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


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 don't get to pass judgement on a wish!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


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.