Friday, December 8, 2017

piano recital

We picked her up 30 minutes early from Gymnastics, and took her to her piano recital. She played two pieces. 1. Sleeping Beauties Waltz 2. The first Noel
 She was not nervious
 Taylor and Pepper also played in the recital.
The performers with their teachers Jaymie Tyau, and Jarred Miyahana. Eden, Nolan, Kiara, Pepper, Taylin, Taylor, Jacob, Katylin, Brent, Carley, Braden, Levi, Hayden, Carissa, Ethan, Tiani

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Taylin turns 8

 Taylin in Janny's back yard looking like she is about to turn 8!

 Our barefoot Hawaiian princess!
 And the beach, where all little girls should have their baptism announcement pictures taken.

 Almost ready
She has her new scriptures in her arms.
 It's go time, Gavin baptized Taylin, on her birthday Dec.3rd. How cool, how many people get baptized on their actual birthday? While when your 8th birthday falls on Sunday then you do! I hope she will always remember this day.

 Pepper and Taylin, life long friends.
 She says, "It was a good day and she was with a lot of people who love her." Mya gave a talk on baptism and Aunty Peta Roberts gave a talk on the Holy Ghost.
After the baptism, we headed to our place for a potluck dinner which wouldn't have happened without our tribe of friends who made most of the food. Thank you everyone. We missed my dad, but he was needed else where. He has always been big on being where you should be. Taylin we are proud of where you are, and we love you to the moon and back. So glad you decided that getting baptized was for you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kinley turns 10!

Since Darina's health wasn't good enough to leave, Dad stayed in San Diego with her, and I cancelled his trip to Hawaii. But, then flew back to Hawaii on Kinley's birthday and surprised her. I was supposed to fly on Nov. 30th. I landed at 2:30pm Gavin picked me up, Liz brought the birthday girl home from her music lesson in a car load full of balloons! Her party started at 4, and we hustled when we got home and it was magical.
 Nathan, Kelsey, Ellie, and Kinley playing on the trampoline!
 The cake Carley and her mom Leslie made for Kinley's party, it was so good.
 PiƱata line-up, Kinley, Brinlyn, Taylin, Pepper, Brent, Carley, Nathan, Kea, Taylor, Ellie, and Mya
 Kinley reading Nathan's funny homemade card.
The circle of folks watching the gift giving always a strange tradition.
Kinley felt loved, she was surrounded by friends and family. She is officially ten years old, and double digits.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


This year Thanksgiving was spent in San Diego a Big Rock park. Darina had come home on Tuesday, and we were all excited about having her at home. Friends had dropped off enough table and chairs that we could all eat on their patio in the backyard, Trenna set the tables beautifully. But, last minute we felt it might be to overwhelming, so we switched the location to the park. The dinner was provided by the Big Josh Foundation, and they had a French restaurant cater the dinner. It was very good, and very traditional. We spent hours and hours at the park.
Mark with his thinking face... 
We tossed the Frisbee, and the football, the kids played tag, and made piles of leaves to jump in. We played a little whiffle ball, basketball, we put together a puzzle and played a few rounds of clue. We spent a lot of time as cousins, and siblings, and aunts and uncles, feeling grateful and loving on each other.
 Our Marine, Bruce Allen
 Dad and I, photo by niece Taya
 Another photo by Taya
 The lighter of Mark and Sam's four boys...Evan and Kip
 Travis and Seth in the leaves
Travis, Wyndi, Sam and Mark putting the Ninja puzzle together.
 Trenna Ray
 Taya Fall

Seth tossing the football.
Grateful Sam went for drinks, and Derek took a plate of food to Darina and Chad. My own family was with friends in Hawaii doing a regular Thanksgiving feast followed by a jam session. Gavin learned a new Hawaiian chord progression and the clip I was sent sounded good.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

My Birthday, early

This year we celebrated my birthday two days early on a Saturday. The girls planned a brunch at the speeds, followed by swimming. Jenni, Leslie and I swam a mile at the local pool to prepare for the freepeoples triathlon.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Darina's update

Since having her lung drained on Monday, Darina's pain has been intense but, with the help of family and friends, she was able to get out of the house and attend Taya's soccer game Satureday morning. As most of you know, this is one of Darina's happy places. :) Taya's team even surprised D with a generous collection of gift cards for the family! 

