May 25, 2017

Hawaii part 2: In which the Fire and Rescue Squad meet us at our gate

 I'm realizing how typing these posts out while the memories are fresh in my mind would be so much easier than attempting to recall details weeks later, but procrastination has always been my strong suit!
Continuing on...
We went to Sea Life Park one day, which was perfect for us- smallish, uncrowded, "hands on" opportunities for the kids, and a playground in the center. On the way to one of the exhibits from the playground I stopped dead in my tracks after counting heads and realizing Heidi wasn't with us. Thankfully she was still happily playing on the playground! Again, smallish and uncrowded place + Guardian Angels FTW.
Dolphin show
Feeding the birds
Feeding the fish lettuce
 Our morning at "Secret Beach" on the Marine Corps Base was great. I love going on base- I feel like I'm part of some special club or something. The beach was secluded, tucked away behind the airfield, and perfect swimming for the kids as it had hardly any waves. Us adults and my oldest nephew took turns snorkeling while the kids paddled about, so it was the best of both worlds!
The kids found a sea cucumber (every time I hear mention of them I think back to an episode of Fear Factor I once watched when some beauty queens had to eat one- yuck!) and there was much excitement over a sea turtle spotting.

On Wednesday we had to vacate the house as it was being treated for mold, so we drove to the North Shore where we ate at Teddy's Burgers (a favorite!) and then spent the afternoon at The Polynesian Cultural Center. I didn't know what to expect but, wow, the Cultural Center was quite a place! They had setups of the different Polynesian islands you could walk to and get your "Passports" stamped- all connected by walkways and bridges- each place with it's own activities to do (like spear throwing, fishing, hula dancing, etc.) and culture to experience. We didn't get to all of them but really enjoyed what we saw!
 The North Shore is so beautiful!
Cook pines

We also visited Samoa, Hawaii, and a couple others.

 In Samoa I nursed Cora while everyone else made crowns and fish (that you could play 'catch and release' with!) on lines from palms. Heidi was SO cute holding her little fishing line- it reminded me of those old time illustrations of little boys barefoot in the summer with their fishing poles in hand.

 It was HOT, HOT, HOT and I got burned- definitely a theme of the trip!

Hula lessons
One funny incident from there: I had just rejoined Tim and the other kids with a few of the girls in tow after using the bathroom (my sister was still in the restroom), when a group of South Korean tourists stopped me. One woman came very close to my face and holding up six fingers said with wide eyes, "Six?!". It took me a few seconds to realize she was referring to the kids and then Tim chuckled and explained that we were two families. We tried to converse with them as best we could for a few minutes and then (and this was the second time that day this happened) a few of the adults proceeded to marvel and gush over Cora and her blonde hair. It was so funny to me to witness such awe when we're so used to seeing her everyday!

We had planned to visit Pearl Harbor (I had been there but Tim hadn't) on our last full day there but when that day came around we knew we needed to lay low and let the girls play and rest at the house. That was the best decision since another full day of driving and being out in the sun would've been too much for everyone. Hopefully we'll get back someday!

The travel home was a bear. 
We decided it would be best to just get straight home instead of stopping in Portland for a night, however that meant we had three (THREE!) flights to get from Hawaii to Virginia. The flight from Hawaii was o-kay- Heidi played her "wild, wiggly two-year old" card pretty much the whole time. Tim dealt with the brunt of the crazy for which he receives many accolades from me!
BUT. (cue "Psycho" music) When we landed in Portland, Tim had to go get all our bags from baggage claim, re-check them, then go through security since we were flying a different airline. That left me with three backpacks, a diaper bag, 4 kids + stroller and a duffle bag to manage. Thankfully a play area was right next door to our gate, which was also not a far walk from our arrival gate.

Cora slobbered all over that stump and it was out of my realm of things to handle, so I didn't wipe it up. I am that mom!
 Even more wonderfully, there was a Burgerville right across the way. After camping out and letting the girls play for a bit I mustered up my courage and decided we needed to get something to eat since it was almost 9:30 pm local time and I knew this was our only chance at real food. I gathered up all our gear and we slowly maneuvered ourselves to Burgerville. By the grace of God we got our food and found a table without a hitch, then Tim met us a few minutes later.

