Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

I stopped making the typical resolutions a few years ago.  Honestly, why start the year off feeling bad because after the holidays I am simply too tired to start a big new regimen of stuff.  Besides, despite all the depression and insecurity, I actually like myself the way I am.  So there.

Instead the new year is a great time to resolve to do things I want to do.  So here is what I'd like to work on this year:

Learning to knit Continental style (I've always been an English knitter, I know how to do it the other way, I just need to perfect it)
Sew more
Sing more
Make more yummy salads for dinner
Sleep one full, complete night, all the way through (this is really a resolution for Emily)

That's it.  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Lonely

For Christmas Emily and I flew over to Maui to spend time with my parents.  I had a wonderful time being back home and we did great things like visiting my favorite goat farm, walking along the beach, eating amazing food, shopping.  However, the best part of the trip was the company.

It seems strange that in a job like motherhood-at-home where you are literally never apart from your child you could feel so lonely.  In the past 16 months there have been very few times when I've actually been alone.  Maybe a quick trip to the store here and there, or a short nap.  When I'm lucky I get to shower alone.  Lately, I've even been able to close the door for a moment while I go to the bathroom and boy is that a luxury!  But despite being in constant company of my most favorite person in the whole world I am pretty lonely.

In Maui, when Emily and I got out of bed, my parents were there to share breakfast with and generally chat.  For Christmas, after the hustle of present opening, we spent the day simply napping and resting together.  Not a lot of talk or purpose.  Just being together with my mom and my baby, enjoying Hawaii.

After I got home I went back to routine.  Emily and I snuck out of bed, careful not to wake up D since he is on a different sleep/work schedule than Emily.  We spent the morning playing and having a leisurely breakfast.  D got up later and played with us.  Then we went to bed early and D joined us later. It was a special day since D didn't have to go to work, on work days he gets up either later than us or much earlier and we either wake up without him or see him off right before we're planning the afternoon nap.  All times between this are me and Emily hanging out.  Sometimes we have playdates or excursions.  I have clubs and meetings I drag her along too.  However, primarily it's just us girls and for some reason I feel super lonely at these times.

It's not because Emily can't talk yet.  She babbles, but I don't really need the conversation.  I didn't have a lot of it with my mom.  What I think I need is more quiet company of people who understand me.  Often I hear young girls and mothers say that it's great to have a person who will love them no matter what.  I don't get that with Emily.  She loves me, that's clear.  I love her too - no matter what.  But when we spend time together I don't feel she knows me and thinks I'm grand because I am who I am.  She thinks I'm grand because I take care of her, feed her, clean her, hug her, work hard to make sure she's comfortable and happy.  She also thinks I'm a pain the neck because I do all these things.  I'm there for her and that's the way it should be, but it sure is a lonely job.

I fluctuate between desperately needing space - a time to be an adult without Emily or D expecting me to be Mom and Wife to needing no space at all and needing lots of people around me.  It's like being on my own island.  Water everywhere, not a drop to drink.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas in Hawaii

Today one of my friends in Chicago posted a picture of the highway covered in snow and claimed "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas."  From what I heard it was beginning to look like Christmas in October on the East Coast.

Hawaii gets a lot of scoffing because we don't have "seasons."  This is untrue.  We have lots of season.  We have the hot season, the mango season, the whale season, the rainy season, kiawe season, hurricane season...we have tons of seasons.

Back when I lived on Maui winter came with snow too.  At the top of the mountain.  The very top of Haleakala.  It is always cold up there (no really, bring a coat!), but during winter it will get snowy and icy.  I lived on Maui back when keeping people alive was not a priority so they let us Mauians drive up there when it snowed.  That would be a ton of people who have never seen ice in anything but a drink driving up a steep, should-be-one-lane, switch back road that ends in an abrupt drop some 10,000 feet long.  I would make some snowballs and we'd take them back down to Kahului and watch them melt.

Oahu doesn't have natural snow like Maui does.  Instead Pearl Highlands Center trucked in an advertised 40 tons of snow and dumped it in the parking lot in front of the movie theater.  I wasn't sure what 40 tons of snow looked like, but I thought it would make more than two little piles.  We tried to play in it, but it was mostly just a slippery mound of ice and Emily was totally freaked out by the kids running to the top then sliding down just as quickly.  She patted a snowball for awhile and then we left.  That was Emily's first taste of snow.  She wore shorts, a t-shirt, and her sandals.

Other holiday highlights in Hawaii include the arrival of Santa Claus - by canoe at the Outrigger Waikiki.  Here Santa often wears an aloha shirt and board shorts.  And slippahs.  I actually think this is a cop out and I prefer the Santa's who tough out the heat and wear the full coat.  Last year Pearlridge Santa wore the fuzzy pants but opted for shirt sleeves and suspenders.  And no hat.  Lame.

In Hawaii not all of us decorate palm trees.  Some of us do.  Some opt for the tropical Cook Pine.  I got a Noble Fir.  On Maui there is a tree farm in Kula where you need to wear a sweater and can pick out your own tree.  On Oahu we got ours at Don Quixote.  I wonder if the Don Quixote's in Japan also sell trees?

My biggest problem with Christmas in Hawaii is finding pajamas for Emily.  If they are in her size they are not very cute and/or they are covered in branded characters.  I have no problem with Emily liking characters and will indulge her when she decides what she loves, but I don't want to force it till she does.    Also, if I do find pajamas that are cute and fit her they are incredibly too warm for Ewa Beach.  No footies, no long sleeves, no fleece - please.  A cute set of santa-like swim suits would be just fine.  But no one makes those.

The best part of Christmas this year has been our garden.  D finally found sometime to really put it together and we've been working outside to plant and make things look nice out there.  That's right.  It's mid-December and we've been working in the garden.  In shorts.

Mele Kalikimaka.

Monday, December 12, 2011

All wishes are equal

I know I posted recently about how much I love Christmas and the Christmas spirit it brings.  I still love the goodwill that gets thrown about.  I still love the fact that people go out of their way to reach to neighbors and strangers.  I still love it all.  I do.

But I see the dark side to it too.  Christmas is a time when more is asked for people having a tough time financially.  People always have a hard time financially, holiday or not, but of course no one really wants to pay attention until the end of the year.  I think in the face of a holiday that one of my friends affectionately calls "Giftmas" it's harder to turn away from the fact that some families can't do nice gifts or big parties.  Some can't afford the extra food and fancy treats.  Some are still trying to make the rent.

However, today I read some woman's post of CafeMom, about how appalled she was that in an angel tree charity (where children write down what they wish for and strangers have the option to pick a card and get them the gift) some of these children asked for things like xbox games or an ipod nano.  She was totally turned off by the fact that some child who was "supposedly" needy had an xbox.  Or wanted a nice toy.  I have so many problems with this.

1) Take a look around.  It's a bad economy.  There are a lot of families that used to be doing fairly well that no longer are.  They might have been able to afford an xbox before, now they can't afford the game. Instead of being put off you should be happy that, thankfully, you are still not in that position.

2) Just because they are poor does not mean they aren't children.  Most kids today want the same things: electronics.  A new mp3 player, video games, personal devices.  Every year an item or two gets marketed up and every seven year old wants that particular thing.  It's a consumer culture and children are a prime target.  Do millions of toddlers need a Rock'nRoll Elmo?  Probably not.  Would they want it over some other toy if it hadn't been marketed to them?  Again probably not.  However, it has been and kids want what other kids have.  Just because these children come from needy families doesn't make them any less susceptible to peers.  Their friends at school will come back from break and all be talking about the new game or the new toy.  In order to be part of the norm, part of the crowd, these children will want to be able to talk about it too.  They, and their families, know it's not in the budget.  Doesn't mean they can't hope.

3)  It's called a gift!  Coming from the other point, the charity is looking to get a child something they want that they normally wouldn't be able to get.  Yes, they could probably use some new clothes and a few socks.  But it's Christmas and I don't know any child who waits to ask Santa for some underwear.  The point of asking an angel or a man in a red suit for something is that you're allowed to dream.  You're allowed to ignore the fact that dinner is gonna be slim.  That all year you bite your tongue and don't ask for things because you know there isn't money for it.  This time though, this one time of year, you can ask for it.  You can hope that someone, who doesn't have to worry about rent, might let you be a real, carefree kid this year.

4)  The gift isn't for you.  Yes, it's better to give than receive.  Yes, it makes you feel good that you did something for someone else.  Yes, that's all that should matter.  But seriously, that is ALL that should matter, take the good feeling and go with it, don't go looking for affirmation.  You're not gonna get a medal because you bought one kid a gift.  You're not Mother Teresa because you dropped off some canned foods.  You're a nice person, you might be generous, but you're not any better than the people who need the food or the gifts just because you can afford them.

