(Departing from the usual BNT format for a newsflash.)
During our trip to Hawaii, the Good News Girl developed a new hobby overnight. It's like she's following in my footsteps, but more violently. It's difficult to get a decent picture of her at full steam.
The target is, of course, the nearest bird. She loves watching them take off in well-placed terror of her. One unfortunate lame avian did discover what happens when it can't take off--apparently she wants to try out her soccer skills on them--but I was able to swiftly teach her that we don't chase or kick birdies with owies.
But there are no pictures of the events that followed: her traipsing (sprinting) across this giant field at Kokee State Park; her father and I getting lost in the beauty of the moment with the cool evening breezes and the redwoods behind her, discussing something that is forever lost to me; her making a beeline for the chicken family and me not quite believing that after all my instructions she would still chase them (did I forget that she is 2?); both the terrified bird and the terrified Eva standing their respective grounds, squawking and screaming and flapping arms and wings at each other but thankfully making no contact; me discovering that I can, in fact, still run, all 15-extra-pounds-and-one-extra-person of me. It was most dramatic, although like a good woman I had to tell the Pater Familias afterward that it had, in fact, been most dramatic. He wasn't quite sure that it had been. (He has no healthy fear of the creatures, I guess.)
The offended fowl:
It's not all blood, sweat, and tears, though. She's pretty obsessed with the whole concept of binoculars--she has 2 toy pairs herself--and was really excited when I pulled out the big guns (low-end Bushnells from Target) at our accidental discovery of Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge:
Hanging with some nene at our hotel on Kauai:
Better watch out, birds. She's coming for ya! As soon as she figures out how to turn these things around the right way.
Highlight: Being surprised by the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge (I know, I'm the worst birdwatcher ever). We saw several birds that are native to Hawaii, which is kind of unusual with all the invasive species taking over. It will definitely get its own post.
Frighlight: This one's Eva's: My evil, parents, who hate me, sent me down the waterslide and let me go under the water!!! Nary a drop shall touch my face again. (Mom's note: For once, she didn't inhale. We're making progress.)
Picture of the Day:
Highlight: Beautiful weather, beautiful pool and beach, beautiful family, and delicious chicken tenders.
Frighlight: Arriving at the airport 30 minutes before our flight left Kauai. We're fashionably late to every party, people.
Picture of the Day:
Highlight: Will you kill me if I say going to Target? It is so much easier to buy bed linens and maternity clothes in person.
Frighlight: To visit the USS Arizona Memorial, you have to take a boat out there. There are no amenities, bushes, and not even any dark corners--you're totally trapped on a very solemn structure, and in the water below you is the sunken ship, including hundreds of sailors' remains. So when your preschooler cries, "MommyIgottagopotty!"...yeah... (She held it, the big girl.)
Picture of the Day:
Highlight: Getting to fly back with the Pater Familias, instead of the original plan which had us girls flying by ourselves and him going straight to the States.
Frighlight: On our way home from the airport, awake for the past 21 hours*, driving from shoppette to shoppette on Kadena looking for any kind of children's fever reducer as Eva burned up in the back seat. (Our supply recently got fried when I left it in a glove compartment.) There was nothing, but thank God she did not get sicker and slept through the night without too much discomfort. (ICE, ICE, baby!)
Picture of the Day:
*This may not sound like a big deal, but I'd like to remind you that I'm growing a human.
Eva's airplane germs have moved from a fever to just a rash, and my own have now hit me full force. I even called in sick to church tomorrow, which I haven't done since I don't even remember when. I'm pretty woozy and probably shouldn't be blogging.
Kauai (Coconut Coast)
In the spirit of woozy, shouldn't-be-bloggingness, a couple of random notes:
(1) Here in Japan, we drive on the left side of the road (pretty old school post there). That leads to confusion when we visit the States; everything is thrown off, including which side your windshield wiper and blinker knobs are on. (Know what else leads to confusion? How we here call the rest of Japan "the mainland" but in Hawaii people call the contiguous U.S. "the mainland".) My Hawaii car mishap stats are:
Drove on the wrong side of the road: only 1 time
Had trouble parking because of miscalculating distances: ~ 50% of the time
Misused windshield wipers versus blinkers: blatantly
Walked up to the wrong side of the car to get in: 100% of the time
(2) We had the most wonderful This Is Asia moment on the plane to HI. As I was sitting there, barely suppressing moans at my inability to sleep, back pain, and narrowly-avoided calf cramps (I should mention that I am very much in the supersmeller stage of pregnancy right now) , the man across the aisle from me decided to remove his shoes and massage heavily scented oil into his feet. There were three separate instances of this.