You know when you're doing something you feel is really tough but you're managing and you're thinking, "Wow. This was a really difficult situation but I'm handling it!"? (In the play area I was texting with my sister-in-law all ohmygoodness how crazy is this situation that I'm in?!) the few seconds that we had our backs to Heidi, she decided to climb onto a nearby metal bar-height chair. We didn't see what happened, but a split second later she fell and cut her lip. From the bleeding and the sobbing we couldn't tell if her teeth had gone right through!
Tim whisked her away to find medical attention and just like that I was back in charge of three kids + all our stuff. In my head I was already preparing for us to miss our flight and having to stay the night in Portland. A kind soul offered me help but I didn't know how to use her kindness so we made small talk in that way adults do through kids and made our way to the bathroom.
Fast forward some minutes to Tim meeting us back at our gate (with time to spare before boarding!) with the Fire and Rescue Squad heading our way. The men were so great, and assessed that the cut was superficial. They applied steri-strips to a now sleeping Heidi and we boarded our plane a few minutes later. 

The flight was so much not something I'd ever care to repeat. Ever.
It was a night flight (minus any sleep, of course) and more than three hours long (the only redeeming part was watching "La La Land" in spurts and the most generous flight attendant who gave me headphones for free!). Tim held Heidi in the row in front of me, Evie, Audrey, and Cora. The girls slept fitfully- Evie again sprawled out along the seats. Cora cried off and on and screamed SO much towards the end of the flight, coinciding with Audrey crying and saying she was going to be sick (you know the sounds that alert you to the imminent emesis?). She did end up getting sick just as we exited into the gate area in Detroit. Sigh. 

I'll spare you the rest of the details except to say after that, the hour flight to D.C. was cake.
Overall, so many people made kind comments during the airport travel, which I was humbled by. We came across many kind hearted travelers and airline employees. I don't think I'll ever get used to the staring, but I know it's good for people to see families travel with young kids. 
Re-entry to real life was *definitely* an adjustment. Besides sleep schedules being way off, the week we returned Heidi came down with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, cut her head open requiring an ER visit and staples, Tim caught an ear infection, I had bronchitis, and the other girls came down with viruses. It has been survival mode central for sure; I'm hoping and praying for a calm, healthy summer!

May 21, 2017

Some Good Things

One of my brother's-in-law once told me of an old general store along a country road nearby whose elderly owner sat in a chair outside everyday in order to serve his customers- because the building had been condemned! Sure enough, the next time I took that route I spotted the ederly gentleman sitting outside his store. I excitedly told Tim, who mentioned it was unfortunate that when the owner passed away the place would most likely be destroyed. That thought made my heart hurt...not too long after I noticed the owner wasn't out it front anymore and then the property went up for sale. 
Well, just the other week I drove by and the store had been renovated and re-opened! In an area where construction is never-ending for more housing developments, apartment complexes and strip malls it's heartening to know some wonderful soul has an appreciation for existing businesses and antique buildings!

Along that same vein, there's a nearby elementary school building that was recently razed as a new, bigger building was erected nearby. Earlier this spring I noticed as I drove by that the ground all around the razed site was dug up except for an area near the chain link fence- a large group of daffodils was in bloom and left untouched. I'd like to think that they were left alone in order to be preserved or re-planted. Beauty is saving the world!
In our diocesan paper I recently read about the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in NYC, which opened in 2015 in a decommissioned diocesan school. Millennials are the targeted audience and the center plays host for movies, lectures, plays, art etc. Below are two excerpts from the article that really stood out to me:
"Our programming comes down to the three classical components of the true, the good and the beautiful. Where the true and the good are so hotly debated, the beautiful gives us an opportunity for dialogue and diffuses the argumentative state of affairs."


The programs do not "have to be sunshine and rainbows, and they can explore the darkness of the human condition," but they should reflect St. John Paul II's observation that when a spark of goodness is present, a glow of beauty pervades the whole work, DiCerto said.

I LOVE this. Pretty sure Ven. Sheen & JPII are proud!

Big White Farmhouse is having an awesome 25% off sale right now- there are so many great and beautiful things in this shop! I knew I wanted to get this Fairy House kit for Evie's birthday and one of their sewing drawers is answering my desire to give SOME semblance of order to the school and art supplies in our house...a constant work in progress but we're getting there. 

If you follow Sancta Nomina then you probably know about this adorable Etsy shop Kate showcased last week. I'm kind of in love with everything, most especially the Narnia map and this quote that I'd really like to get for Evie and Audrey's room. 

I know embroidered tops are pretty big right now and it's kinda fun to search Etsy for them. It can be hit or miss what comes up, but being able to input the max price is pretty great and there are some really cute gems!
Finally, my sister introduced me to cherry lime La Croix and I am hooked. It offers the taste from my days of Cherry Coke drinking without the sugar intake and the afterwards feeling like a slug. It's not a flavor that's carried many places (ahem, Costco, Walmart...) but I did find it on for pretty cheap. 

