at the top before climbing down. There's a woman behind me struggling with her phone camera so I asked her if she wanted me to take the picture. Her reply, "NO!! I do selfies, that's my thaang." Then I thought, well can you hurry up & get out of my background, I do All-by-my-Selfies too, except my photographer is at the top getting heat stroke)

(We love taking our babies with us everywhere)

We headed out to Aleipata the following morning, with our insulated 'Foodland' cooler filled with sandwiches, drinks & snacks from Myna's. I loooove the drive out to 'Kua'. You leave the busy town side of Apia and continue on to quiet rural villages surrounded by lush green landscape. Here is where you find the gorgeous waterfalls and romantic white sandy beaches that tourists drool over. I really wanted to visit a particular place that I've seen photo's of online and so we pulled over at the breathtaking To Sua ocean trench in Lotofaga. Holy cow were the surrounding gardens blazing hot. It was a $15tala entry fee and I feared we'd all pass out from the humidity during the 5min walk from the car. We were escorted to a mini fale that overlooked the reef and crystal clear south pacific ocean. It was nice taking a break in the shade, but that was short lived since our daredevil 16 month-old Evan curiously sprinted toward the cliff side. James froze with fear, but I however, knew Evan would stop and come back. Maybe it was 'mother's intuition' or because I'm with the kids 24/7 glued to my hip….I just didn't fret. (NOT saying that I don't watch my kids and alway let them wander off) Evan stopped, took in the scene of the ocean, then turned around and reattached his self at my knee. I went back to unpacking snacks, but the incident scared the hell out of James so staying for a snack was a no go. But I got to experience To Sua for a quick minute climb down and up. It really is breathtaking and the ladder is very sturdy. Maybe the same height or a little higher than Waimea rock? Plus there just HAD to be a lot of middle aged men swimming & being niele, 'creeper alert'!!

We then spent the rest of the day at our favorite family beach: Lalomanu. You can rent a beach fale for the day and they have a place to order food, bathrooms and showers. Very cheap price. (It's like Alamoana beach but more of an upgrade with facilities and less crowded). Do you like how I explain with Hawaii comparisons? The kids ran in and out of the water and watched the fishes swim around us. Mahie is still hesitant in the water and panics a little when the water rises to her chest. Evan however probably inhaled so much seawater that day, tumbling into the little shore ripples. He is our 'white' baby, born very fair thus easily sunburned. Jay rested with him in the fale while Mahie and I stayed out on the sand the entire time. We were very papa'a afterwards.

I don't know how James did it because me and the kids knocked out on the long drive back across the island. The celebration didn't stop there. James again returned to the kitchen and cooked a yummy dinner + finished the set cheesecake + baked my requested birthday cake. Mahie thought it was her birthday and James had to kick her off my 'birthday candle blowing seat', which she did not like. I let her blow my candles anyway as I made my wish. Very delicious cake, I ate 2nd's, third's....

Thank you so much to my Hubby and 'Chillens', celebrating any special occasion with your family is the best gift ever. And a big thank you to all my birthday wishes from friends and relatives around the world. I ALWAYS take the time to read every card, note, text message and Facebook comment :)
(our shiny tanned skin & bush ocean dry hair)
At 25 I'm married, celebrating my 4th anniversary in June, two children, college degree collecting dust, stay at home Mom, living in Samoa, still a book/history nerd…….and 12 pounds away from my ideal weight, haha. 

To many more birthdays with the 'loves' of my life.

03 February 2014

Back at it 2014

The Aspinall's have made it through ONE WHOLE YEAR of living in Apia, Samoa. Instead of apologizing (as I feel many of my past LONG AGO posts aways seem to start out as) for slacking off and backtracking to update ALL of our ten readers (anyone still following us?)….let's just dive into 2014. 

We returned from Christmas 2013 in New Zealand ready to make our resolutions/goals happen. Don't we all feel like that come January? Last year, maybe due to our move to Samoa, we didn't really set any goals. Or the year before that. I think we made New Years resolutions as newlyweds, and the tradition has slowly disappeared since. Our 4th Anniversary will be this June. Yes we suck at goals I guess. However, since marriage in 2010, we've definitely noticed (along with goal slacking) many important things spiraling downward --spiritual & physical--that need a change. We won't bore you into listing and explaining each one, but rest a sure, they will be mentioned in posts throughout the year. Woohoo! (Hopefully)

The Business we have been running & co-own taxi and rental cars….and still going strong. We are ever so grateful to our Heavenly Father for blessing us with clients everyday. Not that all who come have been easy to service, but grateful nonetheless. And also again to our Mum & Dad Aspinall for this opportunity filled with life lessons all day, everyday. 

We are also grateful for our workers, which includes family members, permanent workers and occasional random laborers from off the street. Their skills range from car maintenance to secretarial to tidying up our home. They too have had their 'special days' here and there, but we all have seemed to learn from our mistakes (or continue to) and thankfully we have not run Mum & Dad Aspinall's hardwork into the ground, haha. 

Lastly, and MOST importantly, James definitely deserves ALL recognition for being a great boss/leader/owner. I'm just with the kids all day, handling all that comes with that, and occasionally I will look out the window or in the office and truly admire my husband's hard work. Being a businessman was definitely in the cards for him. 

The Kids are growing taller, seriously. Both of my babies measured 21inches at birth and have since gotten longer and taller by the minute. A lot of people are shocked that Mahie isn't a three year old, which was also the case when she was one and they were shocked she wasn't two. And Evan is repeating in his sister's footsteps height wise. They are exactly 15 months apart and many times as I'm trying to catch a break of sanity, I've wondered why I popped them out so close together! However, life definitely wouldn't be the same without my energetic littles. 