For some reason there is this idea that the "poor" are some mystical beings who know the meaning of life and don't get bogged down in the material world like the rest of us.  They are right up there with the "Noble Savage" and the "Mystical Wise Old Black Man/Woman."  They live horrible lives and some how are just grateful to be a live.  And all the poor children are like Tiny Tim, who is dying of tuberculosis and probably in terrible pain, but still takes joy in his meager, fictional, plum pudding.

It's a disservice to anyone who could fit in the above categories.  Yes, family, love and togetherness are the things that will bring the most joy.  However, if you are too busy assuming that these mystical people are just happy being alive then you're allowing yourself to ignore the fact that life is still a hardship for them.  They might be smiling, but smiles don't fill the fridge.  And Christmas, a holiday created specifically to have some fun during the darkest part of the year, it's even harder to fill up on pure gratefulness.  Sometimes it would be nice to not have to be thankful just because you got a full meal that day.  Even Scrooge knew this.  Not only did he get the Cratchett's a goose, he bought the children toys!  Tiny Tim was probably very  grateful he wouldn't die, he probably really appreciated the full meal, but wasn't it nice that he also got to be spoiled with a toy too.

It's called a wish...you don't get to pass judgement on a wish!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mama

Emily is becoming quite the accomplished talker.  She can say all sorts of things and name a lot of the things she loves:  Daddy, Coco (as in Coconut the cat), Joy (the other cat), lights, shoes, Grandma.  However, she still won't say Mama.  I've tried and tried, but she doesn't see the need for a name for me since I always show up when she needs me.  Sometimes when she doesn't need me.

Lately, she's taken to saying "Baba" when she sees and/or wants me.  Part of me feels like this is her take on the "mmmm" sound.  However, she also calls her snacks, water cup, and clothing "Baba."  It might just be the word she likes saying.

But last night as I was laying her in bed she rolled over, half-asleep, reached out her little arms and said ever so softly "Mama."

My heart just about melted.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

West Loch Park

Last year, around this time, I started trying to take Emily out on long walks.  I'd put her in my sling or snuggle her down into the stroller and head out around the neighborhood.  Before moving to Ewa Beach I took a lot of walks.  I love walking.  Doing it with a baby just seemed the next step.

Except I never got far.  Ewa is hot.  Even in winter Ewa is hot.  Really hot.  And there is a lack of trees.  I'd go about 20 minutes and then have to sit and cool off before heading back home.  It wasn't fun.  And I got sunburned, even with sunscreen.  (Thankfully, Emily did not.)

So I tried West Loch Shoreline Park.  It was a drive down the road, but it's a pretty park and right on the water looking across to Pearl Harbor.  It's cool, green, has trees, and there are tons of mongoose running around.  I would drive in, park, and then...I'd sit.

Part of the reason why I'd sit was because Emily would fall asleep in the car and it was nice not to have to hold her while she rested.  The other reason was because I was just too tired and, honestly, in too much pain.  It was left over pregnancy exhausting me.  And recovery from surgery.  And nursing.  And nursing.  And nursing.  Three months after having Emily I was still overly tired and overly hurt.  It didn't seem fair, more because I didn't realize it was all this pregnancy and baby stuff exhausting me.  I thought it was me.  Just me being lazy, or dumb, or just a plain, 'ole failure.  I stopped going to West Loch Park, it was just too hard.

The other week Emily was in the mood to run so I did a quick turn to that same park.  We climbed out and she took off up the hill.  I, surprisingly, took off after her.  We ran around that entire park and halfway through Emily finally wore herself out.  Walking back I carried my 35 lbs. baby up and down the hills and was shocked at how easy it all was.  I felt good.  Well exercised, strong, and full of energy.

Of course now that I'm building a new person I'm finding myself exhausted again.  But it is still amazing how much better I feel after a year.  How much better it is to realize that I am still the person I was before baby, just with better defined biceps and darker eye circles.  I hope this pregnancy I can remember that it's not me, just my body.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Music Dam

I've always been a singer.  I haven't always been a particularly good singer.  I can carry a tune, occasionally sound pretty, but as it goes I'm pretty common.  Regardless, I love to sing and I love songs.

Part of this must come from my mother who loves to sing too.  She is like me, a common singer, but she makes up for it in quantity.  Some of my most precious memories are of her singing lullabies while we rocked in a chair or singing christmas carols as we drove up and down the mountain on Maui.  We sang a lot.  We sang constantly.  We sang with happy abandon.  Life was good when we sang and I treasure that she shared songs with me.  I always imagined that I would do the same with my own children.

The other day I had christmas music on in the car.  I looked back and saw Emily, sitting expectantly in her carseat, on the verge of boredom.  It was the perfect opportunity to burst into song and have her join in.  I could sing the same way my mother sang to me.  We could caterwaul as loud as we wanted and giggle when we were done.  Except I couldn't bring myself to sing at all.  I could tap my foot to the beat, I could recall all the words, but I couldn't make my mouth open and say the words.  Or the notes.  Or even hum.  Somewhere between my brain and my mouth was a giant wall of silence.

That's what postpartum depression has done to me.  It's created a permanent wall of silence.  As a new mother I knew I should be constantly talking to my newborn, getting those language skills started, engaging her with the world - bonding.  But even though I knew I should, knew it would be great for the both of us, I couldn't speak.  I'd gently rock her, I'd kiss her and snuggle her, but I couldn't speak to her.  I had a thousand thoughts to tell her, but nothing would come out of my mouth.

Similarly, I couldn't sing.  I'd start a song, begin the first verse, then all of a sudden I'd fall silent.  I could hear the music in my head.  I had all the words and notes flittering in my brain, but nothing would come out of my mouth.  I don't know how long the silence would be, it would take a long time before I noticed I was silent.  I'd keep dancing with Emily, moving to the music.  But she never heard it.

And last christmas.  There were no carols at all.  Not on the radio, not in my head, not out of my mouth.

This year I'm obviously much better.  Emily and I sing lots of different songs.  I play christmas music and usually I sing along.  Emily sings along too and we both dance as much as we can.  But every so often, like the other day, I lose it.  The wall comes back.  The music is stuck, hidden, dammed up.

I feel like postpartum depression stole this from me.  Something that was so precious to my being, something that made me very me, something that I could have passed on to my own child.  Instead all of the love that comes out in lullabies and songs was hidden.  I've been robbed of the joy that used to come with singing and Emily has been robbed of a joyful mother.  It makes me incredibly sad that it seems to be gone, even as I get better, it's still gone and I wonder if it will ever return.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No place like home

I am a transplant in my own home.  I grew up in Hawaii, but I grew up on Maui.  I now, after bouncing around, live on Oahu.  People come up to me and ask me where I'm from and are surprised when I say "Here."  But then I have to qualify because while I'm from Hawaii Oahu and Maui are two very different places and you can give me directions based on certain people's houses on my island but on Oahu I need street names (also, I use a GPS...Auwe!).

My being a stranger in a really familiar land gives me an interesting perspective.  I get treated like a visitor and then, in the same breath, a local.  I will speak pidgin at Foodland and midwestern at the Commissary (it helps!)  I can see all the hardships of being a mainlander in Hawaii.  I get how it can be totally frustrating, but I also see all the things that make home home.  Just like in any unique culture there are good and bad.  If you grew up with it the bad is a small price to pay for the feeling of belonging.  If you are new here it takes a lot of patience to see the beauty in our calabash land.

I might take some work too.  Which is why when people talk about my hometown of Maui and only complain about how it's just resorts and boringness it drives me crazy.  I feel like Oahu is just city and hotels myself, but I get out to see the beauty of the island anyway.  A rainbow everyday?  Yes please.  Driving through the Ko'olau's?  Ahhhh.

Maui has the same things and some others.  Pine forests, hunting, snow.  Rainforests, hundreds of waterfalls in one stretch of road, black sand beaches.  All there.  Like warm.  There is a desert!  Like fish, more snorkeling beaches AND a protected atoll (Molokini) only about an hour boat ride away.  You can seriously go from arctic wear to beach wear in just half a day of biking.

In short, I feel like if you don't like Maui you're doing it wrong.  Give me three days.  It's my home and, trust me, there is something to love.

Similarly, Oahu isn't that bad either.  Wait till 9am when the traffic clears up and, trust me, there is something to love.  I'm glad it's my transplant home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gobbled

We had a good Thanksgiving.  

I made two turkeys, twelve pounds of cranberry sauce, two pesto-cheese tortas, corn pudding, corn bread, sweet potatoes, stuffing, roasted vegetables, and lobster salad.  There were potatoes and a pineapple casserole that I am still dreaming about.  

