The 2017 Honolulu Biennial Art Festival at Ward Village: A Family-Centered Review


If you are like me, you probably have no idea what exactly a biennial art festival entails. My understanding of art biennials was minimal to say the least, before my experience at the new Honolulu Biennial this weekend. Henri Neuendorf explains the historical and cultural significance of art -ennials in Art Demystified: Biennials Explained. These art festivals are held across the world in an effort to support artists, showcase culture, and embrace diversity, with the added benefit of attracting art tourism to the cities in which they are held. Not surprisingly, Italy is known for hosting the first and longest standing biennial event, the Venice Biennale. As Neuendorf explains, “It was created for the precise reason of establishing a platform for art world participants to compare and contrast the art created across the world…” The 2017 Honolulu Biennial: Middle of Now is Honolulu’s inaugural biennial, the beginning of a new tradition for the city. It showcases work from artists all across the globe at nine different locations in the city, and it is an incredible family experience that we look forward to visiting again. and Ward Village generously offered my family the opportunity to visit the Ward venues so I could share our experience with you. Ward hosts two venues: the Hub and the IBM building. We went on a Saturday and enjoyed ourselves so much that we returned the following Monday. Parking was easy and free at both locations on both days. My husband had a cold and didn’t feel like walking between the IBM building and the HUB, but they are only about 2-2.5 blocks apart so it would be easily walkable if you decide to just park in one place. Parking is available in the lot directly in front of the Hub. There is plenty of parking in between the Hub and the IBM if you choose to walk, otherwise parking is available for the IBM building across the street in Ward Village.

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Quality Screen Time

img_0643No matter how like-minded your acquaintances, controversy surrounds the topic of screen time in almost every circle. Today, homeschooling families frequently worry about our children wasting away in front of a glowing LED. But at the same time, we face pressure to expose our children to the future. This isn’t terribly new territory for parents, as TVs have been around for quite a few generations now, but it IS a little different considering there are tiny screens riding around in our pockets now too. We are living in a digital age and to deny that is a disservice to our children. So where do we draw the line? What makes screen time “quality” versus mind-numbing? How can we prevent internet addiction in our children?

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Homeschooling with Chronic Pain

I have never really considered myself as someone living with chronic pain… I suppose that’s because I’m not actually in pain constantly, just frequently. A recent Facebook thread about homeschooling with chronic pain somehow made me realize that I do indeed suffer chronically. As I read the mother’s question about how to tailor her homeschool around her pain, I realized that I do that… I tailor our homeschool around my pain. Somehow I never consciously realized it until that very moment.

Migraines are often debilitating

I suffer from migraine headaches. I’ve had them since I was 16 years old. My mother has them, my aunts have them, my cousins… It’s just part of our genetic code. Part of life. Save for a few strange weeks here or there, my migraines have pretty consistently come 2-3 times per week, every week since I first began to get them. The medical definition of “chronic migraine” is 15 or more headaches per month, at least 8 of them being migraines. With 9-12 migraines per month and always a handful of tension or sinus headaches mixed in, I suppose I really DO have chronic migraines. That is hard to accept!

So how do I function on a daily basis? How do I do my duties as a homeschool mom, housewife, tutor, and blogger? Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I frequently don’t. I fail. I fail often. Obviously I don’t get around to posting here as often as I’d like (though I try to make my content worth the wait for my few faithful readers!). There are many nights I go to bed with dishes in the sink, laundry on the piled up on the couch, no lesson plans prepared for morning, and sometimes there are even nights that my kids have to tuck themselves in.

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The Waikiki Aquarium Critter Encounter

IMG_0654I have lived on Oahu for over 9 years and somehow I’ve never made a trip to the Waikiki Aquarium… until now. When Moms In Hawaii reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing the Critter Encounter at the Waikiki Aquarium, I jumped at the opportunity. Our family has participated in reef walks twice, visited the Living Art Marine Center a few times, and we regularly explore the creatures in our local Hawaiian waters. So I guess you could say I wasn’t expecting to learn much new information on this visit to the aquarium. My girls were excited, of course, but I figured we wouldn’t be adding much to the base knowledge we’ve acquired over the years of these little critters. Fortunately, I was very, very wrong!

IMG_0662Mary, our critter connoisseur and guide, met us soon after our arrival and escorted us to the touch pools. As we walked she spoke a little about the aquarium’s two resident seals, stopping to let the girls watch them swim around. She answered all of Bean’s questions then continued to lead us to the touch pools tucked away at the back of the park. We felt quite special being led into the “Authorized Personnel Only” area, which by the way, highlighted the beauty of the location. Just look at that view! Aquarium trip followed by beach day, anyone?

Once inside, Mary took a few minutes to give Bean and Bella a little teaser about what they would be seeing during our encounter and the rules they’d need to follow. She went over what kinds of critters they’d be allowed to touch, hold, and even feed. She primed their little brains quite well and didn’t just tell them the basics, but instead spoke about the details, what made the critters alike and different. Next, clearly knowing how intimidating it might be for a child to get up the nerve to touch at a living sea urchin, she showed them a shell and spines while explaining that they had once been a part of a living sea urchin.


Bean touched the shell of a sea urchin, as well as a fallen spine. Mary showed how the spine was once attached to the urchin.

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Daily Duties

My last post was about discipline and being open to changing your parenting philosophy, rather than living in misery with misbehaving children. So, what does daily life look like in our home with our “well-behaved children”? I’ll start by saying it is far from perfect.

But despite the stressful moments, our home and our homeschool function fairly well. My children know what is expected of them and what the consequences are of failing to do what is expected. They also know they are loved deeply and we all exchange hugs and snuggles and “I love you’s” multiple times throughout the day.

We start the day with our Morning Routine Chart, a marker board with all of our goals for the day written for each child. They know to get started on their list as soon as they are up and dressed. I’m not too picky about this first thing in the morning, though, so if they stop and play a bit, most days that’s okay. They have all day to do school! If it is a busy day though, and I know they won’t have an opportunity to work on it later, I let them know. Continue reading


I often tell parents who are considering homeschool that they should have a good handle on their discipline before they begin homeschooling. It is so important that children do not argue or second guess every direction you give, and you especially don’t want meltdowns! Balancing life at home with the children is hard enough as it is. Adding in meltdowns, arguments, and outright defiance can make the job nearly impossible!

I am sharing our story, but not because I think this way is the best way for everyone. I am sharing it because I often meet people who are unhappy with their child’s behavior or attitude, but for some reason or another are unwilling to change their parenting style. I was once like that, but now I feel it is important to try something new if what you’re doing isn’t working for you. In the cases where parents are not getting the results they want, they need to look to themselves, not their child. All too often parents just give up, saying they have a “wild child” or a “strong-willed child”. The PARENTS are the ones who need to make changes in one way or another to alleviate the problems.

Now, if your child is a little monster and you are perfectly happy with that, then by all means continue down the path you are on, but if you want something bigger and better for your kiddo, then read, learn, experiment. Find what works. Do not give up. You will get there, mama. You will. Be open-minded and find the method that works for you and yours. Continue reading