Keiki Balloon Drop & New Year’s Eve Party

(My first post of the new year!  Yes, this post is super late. Happy belated New Year everyone!)

On New Year’s Eve, Ev and I took Connor to a Balloon Drop and New Year’s Eve Party hosted by FIT4MOM Honolulu.  The Party was held at Kakaako Agora and was a charity event for Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, a non profit organization committed to improving maternal and child health in Hawaii. DSC02826The event started at 10:30 am and ended shortly after the balloons dropped at 12 noon.  The cost was a $5 dollar donation per person.  When we first arrived, there were snack, activity, craft, and play stations to keep the kids busy while we waited for the program to start.  We also passed the time browsing a few of the “mommy vendor” stalls (LulaRoe, Osborne Books, Mary Kay, etc.) that were set up along one side of the room.DSC02816There was a short program consisting of a brief introduction from Fit4Mom Honolulu, story time and dancing, and a visit from Princesses Cinderella and Ariel!DSC02813For story time, the storyteller read Boogie Monster by Josie Bisset, which is a interactive  book which asks the children to dance, shake, and wiggle different body parts.  The book was very similar to the Tickle Monster book by the same author that we read to Connor at home.  After story time, the princesses arrived and  led the children through a few song and dance routines.  Then they lined the children up for autographs.
DSC02824We don’t let Connor watch too much television, so I’m not sure whether Connor knew who those princesses were or if he was just not interested in them.  He was pretty indifferent to the princesses, so we didn’t stand in line for their autographs.  A lot of the other children were very excited to see the princesses though. It was very cute.
DSC02845Connor was more excited to play with the party blowers that they were passing around.  it pretty much kept him preoccupied for most of the party.  I have about 50 photos of Connor blowing this party blower but I’m particularly proud of the picture above because I think it looks kind of artsy.
DSC02861Shortly before noon, all the chilrden were asked to sit on the stairs under the balloons grouped somewhat by age, with the oldest children standing  in the center of the balloon area and the  youngest near the outsides of the area so that the younger children wouldn’t be trampled by the older children.DSC02873At noon, the balloons came down.  I was hoping that Connor would be excited to see all the balloons fall but, unfortunately, I think I was more excited than he was.  I have such a mellow kid. Connor watched the balloons fall and then went back to blowing on his party blower.  DSC02880Eventually, we were able to coax Connor into giving up his party blower and play with the balloons on the floor.  Overall, Connor had fun and it gave us something to do on a Saturday afternoon.  I wouldn’t mind going again and hope they have the event next year.DSC02894Happy New Year everyone.  I think that 2017 is going to be great.DSC02806

2015 New Year’s Festivities

Prior to meeting Ev, the New Year’s holiday was not that important.  Me and my family typically spent our New Year’s eve going to a movie and would have a small modest family lunch on New Year’s day.

New Year’s with the Ohtas is much different and has been a learning experience.  For Ev and his family, New Year’s is filled with countless traditions and is arguably more important than Christmas.  The New Year’s festivities actually begin the weekend after Christmas, when the family prepare for the new year by pounding mochi and making kadomatsu.  A few days prior to New Year’s, Ev’s dad gathers his ingredients for his ozoni (traditional Japanese mochi soup).

On New Year’s eve, we began with dinner at Ev’s uncle’s house with Ev’s extended family.  At around 10pm, the party finishes and Ev’s immediate family moves the party to Ev’s parent’s house, where we wait to celebrate the New Year.  At midnight, we eat soba and cheer with a round of sake.  Then, the Ohta’s get into the car and visit the Izumo Taisha Shrine.

The visit to the Shrine on New Year’s is called hatsumoude, which starts by passing under the Shrine’s gate and washing one’s hands at a wash basin. The act of washing hands signifies the beginning of spiritual cleansing of oneself.  After the washing, everyone waits in line to take turns offering money, and shaking a sacred, straw rope, the shimenawa, that rings a bell suspended from a beam of the shrine.  The ringing noise is to banish the evils and purify oneself.  Then, the priest or his assistants, wave a sacred wand over our heads, which represents purification and blessing.

After visiting the shrine and getting blessed, we purchase charms for the home (ofuda) or for the individual (omamori).  This year we purchased one ofuda for our home, and three types of omamori  – one for our car, one for our relationship/family, and one for Connor.  Our old ofuda and omamori from 2013 were also brought to the Shrine to be burned.

Our New Year’s festivities continued later that morning with lunch at Ev’s parent’s house where we got to eat Ev’s father’s ozoni.  Then, it was off to New Year’s lunch with my family!  Overall, New Year’s was exhausting but it was also very nice to spend time with both sides of the family.  Here are a few pictures to remember Connor’s first Hatsumoude:

DSC01685 Everett approaching the Izuma Taisha Shrine

DSC01678 Washing our hands

DSC01683Waiting our turn in line.  It was way past Connor’s bedtime and he slept through the whole thing!

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s with friends and friends.  What are your New Year’s Day traditions?  I’d love to hear them!