I made twenty-two pies: sweet potato, pecan, pumpkin, and apple.

I went to two pre-dinners and one pizza party at Costco.  

I ate some food.  I fed people more food.  I packed a lot of food to give to other people and cooked some more - to give to other people.  

I cleaned the place, top to bottom, multiple times.  Emily made twice the messes as normal.

I am thoroughly exhausted.  Emily is thoroughly exhausted.  D is well stuffed.  

I am so tired that all I want to do is

Go out and get a Christmas Tree!

I love that my holidays are now busy and filled with cheer!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Extended Holidays

We're coming up on Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and soon after it is officially acceptable to put up your Christmas decorations.  At least in our neighborhood.

I've noticed in my adult life that we, as an American society, have a few extra traditions regarding end of the year holidays.  The rehashing of the "War on Christmas" where saying "Happy Holidays" is a sign of our moral decline and being inclusive is, for at least one season, Unamerican and Unchristian.  And then the cries of "Foul" on early Christmas decorations.  Anything earlier than Thanksgiving is decried on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and general life.  I even saw a photo floating around of Nordstrom's sign declaring they will not deck their halls early (but it doesn't mean you shouldn't start shopping early).

However, I will not be complaining about these things.  The winter holidays are great.  Really great.  They are built to remind us, in the bleakest part of the year, to be joyful.  To be happy you're surviving winter and to hold people you love close.  Even presents, that gateway to evil commercialism, is an excuse to really think about the people you love and try to understand what they enjoy.  It's an excuse to work for something really pure: a happy smile.  Holidays are great.  Therefore I am happy to extend them.

Growing up, we celebrated Christmas for the whole 12 days.  I loved celebrating from December 1 to January 6.  After most New Year Resolutions end you still have Christmas.  But even that is too short.  I am all for extending before December 1 and keeping it going till February.  Afterall, don't we always say that the charity, love, and goodwill shown at the holidays should be practiced year round?  Well why not practice it with decorations too.

So this year I started watching Hallmark Christmas movies in November.  I spent every night having my heart warmed by sticky sweet stories that ended well and always reminded you that family and love are paramount.  I spent everyday reminded of magic in the world, either by miracle, a elf and sleigh, or pure goodwill.  Every wreath, every decoration, every song about joy and birth, reminded me about my blessings and my ability to offer love to other people.

Now we are coming up on the day where we will eat in abundance.  How lucky that we can do so.  I have been cooking all week.  (I made 22 pies.)  I have braved the supermarkets.  I have cleaned and cleaned.  And because I am filled with the holiday spirit I have done it cheerfully.  (Even with a toddler.)

I love the holidays and I love them long.  All of them from Thanksgiving to Twelfth Night.  From Chanukah to Yule.  I say keep the love going until Valentines and then keep it going some more.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Maybe this time...

I've said it before, I'll say it again:  I want to blog interesting things, but every time my life starts getting interesting I no longer have time to blog.

Instead I'll just try to jump back in after my hiatus of other-than-online business or rather busy-ness.

Or that was my plan.  Then this morning I found out that we are expecting our second child.  Which means life will getting more interesting and far more busy.

But maybe this time I'll get it all balanced out again.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Extrovert?

This past week I've bumped into two learning experiences that make me want to reevaluate how I see myself.

Earlier in the week I went on an excursion with two other stay-at-home women.  We enjoyed the company and lamented that it was rather rare for us (as individuals) to get out of the house.  I lamented that I was having trouble finding friends here in Oahu because I was so shy.  Both of them together instantly exclaimed "You're shy?  We never would have guessed that!"

Hmm.

Later in the week I attended a training class for Air Force Key Spouses.  Part of the class was finding your "True Color" which is a very quick and dirty personality identifier.  I fond myself with one other person sitting at the Blue Table.  Blue people are described as:

Your communication style creates peace and harmony.  As a Blue personality you are gifted with tremendous people skills.
You have a strong need to make a difference in the lives of other people. This strength is immediately noticeable in the way you make heart felt connections and bring out the best in those you encounter. People usually feel relaxed and comfortable in your presence.
You love to build self-esteem and make others feel good about who they are. You can easily motivate and inspire people to make changes in their lives and reach their potential.
Along with the above our class leader also mentioned that Blue people tend to be more extroverted.

Hmm.  Again.

I've always seen myself as shy.  It's extremely difficult for me to talk to people or be in a situation where I don't know many people.  I get nervous if I think someone can see me drive.  I often am stumped for things to say and initial conversations usually die awkwardly.  After socializing with lots of people I feel drained.

That being said my desire for human contact trumps my social anxiety.  I would rather feel uncomfortable and weird if it means ending the loneliness.   Now that I've run into more evidence that people see me as extroverted I wonder if it means what I thought it did.  Perhaps extroverts aren't people who easily flow through relationships and conversations as second nature.  Perhaps they all work hard at it, plan it, practice it, until they achieve the look of someone who doesn't get nervous surround by strangers.  Perhaps it's like being brave.  Where you act in spite of your fear rather than because you have no fear.  I am shy, but I put myself out there anyway, in spite of it.  I might be brave.  Or I might be extroverted.

It's times like these that I wish I could listen in to the thoughts of someone else.  I'd love to know if all those people who seems so outgoing to me have the same fears, worries, and doubts I do.  I want to know if they had to spend years practicing how to keep a conversation flowing or how to introduce themselves in an easy and welcoming way.  At the same time as I listen to others thoughts I really want to see myself through their eyes.  Do they see all the hurt, fear, and turmoil I feel?  Am I as transparent as I feel I am?  Or do they think I'm like them.  Outgoing, friendly, the person I really try to be.

Ever asked yourself if maybe you might actually have the thing you really want?  What happens when the answer is yes?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Grandparents are good for...

...lots of things.  Grandparents are good for a lot of things.  But one thing they don't tell you before you have kids is that Grandparents are excellent for your personal hygiene.

Like when they come over for the weekend and Mama gets to take a shower two days in a row.  


Grandparents are good for that.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Moment

You know those commercials where a woman is dressed in really comfortable clothes, like pajamas, but still looks impossibly pretty settles down into some really comfortable couch or chair that is not covered in cat hair?  The one where she has something like a cup of coffee, or a thing of yogurt, or a chocolate bar?  The commercial where she sits down and as soon as she indulges in whatever she has she experiences a moment of utter bliss and contentment that you feel you need to emulate because honestly you really, truly, need to have a moment of utter contentment and bliss?  You know that commercial?  You know that moment?

I had one last night.  I was wearing Hello Kitty pajamas covered in baby food.  My hair was frizzy and messy.  I was covered in Pumpkin Patch dirt.  My couch was covered in cat hair despite being just vacuumed.  My husband was making some strange noise with his cocoa.  But I had that moment anyway.

It was Chocolate Mint Truffle Hot Cocoa.  Ahhh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Boo!

I love Halloween.  I love it.  I adore it.  I love the fact that there is a time every year where my obsession with costumes, goth, hay, and candy are all perfectly acceptable.

So the other weekend while D was napping and Emily and I were running out of fun things to do.  I collected a bunch of stuff and made myself a scarecrow.

He is wearing my father's gardening pants (that were hanging in the guest room), my snuggly flannel jacket, a kerchief, and my father's gardening gloves (that I found hiding in the pockets of his pants).  I stuffed him with plastic shopping bags and his shoulders are made from a palm frond with the leaves stripped off.  I think the effect is a little ruined by the fact he's sitting in front of a bunch of palm trees, ti plants, and there are two pink hibiscus trees behind him.  No colored leaves or spooky trees in Hawaii.  However, D managed to convince the little boys next door that this guy was real and if they came too close he'd jump up and grab them.

Since this picture I've given him some pumpkins to hang on to and I want to add some lights and my other decorations in the front windows.  12 days left till Halloween and that's as far as I've gotten.

Boo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Military...Grr

Awhile ago there were some rumblings in my husband's squadron for a volunteer from the dependent ranks.  There were little hints, some talk, my husband brought it up a few times, nods were made.  Eventually I volunteered.  My common sense must have been broken.

In order to do this particular volunteer job I need a few things.  A special piece of paper, a few training classes, communication with certain people, and good, correct, information.

My first problem was meeting the person I need to work closely with.  I met him (twice).  We talked.  Then the next day I saw him again.  When my husband asked if we had been introduced this person said "no, we haven't met."  Grr.

My second problem was the person who promised me to get the piece of paper had to PCS out.  She did not leave information to anyone else who could get the paper.  Grr.

Now classes.  I was informed (the first day I volunteered) that the most important class I needed would be on October 7th.  I got a babysitter (actually I begged a babysitter to skip her other weekly job and come hang out with Emily).  I got the kid up extra early.  I got down to base.  I showed up early and prepared. The class had been rescheduled.  For October 5th.  No one was contacted about the change.  Grr.

