Monday, June 30, 2008

Home again, home again.

Back. Sadly. Usually, on about Day 13 of a vacation, I am ready to be home, surrounded by my own things, my dogs, my friends, etc. But not this time. Instead, I was ready to sell everything I own, and take Flipper with me back to Hawaii to live forever. It is hard to convey just why I find the islands so incredible, but all I can say-and this is coming from a pretty committed atheist/agnostic-is that there is a powerful spiritual pull from the minute I get there to stay, learn the language (which I love) learn the legends, the history, the culture...I love it all, except for the food. I took over 400 pictures, and will torture you all with only a few.

Highlights of the trip: Kaua'i. Really, really beautiful. I have been to three of the islands, and they are all different. My sister, who has been to all that you are allowed to go to (two are off-limits) said that many people compare it to different children in the same family; you love them all equally, but for very different reasons. Anyway, we stayed in Hanalei, the last tiny town before the Na'pali coastline. Every day we took Flipper to the beach where the woman in South Pacific washed that guy out of her hair. And, I think, her life. The beach there was perfect. And, apparently, quite dangerous. Actually ALL the beaches in Hawaii are sketchy, most have warnings (especially on Kaua'i) and it is an ocean you can never ever turn your back on.
Morning in Honalei.
Pools in lava rock near Princeville, on Kaua'i. Spent 3 hours clambering around the rocks, jumping in and out of the pools. They are very deep and very clear, most have fish and sea urchins living in them. Flipper was thrilled to observe these living aquariums.
Lumaha'i Beach. Film location of South Pacific.

The next perfect place: Hana. A tiny tiny town on the east coast of Maui, very remote, very beautiful. When we travel we stay in small rentals in people's houses instead of resorts or hotels. I encourage this because you often end up in a neighborhood, part of the town, and get a better feel for what it is like to live somewhere, and not just visit. So, for your viewing pleasure, some pictures. And a fantastic high school sign as well.

Heavenly Hana. The small island in the background is Ulu'a Island, and, interestingly, it has several palm trees on top pf it. How did they get there?

I think this is Wainapanapa State Park. Rugged, wild coastline. Much of Hawaii's coastline looks like this, not long, white sandy beaches.

We found a ripe coconut near a beach, dropped a large-ish rock on it multiple times to split it open...and then ate it.

And one school.

Last highlight/best meal: Mama's Fish House in Pa'ia. STUNNING. Incredible. This thing you see below? THAT WAS MY DESSERT!! It is called "The Tahitian Pearl". After eating there, I didn't eat again for close to 24 hours. Even my sister "put away the groceries", as my father would say.

Flipper cried the whole way to the airport. The trip home was exhausting beyond belief, and we arrived home at 6:30 p.m., went to sleep at 9...and Flipper woke up (after much prodding) at 11:45 the next morning. 15+ hours!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ain't No Place I'd Rather Be...

...and for all you Grateful Dead fans, I'm NOT talking about Tennessee.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trip From Hell to Heaven

We are here. Finally. Missed flight on Monday, due to my (and the airline) error...BUT it could not have turned out better. Flipper, who was all dressed in her travel clothes and had to get out of the car, handled the disappointment incredibly well. Cried for about 10 seconds, then moved on. We spent the day at the pool with a friend's children; her husband died last week and so she needed some time. The kids had a blast, then we spent the rest of the day with them, dinner, etc. TUESDAY, a day later, we made it to the airport, and there, preparing to board the flight to Salt Lake City, we saw a playground friend, with her 4 year-old son, her mom, and her 7 month old. They were seated in the row in front of us. AND, in an almost unheard-of stroke of luck, Flipper and I had an empty seat in between us, so Atticus came back and they kept each other occupied for the entire 4.5 hour flight, while Nicole and I talked and read and expended very little energy trying to keep them occupied. What luck! What fortune! And let me say now how nice the SLC airport is. Had an almost-healthy lunch, then got back on for the 6.5 hour flight to Maui. Long. Hard. Boring, but blessedly relieved by a most entertaining seatmate (no, not Flipper), an extremely attractive and incredibly youthful-looking 84 year old woman from Sun City, AZ, on her way to Maui with her daughter and son-in-law. She is very well-traveled, but this was her first trip to Hawaii. Finally, after 5 hours of endless clouds, LAND HO!! Visibility was incredible; we could see most of Maui and Lanai...and then we were there. Windy (which I love) hot, and dry. We headed to Kathryn's condo..but then she passed it and kept driving to...The Ritz Carlton, for a surprise night's stay. Oh, I could so easily get used to this!! Pool, hot tub, sushi...bed at 7. Now it is 4 a.m. and I am basically counting the minutes until I can justify coffee from room service. Pictures tomorrow. I think.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wrap-Up Before Travels

I promised I wouldn't do it last summer...but now I am unable to resist. It is hot. Unbearably so. And yet I want to be outside because I am an outside type of person, and need it badly. I hate that I can't open the windows at night right now, because it turns our bedroom into an oven, and Flipper's boiling hot 5 year-old body pressed against me all night basically pushes me right to the edge, of sanity, or reason...of something. So...I will not promise, as I ever-so-foolishly did last summer, to not whine about the heat. Although, it would have taken a human much much stronger than me not to freak out on the double whammy of hideous temperatures coupled with a scary drought. But enough!!

