Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Day connects lawmakers and caregivers

February 5th, 2016

Have you been seeing a garden of bright flowers in front of the state capitol this week? The Alzheimer’s Association Aloha Chapter planted it there; 350 purple “Promise Garden Flowers” to raise awareness of the disease. The flowers represent the estimated 35,000 Hawaii residents who will be living with the disease by 2025.

Moreover, The Alzheimer’s Association Aloha Chapter will host an Advocacy Day at the state capitol to discuss Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on Hawaii. According to the Alzheimer's Association 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Facts & Figures report, there are currently 26,000 people living with Alzheimer’s, and over 65,000 Alzheimer’s caregivers in this state.

The Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Day will let advocates to meet face-to-face with state elected officials. Advocates will share their personal stories of how Alzheimer’s has impacted their lives and make requests of state policymakers.

What are advocates asking our legislators to do?
1. Support the Alzheimer's disease and related dementia services coordinator position to implement the State Plan on Alzheimer's disease and Related Dementias.
2. Support an Alzheimer's disease and related dementias public awareness campaign.
3. Support Dementia Training for caregivers.

In addition to the human toll of the disease, care for Alzheimer’s - the country’s most expensive condition - cost the nation $226 billion in 2015, with projections to reach $1.1 trillion by 2050. These staggering numbers do not include unpaid care by friends and family valued at $217 billion a year, or the more than $9 billion in increased healthcare costs for caregivers own health.

State governments are increasingly on the front lines in addressing the Alzheimer’s crisis, the care and support needs of families facing the disease, and its impact on local economies.

To register for Alzheimer’s Advocacy Day, contact Ashley Studerus, Public Policy Coordinator, at or (808) 591-2771, ext. 8235. For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, call the Alzheimer’s Association toll-free, 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900 or visit

Booger prank

February 3rd, 2016

At eight, Olivia is now at the gross-out stage. She is also getting into pranks.

She once put a big plastic cockroach on the floor and I jumped about five feet into the air when I thought I stepped on it. I had to be peeled off the ceiling- by another person, because Olivia was too busy rolling on the ground laughing her pants off.

Here's the newest one, and she was so proud of herself she commanded me to blog about it. I was getting us ready to leave the house when she hollered across the living room at me, "Mommy! Come see this!"

"No. I'm getting us ready. What is it?" I responded.

"I want you to see my booger!" she giddily declared.

"Um, no thanks," I denied.

"Then I'll save it for you!" she offered. Goody.

I kindly declined a few times but she so generously saved it anyway. In fact, as I ushered her out the door, she ran back inside to retrieve the nearly-forgotten booger. Boy, this is important.

She held out a finger to show me a pea-sized glob of transparent goo, much like what we'd make in high school with rubber cement. Aah, rubber cement. I haven't thought of it for decades and I'm nostalgic now for school.

"Great. Now throw that away before you get in the car," I tell her.

She doesn't. She gets in the car and pronounces, "I shall now examine this booger! ... Oh, it's hairy! ... And crusty! ... And sticky! ... And squishy! ... And tasty!"

"You ATE it?" I reacted, to a lot of self-satisfied giggling from the back. "I thought I fed you enough lunch."

This goes on for a little while more, with someone so smug that she's managed to nauseate her mommy.

Finally, she decided to put Mommy out of her mock-misery by revealing that it was a glue ball. "Best prank ever!" she pronounced.

<groan> Thankfully it's a prank. I probably still have a drying up glue booger somewhere in the back of the car.

High school memories

January 22nd, 2016

I recently spent half a day at my alma mater, Kamehameha Schools, because my daughter applied for the fourth grade class. I have only great things to say about the school and my six years there, but I don't visit it much because life is busy.

Testing lasts nearly three and a half hours, and while I waited, I decided to reacquaint myself with the campus that was my whole life through my adolescence.

I walked from elementary school, through the middle school campus that I absolutely don't recognize anymore due to all the new buildings, up through the high school, to the very top where the girls' dorms are. It was a hike. I was happy to do it.

The bus drivers at school have always been super nice, and one stopped to offer me a ride, thinking I'd missed the bus. When I declined, he smiled and shook his head, thinking me crazy to want to hoof it.

I had forgotten the particulars of what led where, but as I turned corners I slowly remembered the paths my feet knew so well as a student and boarder. It's nice to reconnect. Things changed, but things stayed the same. I do love that campus.

Seeing the pool: SOLD!

Seeing the pool: SOLD!

Later, after Olivia got out of testing, I drove her around to see the campus. I'm sure my experience is like that of many other parents: the kid doesn't want to leave their friends, and then you have to convince them why it would be great to attend Kamehameha.

It has to be this way; if she wasn't interested in attending, she wouldn't try hard during the testing. The flip side is, there's 1,000 applicants for the fourth grade class, which means the odds of getting in are much slimmer than when I applied. So then I have to be careful to temper her hopes.

The night before the test, I showed her photos of the campus and told her about all the activities she could join, listing things she likes - art, dance, the library, the pool. She got really excited.

Kamehameha Dorm

Kamehameha Dorm

After the testing, I wanted to give her a closer look at the things I mentioned, so we jumped in the car and drove around. I stopped at my old dormitory, also named Kamehameha, and had a look inside. It sure was smaller than I remember.

I had a city view for three of my four years in this dorm.

I had a city view for three of my four years in this dorm.

While I liked boarding, I can't imagine sending my child away. I was eleven when I left home: I skipped a couple grades. I can't imagine having Olivia move away before her childhood is up.

"Look, Honey. You'd have to learn to do your own laundry. Your closet would be three feet wide. There's a window on the door so the dorm advisor can check and see that you tidied up your room before you left for class in the morning," I pointed out to her. "You need to remember you're lucky you're living at home where Mommy can take care of you."

The dorm's common area.

The dorm's common area.

It's certainly different to grow up in a dorm, but like anything in life, there's always a bright side. I learned at a young age how to fend for myself.

Olivia kept remarking how amazing the campus is, and how much she'd like to attend. I was surprised and pleased that she actually said, "Pinch me. Is this a dream? Are schools this nice?"

If she gets in, she gets in. It would be great!

If she doesn't, at least we know we tried. We'll find a way to manage her disappointment.

As for me - it was a lovely way to spend the morning, literally walking down memory lane. Thank you, Kamehameha.

All-Star Catcher Kurt Suzuki returns to Maui to host fundraisers

January 15th, 2016

Major League Baseball All Star Kurt Suzuki returns home to Maui to host two events this weekend, one of which will be co-hosted with world renowned chef Alan Wong.


On, Saturday, January 16th, Kurt will be hosting his fifth annual Youth Baseball Clinic at Iron Maehara Stadium from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. In partnership with the All Pono Organization, the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation has continued to make a positive impact on countless members of Hawaii’s youth by teaching them hard work, dedication and the values of being a team player.

For the second straight year, Kurt joins forces with local celebrity chef and restaurateur Alan Wong to host A Taste of Hawaii on Sunday, January 17th at the Four Seasons Hotel in Wailea from 5:30 - 8 p.m. A special private VIP cocktail reception will also take place from 5 - 5:30 p.m.

Several celebrity chefs will feature their own dishes while professional athletes serve them up.  Participants include Chefs Sheldon Simeon (Top Chef Finalist), Isaac Bancaco (Iron Chef America, Head Chef at Andaz Hotel, Maui), Cameron Lewark (Chef at Spago, Four Seasons, Maui) and Craig Dryhurst (Head Chef at Four Seasons, Maui).

Proceeds from A Taste of Hawaii will help raise funds for the Kapi`olani Medical Center, Pediatric Cancer Division and the National Kidney Foundation. Kurt’s father Warren Suzuki, who is a stage four kidney cancer survivor and has been in remission for seven years.

It's put on by The Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation, a 501c3 organization that is dedicated to supporting the scientific research of chronic illnesses as well as encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. For more information on the Kurt Suzuki Foundation, please visit

Family Grocery Store in Kaneohe treats customers like family

January 13th, 2016

If you drive down Kaneohe town's main street, Kamehameha Highway, look makai. Just about in the middle of this main strip, you'll see a little grocery store with a big sign that reads Family Grocery Store. It's not just a name, it's an invitation to be part of their ohana.


Owners Gilbert and Susan Au Yeung opened the little convenience store in 2003, a lifelong dream of Gilbert's to be his own boss. Gilbert worked at Long's Drugs for 19 years, and was a manager at the Bishop Street location when he left.

Gilbert and Susan Au Yeung

Gilbert and Susan Au Yeung

"Since I was young, I've always wanted to own my own business. I don't know why. I just did," he shrugs from his makeshift desk in a corner of the store, where he set up his computer so he can tally inventory.


Susan tried to dissuade his entrepreneurial desires. "My sister and I owned and operated Kin Sun Restaurant in Waipahu for years. It's hard! Really hard work! In the first few months, I worked 7 a.m. to midnight. Even after things stabilized, I always worked seven days a week," she says of her years as a restaurateur. Prior to that, she worked at Empress Restaurant, Kin Wah, and Won Kee Seafood Restaurant.

Gilbert couldn't be deterred. At first, it was a one-man operation, while Susan still waitressed and took care of their son, Calvin.

Gilbert set up the shop with local snacks, cold drinks, ice cream, basic sundries, and a lot of Chinese items. The couple is from Hong Kong and maintains strong ties to the local Chinese community.

Because Susan is an excellent cook and baker, she makes and packages snacks in a commercial kitchen. They sell her Chinese pretzels, crack seed, almond cookies, peanut candy, and macadamia nut candy in their store, but also deliver it to Longs Drugs, Foodland, and Times Supermarkets across the state.

Susan and me

Susan and me

That's why she now works at the store, too. "In 2007, Gilbert said, 'Why don't you come help me? Watch the store while I make deliveries.' I was unsure at first because I can't stand being in one place for the whole day. I worked at restaurants and I like to walk around and talk to people. But I gave it a try because he needed me, and it wasn't so bad," reflects Susan.


Gilbert is on the road about five hours a day delivering their goods. He jokes he could get a second job as a taxi driver, he knows Oahu so well.

Susan tends the shop, and found her days immediately filled with nonstop tasks: cleaning, stocking shelves, taking inventory, packing the goods for delivery, ordering products, and working the register. Susan also found she was still able to put her strength and passion to work: her love of people.


"I know most of the people who come in. I know their orders. I pull the items when I see them come in. Gilbert tells me I spoil the customers. But I like people. I like talking to them," she smiles.

"Oh, he's a regular," she gestures of Anson Martin as he walks in the door. Martin has been coming for about eight years, he says, because "it's convenient, centrally located, and cheaper."

Anson Martin

Anson Martin

When he was working in Kaneohe, he came every day for his lunch of spam or noodles, and a Pepsi. Now that he's moved to Waipahu, he's a less frequent visitor, but makes it a point to stop in whenever he's in town.

"They're like Mama and Papa. They take care of their customers like children. She really keeps track of everyone. She always asks how is my mother, my brother, my job," he says.

Susan adds, "When I haven't seen Anson for a while, I will ask his brother how he is. I check up on them!"

Customers file in just about every ten minutes, so we stop the interview constantly while she sells her goods and makes sure to get their daily update.

Annette Ng comes in next. "Oh, she's a regular," identifies Susan. I quickly came to realize that would be how every person coming through the door would be prefaced.

"She's friendly and down-to-earth, and you don't get that at the other larger stores," shares Ng. "Plus, this store carries items I can't get at the chain stores." She's buying a ginger tea drink today that seems like something you'd definitely find in Chinatown - or in a small, mom-and-pop store like this.


Alina Couch is another regular. Susan pulls Couch's regular order off the shelf the moment she sees her come in, and it's ready in the ten seconds it takes for Couch to saunter to the cash wrap. "I like that this store is family run. It's convenient, it has what I need, and I like this lady and her family. They're friendly, accessible, and always helpful," Couch expresses.

Susan knows everyone. "They tell me everything. They become friends. Sometimes I'll talk to one customer right up until another one needs to be rung up," she tells me. She hears about births and deaths, hires and fires, marriages, affairs, divorces, and everything in between. It's the Susan soap opera.


A little boy comes in with coins to buy a liter of soda. Susan counts the change and lets him leave with the drink, but calls after him, "Tell Auntie she's 35 cents short." I offer to cover his bill, but she says it's OK. They have a running tab.

Gilbert loves the store so much, he has no plans to retire. Work is his hobby. Work is his life.

"What's number one in your life?" Susan asks me. We agree that for both of us, it's our family.

"Not him!" chides his wife of 37 years, shooting him a look across the counter, softened with a smile. "The store is his baby! The store is his Number One!"


He bashfully smiles and chuckles. He works 12 to 17 hours  a day, six days a week. "Yeah, I love it. I don't know what I'd do with myself if I didn't have it."

That's OK. Their many loyal customers would probably say the same thing.

Family Grocery Store - 45-1127 Kamehameha Hwy in Kaneohe - (808) 235-0028. Hours: Monday - Saturday 9:15 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., Sunday closed. Cash only.

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