Finally, I wrote to the person in charge and politely asked for information about when another class would be, how I could be informed of changes, what else I needed to do, etc.  There might have been a passing remark about me showing up on the wrong day because there was no communication, but it was really, really polite.

A week later I got an email stating that 1) This person needed the piece of paper not the person who has it (no information). 2) The class they told me to go to wasn't even the class I needed to go to. 3)  There were three other classes I also needed and I had to sign up for them at a completely different place (no information).  Grr.

Today I found out that those classes are 1) Actually not being offered on the day stated, or, you know, at all.  And you can't sign up for them at the place I was told to sign up for them.  Also, the person in charge is on vacation, but the receptionist was happy to send me to her line over and over without actually telling me that she wouldn't be answering it anytime soon.  Grr.


What I did not get in any of this was anyone saying "Hey, sorry you had the wrong information."  What I did not get was "Hey, sorry you had to get a babysitter when you didn't need to pay for one."  What I did not get was "Oh, I understand you might be frustrated, but here is what you really need to know."  What I didn't get was an email that was written in a polite and/or welcoming manner.  I got fussed at.  Treated like I was dumb.  And no apology of any kind.  I got a whole lot of nothing.  And a big babysitter bill.

Everything above is typical of my military-wife experiences with two different branches of service.  Almost all of it is completely understandable.  A volunteer isn't a priority, though it sure helps and looks good one someone's EPR.  The people involved meet hundreds of people a day, it is not easy to remember them all.  They read thousands of emails a week.  They write thousands of pieces of paper.  They have a hundred balls in the air and things need to be prioritized.  I am okay with all of that.  I totally understand that I'm the one that needs to be on top of it.  I understand that I need to call often to get updated information and be ready to move when a free moment is available.  I'm okay with my stuff not being important.

What I am not okay with is when someone else drops the ball, give bad info, or just forgets to be polite.  What I am not okay with is this lack of customer service happening in the service section of the military. The are called Services, they work in the Service Center, and everyone of them makes me feel as though I'm asking a huge favor to ask them to perform their specific service.

I know there is a huge fear of admitting that something was done improperly in the military-civilian world.  No one wants to admit fault, just in case it comes back at them.  Fine.  I don't expect anyone to say it was their fault.  I do expect them to acknowledge that while it wasn't their fault that I have been bounced from one place to another and given nothing but poor information, it must be pretty frustrating that it happened that way.  Because it has.  And I'm a person.  And I get frustrated.  Because I'm a person.

I'd like them to acknowledge that I am, you know, a person.  Just like them.  And they won't.  Ever.

Grr.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sign

Yesterday evening I got an awesome package in the mail from Mommy used to be so pretty...  A little while ago I had "won" a giveaway from her.  Just finding out I had won an internet giveaway was awesome, actually finding the package in my mail was even better.  Made my day.

In the little package was a bottle of Soothage Soothing Gel and Prenatal Vitamins.

We are sorta, kinda, maybe, it'd-be-a-happy-thing-if-it-happened-but-I'm-not-sure-I'm-fully-ready-but-I-sorta-want-to-get-excited-about trying to conceive.  Kinda.  In a way.  A little bit.  So I'm kinda, in a way, hoping these prenatal vitamins coming now might be a sign.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Clothes

My husband has been helping with Emily's clothes more lately.  Usually he has nothing to do with her dressing or changing as he's either at work or asleep when it happens.  So he doesn't really know the clothing system I've devised where there are some things that Emily does not fit hanging in her closet and some that she does fit into.  This is for two reasons.  One - I don't want to pack things away to early.  There needs to be a critical mass of clothes that are too small for me to want to break out the boxes and put away a new set of clothes.  Two - there are things she will fit soon.  Things like pajamas that will be perfect when Emily has another growth spurt, but don't fit now because her arms and legs are fat.  If these are left in the box or drawers now, while she doesn't fit them, I will forget them when she is finally ready to wear them and once again my kid will be stuck squeezing into the same dang pair as always - or going naked.  Poor Emily.

Of course I know what is part of what system, but my husband doesn't, so the other day he had to attempt to fit a bunch of different pairs of pajamas on her before giving up and handing the screaming toddler over to me.

All of this means it's time to pack.  This morning we moved half of the 12 clothes into the bin and made sure all the 18 month clothes were out of storage.  There is a giant lack of 18 month clothes so I also went through her 24 month sets and picked out the ones that run small.  Circo, Garanimals, and Gerber tend to run smaller.  This is all bitter sweet for me.  First of all, there are far more casual play clothes in these sets.  No more frilly dresses.  There are some of course, but for some reason people think toddlers should wear shorts and jeans and play shirts.  I personally think she should still wear lacy, frilly things.  You can still climb a tree in frilly dresses - trust me I've destroyed enough lace to know.

It's also bittersweet because these clothes are designed to be easier for little people to dress themselves.  Emily is already an expert at getting my shorts on over her head and she has figured out sleeves on her shirts.  In just a little while she'll be pulling up her own jeans and picking out her own shirts.  Gone are the days of me playing dress-up with my little doll.  She'll want to put on what she wants and I'll have to nod and say "Okay honey.  Good job."  As exciting as it is to watch my child make her own choices and take care of herself it is also super sad.  I spent a long year trying to remember to savor all this itty-bitty baby-ness.  And I still feel like I didn't get enough.  I need more baby snuggles, more hours with an tiny hand wrapped around mine.

So maybe I had a third reason for my clothing system:  Keeping those little baby things around just a little longer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Back

For awhile now I've been enjoying the best part of depression:  the not-being-depressed part.

It's been fun.  I've cleaned my house from top to bottom, I've started (and finished) some lovely new projects, I've gone out on wonderful adventures, and most of all I've enjoyed falling in love with my daughter all over again.  Life was pretty good.

Then about a week ago I started to lose interest in things.  It started with food and cooking, then cleaning, then showers, then yesterday I totally lost interest in getting out of bed.  I just don't see the point.  I did it anyway.  I did it all anyway.  But all it got me was to the middle of the stairs.  Where I sat down with my daughter and burst into tears.

This is the crappy part of depression:  the having-depression part.

Being in between recovery and relapse I can look at this phase and clearly see what is going on.  It's malaise.  I can see the forest, but it's like I'm wearing dirty glasses.  Everything would be lovely if it wasn't so dingy.  Everything would be fun if I wasn't so tired.  Everything would taste good, if only I were hungry.  It's the malaise that meant there was a four hour gap between when Emily and I were ready to leave the house and when we actually did.

But since I am in recovery I actually did leave the house.  But I don't really see the point.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yarn Along 4

Linking up with Ginny at small things again

Same project, new book.  I gave up on the Shakespeare book for awhile because Emily is in a particularly whinny/clingy phase that does not allow me to pay attention to books easily.  Unless they are children's books.  In fact I have book group tomorrow and haven't even acquired the book yet.  I started reading "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" though and last night Emily ran around me over and over while I read chapter two out loud.  It seemed to work well.  So we'll read that book for awhile.

Project wise I'm humming along nicely.  The back bodice piece is now showing the pattern (sets of yarn-over holes in a V pattern).  I'm loving the dark blue color.  The black looks dull compared to it, but I hope once all the banding is on it'll tie the piece together.  I also love the puckering the pattern is creating.  In the pattern photo it didn't look puckered.  So maybe I'm doing it wrong but it is awfully pretty. I also started the ribbing for the front bodice piece.  Mostly because once I finish the back I'll want to continue working in pattern for the front rather than doing more ribbing. This sweater is tight around the waist, which is why the bottom ribbing is so long, and it's a bit annoying doing so much of it in teeny-tiny stitches.  

I also finished the red sweater.  I gave it a bath before installing the zipper and it's still drying so I can't put it on or lay it out for pictures.  But it is finished!  


Monday, September 26, 2011

Toddler Love

This weekend I've been trying to decide on a good blog post.  Emily is hitting a very difficult stage right now and I'm coming up on a new mama-phase myself.  I thought maybe I'd vent some over the new toddler challenges.  Or confess over the old mama-failings.  

But then this morning I took Emily out to the park and when I picked her up out of the car she rested her head on my shoulder and nuzzled.  Earlier that morning she crawled up my chest and planted a big 'ole smacker on my nose.  Yesterday, she ran up in the middle of the Discovery Center where she was surrounded by toys and games, gave me a hug, then ran away.  

In between all these little sweet moments she's had tantrums and fits and other unpleasantness.  I don't care though, because she likes to hug and snuggle now too.

