You’re Invited to My Birthday Bash

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To celebrate my birthday (yay Happy Birthday to me!) SIX of my ebooks are on sale for 99 cents each for the first time ever. Limited time only. Sale is on Amazon only and you dont need to own a Kindle to buy them. You can download the free Kindle App to your phone of computer and then buy the ebooks.
I’m proud of each one of these books which were a challenge and a joy to write. I hope you enjoy them and please share the news with friends and family who are looking for a new read!
Thank you!
Click on the buy link and it will take you to the Amazon listing for all my books.
Buy Books

http://www.amazon.com/Lani-Wendt-Young/e/B005BK5EXM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

French Toast is Essential for Lazy Parenting

I am infamous for making my children eat breakfast foods for dinner. (Im not sure why this is a bad thing because hello, cereal is an incredibly balanced food group all by itself and when you pour milk on it, its like a three course meal right there.) I think it came about because I make my children cook dinner. A lot. And it just so happens that breakfast foods are usually easier to learn how to make. So along with cereal, we have French toast or scrambled eggs and toast or koko rice or pancakes or sausages or an omelet for dinner. And our other go-to specialty is a can of tuna and some rice. These are all things that my children know how to cook. And so far, theyve been happy and I ( of course) am very happy.
Because I am a busy lazy woman and I dont have time to mess around in the kitchen for hours on end.

My children were fine with this lazy dinner arrangement because they probably thought everybody ate like this. Everybody’s mother told them to open a tuna can or crack a few eggs for dinner.

Then Big Daughter went to live with her aunty in New Zealand. The first night there, her uncle cooked  lovely meal that didnt have cereal in it. The second night there, her cousin cooked a lovely meal that didnt have scrambled eggss in it. The third night there, her aunty was cooking a lovely meal that didnt include french toast when Big Daughter asked, “Do you cook meals like this every night?”

“Yes,” said her aunty.

“So its not just because you’re celebrating a special occasion or because you’re having a visitor come for dinner?”

“No,” said her aunty. Then her aunt (my big sister so she’s allowed to say stuff like this…), said “I am not like your mother. In my house, French toast and scrambled eggs are a breakfast food. In this house, we prepare proper dinners. We dont open cans of tuna to eat with rice. Or make you eat cereal at dinner. Oh no.”

This was an earth-shattering realization for Big Daughter. All the heavens were singing with this direct revelation from above, that CEREAL IS NOT FOR DINNER…NEITHER IS FRENCH TOAST…

She immediately got on her phone and messaged me. “Mum, did you know that in Aunty’s house, they dont have french toast for dinner!? They cook proper meals every night.”

She even sent me a photo in her excitement.
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“Look at auntys cupboard! And look at all these fruits and vegies we are going to make into a nice dinner!”

So then Bella said to send her a photo of our dinner.
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“Look! We’re having French toast. And tuna! Do you miss us?”

For some strange reason, Big Daughter is not missing our fabulous meals at all.

But I have a plan. Today I saw a delicious French toast recipe and Im going to make it for dinner Correction, I mean, Im going to show it to Middle Daughter so she can make it for dinner.
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Big Daughter’s gonna be envious. I’m sure of it.

Gender Violence in a Haircut.

I just reported a Facebook video for violent abusive content. If I knew who to call in that country, I would report the people responsible to social services/child welfare. 

A Pasifika family posted a video of them cutting off a young woman’s hair as punishment for her disobedient (possibly promiscuous?) behaviour. They also posted a lengthy condemnation of the teenage girl, who has since run away from their home – saying that they took her in after she left one family because she was being abused, they were kind and generous to take her in, shes lucky they didnt beat her, asking for people to share the video so she will be further shamed, and telling the girl to return so they can beat her properly. And “Im f@#&*^/ mad at you blah blah…”

The video has had thousands of views with comments ranging from “Thats nothing. You should have beat her…” to “Shes lucky she doesnt live in Samoa, she would be a bloody mess by now and have all her head shaved…” to “I remember when that happened to me. Shes lucky your family treated her so well…” to “I feel sorry for your family having to put up with a girl like that. You should have beat/hurt/smashed/really taught her a lesson. Sending your parents love.”

The practise of cutting a womans hair to shame her for (usually) her sexual choices and behaviour is an example of violence against women. When its combined with social media, the scope of the shaming is multiplied many times over. This is called cyber-bullying and its a crime.

We have a high suicide rate, especially amongst our young people. I’m horrified and sad that none of the eager rabid commenters or video viewers seem to have considered the very real fallout that posting AND sharing a video like this, might have on the young woman in question.

There are other, better ways for a family to teach and discipline a ‘difficult’ troubled teenager. It’s my hope that this girl will get the support she needs.

