Thursday, August 26, 2010

Consider this, consider that, Consider-it

We are to day four of our week long floor renovation project. We were going to start Monday and jumped right in last week, pulling carpet out so the painters would have a clean slate. This put us a full 2 days ahead of schedule. This is good news for all , especially the Buddha meister Meister Buddha who I know is hoping to get in at least 1 day of surfing during his week of leave before he leaves.

A few months ago we helped our neighbors lay laminate down in their house, considering it a dry run and experience gained for when we did our own floors. We also kinda figured that if we were helpful enough, they wouldn't mind lending us their saws and tools for completing the job. Not only were we provided with the tools, but 4 extra hands, meals and childcare while we have worked to get everything finished. They expect nothing back and just help out because they like to. Yesterday as I painted trim and my neighbor walked by for the third time to tell me my technique was flawed, I got to thinking. First of all , the trim in all of the houses here is called Swiss Coffee. Now, one would visualize that such color would be a very light brownish color. One would be incorrect. It is white. If you have ever wandered into a home improvement store or seen a painter's wheel- you know that there are a gajillion shades of white. One of them apparently is swiss coffee. So there I was, painting white on white, getting critiqued for my technique. The only way I could tell what I had actually painted was to bend down to where the light reflected off the trim and look for the dull spots.  My solution to the criticism was to criticize right back. If you know me, you know that if I like you, I'll give you shit- otherwise I don't bother.  I had a friend's husband ask her once- Jen stuck her tongue out at me and made a face, why would she do that? Considering we were in formal attire at the time, I guess it may have seemed out of place. But of course she told him- That's Jen, it just means she likes you. And sometimes I apparently have the maturity of a five year old, which makes sense because that is my current audience.

We have run across lots of choices and considerations whilest we have been flooring. First was the flooring choice itself. For months I have been pondering what I want. We are not going to be in this house forever, so it's got to be affordable. I finally picked out an option. They didn't have enough in stock. Phil has one week off and is leaving in a couple weeks, so we are limited to what's on hand. We were at the 4th store of our shopping experience. Ok, what about this model? Nope not enough in that choice either. All right which floor do you have enough in stock of?  This one.  Ok, we'll take it. The story of my life. And it looks great. Things have a way of working out that way.

Day 3, we are trying to procure caulking and glue and trim to put around the purdy new floor. The caulking we need is on the highest shelf at Home Depot. Our neighbor has generated a theory about home improvement projects and competing wharehouses and the inability to get any job done without visiting BOTH places. I tend to agree. We have also become huge fans  of Lowe's here on the aina. We would shop there exclusively from here on out if our neighbor's theory wasn't in fact correct- but so far it has proven to be. But I digress, we were trying to get the caulk down. Phil, who met me at the store on his way back from work, is in uniform. He looks for a ladder. Nope. Two employees are chatting across the way as he looks for a ladder. They do not break their conversation as he stands by them patiently not wanting to interrupt. Finally he gives up, comes back and just scales the wall and tosses the box down to me. It was amazing how fast one of the two employees who couldn't take a break in their conversation to acknowledge a customer jumped over to "help".  As soon as Phil was down, he walked away without a word. We get to the checkout and Phil asks if they have a military discount. FYI- both Home Depot and Lowes have military discounts that are standing- you have to ask for it and show ID. If you are standing there in uniform, they will not give it to you, you have to have ID. So the checkout girl asks Phil for his ID and he gives me that look. I just snort, because it seemed like the appropriate response. He shows her the ID. We then proceed to Lowe's to get the remainder of our necessities that HD did not have. We get what we need and again are at checkout. As the girl rings him up, Phil asks for the military discount. She asks for his ID. I giggle. She actually leaves the register to get a manager's approval for the discount and the cashier next to her leans over- You'd think the uniform would be enough wouldn't ya?  You would think.  But policy is policy. I get that. I don't get crappy customer service. Everyone has bad days. But somewhere along the line we have lost the fine art of faking it. I am surrounded by fake lips, boobs and nails. Jailbroken this, just like the real thing that. We went through great pains to get real fake floor that looks like real wood. I mean technically it is wood that's been processed to paper and then squooshed together real good, so it is all natural in the most liberal sense of the word- kinda like cheetos being all natural.  Damn I keep digressing. My point is- what ever happened to common courtesy?  You have singletons in their 30's who have never abandoned their selfishness a second long enough to commit to anything or anyone, ranting on and on how people don't know how to parent or control their kids in public. You have parents running around in public, afraid they'll either be hauled off to jail or damage the fragile psyche of their child if they discipline them and they are miraculously supposed to learn self control by the time they are adults. I may live on an island, but I have learned that the old adage is true- no man is an island. Our lives interconnect and will continue to do so. You can choose how your worlds interconnect. You can choose positive over negative. Next time you are in a store and a child is struggling, remember it's a child. Instead of judging or commenting to the mother, smile or talk to the child. Make them aware that you are aware of them. Accountability. Next time your child is running amok, reign them in no matter how tired you are. Apologize to bystanders. Respect. Common courtesy. Remember that everyone has bad days. The only thing stopping your bad day from turning into a good one is your outlook.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I learned a new word last week. Seeing as it was the first full week of school, I figured my vocabulary would be supplemented eventually. I was catching up on some social networking one sunny morning while my one and only child still at home, Bella was catching up on some Olivia episodes. It is interesting to watch what shows she picks, which games she likes to play and how much that child can talk and talk and talk when she is the only one home. I had no idea she had such a vocabulary, she even has conversations her vocabulary can't support. She just make noises and sounds until she finds another word that works. It's entertaining unless you are trying to have a phone conversation with a public health nurse.  But it was not Bella who enlightened my vocabulary that day, it was my cousin.

I am one of 8 cousins on my dad's side. I was 3rd in line and through my brother's untimely demise, became VP cousin, second eldest.  Through a lucky assignment, early in our Air Force career- I was within driving distance of my extended family again and was reminded of how many happy years we had growing up. In a time before cancer, before responsibility- in a time you could safely jump into a mountain of leaves your uncle had just raked without wearing a helmet and body armor.  I remember each of my cousin's arrivals and the excitement of having one more baby to play with. I remember feeling so much older than my younger cousins, more worldly and responsible and look back now and laugh, we are only a couple years apart.  I remember following my older cousin around- she was the cool one, the pretty one and most definitely the smartest. She introduced me to Toni Basil's Mickey, of which I sang relentlessly for months. We got together a couple years ago and compared ages- we were both shocked to find the difference was 2 years. The difference between 32 and 34 is a lot less than 10 and 8. So I have to agree with the whole time is not linear arguement. 

I remember holding my cousins, changing their diapers, having sleepovers, crazy dress up 4th of July's and wild Christmas Eve celebrations. I remember feeling the distance when my family moved across the country and feeling even more left out going back to visit. I remember feeling heartbroken not being able to make it to my cousin's wedding because we are across an ocean and I had 4 small kids and a husband who was away. I was so excited a few months back to learn a new member will soon be making their way into our clan. It has been fun to see the family prepare and the excitement grow for the new little one. I remember back to a decade ago, waiting for our first child, thinking the time would never come. Yet it always does.

Seasoned mommies tried to warn me- get sleep now- I laughed- it's impossible to sleep with a 9 lb baby jumping on your bladder.  Knowing smiles did not tell me what I would soon learn- it's even more impossible to sleep with a crying baby.  Or shower, or cook, or grocery shop. I was so uncomfortable I thought I would burst- an experienced mom told me- if it weren't for the last month of discomfort, we'd stay pregnant forever. I thought that was the silliest thing I had ever heard- I was growing a human and it hurt, it would be so much easier once he was out.  2 months later, I ran into that mommy- with my 15 pound baby, 10 pound diaper bag, 10 pound carseat,  and 10 pound stroller- I was 30 minutes late because Phil had to work late, I had to shower and change the baby who seemed to want to do nothing but scream from 3:30 until 8 and was completely frazzled by the time I arrived at the social. I gave that mommy a hug and she took Phillip and he didn't cry for a whole hour- it was glorious. I even got to eat something. 