Toddler love is fleeting, but oh so sweet.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Parenting Hours

So I read this article last week or sometime about how mothers spend over 1100 more hours parenting than fathers do.  However, the survey was for working mothers and fathers who average 7.5 and 4.5 hours each day respectively.  It doesn't really apply to me because I average 22-24 hours a day.  Yes, I count sleeping time as parenting time because often sleeping time means attempting to doze while balancing a baby on my chest.  She's been having some rough nights lately...

I also had a problem with the fact that the article was basically an ad for VTech toys.  Instead of buying another toy why not get Dad to change a diaper once in awhile?  Or pick up a toy?  Or clean her g-d hands!

I've been harboring some resentment.  Last weekend Emily had a bad night when we got home from the AF Ball.  I was already tired and spent, but she needed extra love.  I get it.  We were away for a long time (about 9 hours, the longest time we've been separated yet).  The next morning Emily wanted out of bed at 6am.  Guess who got up with her?  Me.  At around 10am I thought she wanted a nap and I brought her back to bed (where my husband had been sleeping) and tried to nap with her.  She didn't want a nap.  She got up at 10:15am.  Guess who got up with her?  Me.

At around 1pm my husband got out of bed and offered to take her while I took a nap.  They went downstairs and he had some breakfast.  I curled up in bed and drifted off to sleep.  At 1:25pm my husband came back to bed, with Emily, and told me they were going to take a nap.  Emily was not ready for a nap.  Guess who got up with her?  Me.  After a 25 minute nap.  Guess who went bad to sleep?  Him. After sleeping a full 12+ hours.

I have hated him just a little bit all week.  More so each time I got up with Emily every night.  And day.

But then there was today.  We had another rough night and she got up at 5:30am.  I played with her till 10:30am and then I broke.  No sleep, no naps, no break, and a headache made Mommy mad.  I carried her upstairs and dumped her on the bed.  He got 5 extra hours of sleep, he could watch the baby for 20 minutes.  Then I went to take a shower and I locked the door.

To his credit D watched her while I showered and changed.  Then he watched her while I went to Wal-Mart and got my contacts and glasses ordered.  And shopped.  When I got home he held her off from nursing so I could finish a row of knitting.

So, yes, in our house fathers don't spend as many hours as mothers.  And sometimes that makes me mad.  But those few hours I do get without Emily are so precious and so welcome that I am more grateful.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Other People

I posted to someone else's blog that hell is other people.  I think I'm gonna amend that.  Hell is other people's kids.

Emily met her first bully this week.  At McDonald's Play Place.  She took it in stride, but I've talked about this all week and it still bothers me.  Emily, I'm sure, has already forgotten.

There were only a few children at the playground when we went and they were all toddlers.  Emily was probably the second youngest and the second smallest kid there.  The oldest boy there had to be about two, maybe slightly older.  His mother and her friend spent a good portion of the time calling out that he needed to calm down.  He did need too, but it wasn't that bad.

In the toddler area they had some soft toys that looked like turtles and ladybugs.  Emily loved these, but they were slightly bigger than she was ready for so she was taking her time inspecting how to climb up and ride them.  Once she figured it out and went to try the older boy came over, shoved her off, and jumped on.  This is where I'm proud of Emily - she just went onto the other.  Again, the older boy ran over, shoved her off, and jumped on.  They did this for a few rounds before Emily finally ran over to me with the most confused look on her face.  After some assurance Emily was off again.  And the same thing happened, over and over.  First with the turtles, then the slide, the steps, the little houses, the toys, everything.  The older boy even felt the need to shut the door to the toddler area and not let anyone in or out despite much pulling and screaming.  Emily never got to whining or crying, but the other children did.  The last straw was when Emily was playing in a house and the boy ran over, knocked her on the ground, then kicked - kicked - her by her stomach out of the house and onto the play mat.  Emily ran over (still not crying) and I scooped her up and whisked her away.  We left right after that.  Emily might not have been bothered, but Mommy was freaked.


The thing that really bothered me was the complete lack of reaction by this boy's mother.  Part of me wants to vent and holler that she didn't do anything.  The other part of me wants to not be a judgmental bitch and try to acknowledge that she was probably tired, has to take care of a very active (possibly overactive) child all the time, and maybe this wasn't really bad behavior for him.  Maybe she needed to pick her battles.  I only saw him for an hour I can't judge what was the best thing to do for him.


I can judge what was best for Emily though and that made me want to make a big deal of pushing and hitting and kicking.  I wanted to holler and tsk and be very upset so that Emily would get the idea that behavior like that is totally unacceptable.  Because in my little world it is.  But it wasn't my little world and it wasn't my little kid.  So I resorted to the typical Hawaii-style commentary and pointedly looked at his mother while I said to Emily "That boy plays too rough, what a meany-head."  She, in typical Hawaii-style, rolled her eyes.  Auwe!


The real bad part about this run in with a bully is that I'm totally worried Emily is going to emulate him.  Now, when she plays, I am always watching for some sign of bullishness that I need to nip in the bud quick.  Instead of seeing my sweet girl going to play with another kid in the totally unaware-of-personal-space way toddlers play I see her drop-kicking her new friend into the parking lot.  That sucks. It's not fair to Emily.  It's not fair she had to leave cause someone else was too aggressive and it's not fair that her mother is now certain she's gonna try these new play tactics soon.  She deserves the benefit of the doubt.  And a safe playground.  


And I blame all this on other people - and their kids! (And, okay, maybe some of my own neurosis.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yarn Along 3

Yarn Along with Ginny again

My Goal
 Once again this week I'm working on the new 1930's sweater.  I got the pattern from a knitting magazine I bought when Borders was going out of business.  I like the pattern as a whole, but it's been a whole week of knitting (including a Monday night with the Aloha Knitters) and I'm still not past the bottom of the ribbing on the back yet.  I have 1.5 centimeters to go.  (Oh yeah, it's a british pattern too so there might be extra math for me later on.)

My Distraction




Still reading "Contested Will" this week.  Haven't got far.  I like James Shapiro, but he is super academic.  I have a pretty big vocabulary and I'm running across new words in this book.  Also, it's the kind of book where you need to follow the little details to get the full gist of the hoaxes and conspiracies - in other words you need to pay attention.  I can't even get through one row of ribbing without getting distracted (see the cute kid running away with the wool and a knitting needle) so getting through this book is going to take some doing.  Or some serious nap time.

I am also this close to finishing the red sweater.  I did a lot of construction stitching this past week which 1) kept me from ribbing and 2) did not get me to finished.  I have about 4 more inches of the last zipper flap to sew up.  The flap isn't long enough though, so I really have 4 more inches of ribbing to do on that first.  Then sew.  Then weave more ends (there are a lot of ends).  Then sew the zipper in.

Didn't I say I was almost finished?

Monday, September 19, 2011

64th Air Force Ball

On Friday my husband and I attended the 64th Air Force Ball here in Hawaii.  It was the first time either of us had attended an actual Ball and I'm glad we got to do it together.

Highlights include:
Penguins!  This actually has nothing to do with the ball.  It was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki.  My favorite thing about this hotel are the african penguins and turtles that live there.  Before the ball even started we took a walk down to see the birds nuzzle down for bedtime.  I love penguins.

Uniforms!  The evening was a tribute to heroes.  To highlight the history of the Air Force they dressed in period uniforms from WWI through to the conflicts of today.  Being a history and costume buff I was thrilled.  They did a wonderful job.

Dresses!  As I get more and more into clothes construction and fashion I find myself constantly looking and evaluating the clothes around me.  Needless to say the ball was a wonderful place to see al the pretty dresses.  Also...I got to wear a pretty dress.  Unfortunately, the pictures we took do not showcase the beading that was on the waist of my dress.  None of them show the beads!  Typical.

Food!  It was yummy.  We had prime rib.  I swear our table alone was a served a whole cow.  I ate two pieces of the chocolate ganache cake (thanks to my husband handing over most of his).

Company!  The people at our table were wonderful and I enjoyed talking with them.  I loved the conversation and the camaraderie.  But most of all I enjoyed the time with my husband.  It was special to just be on his arm all night.  The hardest part was not reaching over to kiss him all the time (no kissing in mess dress).  It was a pretty fabulous night.

Then we left during the dancing and snuggled up our little girl.  Good night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yarn Along 2


I haven't finished my red sweater from the last yarn along yet.  I still have some construction sewing to do on it.  However, since my Mother was here last week I got excited to start a new project before the other was done.  (I spent about an hour showing her my stash and patterns.)

So this new project will someday be a sweater from a vintage (1930's) pattern.  I found the yarn at Savers for cheap and am rather excited about the project.  The yarn is wool and a darn bit scratchier than I originally thought.  So much so that by the time I finished casting on I was ready to stop because I disliked it so much.  Now after two rows I am falling slightly more in love with it again.  I intend for the ribbing to be black (the color in the picture) and blue for the body.  I like the blue better than the black - it's far more vibrant - but am unsure I have enough blue to finish it all. 

