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~ Kaleo Padilla was nominated for the Maui Dad Blog by Wade Robson ~
Maui Dad Interview #2: Kaleo Padilla
Where are you from and how did you meet your partner?
I was born on a 16 acre farm in Haiku, Maui. My siblings and I spent our early childhood exploring the jungle while developing a deep and profound love for nature.
I have been married to my amazing wife, Melissa, for over five years. Melissa is originally from New York, but moved to Maui to care for her 80 year-old uncle, a former sugarcane field worker from Maui. Fate brought us together one night on the dance floor at Jacques Bistro in Paia. After dancing together, and having major magnetism, we discovered that we had some mutual friends. As fate has it, those friends had already set us up for a blind date the following weekend; I guess we beat them to it! The resulting relationship was a dynamic mix of Melissa’s ambitious East Coast energy and my island boy lifestyle.
How many children do you have?
We have an adorable little boy and two beautiful daughters. They are one, three, and four-years-old respectively.
What is your line of work?
I am a metal sculptor and specialty fabricator. Padilla Designs, our Maui-based, family owned and operated company, designs and builds functional metal sculptures for walls and ceilings, as well as fire and water features, and custom gates and railings.
Besides Padilla Designs, I do whatever I can to support my wife with her heartfelt and soulful company, Opihi Love, a one-of-a-kind wedding and event design studio. Melissa’s mission is to create breathtaking events inspired by her clients and their love stories. She has a true gift and puts every bit of her heart and soul into creating the most magnificent weddings, events and parties.
What are your favorite activities to do with your children on Maui?
Our family weekends are usually spent exploring some special corner of the Maui outdoors. From beaches to jungle waterfalls, I find so much joy in sharing my love of nature with my kids. We’ll snorkel with the sea turtles in Napili Bay or I’ll launch my girls on their boards into the waves at Cove Park. Observing their enthusiasm for life and nature is so rewarding, and it is so nurturing to relive my own first-time experiences by observing theirs.
Recently, our favorite nature activity has been wandering the streams at Iao Valley while trying to catch colorful guppies for our freshwater aquarium. I am endlessly amused watching my three and four-year-old girls swing their tiny red nets over and over, to no avail, with the determination of professional baseball players!
We also enjoy the large grassy hills at my old high-school, Seabury Hall. No matter how many times they roll off at the bottom, my kids have become hopelessly addicted to sliding down those hills on their makeshift sleds, made from torn pieces of cardboard.
What are your favorite foods and places to eat on Maui with your children?
Besides their cravings for Jamba Juice smoothies or the occasional cheese rollups from the Taco Bell drive-through, my favorite meals with my children are the ones that we prepare together at home. When I give them specific instructions, my children are great cooks. My four-year-old daughter can independently make scrambled eggs with cheese, and she can easily whip up a batch of pancake batter. We learn so much about each other when we spend that fun and intimate time together, focused on a collaborative task in the kitchen. Afterwards we all get to enjoy the rewards with a family picnic in the backyard or a tea party on the deck.
What is a funny memory that you have about fathering on Maui?
Watching my kids adjust to the world around them has been funny and at times downright hilarious. They charge through the day with such ambition and innocence. For example, after watching Tarzan the cartoon, one-too-many times, my girls saw the tail of a large cat hanging off of a tree branch on one of our walks. As if our lives were in imminent danger, they both bolted while screaming, “Leopord! LEOPORD!! DAD, RUN!!! Their tone was so serious that at first I did start to run. After realizing what happened and calming down, we all had a really good laugh.
What is one thing that inspires, impresses, or amazes you about your children?
This past Saturday, during her soccer game, my oldest daughter scored her very first goal. I had spent weeks supporting and encouraging her at her practices and games. She was so completely overjoyed that she ran across the field, jumped into my arms and said, “I did it daddy! I did it!!” I could clearly see her self-confidence growing bigger and bigger. I know that this is a very small-scale accomplishment, but it’s triumphant moments like this that make all of the effort, perseverance and sacrifice worth it.
What is the most challenging aspect of fatherhood for you?
Doing anything with three kids is extremely challenging, regardless of what you are trying to accomplish! Sometimes on the mornings when Melissa isn’t home and I’m parenting solo, getting three kids ready for school can get be pretty testing. Between the fifth wardrobe change for my four-year-old, the second poopy diaper on my one-year-old, and the spilled glass of milk and scrambled eggs by my three-year-old, those mornings provide me with an excellent test of my mental perseverance.
For me the most challenging aspect of fatherhood is making sure that my family is properly provided for, at this moment and into the future. At times, thinking about the responsibility that I have for the well-being of my children and their future can be very stressful for me. Its not that money is the most important thing to me, but I want my kids to have all of the same opportunities as everyone else.
What is the thing that you do best as a father?
I’ve always been a kid at heart so it’s very easy for me to communicate with and relate to my children. Because I understand them so well, I’ve learned to trust their instincts and emotions. Its difficult to do sometimes, but when I can, I will put my own needs and expectations aside and allow them to make some decisions for us throughout the day. When I’m able to do that, everything usually ends up working out better than I had originally planned! For example, if I let them choose a location or an activity for the day, we’ll magically end up at a place for lunch where a group of their friends are also eating, or we’ll end up at a beach where the weather happens to be absolutely perfect. Somehow my children always guide us to an awesome experience when I allow them to choose our course. Children are incredibly intuitive and intelligent, and are not yet jaded by our adult perspectives. When we trust their instincts we also feed their independence and grow their self-confidence, and we are reminded of how off-course and distracted from the beauty of the moment our adult agendas can be.
What is your favorite thing about being a Maui Dad?
Maui offers so many opportunities for family-friendly nature exploration, and exciting adventures. I can see that experiencing nature and adventure is helping my children to grow mentally and develop emotionally. I hope these experiences on Maui will provide them with a rich foundation that they will cherish throughout their lives. My favorite thing about being a Maui Dad is the constant reminder that life is really all about feeling gratitude and experiencing joy. Observing and interacting with my children on Maui helps me to understand how simple life can be and how easy it is to just let go, be happy, and enjoy the moment.
Anything else you’d like to share, shout-out, plug, or promote?
I get my strength as a father from Melissa, my beautiful wife and the mother of our three children. She is a very impressive woman whose strength and ambition inspire me. I love her dearly and could not imagine being on this adventure without her. My advice to other Maui Dads: be in the moment, and share your love with your family and the people around you.
Is there an inspirational Maui Dad that you’d like to nominate for our next interview?
I am proud to nominate Bo Mckuin for the next Maui Dad interview. Bo Mckuin is an inspirational father of three beautiful boys. In our busy lives we don’t spend as much time together as we’d like to, however when we do spend time together, I am always impressed by Bo’s calm and loving nature as a father. It is obvious that he deeply values his family. He is a man who is truly in-tune with his sons’ need for adventure, as well as loving fatherly support. With Bo as a father, I have absolutely no doubt that his children will grow up to be happy and successful human beings.
Kaleo Padilla was nominated as a Maui Dad Blog interviewee by Wade Robson. Please check out Wade’s Maui Dad Blog interview by clicking here.
Would you like to nominate a Maui Dad that you admire to be featured on the Maui Dad blog? You can send us your nominations for Maui Dad interviewees by clicking here!
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