So last week, I sat down and saw my cousin was still anxiously awaiting the baby's arrival. She posted she couldn't wait for her "baby-cation". She works full time, but I had never heard of maternity leave being called a "cation". I resisted the temptation to tell her again to sleep as much as humanly possible now, before it's too late. I resisted the desire to warn her, she will never again see a day as worry free as today, or as quiet as today. I knew it wouldn't matter- in the expectant mommy's eyes, the hope for an easier day would soon be getting her through the rough laborious nights.

I wonder if my cousin will be one of those lucky moms whose babies sleep through the night immediately.  I had hoped I would be, every one said big babies sleep longer. It is my experience that big babies eat longer, and more frequently. In lil Phillip's case, Every 2 hours. For 40 minutes.  I hope for her sake that the baby is not blessed with colic, for the first thing a new mom learns is that their baby's crying produces a physiological response in them like no other. There is no such response in the new dad. Such disparity often results in midnight kicking and nudging when the baby wakes.  By our 3rd child, we had a routine down to prevent nocturnal kickboxing events- He was a night owl and would stay up to do later feedings so I could get a couple consecutive hours of sleep. When he came to bed, I was on call.

No one also could possibly convey the sheer excitement generated when a mom sees her baby's 1st smile or hears their first laugh. Getting to watch as they learn the mastery of all their muscles and harness the power of movement.  Most moms will tell you the best feeling in the world is watching their child's success and the worst feeling ever is their disappointment and hurt. It is an unrelenting career and working moms soon learn the art of managing not one, but two careers. And those of us who are fortunate enough to stay home wonder how the working moms do it when there never seem to be enough hours in a day to get everything done and far too many hours until you get to rest. It is for these reasons and many more that I am so excited for my cousin who will be soon become an official member of this elite club. A club that shares a bond only experience can forge.

We recently met with Lily's surgeon who had just returned from her baby-"cation" with her second child. This is a woman who cares for the surgical needs of the entire pacific pediatric military contingent. She works long, grueling hours in the military where there is no overtime pay. The woman never walks anywhere and is needed everywhere. I stopped to ask her how she was managing it all while sleep deprived- I can not imagine keeping up with her pace  especially with a new baby at home and a toddler. She began to laugh. Coming to work is easy- she told me- 10 times easier than taking care of a baby- I have an immense amount of resepect for you , I don't know how you take care of 4.  It was all I could do not to tear up- the woman who saved the lives of not 1, but 2 of my babies validated my "job".

So as I sit here, momentarily neglecting my "job", I am once again grateful. I am grateful to have a wonderful family. Grateful that my job involves 4 great opportunities for advancement with unlimited possibilities of growth and wealth. I am grateful that they are out of diapers, can feed themselves and generally listen when they are told to shut down and sit up.  I am mostly grateful for the public school system that takes 3 of them off my hands for 6 hours each day, minus  1 hour on Wednesdays, weekends, breaks, teacher no contact days, furlough days and holidays. Those days make me grateful for the times we are together. It is also on those days that I truly realize that how being home with one baby could feel like a "baby-cation."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Surf 4 HUGS

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Surf 4 HUGS is an annual event where Hugs kids and their families are invited out to Waikiki to enjoy the sand and surf. The best part is that tons of volunteers are on hand in and out of the water to help everyone learn how to surf. There were so many great moments today.  Our whole family got to ride out on a canoe and catch a few waves. It was amazing watching all the smiles. Kiera learned how to surf and Phillip refined his skills. I was really impressed watching Phillip and Kiera catch the same wave. I'm pretty sure neither one can wait until next year's event- we might even get Lily out there next time.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The messy truth