For my book I'm reading Contested Will by James Shapiro.  It does say "Who Wrote Shakespeare?" on the cover but the book is more about why people want to believe someone else wrote Shakespeare and when they started.  That is a question I often ask myself too.  I believe that William Shakespeare wrote the Shakespeare plays.  I believe it not just because I have only see credible evidence of this but because believing that a man from a small town who had no formal training, travel, or access to the uppercrust of society can still write something amazing is believing that anyone can do anything.  It's a belief in the human spirit.  The spirit and amazement of genius.  It also speaks to my inherent Americanness - it doesn't matter who your father was or what circumstances you were born only what you do with it.  That's a simplified view of it I know.  Even in the most democratic of places it still matters how you grew up, but I still believe in the ideal that people can rise above and that upstart crows can be read for millennia.

I only just started this book and I like it.  My Dad read it cover to cover when he came to visit  and he enjoyed it too.  I usually take his advice on books because he is a writer as well.  Here is his book review on his blog he writes for The Maui News.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grandparents

This past week my parents came over from Maui to visit.  They came for Emily's birthday, but honestly it was a gift to me.  For the first time in months I was able to do things without Emily.  I went to the eye doctor, I got my hair done, I went dress shopping and actually got to try something on.  Most of all I got a ton of time at home to not chase the baby around.  My parents chased her around instead.

In addition to all this mommy-time I am heading back to full-time parenting with a brand-new baby.  This past week Emily has leaped from charming baby to full-blown toddler with new words, expressions, games, skills and personality.  This always happens when we visit with my parents - I call it the "Grandma Effect."  I don't know what it is, but Emily always saves all her new skills for when my parents are around.  I often say "Oh, she doesn't know how to do that yet" and then, right then, she'll do it.

Part of me worries this is a reflection on my mothering skills.  Maybe my parents are better.  I know that I often don't talk as much as my mother does.  I want to, I try to, but then the exhaustion sets in and I find myself changing a diaper silently.  Emily doesn't seem to mind, I still smile and interact with her, but the words disappear.  I also may not push her as hard.  Since noticing how she reacted to other family members pressing her to crawl I made up my mind to let her lead the way when it comes to milestones.  But that also means sometimes I forget to put the crayon in her hand.  Grandma does it all the time.

Grandma and Grandpa also let her do lots of things Mama does not.  Like play with their phones and computers and glasses.  I try not to use "no" a lot with Emily - only for certain things that could get her killed or break something really valuable - but for some reason when Grandma and Grandpa say "no" she listens much more than she does to me.

In general, Emily loves her grandparents.  They left yesterday and this morning she ran into their room over and over looking for them.  If she hadn't decided to get her hug from me instead I might have gotten really jealous.

The rational part of me knows that the new people and interaction is what spurs Emily to grow, not anything lacking in me.  My brother has even said his children do the same thing.  But it's hard not to watch my Mom and think she does everything better than me.  I'm lucky I have a wonderful mother who knows so much.  I want to be just like her and am never sure if I will.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Now we are one

Emily turned One a few days ago.  To celebrate my parents flew over from Maui and are spending the week here.  We've had a lot of fun.

A few things about this day:
Emily had an angel food cake with fresh berries on top.  She loved the berries.
Emily got three dolls for her birthday.  One from Mama (me), one from Grandma, and one from Auntie Karlen.
Emily got some clothes - all three sizes too big for her.  She has some growing to do.  (She got a onesie that was size 24 month and said "My 1st Birthday" which seems...not right.)

A few things about Toddler Emily:
She started walking months ago and now can run.
She loves to dance.
She wears 12-18 month clothes.
She wears a shoe size 4.
She needs a haircut, but I'm not going to give her one.
She likes to eat fruit, cheese, cheerios, yogurt, eggs, carrots, and lettuce.  Like a true hawaii baby she likes spam.  But she'll try anything.
She can say: Mama, Daddy, Kitty cat, Meow, Hi, Bye, Tree, Blue, Fish, Books, Bird, among hundreds of other words.
She will read her books to herself.
She loves cars and trucks.  (I got her some dump trucks for her birthday too.)
She has six teeth officially.
She is a super happy, super easy, super fun child.  She is my best friend and I love being with her.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Last Year, Last Night

Last night Emily woke up, as her usual, at 11pm, 1am, 3:30am, 4:30am, and finally 6am.  She doesn't do these exact times every night and sometimes the intervals are less or longer, but generally she needs attention at night.  Cuddles, soothing, milk.  Normally we both do this in a haze of half-sleep.

Last night though was different.  Last night I woke up around 1am and stayed that way.  Lying in bed, being very still and quiet.  I didn't know why I was so wide awake.  Now with the morning I remember: last year at around this same time I started labor.  I spent the wee hours of the morning walking around my house, playing with the (then) kittens and finally taking a long, warm shower.  That's when my husband woke up and realized what was going on.

That's the start of a 96+ hour journey that ended in a pretty little baby girl.  It is not really a journey I look on fondly and the memory actually makes me feel ill.  I am so happy to have my daughter.  I am so happy to be her mother.  Yet, the labor, and the days/weeks/months following it are not memories I want to keep.  I have so many feelings of hopelessness and abandonment tied up with them that all I can think about is how badly I needed to be held then and how being held or hugged didn't do a thing to cut the loneliness.  Similarly, that's how I feel today.  I want someone to come and hug me and remind me that it is over and I know that even if I did get that I'd still feel sick to my stomach.

The really hard part is that I want to be happy.  I actually feel great joy.  Emily had a wonderful time playing this morning.  Bath time was splendid (a rare thing with Emily) and right now she is napping against my chest as I type.  There is no end to the joy I feel with Emily here, close to me, literally warming my heart.  It's the kind of happy that makes me want to sing with wild abandon.  But my hands are shaking and my throat is tight.  I can taste bile under my tongue.  Tears are picking my eyes and I can't manage to cry.  I can't cry.  I'm too happy and I'm too petrified.

If this is PPD recovery it sucks just as bad as PPD.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Yarn Along

I decided to join the Yarn Along over at small things.  Reading and knitting together!  Awesome idea!

Do you think it's a sign of the times that I actually don't have a "book" to take a picture of?  That is my Kindle.  I'm currently reading ""The Piano Teacher" by Janice Y.K. Lee.  It's a book club book for the Oahu Women's Literary Society and I'm enjoying it.  Or I was.  It starts off like an interesting romance, then gets terribly bleak and depressing following the trials of WWII in Hong Kong.  

On the bright side my Little Red Riding Hood Sweater is almost finished.  I started this sweater two years ago when I lived in Korea.  There I could have worn a hooded sweater and it would make sense.  Hawaii doesn't give me much occasion to wear this, but I want to finish it either way.  I've finished all but half of one zipper band and the two pockets.  I missed knitting Monday this week so I haven't gone far this week, but I hope to have it all done within the next two weeks.  

My Child is Bacon

My child is bacon.  My child is bacon.

It is very strange the kind of mantras I use to get me through rough patches.  Emily has been going through a rough patch recently so that means so have I.

She won't be put down.  I am not allowed to speak on my phone, put the dishes away, or brush my teeth.  Mostly, Emily wants to nurse.  I don't mind that, but she pinches when she nurses.  Hard.  She won't be distracted to pinch a blanket or doll.  She needs flesh.  My flesh.  It hurts, makes me cranky, and is incessantly annoying.  If I fuss at her she cries and demands more milk.  Which means more pinching.

This is a difficult phase.  We'll figure it out, but it's hard right now.  So I tell myself:  My child is bacon.

One of Emily's preferred snacks are theses corn puffs that are flavored with cinnamon and maple.  She eats them with cheese or yogurt.  Sometimes just by themselves.  She enjoys them.  It makes her smell like maple syrup.  All the time.  No amount of washing gets maple syrup smell out.  It has absorbed into her skin.  My little baby is cured in maple.  Correction, my fat little baby is cured in maple.

Though she's lost a lot of that infant fat, Emily is still a breastfed-fat baby.  She has chunky thighs and soft cheeks.  Her tummy sticks out like a little kwepie doll.  I love it.  When I hold her, even as she pinches me, I admire that happy, baby, fat.  It reminds me of fat, dirty, little piglets.  I reminds me of bacon.  And with the smell of maple seeping out of her I can only imagine that she tastes like bacon too. Fat, thick, sweet, bacon.