On Monday, Flipper and I make our fourth, and probably last, trip to Maui. Kathryn won't stay there forever, and the main reason we go is to spend time with her, and so we would travel to wherever she lives in order to do so. I can't get excited until the flights go off without a hitch, we survive 12 or so hours in the air, and connections are made, we don't lose anything, and we coordinate successfully with her on Maui. She is is Park City, UT, for a yoga workshop. We fly into Salt Lake the day she is leaving; our planes take off from Salt lake within 2 hours of each other. But she goes to Phoenix and then on to Maui; we fly from Salt Lake straight to Maui. If all goes well, she will land 25 minutes before we do, and we will rendezvous via cell phone outside. I am attempting something new: a trip to Maui without checking any luggage. It may or may not work; I fear stressing over packing our little roll-ons, and then having to check them at the last minute. Which will enrage me, as it means that I could have packed a larger bag all the while. If her plane gets stuck in Phoenix, Flipper and I will collect her car from the lot, and go ahead to her condo, about an hour from the airport. A shuttle will get her there later, or we will pick her up the next day. If we get stuck in Salt Lake, she will return for us. So when people ask me if I am excited, well the truth is, I am. But I am mostly nervous right now about the flights. her computer is dead; so I will be taking mine along. I will post often from Maui, with pictures, of course! If any reader wants postcard to them or their kid(s), email me with your address! I LOVE to send postcards!! Now, a few images of where we'll be in a week... The small bay you see in front of the house is a place where tons of turtles come in all day to sleep in little coral caves. It is fun snorkeling and seeing them up close. Flipper will be able to do it this year for the first time.

See the little sailboat? The island in the background is Lanai.

Empty beach...
Flipper and her beloved Aunt Kathryn.
Just for you, Diane, a Ritz-Carlton golf cart!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Doctor's Visit

Yesterday I took Flipper to the doctor's office for her 5 year old WCC. That stands for "well child check", in case you were wondering. Our doctor's office had moved; it is a green building now. brand new, the gentle sounds of ocean waves playing in the any rate, Flipper is healthy. Blessedly. I am very, very aware of how lucky we are that everything in her little body works. Breathing, eating, feeling, all WORKS. 42" tall, 41.5 lbs. Solid little bunny! Right at the 50% mark, which is a far cry from her babyhood, when she was in the 15% for several years. They always ask me about milk consumption, which I find irksome, because we don;t drink milk, although she eats cheese, yogurt, etc. No sunscreen lecture, thank god. Debated booster shots, decided to go for 2 of the 3 recommended. (MMR and chicken pox, for those of you wondering). Why chicken pox? Well, because her dad and I have never had it, and were she to catch chicken pox, well, let's just say that it is not a disease you want to have in adulthood. Anyway, she just sat on the table passively while they stabbed her legs with huge needles. No tears, no flinching, no nothing. The two nurses were amazed; they had wanted me to hold her arms and I had refused, since I knew she would be fine and able to control herself. On the way out she said, "I wanted to get a shot so I could know what it feels like." Of course I had to call my sister and relate this to her and she said, "Great. Another member of our family that wants to try something out so she knows how it feels."

The other funny/disturbing thing was that every time we go I have to fill out this long, multi-page developmental survey. I think it is part of some sort of study, but I don't know for sure. At any rate, there was a question you were supposed to ask your child,and then record their answer. The question was, What do you do when you are hungry? "Acceptable" answers were, "Get a snack." "Go to the refrigerator." "Eat." What did Flipper say? "I wait." So that wraps it up: a stoic child that is denied food. But still healthy!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lunch and sleep. Not necessarily in that order...