I am pretty used to being asked random questions. In the parenting journey there are so many milestones. Some milestones are pretty standard, rolling over, crawling, walking. Each child exerts their unique personality in the way they master the milestones, yet the milestones are reached nonetheless. As kids get older, they start to figure out the world around them. The milestones are more emotional and educational than physical. The physical milestones become embarrassing and often not talked about. We are teetering on some pretty big changes for our almost 11 year old and have already been introduced to some of the fun mood changes associated with a tween. A few months ago, on a trip to the library, I picked out a cartoonified book that looked pretty good for our young man that talked about "what's happening to me". A quick scan on my part revealed chapters about hygiene, voice changes and hair changes. Pretty innocuous stuff, heck it was cartoons- and I wasn't ready to go full Monty on the subject. I still remember a 4 year old Phillip informing me that babies came from seeds and daddies gave the seeds to mommies and that is where babies came from. I was a bit shocked hearing this from my first born and changed the subject. I later found they were doing a mini botany lesson in preschool and Phillip took it quite literally. I was a bit relieved and somewhat disturbed at how concerned he was everytime I ate watermelon.

Later that evening, Phillip had adjourned to his room for his nightly reading session. A while later he marches out and holds the book in front of me to a page entitled "Every Body's Different" on which there were cartoon drawings of different boy body types. I giggled but told him every body IS different. He rolled his eyes at me, flipped through a few pages and again held the book in front of me turning a slight shade of crimson. The Messy Truth, a section on nighttime emissions. OH. Didn't catch that section. I ask him if he has questions. He looks horrified. I again tell him it's normal and I just wanted him to be prepared. As it turns out, neither one of us was quite prepared for it. I told him if he was more comfortable talking to his dad about it, I totally understood and there were probably a lot of questions dad was more, well, equipped to handle than me. Phillip looked at me as if I had just sprouted another head, and not in that cool alien science experiment way. What is that saying about good intentions paving the way somewhere?

A couple days ago, I was sitting looking for a picture when Bella started snuggling with me. "Mommy, can I see pictures of me in your belly?" Hmm, sure. Bella is also a very visual and literal little person. A few months ago we went through baby pictures of all of them and they got a big kick out of it. I find the right file in my photo gallery and start flipping through. "Is that me??" We are looking at a picture of Lily hugging the belly. That's Lily, you are the belly. "I'm in your tummy." Yep, oh no. I know what's coming. "How did I get there?" Oh look here's a picture of you out of my tummy and here's a picture of you with everybody as a baby. "Did you eat me when I was a baby?" Despite that being a very funny, albeit messy image, I was relieved to be saved by Lily's questions about how could she and Bella both be babies at the same time and Phillip's laughter. Seems like neither one of us was quite ready to revisit the messy truth again quite yet.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Where the Monkeys Go to Hang Around

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Cabineting at Bellows

Grandma Connolly came to visit for a week. It was a full week of fun- and the first time Grandma has been here that hasn't been related to a Mallory hospitalization of some sort! We took her to see some sights and spent a couple of nights at Bellows. Phil and the kids camped for a night- and Bella, Grandma and I stayed in the cabin. I learned that there is less sand in the cabins(or cabinets as the girls like to call them) than the tent- but more bugs- specifically ants and centipedes. Ick. Bella went crabbing with us the first night and as soon as she saw them began channelling her inner kitten and would try to climb to the top of the nearest object- which was usually me. The next day at the beach, during daylight- I bent down to help build a sand castle and when a crab ran out- Bella perched herself on top of my head with fistfuls of hair. That was fun.  Especially the high pitched squealing in my ears.

Lily had a major wardrobe malfunction. She had clothes- she just is going through a phase where she refuses to wear anything on her bottom half. She lived in the same pajamas and dress the whole time and 1 hour before check out, she decided (with some help from dad) that she would swim in the ocean by wearing Kiera's swim cover up shorts. Kiera wasn't too bothered because she inherited the brand new swimsuit that Lily's dad tried to bribe her with. Yeah that's right- Kiera and Lily are the same size, sort of.  The have very different builds and Lily's limbs aren't as long- but they are pretty close.

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Bella by the Sea

Bella was all too happy to pose for 3.5 minutes for pictures with her new hat.  She refused to go any further down the beach since the beach is home to sand crabs- of which she is very very afraid. I am considering buying a plastic one to keep her in line...
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