My child, my pinching, biting, fussing, child.  That child who gave me a fat lip last night throwing a fit about sleeping a few hours in the toddler bed.  That child is bacon.  Fat, thick, sweet child.  Fat, thick, sweet bacon.  The kind that makes me happy.  It is what gets me through till nap time.

My child is bacon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kitty!

Emily and Joy taking a nap together.

We're pretty lucky that Emily really loves our cats and the cats seem to tolerate Emily very well.  Emily's best friends are our two cats Joy and Coconut.  Her first word was kitty and now she knows how to meow.  It's pretty adorable.

We're lucky that these two cats like Emily.  They're amazingly tolerant.  Both of them will play with Emily and let her chase them around the house.  Often I will find all three of them sitting down together and getting into trouble.  When Emily goes into her play area in the living room Joy often follows and sits close by.  Coconut keeps a safer distance, but is never too far off in case Emily might drop a cookie for him to gobble up.  They both let her pet them as well as pull on their whiskers and, in the case of the other night, ride their tails.  (Emily held onto Joy's tail as she was walking away and Joy dragged her across the floor...no screaming from cat or toddler.)  

I sometimes worry about Emily not having a sibling to play with now, but she seems content to socialize with the cats and that's pretty sweet.  After all, that's what her mother does.  Some of my best friends have been kitties and I'm glad Emily has some cat friends too. 


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Half-Day

Today was one of those strange days when the hint of my life before baby, house, marriage, and Oahu came sneaking back.

We took a trip to Haunama Bay today to go snorkeling.  It took a lot of packing and planning to figure out a day we could get down there.  We also managed to tempt our new babysitter (and new friend) to come out and get some snorkeling in as well as playing with Emily on the beach while D and I had sometime in the water alone.  That little hour where we swished through the water by ourselves, pointing out fish to each other, was a rare and wonderful time.

And then it happened.  In the middle of a throng on snorkeling tourists D swam up to me and wrapped his arm around my waist completely unbidden.  We treaded water there and shared an public, yet intimate, moment.  It was almost like when we were falling in love and stealing any moment to touch.  It was almost like before.

Then of course we returned to the shore and life.  I went back to the baby.  We played in the surf, took a walk along the wet sand.  D went out with friends for long treks through the reef.  Then home, a bath for the baby, a nap for Dad, a diaper change.

And it happened again.  I found myself lounging in my chair, legs perched over the armrest, falling into a book completely.  D and a friend were playing chess.  The sun was setting.  The house was quiet.  For a minute I was back to being the young, unmarried woman who could spend her days with a book and a cup of tea.  A woman who took the time to fall into and in love with a new story while her boyfriend spent time silently playing a game.

Then of course the baby whined for a hug and I drank my tea down quickly with her perched on my hip.

But for a few moments today who I was before managed to peek through.  I spent half a day as myself and half a day as my new self.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy House Week 2

So I am completing my second week of the Happy House Express Challenge.  You could ask why I don't start and/or end my week on a Sunday.  It's because I don't work weekends.  Well, much.  I don't work fulltime on the weekends.  I'll feed and cloth my child but my floors will have to stay unswept.

That being said here's how I've done:

Week 1
Make the bed 7/7 (I actually do this on the weekends)
Empty the sink 6/7 (I do this too, I missed Wednesday though because of the tire thing)

Honestly Week 1 was a gimme since that was the week I cleaned top to bottom and made the house not just happy but orgasmically happy.

Week 2
Make the bed 7/7
Empty the sink 7/7
Clear the clutter 5/7  (I spent a lot of time re-clearing the clutter of my living room, but since we spend most of our time there the rest of the place still isn't that bad)
Sweep the kitchen floor 4/7

There is it.  The house looks lived in again, but not a disaster zone.  Which is a semi-miracle considering my house elf sometimes does more

harm 

than help.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Project: Squid!

I've mentioned a few times that among my chores I've been making squid.  I was not talking about an awesome new calamari recipe - I was talking about these:
That is a blue squid with fins and a yellow squid without fins.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but they both have eyes made with a collection of gathered double-crochets.

A fellow yarn crafter started a Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef here in Hawaii.  I sadly had to miss out on being part of her show at Mark's Garage earlier this year, but I did get lucky enough to help out with the latest show happening tomorrow at Waikiki Aquarium's Family Night: Meet the Molluscs.  They/we are giving away crocheted squids for the event.  I got to make some squid.

They aren't hard to make, though I really admire the crafter for building her own pattern for them.  I made about eleven squid in various colors mostly using baby yarn because I had some lying around.

Now that I've been doing nothing but crocheting squid I am quite frankly sick of crochet.  I need my knitting needles.  I don't think I'll want to crochet for a long time.  But the squid are cute.  I hope the aquarium kids think they're fun.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stranger and Stranger

Last week my husband and I switched cars so I could get his serviced while he was at work.  Everything went fine until the next day when I got my car back.  My tire pressure was low (or the little sign that says "hey your tire pressure is low" was on at least).  I didn't see anything really wrong with the tires or the car so I went on my way with the idea that I would put some air in later.

Okay, I lied.  I was going to make my husband put some air in later.  I just did all my errands and trips as normal.  I'm not proud.

When I got home the tire pressure still said low so I went around the car to check again, just in case.  Or I intended to except that the neighborhood landscapers were cutting the lawn and bushes.  That wouldn't stop me from check tires would it?  It would if the guy cutting the patch of grass outside our neighbors house hadn't pulled his pants down and started to pee on a tree.  I think he did anyway.  I only stuck around to see him pull down his pants After that Emily and I ran into the house and I forgot about the tires (and the groceries that were sitting in my trunk).

So there was a guy peeing on the tree which was strange.  Very strange.

Later that night when I finally got out to my driveway (to look for someone trying to find our house) I notice one of the back tires was flat.  Not just low.  Flat.  Really flat.

And that's strange.  But I guess not that much.

The next morning we got the car to the service center and they patched it up and it's all fine.  Except the thing that caused the flat:  A box cutter blade.  Seriously.

That's really strange.

We've been trying to figure out how my husband (who had the car) managed to get a box cutter blade stuck in the tire.  I thought he must have driven somewhere where there were, you know, box cutters.  He wonders if we weren't targeted because there are some parking wars going on where he works.  My car is easy to target because it is covered in pink hearts.  It's the only car on the island with pink hearts.  (There is another black car in Ewa that has pink flowers - that's not me.  I'm the one with the hearts.)  Most people know my car even if they don't know me.

It's strange my husband drove my car.  It's strange I saw someone peeing on a tree.  It's strange there was a box cutter in my tire.  And it's even stranger that all this happened and it's not till after a whole week and weekend that I finally realized that this isn't normal.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Clean

I started the Happy House Express Challenge this week.  I'm three weeks late, but no one really has to know.  Anyway, I started adding the two new chores for this week and that was all well and good.  However, my house needed more than a spruce.

Growing up our home wasn't really clean.  It was loving, it was wonderful, it was fun, but it wasn't organized.  We were healthy, well-fed, happy children with attentive and loving parents.  Parents who spent a lot of time taking us to events, classes, shows, adventures while they ignored all their own endeavors.  The fun ones and the not-so-fun ones like cleaning.  Family was more important and I'm grateful for that.

My husband grew up in a very different home.  His mother was, to put it mildly, house proud.  He and his siblings spent most of their time cleaning the home or doing other tedious chores (there was a story about picking out certain colored rocks in a rock bed that just makes no sense to me at all).  Of course they did other things, but apparently keeping the house close to perfect was important to his mom.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around this.

Thankfully, D does not share his mother's zeal for cleaning.  If the house gets a little crazy he can deal.  He'd like it clean once in awhile, but lived in is good enough for him.  Good thing too because I live in my house.  So does our toddler.  Which means that things do not always get cleaned right away.  There are often times when I only get to one room a week.  Sometimes not even that.  And so, for the past year, there has not been a single moment where every room in the house was organized, tidy, and clean.  It was livable.  The important parts were clean:  kitchen, bathroom, laundry.  Just some rooms had closed doors and a pile of stuff that needed love sometime - sometime in the future.

This week though I finally did it.  For a few weeks I ignored everything but the biggest rooms of the house.  I cleaned and tidied these until I had it to a point where with just an hour of wiping, sweeping, and some clutter control they looked neat.  Then I moved on to the smaller rooms.  They were easier to take care of and so I had a chance to also do those things that never get done.  You know, those things that professional cleaners do that normal cleaners don't.  Door moldings, the tops of the legs of the rocking chair, the corners of the ceilings.  Those things.  Who knew they could get dirty?

So I did those things along with some others and today I put the finishing touches on the last room of my house.  Now all three bathrooms, all four bedrooms (including my craft room), all closets, the office and library, the kitchen, the living room and even the foyer are scrubbed, tidy, and calm looking.  And that is with a toddler and two cats running around.  I even had time to make dinner.