In the past year the kids have done more traveling than we could ever imagine at their age. Mahie is already accustomed to airports, security, boarding, airplanes, airplane seat belts, the button that reclines your chair, asking flight attendants for juice, sucking on a lollie when landing and getting her passport stamped. Trying to 'spot our luggage' is also a favorite game of hers. The workers at both Honolulu International and Faleolo Airport already recognize us during check-in and security. The "City of Sails" will also be added to the frequent flyer list soon.

Of what we can tell, they enjoy living here. Not sure if they notice a difference when returning to humid heat-stroke weather after trips to Hawaii or New Zealand. Guess the sweaty play life doesn't bother them. They enjoy running out and exploring our beautiful spacious property, not knowing the many Aspinall relatives and generations that once roamed the same yard. We love looking at the various plants of flowers, vegetables and fruit sprouting in different corners. Jumping off the faleoo in the back. Throwing scraps to the noisy pua'a next door and rice to our moa. Sadly one of our guard dogs died (Doran) and we now only have Nippy. They were here years before we came. And Miss Mahie....drumroll....has been successfully potty trained for the past six months. Woop woop! James likes to take credit, but Nooooooooooo! Potty training is a huge accomplishment for the MOTHER, I mean parents, as the child. And Evan....likes to rip his nappy off and bare it all. Let's hope duck tape won't be necessary, haha. 

Our Family is doing good. Yes, there was a time when I (Ashlyn) first heard the sentence, "We're moving to Samoa" and responded with the most horrified ugly face ever. And now, I'll be the first to snap at anyone making snide remarks about living in Samoa. 1) Talking crap & they've never been there, let alone outside of Hawaii 2) Most people I've met here, live better than those talking crap, hehe. Two months in, I learned: It's NOT the end of the world. However, I still hate the sweaty weather & damn mosquitoes. Jay & I still STRUGGLE big time with internet usage. There is no unlimited internet here, you pay for a set amount, and once that is gone...pau hana'z until next month. Or just be like me & "top up" behind the Hubby's back (he does it too, hence, the struggle is real!) And we love our ac, lets be honest!! I'd be a witch, replace the 'w', if I couldn't escape to a cold room once in a while :)

We enjoy and appreciate living in Apia, specifically top of Lotopa/Tuanaimato area. We have all the conveniences that are available elsewhere, just with a hefty price at times. Everyone speaks English the closer you get to Apia. We love finding new places to eat. Our current favorite is Kokobanana's, best steak ever. We also enjoy our occasional drives out to 'Kua', village outskirts a.k.a. THE BOONIES a.k.a. we out of there before it gets dark. James' Dad (Aspinall side) is from Apia, we currently live in HIS own father's house. James' Mom (Stevenson side) is from Vailoa, in the Aleipata district out in 'kua', where there are exotic white sand beaches to swim at. We always try to make an effort to take the kids to Lalomanu, it's breathtaking. The water is warm and clear as glass. 

Our Ward definitely has helped made the transitioning a lot smoother…even though I feel like we are the youngest couple with kids. The closest to our age are the YSA hahaha. We both have callings in our Pesega Lima family (International English speaking ward). James is an advisor in the Young Men's Deacons? And I am the Additional Relief Society activities coordinator (once known as Enrichment Night). Mahie has one more year of Nursery and she has FINALLY started to stay all by herself. Evan is kolohe and I try every Sunday to teach him to sit still. He loves Nursery but his turn will come in a few months (he's only 15months). I am definitely humbled and in awe of being among so many successful, talented, charitable and faithful ward members. We are deeply grateful to those that since our first day sought us out and befriended us straight away. We hope to acquire many more friendships. 

How's our Samoan? Improved a little for all of us. Well James' range has definitely expanded because of working directly with customers and local businesses. Mine, I guess you could say I am able to "niele" in on conversations around me. Thanks to four semesters of Samoan at BYUH, I can pronounce words well, but I have since lost the confidence speaking in public. I look dumb trying to figure out what they're saying back. I just stick with kaukala faapalagi, even though it costs me a buck or two more. Always trynna make a dollar off the palagi :) And the kids…Mahie will say words, "Aua!", "Evan sau!", "Evan soia!", "fiapoko", "Sasa", "Daddy onosai" "mai le fua laau"…..and other stuff here and there. English is the language spoken in our home. But I'll hear our workers and house girl speaking to them in Samoan when they play outside. 

This LEFT side of the road:
biscuit = cookie
chips = fries
swimsuit = tshirt and shorts as you are more covered up going swimming(modesty) & togs (nz)
slippers = seevae & jandals (more nz)
diapers = nappies
gas = petrol
nuha (hawaiian word for 'acking up') = faalii
mahu = fafa/fafafine
broom = salu
Mom = Mum
Kua = the boonies (like the PCC Samoan village, just people are of course modernized…somewhat)
Ulavale = as in 'naughty' kids ( i think)
oso = jump
kisi = kiss
faafekai = thank you
kapena = to clean
+many more (& bad ones too, hehe)

(Christmas/New Years break in New Zealand. Kelly Tarlton's Sea World Museum)

We will try our best to keep our life in Samoa well documented. We know our children will appreciate the memories we've made here when they look back. Hawaii was our past, New Zealand will be our future, but for now it's sunny SAMOA. 

Manuia le Tausaga Fou