And that's all for now- Happy Sunday!

May 13, 2017

Hawaii or Bust!

The second part of our trip- from Portland to Hawaii- began with a series of unfortunate events. (I forgot to mention in my last trip post that Cora was diagnosed with a double ear infection several days before our trip to Oregon, so poor baby was not feeling well!) First-off, we got a late start out the door to the airport. Our flight was at 8-something AM and after gassing up the rental car we arrived at curbside drop-off I think around 7:40! And Tim still had to return the car. 

This is when the crazy level turned up a notch. We unloaded the girls and tried to keep an eye on them while unloading all of our stuff: one large bag with two booster seats, and two more sizeable bags with a car seat each (all of which Tim had to take out of the car and pack just then), one duffle bag, two large suitcases, the diaper bag, camera bag, adult backpack packed to the brim, two kid-sized backpacks, and the umbrella stroller.
Mayer, party of circus, arriving for our flight.

I was wearing Cora in the Ergo, and as Tim was wrangling all the things, Heidi became sick to her stomach. There, on the curb. With onlookers probably questioning our abilities to adult. I gave myself huge points for not freaking out or alerting Tim since he was so busy and still had to return the rental car. I grabbed some wipes, cleaned her up, and huffed it several yards to toss them in a trashcan as Tim drove away. I missed the part where we acquired a luggage cart but somehow we had which was a huge blessing because I was left to bring all of our things + the four girls inside by myself. This was one scenario in my life which I felt was an absolute logistical impossibility, not to mention nightmare! And I know, I KNOW I looked like a lunatic trying to direct the girls inside.
All the stares, don't care!

 I pushed the cart while carrying the duffle and diaper bags (wearing Cora) and I think at least one of the monster-sized car seat bags. I've blocked a lot out. Audrey, God bless her, pushed Heidi and her vomit-covered jacket in the loaded down stroller, and Evie tagged along, blissfully ignorant of the chaos.

The next Everest to scale was entering the airport through the large revolving door, the likes of which our girls have hardly any familiarity with, especially not while pushing a stroller! There were lots of sink or swim moments on this trip and right now we sank. Audrey lost her bearings and she and Evie confusedly stalled several times while still in one of the slots. I've blacked the rest out- somehow we exited (not without my swearing and yelling, mea maxima culpa), with an audience, of course, and made a sinuous route towards the (lineless- hooray!) Hawaiian Airlines desk. On the way a sympathetic airport employee asked if I needed help but I assured her my husband was coming to meet us at any moment- attempting to navigate the roped walkway to the desk and start checking in was not on my list of things I felt I could handle...buuut I was quickly notified by the airline staff across the way that we needed to check-in immediately, as both our baggage and us were dangerously close to missing the flight!
Merlin's line from The Sword in the Stone was quite appropos for this scenario: "Blow me to Bermuda!" (or Hawaii, as it were.)
Image result for blow me to bermuda sword in the stone gif

Well, we did make the flight, and added many things to our list of "Things we will never do again when traveling". The girls were such troopers through it all and what a relief it was to land on Oahu (also, we recommend flying Hawaiian Airlines!).
We came to visit my sister and her family (my brother-in-law is military) and it was such a great visit! The girls had so much fun with their cousins and they took such great care of us during our stay.

Our first full day we visited the Botanical Gardens

and the day after that we headed to the beach only to find out Box Jellyfish had taken up residence there, so we decided to head into Waikiki to swim at the Hale Koa Hotel (open to military)- we knew we wouldn't get stung there. ;) My sister told me my grandparents and great-aunt and uncle had stayed there many years ago when they came to Hawaii which was so fun to hear.

These Sisters get prime locations for their great work!

 Rain dampened our plans for the next couple of days, so we explored the Bishop Museum (got to see a real lava flow demonstration!), hit-up the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium for some shopping, and drove a scenic route around the island.
"From Here to Eternity" beach
One thing I found interesting was the names of some of the Catholic Churches we came across. Names like St. Roch, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and St. John Vianney- I don't know what names I would expect on Hawaii but I thought those were interesting picks!

Also, the last time Tim and I were in Hawaii we were there during the feast of St. Damien of Molokai BUT in Hawaii they celebrate it on April 15th, so nothing was going on during the May feast. I found it ironic that this time we arrived just days after his April feast day!
On Sunday we had a good beach day and I got a good sunburn. Sunscreen application- why must it be such a pain?

Several evenings we were provided free "Luau" entertainment by the kiddos. :)
 Whew, this is lengthy. I'll pause here and pick back up later!
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