So now that it's all finally perfect I can continue on with the happy house challenge and making the bed will actually mean something.  You know, rather than being a neat bed in the midst of a hurricane of dirty clothes, books, toys, and kleenex.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Amazed

The other day I posted on facebook that the only thing better than Baby Emily is Toddler Emily.  It is so true.  If I was enamored with Emily before I'm absolutely astounded by her now.

This morning I found myself more than a little exhausted while Emily was well rested.  So while she let me drink my tea on the couch I watched as she went to the shoe rack and proceeded to reorganize it as she saw fit.  Normally one would think this means she pulled all the shoes out of the rack and left a giant pile on the floor.  Normally one would be right.

However, this morning she went for the shoe box on dad's side.  She carefully pulled it out, then carefully unpacked the brand new sneakers inside.  Faced with two new shoes and an empty box she decided to put the shoes away.  Put them away on the shoe shelf...where they belong!  However, silly mama had put her own blue sandals on the tops shelf.  So she, holding a shoe that was about half her size, moved the sandals back down to the bottom shelf and then put dad's shoes away.  That done she finally had what she was after:  the empty shoe box.

It took her awhile but she managed to toddle over to the couch with the box.  It wasn't easy.  If she held it by the top the bottom would hang down and hit her knees.  If she held it by the bottom she couldn't see over it and keep it off the floor at the same time.  When she did get a good grip on it the cat would get in her way because he too loves empty shoe boxes.  She made it though.

I love that she figured all this out on her own.  I love that she doesn't get stymied by obstacles and problems.  I love that she has a determined face that means she will get this done.  She has that face a lot more than I do.  I often am daunted and slowed by the little problems.  They take awhile for me to tackle, sometimes I have to walk away and come back fresh.  Emily just figures it out.

I love it.  I love her.  I wish I was more like her.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nightlife after Baby

When Emily was about a two months old our neighborhood held a movie-in-the-park night for families.  I invited a bunch of other moms and their children to come out and see it with me.  I suggested we meet at 6:30pm on a Friday night so we could see the movie that started at 7:00pm.

It didn't go over well.  I was scolded for even suggesting something that started so late.  Apparently bedtime was 6:00pm for all of these children and I was a horrible mother for suggesting the outing and an even more terrible parent for taking my child out to something so late in the day.

I can understand that other children may need an extremely early bedtime.  Some of them need to go to school early, some need extra sleep because they no longer nap, so just are on the early bedtime schedule and it works for them.  At the time Emily was two months old and it didn't matter where I took her she was going to do one of two things:  nurse or sleep.  I figured I might as well watch a movie while she did.  Later, after the scolding, these mothers told me that I wouldn't be able to do anything after 6:00pm once Emily turned 3 months old.  I would HAVE to set the sleep routine early.  I would not be able to go out at 10:00am when it was time for her nap.  I would not be able to go out in the afternoon when it was time for another nap.  I would not be able to leave the house - ever.

At 11 months with a little mommy-confidence under my belt I can now say a big fat whatever.


On Friday night Historic Hawaii Theater showed the Oahu Premiere of Get A Job.  The show was filmed in Maui and starred a lot of people who I did theater with there.  I was not going to miss the premiere.  Unfortunately, my husband had an event of his own that he could not miss.  So Emily was my date for the night.


The show started at 7:30pm.  We were treated to a quick concert by the Barefoot Natives who were also the stars of the show.  Emily danced to each song and even sang along with Wille K.  (Thankfully we were in the back so no one heard her harmonizing.)  After the music and intermission they screened the full-length movie.  Emily loved it.  So did I.  It was funny and sweet and it was fun to watch. 


Later, we sat for the question and answer segment.  Then we got our poster signed by some of the movie stars.  Eric Gilliom even signed a CD for Emily.  What baby gets to go to a movie premiere at 11 months and hob-nob with the stars?  My baby that's who.  And all because I refuse to stay home.


Emily was fine the whole way through.  We sat in the back in case I needed to leave the theater (I am aware other people are trying to enjoy their night too) but we didn't have to.  Emily was enamored with the live music and the quirky comedy.  Half-way through she got tired and so she curled up on my lap and drifted off.  She woke up for the signing and we got home a little after midnight.  I had a wonderful time, Emily had a great time, and we didn't have any tantrums or problems.  


I just refuse, refuse, to miss these special events.  I love my daughter.  I want her to be happy, comfortable, and healthy.  I am more than willing to do whatever it takes to get there.  That being said I also want to be a health, comfortable, happy mama.  I can't imagine sequestering myself just because I have a baby.  I also can't imagine Emily missing out on all the wonderful parts of life just because she is a baby.  She'll let me know when she's tired, hungry, needs a break, or wants to go home.  When she does we'll do something about it.  Till then she can come live life with me.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

K.I.P.

K.I.P.  or Knit-in-Public.  It's my new defense against all things...well...me.

Social things are hard for a person like me who is 1) Shy 2) Anxiety Prone 3) Shy and 4) Really Shy.  Public or social situations can really work me up.  I never know what to say, sometimes I can't think of conversation starters, sometimes I can't think of conversation responses, sometimes I can't even get over my shyness to excuse myself long enough to go to the restroom.  Despite all this I get crazy when I shut myself up in the house too long and I get wildly lonely when I haven't had some sort of interaction other than my cat and my baby.

But when you are knitting (or crocheting) social situations are easy.  When I can't think of anything to say I can knit, when the conversation lags I can always talk about yarn, when I need a minute to come up with something in response I just knit till the end of the row then speak.  No one minds - I'm knitting!

Earlier this week I tried it at church.  Normally time before the service is uncomfortable for me.  Every one wants to say hi, every one mostly wants to flirt with the baby, but then they expect me to continue the conversation.

"Hi!  She's cute."

"Hi!  Yes she is."

Cricket.

Obviously I suck at this.  But with my yarn this week we talked about squid, and yarn, and colors, and then the service started.  It was great.  And I also finished two squid.

Later I went to a mom's group thing at the beach and the conversation went towards schools and what teachers everyone liked.  I don't know any teachers because Emily does not go to school.  There I was, standing knee deep in the ocean, holding a baby, and thinking man I wish I had my yarn.

So K.I.P isn't that practical for all situations, but when I figure out how to knit in the water life will go, er, swimmingly.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beach Memories

This weekend we, as a family, had one of the best weekends ever.  The kind of weekend where the memories are so nice that you don't mind it ending because you can keep thinking about it.  And it makes you smile.

Saturday we spent time doing things we love.  I went to a workshop for a crochet project I've volunteered for.  A bunch of women, sitting in a yarn shop, making stuff with yarn.  That is what I call a perfect afternoon.  While I did that D took Emily down to Waikiki and they played chess with the random chess lovers that meet near the Duke Kahanamoku Statue.  To D that is a perfect afternoon.  Pretty perfect for Emily too because she adores hanging out with her Daddy.  After getting to spend the afternoon apart, stretching our individuality, we came back together to spend a nice, quiet, evening watching a movie and eating cheese.

Sunday was more time together.  We got out to church for the first time in a month and then rushed home to change so we could all go out and play at Ko Olina Beach Lagoons.  D had his first experience snorkeling.  Emily had her first experience swimming in the "deep" part of the ocean.  Up till this point she had only ever sat in the surf and fussed whenever a wave would come up too hard.  Sunday she loved everything and was quite the little dolphin.  Her cheeks must have been hurting from all the smiling she was doing.

We rounded out our weekend by taking a long drive down the leeward coast, past Makaha and all the way to Kaena Point.  Driving home we saw the sunset over the ocean.  A vision I saw everyday growing up in Maui, but something that is still magical.

It doesn't sound like much, but there was something rather alive about this weekend.  As if, finally, after all this work and planning and building we found the chance to live a day rather than get through a day.  Life has been busy for us here and at the same time pretty boring.  A house, a family, a wedding, school, work - it all starts to pile on the stress and depression.  Even when we were having fun and doing wonderful things there was an undercurrent of stress that kept enjoyment away.  Just going to the beach, the very picture of paradise, seemed like a lot of work and chores to me.  I'm not sure my husband felt the same way, but my attitude probably didn't help him relax.

But this weekend, this very simple weekend, gave me a chance to exhale.  As I swam out to the breakers and looked out at the ocean expanding ahead I finally felt that feeling only the ocean can give: the feeling of being weightless, small, yet significant because that ocean connects you to all parts of the world all at once.

I didn't take a single picture this weekend.  There is no keepsake from this weekend to remember it by save some extra sand.  But I know these past few days will be some of my favorite memories of our time living in Oahu and being a family of three.  I am so grateful that these are good memories - finally.