Then, at around 4pm yesterday, Chad noticed that Darina seemed to be struggling even more and decided to take her to ER where she has been admitted. There is no easy way to say this but, she is not doing well. She is on 100% oxygen and the doctors are deciding what the next step is because they do not believe she would survive the scheduled procedure Tuesday (it is a surgical procedure and she is too weak). Unfortunately, that is all the info I have to share. 

PLEASE DO NOT contact Chad right now. He is overwhelmed and needs to focus on D and the kids. 

PLEASE keep checking your email for updates and needs. Things are changing minute by minute.

Thank you to each of you that have helped at a moments notice. The wheelchair has been so extremely helpful and the blender has been inaugurated with copious smoothies already. D's wonderful friends, Jeri and Brian, came Friday to clean up the yard, garden, and pack up the Halloween decor. Another beloved family friend, Roz, has been watching the kids. Each meal has been delicious and nourishing to both the minds and bodies of this beautiful family. The gift cards have been pouring in and and are already helping to supplement the family's needs. You are all a blessing to the O'Harran's.

Gavin in the news


Gavin Thornton: Hawaii Appleseed co-director helps the poor, and aims to untangle the state budget process By Maureen O'Connell Posted November 03, 2017 November 3, 2017

Gavin Thornton Picture

Shortly after graduating from the University of Virginia’s law school in 2002, while working as an attorney in Legal Aid Society of Hawaii’s Kona office, Gavin Thornton discovered that the state had been overcharging public housing tenants for more than a decade. The dispute became Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice’s first case, with $2.3 million recovered on behalf of the renters.
These days, Thornton serves as a co-director of the Honolulu-based nonprofit that advocates on behalf of low-income individuals, families and communities. It endeavors to pinpoint underlying community problems by conducting research on housing, health, education, immigration and disability rights issues. Among current efforts Thornton’s excited about: plans in the works to launch Appleseed’s “Hawaii Budget and Policy Center,” which will conduct research and data analysis on our state budget and tax structure, providing findings to policy makers ever in need of reliable information to more efficiently and effectively address poverty and inequality matters, he said. “Good data and analysis underlies successful companies we’re all familiar with. That concept can be applied to governance, and the new budget center aims to dramatically increase Hawaii’s capacity for data analysis focused on creating better public policy,” Thornton said. In tandem with its Budget and Policy Center, which is slated to be up and running in 2018, Appleseed intends to release a budget primer. “It will look at the process used to create the budget — where the state gets its money, how it spends it, how we compare to other states, and how things have changed over time,” Thornton said. “The folks in the (governor’s) administration and the Legislature who work on the budget have a tough job. They have a massive amount of information to process, and they have to make difficult decisions that people are bound to disagree with. The purpose of the primer is to provide a bird’s eye view of how the budget has evolved over time and some of the major issues at play, which will hopefully inform future decision-making.”

The son of a U.S. Air Force serviceman, Thornton grew up in California, Turkey, Virginia, Germany, and finally in Minnesota, upon his father’s retirement. A Kailua resident for the past five years, he said, “Hawaii is home now — I have stronger ties and have lived here longer than any place else.”

Question: What will it take to get a grip on affordable housing in the islands?