(3) In a This Is Still Sort of Asia moment, we came across a Lawson Station in Waikiki. The nicest Lawson Station on the planet, of course. Although I guess J-Mainland people might have nicer ones up there. For you US-Mainlanders, this is a convenience store that is placed approximately every 10 feet in Japan.
(4) I had what I take to be a very Hawaiian (Honoluluan?) moment on our last day: Driving on the H1, stuck in stopped traffic, in a light drizzle, when a full rainbow appeared over the road.
I stink at blogging about our trips. So I'm going to bite the bullet and just do this, in a format that I think will work for now. I always fear that when I write about a trip it will be a snorefest (or bragging) list of "and then we did then this and this and this", and as we're pretty sedate travellers nothing crazy ever happens. I mean, we're not exactly touring South America in a motorcycle and sidecar. Anyway, here are some highlights, starting the day before we left. I'm also including one good scare from every day, because under the placid, demure exterior that people who don't know me at all tend to see is a neurotic worry-wart who is constantly looking for things to go wrong.
Highlight: Being told that changing our tickets to return on the next Tuesday instead of the Saturday after (for Pater Familias work reasons) would actually save us money.
Frighlight: Finding out later that she'd only changed our reservation, not our tickets, and in actuality the tickets were $1500 more. The Pater Familias stayed up late on Skype fixing that mess, and we didn't have to pay.
Picture of the Day: I don't think so!
Highlight: Eva was an angel on the airplanes and slept more than I thought she would (about 4 hours of the 7 hour one).
Frighlight: Wondering what over 24 hours with basically no sleep would do to me and the baby, as we couldn't get into our hotel room until 3pm Hawaii time.
Picture of the day:
In the ANA lounge in Naha.
Highlight: Eva's joy at the Honolulu Zoo...mostly at chasing the wild birds.
Frighlight: Eva's tendency to climb over the slightly inadequate fences at said zoo.
Picture of the Day:
Highlight: Hanging out on Waikiki Beach.
Frighlight: The shifty characters that would come into Starbucks and give us the staredown were not my favorite. And I have to be honest, I got a little nervous waiting at the airport for the Pater Familias to show up for our flight to Kauai, as he was coming straight from work--and we all know how that works out, right ladies? (He showed in time.)
Picture of the Day:
Highlight: The cool mountain breezes that reached us at the Waimea Canyon overlooks. I cannot describe how much I miss those here. And also, the fairy wings.
Frighlight: Eva's bird chasing turned sinister when (despite my warnings) she decided to go after a mother hen with little chicks. She was on the far side of a large field that she'd been running around, and I thought the bird was going to take her eye out. She emerged without a scratch, but I nearly went into labor.
Picture of the Day:
Since I got a few decent pictures of birds in Hawaii, this erstwhile series shall return for a bit. This striking little guy was at the Honolulu Zoo (but wild) (but the species has been introduced from elsewhere, just like most of the birds that you see around Oahu). They originally come from Africa.
Once the Good News Girl is asleep, she tends to stay that way pretty well. In fact, the other night she slept through a massive bed-wetting, sheet-changing, us laying her on the floor, washing her, and changing her episode. (That's a little beyond normal. She was extra tired.) But every night and naptime we have to check on her a couple of times, because staying asleep doesn't mean that she stays in bed. Now that she's upgraded to her big girl bed (a twin with a guard rail), I need to post these pictures of her old set-up before they're too outdated. (When she was potty trained when she turned 2, we converted her crib to a toddler bed, but she insisted on getting her arms and ankles stuck between the rails constantly. So we switched to the tried-and-true mattress-on-the-floor setup for the last 9-ish months.)
Well...she's almost on her bed...
Not even close, but works well enough that I left her there...
OK, that one's just for the "awwww"factor.
A close call again!
And, my all-time favorite...
Are you seriouslying me?
First off, remember the Cave'o'Danger? Wait, we thought it was going to be the Cave'o'Fun & Baptisms, but then people started getting stung and I saw what I think was a little sea snake, so we moved on out to the blazing sun, dodging spiny black sea urchins along the way. I played it cool with Eva, pretending like I wasn't too concerned about their hundreds of thousands of venomous black spines and how they could just slip right through her flimsy water shoes. Well anyway, she and I escaped unscathed, unless you count my run-in with the venom of the sun. But the last couple of days I've been seeing some of the kids who got stung in the cave, and some of their legs are covered in scabby healing blisters because the thing that got them was a lion fish! This was confirmed by a doctor. Thanks but no thanks, Okinawa.