I dont care if its ‘our culture’ for elders to use all kinds of violence on children and youth. It’s immaterial if you were beaten as a child and “look at me, I turned out okay!” Abuse is a crime and we need to stop making excuses for it. Violence against women in the form of hair cutting/ shaving is an example of how both men AND other women, attempt to control and subdue, shame and silence.

For all the excited viewers and commenters getting in on the action by throwing their own stones of condemnation – I ask you to consider the target of your pack mentality, a teenage girl who could surely use some compassion right now.

Please share – have you or someone you know, ever experienced this practise of punishing a woman by cutting her hair? Its common in Samoa and I didnt realize that Tongans also practise this?

Pumpkin Problems

Whoever used this land before we bought it, planted pumpkins and its pumpkin season so our front yard is popping with them. Im not a pumpkin fan but that man I’m married to told me how wonderful it is to have fresh pumpkin from our own land and we shouldnt waste it and we should be eating healthy and saving money while we’re at it and blah blah blah.

He said, “We should bake it, roast it, cook it with pisupo, put it in soups and bake it in cakes and pies…” By WE he meant ME of course. Because while he welds stuff, builds buildings and is generally involved in activities that actually make money so we can eat – I am supposed to be looking after our house, making sure our children get to school on time, and cooking meals for us to eat.

Preferably meals that contain pumpkin.

I took his words like the challenge and motivation they were meant to be and I dusted off my Little House on the Prairie spirit.

Inspired by the fabulous pumpkin cinnamon waffles I ate in Utah on my recent visit, I tried making pumpkin pancakes. With lots of cinnamon, brown sugar and maple syrup.

They were DIVINE. So good. The Hot Man was suitably impressed with my pumpkin chef skills and everybody stuffed themselves with pumpkin pancakes. Except for Bella. Who as we all know, only eats bread and jam and boiled eggs anyway so her culinary opinion doesnt count.

I made pancakes three days in a row until everybody was sick of them and the Hot Man suggested I cook something else.

So then I roasted pumpkin. Drizzled with golden syrup, dabbed with golden butter and sprinkled with steak seasoning.

It must have been good because they ate it all before I could get any.  #Win.

Encouraged by that success, I tried something a little trickier. Pumpkin soup. Whipped into a silky richness with dollops of cream and spiced with a hint of red chilli, ginger and lemongrass.

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My soup looked JUST like this. Kind of.

My  soup looked JUST like this. Sort of.

“What is it?” he said, with a doubtful frown.

“Pumpkin soup,” I said excitedly. Y’know, made with pumpkin from the front yard. Because its so wonderful and we shouldnt waste it.

“Is it going to make me have a bad stomach during my 10k race tomorrow?” he asked suspiciously.

No.

“Is there any meat in it?”

No. You eat it with bread.

“So this is a vegetarian meal?”

Yes.

“Why cant I see any pumpkin pieces in it?”

Because I blended them all up into a soup.

Finally he ate it. But he was unimpressed. “Its niiiiiice. But its like Im eating babyfood. Or like Im an old man in a resthome eating mush because Ive got no teeth.”

Then the children looked at it and politely declined. “Can we eat cereal instead? Or maybe a can of tuna?”

#Fail

Im going back to making pumpkin pancakes. Because we have pumpkins coming outta our ears here.

Got any suggestions or recipes please?

When Children Grow Up. When Children Leave.

Its a startling thing when your children leave home and begin to go days without needing to speak to you.

Eighteen months ago, five children occupied my home and heart, breathed all my air, and jostled for attention and cookies.

Then Big Son went to university and even though, logically, there should have been more air to go around – I couldnt breathe. I cried. All the time. I missed him. All the time. I could not comprehend how I would ever stop feeling like “someone’s missing. Count heads again. Where is he? HE’S BEEN ABDUCTED. SOMEBODYS TAKEN MY BABY. WTF IS HE!???? CALL THE POLICE. WE HAVE TO FIND HIM.” Panic. Fear. Adrenaline rush.

Then Big Daughter went away to do 7th Form in NZ. More crying. Another huge chunk of emptiness bitten into my soul. Then Little Son went away to boarding school.

Nooooo!

Suddenly, I didnt have five children barraging into my hermit cave every five minutes and driving me nuts. No. I only had two.

We are now officially a four person household. Like those palagi families with 2 adults, 2 children. If we wanted (and if we won the Lottery) we could get those holiday package deals for 4 now. And fit into one hotel room. Or go to a theme park on a “family” ticket. None of which was possible before because families of seven arent really families. According to budget holiday providers anyway. We could probably afford to go to Disneyland now. Or at least to (yucky) Rainbow’s End.

Except I dont want to.

Because I dont have all my children with me. Because it wouldnt be fun without them. Breathing my air, eating my donuts, using all my non-existent money, making me laugh and cracking jokes about how their hermit mother hates leaving the house.

But I’ve noticed…

As time goes by, you, the parent, the mother who at one time fretted over their every tremulous breath, can go an entire afternoon WITHOUT thinking about them. Wondering what theyre doing…eating…how much schoolwork theyre getting done…how many times theyve laughed that day…did anyone make them cry? And at the close of day, you catch yourself going to sleep without that moment of panicked realization “My son isnt here…I didnt check on my daughter tonight…theres only two children in my house and I am incomplete…”

And then you feel guilty because you arent riddled with anxiety all day, because you DIDNT miss them desperately every minute, because there is no gaping hole in your home and heart. Because babies grow up and children become young adults. They eventually dont NEED you anymore. And maybe, just maybe you dont NEED them anymore either. (Oh you still love them desperately, but you arent quite so tied to needing the validation of being their mother to give your day meaning?)

It makes me sad.

But it also makes me peacefully happy and hopeful because me and Darren helped make actual people who can breathe without us, their parents. Young, smart, funny, creative, kind people who (for the most part) are doing smart, funny, creative and kind things in their lives that are separate from ours. And it helps SO much that our children – who are no longer children – have loving supportive family where they are. Watching over them, ready to give help when its needed. Im so grateful for the strength and love of extended family aiga. This stage of parenting would be SO much harder without them.

I’m learning to navigate my daily life without five children being physically present and without the constant ache of 3/5′s of emptiness inside me. I’m learning how to still have family dinners – when theres only four of us instead of seven, when there’s that lazy mournful voice inside me that says, ‘why bother? Your family is incomplete. Just leave that hassle until they all come home for the holidays.’ I’m learning how to be a mum to fewer human beings who are physicallly present, and how to be a long-distance mum to human beings who are still children in my heart but adults in their own eyes.

I’m also getting to know my two younger children so much better. My conversations with them are more leisurely, have greater depth and longer pauses for musing because there’s fewer people jostling for space in the conversation. I’m seeing Middle Daughter cautiously navigate her new role as the eldest, sometimes with a thrill of excited discovery, “I can sit in the front seat now…I decide what to cook for dinner!” And sometimes with a frown of resignation, “But Sade always bathed the dog…why do I have to do it?” I’m seeing Bella figure out how to still be the Boss youngest – when there’s fewer siblings to alternately indulge her whims and censure her.

We are all making adjustments. Changing, growing, shifting and re-aligning. Learning how to be parents to young adults as they move towards independence. Learning how to be present without hovering (or stalking them!) Learning how to better love without judgement.

Learning how to be a family across oceans. Learning how to let go – and still keep them close. I anticipate that we will always have our (adult) children moving out and moving back home, and they will always be welcome to come home and breathe all my air again…but I want them to all eventually, be independent fabulous human beings who are emotionally, mentally, spiritually (and financially lol) able to walk and breathe in deeply of life’s challenges and adventures, without me.

And looking far ahead, wondering – when that happens, where will that leave me? What will I do? Who will I be?

Hmmm…

Scarlet Lies – My New Book Is Here!

Talofa Family and Friends,

My new book SCARLET LIES has just been released in digital format on Amazon. The first in a three bk serial, it will be followed on April 30th by SCARLET SECRETS and then on May 30th by SCARLET REDEMPTION.

The Scarlet Series is contemporary adult romance and women’s lit, so something quite different from my YA TELESA Series. 

The ebook is priced at $3.99 and is available at this link – Scarlet Lies on Amazon

I hope you enjoy this new novel!

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Here is the cover blurb -

Lies are beautiful when the truth hurts…

Sixteen years ago, Scarlet’s family sent her away in disgrace. She’s been back once – with disastrous consequences. Now her little sister is getting married and Scarlet is headed home once more. Will this be the reunion she’s always longed for? Or will the lies of her childhood entangle her in their beautiful embrace?

She has a nightmareish fear of flying and she’s escorting her sister’s wedding dress through three different time zones. He’s the tall, dark and handsome stranger who gets in her way…

What happens when Scarlet has to go home to be bridesmaid to her least favorite little sister?  Can she survive three weeks of tropical heat and mosquitos droves of busybody relatives all wanting to tell her WHY she’s still single as she endures the wedding from hell?  Six hundred guests, three wedding dresses, twenty-four cake tiers, fifteen bridesmaids, a mother on a mission to makeover her daughter, and one deliciously divine man – all add up to a recipe for disaster. Or does it?

More than just a romance, this poignant story about the tangled connections between mothers, daughters and sisters, speaks with compelling insight and humor, of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and stubbornness of love.