Answer: We have the highest housing costs in the nation. We have the lowest wages in the nation when you account for cost of living. From 2005 to 2014, average residential rents doubled. Rents increased at three times the rate of wage increases. For households making $44,000 a year — two-and-a-half times what a minimum wage earner makes — out of every 100 homes needed, only 40 are affordable and available. All told, the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism projects that the state will need an additional 64,700 to 66,000 housing units between 2015 and 2025, yet Hawaii’s housing stock has only been increasing at a rate of 1,115 units per year. Hawaii needs a grand vision for addressing the affordable housing crisis. We have excellent studies on the scope of the problem and what the need is, but there’s no road map for getting to where we need to be. We have great ideas on how to build a few hundred additional affordable units here and there with small amounts of additional subsidies, imposing affordable housing requirements, or allowing accessory dwelling units. But we don’t have anything that says: “We need x number of units affordable to households under y income level, and here are the options for bringing those units on line.” To get a handle on the crisis and turn it around, Hawaii needs a comprehensive plan for how we will address the entirety of our housing shortage, and we need to create systems to ensure the plan is implemented effectively. … Subsidy alone won’t cut it. We need to speed up the permitting and approval process. We need to adjust our expectations on what a home should be and consider options that use shared facilities to bring costs down. We need to preserve the affordable housing we already have. We need to bring all the ideas and stakeholders together and figure out what it is going to take to work our way out of this problem and how we are going to work together to get there. The place I would start is by creating the capacity to do this, either within the government or at a nonprofit. There are many smart, creative, wonderful people working on this issue, but most of them have day jobs. We need someone, or a few someones, that can devote 100 percent of their time and attention on bringing together all the ideas and stakeholders to develop and implement a comprehensive plan.

Q: Rail transit-oriented development was pitched as a chance to ramp up affordable housing inventory. Real-deal opportunity? Or pipe dream?

A: It’s definitely a real-deal opportunity, and one we can’t afford to squander. We’re investing billions of public dollars into rail. That public investment is increasing the value of the land around the rail stations. The value of the land can be increased further because with the availability of mass transit, we can build higher and more densely and we can cut down on the number of parking spaces needed at a building. We need to make sure that this increased value, created with public dollars, is shared with the public through requirements to build affordable units or some other means of recapturing an appropriate share of the public’s investment. Transit-oriented development will not solve the affordable housing problem, but it is an important part of the solution.

Q: Thoughts on Hawaii’s minimum wage and tax disparity issues?

A: This year, Appleseed spearheaded an effort that resulted in the passage of a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The credit is based on the federal EITC, which is responsible for bringing more children out of poverty than any other program in the nation. The tax reform package passed by the Legislature is expected to generate $135 million in tax relief for low-income working families over the course of five years — that’s tremendous progress. … On the minimum wage issue, I think it is important to understand that when we don’t adjust the minimum wage, it loses its value to inflation. In 1975, minimum wage was worth $11.18 in today’s dollars. In 1991, it was worth only $6.82 in today’s dollars. The annual income of a minimum wage worker in 1975 would have been around $23,250, whereas in 1991, it would have been around $14,190 — a more than $9,000 difference. Today, our minimum wage is $9.25, which isn’t enough to live on, and, if we don’t increase it, will quickly erode through inflation.

Q: What do you expect Appleseed’s top priorities will be heading into the 2018 session?

A: We will be working on tax issues again, pursuing changes that will help alleviate the tax burden on people in poverty. We are also looking at a revenue-raiser — not a new tax, but a method of collecting tax from non-residents who are investing in property in Hawaii. Hawaii is entitled to collect tax on the income from those investments, but without a collection mechanism, non-residents are just paying the tax in their home states. We want to reclaim those taxes. In addition, we are planning to work on minimum wage and supporting paid family medical leave.

Q:What do you find most challenging/frustrating about your work? Most rewarding?

A: I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do this work. The problems that we are trying to solve are both challenging and frustrating. Affordable housing, hunger, poverty and inequality — there are no easy solutions to these issues. But we are gaining ground on them, and that is tremendously rewarding. For example, it feels good to know that we’ve helped put food on the table for thousands of low-income working families by reducing their tax burdens. We are working to create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to achieve economic stability and success, and we are making progress. One of the best things about this work is the people. The work that I do puts me in contact with smart, capable, caring and inspiring people — we have many in Hawaii. They give me hope.