So, on to my first world problems. I've been meaning for like forever to write about travelling with a toddler, because although it's been pretty well covered in the blogosphere I think that's one of those things that it's useful to get some different perspectives on before you attempt it. Instead, I'm just going to gripe about my pre-trip jitters.
Last week it was decided that we were flying to Hawaii for 10 days. Leaving in one week. I know that because I've said the H-word you're going to laugh me off, but actually it wasn't the easiest decision to say that yes, we definitely want to spend our last big vacation before leaving Okinawa on going to a different remote warm Pacific island than the one we currently inhabit, with the Pater Familias working almost the whole time, travelling for at least 16 hours with an increasingly un-potty-trained child. Especially with me pregnant and marthritic (read: chubby, sluggish, and swollen) and, with a mile between our hotels, unable to efficiently stalk Chelle Girl. She is a very game travel buddy* & she'll be there in the same boat, but because we made reservations at the last minute our hotel is a mile away from hers**. Would you believe it? It's kind of difficult to get hotel reservations at a government rate in Waikiki in July during two massive military shindigs.
Anyhow, I found myself not asking but telling my work that I won't be there for the next two weeks, so the chapel will be left with DVD music and I will be travelling with a small carry-on of guilt [for depriving them of my unmissable, genius-level musical talents].
And cancelling important appointments (read: my cleaning lady), Eva's summer camp, ensuring my constant stream of doctor's appointments won't be affected, and RSVPing no to Eva's friends' birthday parties.
And we've been scrambling to get the dog groomed, clean the fish bowl, arrange dog and fish sitters, and do all laundry. The Pater Familias is fighting with United over Skype because I have passports in both my maiden & married names and unless he fights, these many thousands of miles I'm about to accumulate will just disappear into the cold void of space also known as the Great Customer Service Vacuum (and when you're slightly tall-ish and have knees that aren't very bendy, those Economy Plus upgrades can be the difference between public airplane tears or not on long flights).
And these are all sort of normal-life activities, but when I have a deadline I freak out a little bit.
And right before we go we'll need to typhoon proof the house, clean the fridge, drop off the dog (not forgetting his food this time), and beat the tempermental iPad into submission so it will contain the promised movies (such as "Da Move-it Move-it", AKA Madagascar 2).
And of course I just had to arrange a last-minute playdate with Eva's oldest friend here, one of the ones we moved away from and I've been feeling guilty about it because we never see her anymore. One more small thing that was absolutely necessary to slap on the old plate.
Then there's the subtle, back-of-the-mind pressure to leave the house clean or at least not completely tornadoed. I gave up on this long ago, but the shadow of it still stresses me before every trip.
And did I mention that I absolutely hate making decisions? This one managed to involve large amounts of money, time Eva spent or didn't get to spend with Daddy, health concerns, which-non-Oahu-island-will-we-choose-as-our-one-and-only-one-to-visit, and the much-dreaded last-minute factor. I frequently wish I could be swept backward into the safe cocoon of infanthood. All of that is how I found myself weeping copiously, tears pregnant with pregnancy, in the hallway of a building of bureaucratic offices on post, where Eva and I have to go with all of our documenti to get a certain stamp to be allowed to leave and get back into Japan. I don't really wanna be a grownup. And I usually prefer to have my breakdowns in private, especially now that Eva asks what's wrong with my face.
All of these things that I'm dealing with are the trappings of my [overly] comfortable life. Straight-up blessings. Except the fish, but no, husband, you may not dispatch him to silence my complaining. And stepping back it's kind of ludicrous to complain about any of it, but if I weren't ludicrous I wouldn't be me now, would I?
Allora, decisions are made, nonrefundable plane tickets are purchased, frequent flyer miles are spent on car rental, Kauai is officially The Other Island We Shall Visit, and we're mostly set except for that vague feeling I'm left with that I should have called my mom to ask permission.
*To quote the GNG: Are you seriouslying me? I never blogged about going to Hong Kong. I just can't take the pressure of travel blogging, I guess. I did post this picture and, my favorite, this picture from the trip. But here's one more, with Chelle Girl--that's Eva's special name for her--in honor of our upcoming Hawaii-trip-crashing:
Also, I had to use an old picture in this post because my computer is broken and I can't import any pictures, and I feel partially dressed with no picture.
**No longer. We're splitting our time between three different hotels in order to more efficently stalk her.
This 4th of July, our night church had a get-together at Onna Beach. It was mind-blowingly hot, but at least one of us didn't get sunburned. The Pater Familias was stuck at work, but we had some fun anyway. When we made a quick stop at the shoppette, I was able to finally buy Eva one of these flags that she has been longing for ever since she learned the word "flag", and she didn't stop waving it once when it was in her hands.
Here are your tidbits from the day: