All posts by Carl Okuyama

About Carl Okuyama

Starts at Home helps and encourages parents in early parenting, to nurture and help build happy and joyful homes. Each child is different and possess individual talents; with encouragement and discipline they will find much success. Located in Hilo, Hawaii.

Go Diaper Free

IMG_3851[1]It was pleasantly shocking news to learn that our granddaughter was potty trained by her parents in both #1 and #2 within five months of age. Wow, that’s great news! Now getting through those messy early years can be shorten, not to mention saving of a lot of time, money, and the environment.

Over the next year sign language was taught, now when she wants to go to the restroom she gives the sign, pretty soon she will be able to ask verbally. Last week when coming home from Waikoloa, Hawaii, about an hour and a half drive, she signed twice, so dad pulled over the car to the side of the road and she did her thing. I swear that’s the best thing since the mobile phone.


Amy and I own a grocery and convenience store in Naalehu and want to help our customers reduce the use of diapers. Yes reduce diaper sales! Our business mission is to help lift our community and associates. So if we can help babies GoDiaperFree, we’re heading in the right direction. To help, the store will sponsor and host a GoDiaperFree class at the store.  An optional book GDF 0-18m book will be available to purchase onsite at the class. To make reservations go to Wiki-Wiki Mart’s Facebook page and register in Events.

“If you wish to begin helping your baby use the toilet instead of diapering full-time, and you want to learn how to do elimination communication but don’t know where to begin, this book is for you” Andrea Olson, Founder, Go Diaper Free

We hope to see you there.

Here are the event details below:

EC flyer - Google Docs

Sherry Okuyama holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and is a Go Diaper Free Certified Mentor residing in Hilo, Hawaii. She has practiced EC with her daughter from the day she turned a month old. She teaches new parents (of babies ages 0-18 months) how to begin EC with confidence and ease + loves helping families discover a new way of being with babies… free from dependence of diapers.

Young Writer Publishes His 5th Book

Mom Zjane, Shafer Santiago-Militao, Carl Okuyama at Wiki-Wiki Mart.
One day while working at Wiki-Wiki Mart, Naalehu I couldn’t help overhearing a proud mom sharing a story of her son who just  completed writing and publishing a book for a school project. She was very proud of her son. This really peaked my curiosity so I asked the young writer Shafer about his book.

Shafer quickly went to get his book from the car parked outside.  Smiling, he showed me his glossy soft cover book entitled Mr. Whale Shark Makes Friends.  His writing was excellent for a nine year old who is originally from Brazil, he says he has two dogs and two cats. The illustrations in this book are his own drawings.


I purchase a copy of Shafer’s book from, using the book’s pin # 7481214. His teacher’s name will pop up, it’s Carlin’s.

The writing program is a curriculum at Volcano School of Arts and Sciences, a public Charter School, on the Island of Hawaii; Ms. Kalima Kinney, Principal, and Mr. Chris King-Gates, Assistant Vice Principal, are supporting the program. supports early parental involvement with their children, they have teamed up with Wiki-Wiki Mart who loves children and encourages them to do their best.  Each semester the store rewards perfect attendance at Naalehu Elementary School. Students with three days or less are rewarded with an escorted excursion to the store, where they get $3.00 to spend as they please or save the money, the kids like the break.

IMG_3344[1]The goal of the Perfect Attendance Program is to have the school’s attendance rate pass the Big Island’s School District’s average of 94%.  When the program started two years ago, the Naalehu school’s rate was 88%.  They have gotten up to 91% and is wavering trending upward, we are praying they pass the district’s average of 94%. Since then another program was started “Challenge Five” that recognizes students with less the five absences in a semester. With good faith by students, parents, school faculty, and the community this goal will come to pass, yes #KidsKan.

To get more parental participation, Wiki-Wiki Mart has announced that parents with children attaining “Perfect Attendance” will receive a 25% discount coupon good at the store.  Starts of Home is trying to build community partnerships that promotes improved student attendance, if you’re interested call (808) 937-4292, we would love to partner with the community in improving school attendance.

For our children and our community’s future, train a child in the way to go.

Written By Carl Okuyama


To the Top – Nourished by Parent’s Love and Encouragement – Christine Lagarde, France

Christine Lagarde
Christine Lagarde. Photo by Forbes Magazine

When asked by PBS talk radio, what made you so successful, Christine Lagarde, the first women Managing director, International Monetary Fund, she replied “My parent’s love and encouragement” made me what I am.  She was ranked #8 as the Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes Magazine. She lives in Washington, D.C., and is helping over 180 countries finance their economies.  She has been asked if she would run for President of France.  Her success is outlined by Wikipedia. Yes, Love is the Greatest Gift.

Building a Work Ethic with Five Cents per Bag of Trash

Naalehu, HI. – A senior lady would come every other day to pick up the cardboard trash at the local grocery store Island Market. What was unusual, she used a brand new shinny red Ford F-150 Ford truck; my curiosity was awakened.

My wife Amy and I opened a grocery and convenience store, called Wiki-Wiki Mart – Union 76, two blocks away from Island Market.  When our trash and recycling service provider stopped I asked the lady to take over the service, so Sue Barnett, started taking care of our trash and recycling service; she was punctual and did a very good job for us.  I had to remind her to cash her monthly checks; there were four months of checks outstanding.  She was donating her checks to Naalehu Main Street a local non-profit group. The group told Sue it was “not worth the hassle to them” as they were phasing out of their group.  Sue finally cashed her checks.  This intriguing women worked very hard, then gave her money away.

After couple of years, Sue comes to the store with another new red Ford F-150 truck, wow,  how does this lady survive; giving away her income and buying another new truck.  So my curiosity peaked.  Finally, I ask her about her prior occupation; she said she was a retired veterinarian; wow, now it made sense.  She was taking the cardboard and making mulch for resale. Sue was always busy and very resourceful.  She donated her time once a month to neuter cats and dogs in the community; a very caring and giving person who shared her skills freely and with much compassion and aloha. One day she came to the store with a large “Black and Blue” mark on her thigh, she said a donkey bit her, then remarking how painful that was… yikes, I guess after a life long career she was used to those kind of rare experiences.

Now wanting to find out how she became so diligent I asked her if I could meet her for breakfast and listen to how she was raised by the parents; her story would be shared with She said yes and I waited with baited breath to hear her story.

She explained she did not come from a rich family and her parents had to work hard to put food on the table. Sue said “if you want something you have to work”  Her mom said if you want a comic you have to work. So the mom would send them into the neighborhood to pick up trash and she’d pay them five (5) cents for a bag of trash or pull weeds around the house. “So when you got what you wanted you’d appreciate it a lot more.”  She’s concerned about “today’s kids who feels that they are entitled to what they want and not investing the time to get it or stealing instead of working.”

An interesting comment she mentioned is “the’re kids that are born poor and die poor and there are kids that are born rich and die poor” She believes and a strong work ethics keeps people out of poverty. She appreciated her mom keeping her goals realistic and can remember wanting a pony and her mom said that’s too much money. “Having realistic goals can help and will encourage success”. She also sees that when people are not successful and give up could commit suicide. Sue says “we should learn from our failures, it’s the best teacher.  So get up and get going.”

Sue went to a local college with the scholarships she earned, then worked her way through graduate school.  She doesn’t like to be called doctor or use her professional designation as VMD.  She said those titles a not important as they cause to much “one up-man-ship”.  The community has come to know her as Aunty Sue.  Thank you Aunty Sue.

Written by Carl Okuyama