I am going to enter some sort of sleep-Olympics one of these days, when someone somewhere decides that rally being able to saw some z's is a worthy competition. I think the Olympics need some help. Last night I fell into a deep slumber at 8:15, woke at 2, read until 4, then passed out again until 6:20. Then I leaped up, took a 2 minute shower, and made some coffee, before turning to one of my least-liked Mommy-chores: the packing of Flipper's lunch BASKET (not BOX). The preparation of nice, yummy healthy food fro her was yet another of those things I thought I would love to do...but the reality turned out to be not so fun, or rewarding, or interesting. This "list" which has the title Fantasy vs. Reality has so many entries that I can't remember them all. At any rate, as I sliced up carrots and celery, carefully poured boiling water into her Thermos so it would get hot BEFORE the leftover noodles were nuked and dumped inside, and placed a little cloth napkin on the bottom of the basket, I thought how very slack I would be if Flipper's nice organic lunch were ever compared to THESE NUTTY MOTHERS!! This is what passes for Caring and Concerned Mother in Japan. Talk about too much time on your hand!! What are they thinking? Imagine opening up your cute little bento box to the following:

Bird made of rice colored with egg yolk, atop a lettuce nest and hard-boiled eggs. Another one...

Tempura shrimp "mermaid" swimming in a noodle/veggie salad. I would eat this one.

Now, part of me gets it, I really do. The desire for creativity, regardless of the form it takes, the satisfaction of making something for you child that is unique, and, in this case, pretty healthy, but then my Understanding Brain clicks off, and I am left pretty speechless. But lest you think this is confined to the Far East, let me use Exhibit A as evidence to the contrary: Wow. Vegan, too.

Cat and fish. Also clever!! AND vegan.

These lunchboxes are actually quite cool; made with the "good" plastic and reusable over and over again. They are sold through online and also locally at Twig, in Chapel Hill. I have yet to purchase one for Flipper, as I prefer plastic you can see through. Plus, I am not ready to give up her precious basket yet. And when I DO make the switch...well, let's just say that good old Mozart probably WON'T be making an appearance...

But you gotta love it!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Utter randomness

Just a few random scenes/thoughts from the week-end:
Out to eat with friends Friday night at Talulla's in Chapel Hill, right on Franklin street beside Elaine's. We all sat in the window, which is only about 2 feet-yet separated by glass-from a small table for two outside. It came to my attention that one of UNC's young basketball stars was eating there with his girlfriend. NOTE: I would have never recognized him on my own. Being a Duke fan and all that. Actually, I wouldn't recognize a current Duke player either. At any rate, the chance to play paparazzi for the first (and probably only) time in my life wasn't going to slip through my fingers, so I used Kelli's I-phone to snap Tyler Hansborough. He looked normal...until he stood up. Then he looked HUGE.
Way to go, I-Phone!!

We spent the rest of the week-end in and out and in and out of the pool. The water is so cold I can only plunge in to cool off, and then I get out as fast as I can, to coach Flipper from the comfort of my lounge chair. She can really swim!! You should see her!! Saturday Rose and the boys came over and we talked while they frolicked. Seamus was hilarious in all of his gear: water wings, goggles...but he is still quite cautious and doesn't trust the water wings to hold him up. I also got a good shot of her newest, Ronan. We call him RoRo. Look at his plump adorableness!!

He has this serious look quite a bit. Precious.

Flipper scampered up the steps to the kiddie pool, tripped, and ate it, falling down 3 steps and tearing the skin off her knees and the side of her foot. I am always impressed with her ability to scream for a minute, and then calm down. Perhaps having a mother that once said, "Life is full of pain, so get used to it" after enduring relentless pestering about some teeny tiny paper cut pushed me over the edge.

Anyway, I led her over to our towels, and picked one up and she REALLY screamed then, "NO!! Not with my towel!! BLOOD STAINS!!!" How many five year olds are so ready for laundry? I convinced her that HER towel was, indeed, going to be the one we used because it is RED, and she got back in the water. Can't keep her out, really.
I finally turned the air-conditioning on during the day this week-end. I was going to try and make it until we left, but couldn't do it. My power bill last month was 42.00 and I had hopes of that continuing until late June. Growing up in a brick ranch right here in the Triangle, my mother turned the groaning window unit on only when it got above 97 degrees. We spent many a night on the floor of our room, or, once, on the kitchen floor. Remember how you said, when you were a kid, that you wouldn't grow up to to do blah blah blah and then you find yourself doing the exact same things? Why is this?? So it is with me and the heat/AC. Chilly in the winter (64 degrees), hot in the summer (75 degrees).

I am going out today to buy a Father's Day gift for my dad, a mini-fridge for his Man-Hut. It is a joint present from my sister and me. I will be in Maui with her for Father's Day, so my boss is going to deliver it. Fun!! I am also getting a hefty fan at the same time. The downstairs of the townhouse is incredibly cool, fully shaded by hardwoods all summer long, but as the day progresses, the upstairs gets warmer and warmer, until by bedtime it is stuffy and icky. trying to sleep while hot is the worst. But a fan makes me think I can do it...we'll see.
Flipper, stroking hard for the finish.