A Soul-Sucking Serpent

Somebody was mean to Bella at school today. This somebody has been a cause of ongoing drama with Bella for awhile. Let’s call her ‘Marissa’ to protect the guilty…

So we’re in the car on our way home and Bella is telling her impassioned story about the horrible Marissa who  (supposedly), tells fibs, teases people and takes things from other people’s bags.

I want to say, ‘Marissa sounds like an evil soul-sucking serpent and you need to punch her in the eye.’

But I’m trying to be a nice mother, so instead I say, “Well, I think Marissa is a lost cause and you should stay away from her and dont play with her anymore.” That’s a reserved and tolerant response, right? Five points in heaven for me!

But Middle Daughter doesn’t agree. She frowns at me and says gently, “What would Jesus do in this situation?”

Are you for real??!!

Bella says doubtfully, “I don’t know. Does Jesus know Marissa?” Obviously me and Bella are on the same unChristlike page.

I say, “I think Jesus would be firm with Marissa. He would tell her not to fib and not to take things from other little girl’s bags. A hardline approach to wrongdoing, y’know.”

Middle Sister shakes her head at me. “I don’t think Jesus would do that.” She turns to Bella, “Does Marissa have lots of brothers and sisters?”

What the heck does that have to do with anything??!!

“She’s got three brothers and two sisters,” says Bella.

Middle Daughter nods thoughtfully. “Ah see?”

No I dont see. See what?

“Maybe Marissa doesnt get much attention from her family at home because she’s got so many siblings. Maybe she’s sad deep inside. That’s why she does those things at school,” says Middle Daughter.

No, maybe Marissa is an evil soul-sucking serpent and she needs a punch in the eye.

Bella doesnt look convinced. So Middle Daughter adds, “How about Marissa’s parents. Do they both work? Are they away from home a lot?”

Say whaaat?!?!?!?!?! I have no clue where this child is getting her wacked ideas from.

“I dunno what her mum and dad do,” says Bella.

“You should ask her,” says Middle Daughter with all the sage wisdom of her 13yrs. “Maybe she feels neglected, maybe she’s misunderstood. That’s why she makes hurtful choices at school. It could be a cry for help.”

Bella’s frowning. “So what do I gotta do then?”

“Marissa needs your friendship and caring. Be nice to her. Be kind and patient. Even when she tells fibs and is mean. Marissa is troubled and she needs friends,” says Middle Daughter.

I can’t resist adding my two cents. “And if kindness doesnt work then Marissa needs a punch in the eye,” I say. “Because she could be a soul-sucking serpent.”

Both daughters look at me and roll their eyes and shake their heads in disapproval.

“Mum!” sighs Bella. “Jesus wouldn’t do that.”

I guess that means no points in heaven for me today.

Celebrating Women of Pasifika – A Lecture given for Women In History Month at SLCC, Utah

If you ever wondered what I sound like in real life, especially when I’m nervous…on edge…worried someone’s gonna throw rotten eggs at me – here’s your chance!! There’s a video clip up on YouTube for my lecture for Women in History Month, given at SLCC Utah, “The Sinnet of Myth”. The title for my presentation is taken from the poem “Inside us the Dead” by Albert Wendt, specifically where he talks about his mother (and my grandmother) Luisa Patu. Grateful also to inspiration provided by Grace Taylor’s poem on the teine toa who live within us. The lecture was followed by an extensive Q&A which is also on the YouTube clip and covers audience questions about writing, the Telesa Series, and advice for other Pasifika writers/artists. Thank you to the SLCC tech team who recorded the lecture.

Everybody please ignore my fluffy nervousness in this video…

Instead please focus on how nice my big sister’s jacket looks on me – thank you Tanya for lending your pitiful sister some clothes!

A Women’s Worth” – Celebrating Women in History Month: https://youtu.be/Q18rPh7GqYQ

Loving Being a Writer In Utah

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This right here is what I LOVE about being a writer. Meeting young readers and writers in a school thousands of miles away from Samoa – and being able to sit and #talkBooks and #TalkTelesa with them. Today was a stand-out school experience for me – one where I was taught, inspired AND entertained by the students and staff of Pacific Heritage Academy here in Utah. Beginning with an epic Community Circle assembly that had me laughing, humming along (ok and trying not to leap up and #bustAMove dance…) – to a discussion session with 7th and 8th graders who blew me away with their thought-provoking questions and preparation. Read some of their poetry as well and rather in awe at the depth and insight of these young writers and the teachers who are guiding them. So impressed with the work theyre doing and grateful for the opportunity to spend the day.
They wanted to know what kind of books I like and there was a thrilled buzz when I said #HungerGames #Narnia @johngreenwritesbooks #Divergent – all books theyre reading right now. Its so true that stories / books can unite people no matter how far apart we may be geographically. I left there feeling encouraged because #theFutureLooksBright. Thank you Pacific Heritage Academy.