Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Just in from Hawaii (2008)

I'm somewhere out on the open seas today traveling from Ketchikan, AK to Victoria, B.C. So here's a post from way back when I was a newlywed. Michael and I vacationed on Oahu that first summer of our marriage. It was lovely.

We had a WONDERFUL time in Hawaii. The picture above is at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on our first full day there. We sat out by the pool for several hours refreshing ourselves in the pool and soaking up the rays. I had never done the resort thing in Hawaii before, and so it was good to spend a couple days at this amazing property and feel like we were living in style.

Being in Hawaii with Michael was totally different than the previous times I've been there before. He has spent enough time in the islands (he was born there and has returned many times since) to know about all the local delicacies and favorite places. I was introduced to many foods I had never tried before as Michael hunted down some of his favorites like malasadas and manapuas - yum!!! I also tried shave ice with ice cream and azuki beans. It didn't sound good to me at first, but it is - it is! We treated ourselves to a shared shave ice every day.

Once we left Waikiki, we spent the remainder (and most of) our vacation in the town of Kailua. Kailua has one of the best beaches in Hawaii, but no resorts. It's a bedroom community. Lots of people live there and commute to Honolulu for work. We were within a short walk's distance from the beach and the downtown shopping area. The property at which we stayed was waterfront, but not beachfront, however we could see the beach from the backyard (which was just beautiful), and we had full use of their saltwater pool. The unit we stayed in was so charming and comfortable, and the owners were gracious hosts. In fact, they discussed having us return next summer to housesit for them while they travel! We would be delighted to do so, of course!

On a side note, I really enjoyed waking to the sounds of the birds in the morning. They kept birds at their home, and together with the native birdies we were treated to quite a chorus each morning.

We drove around the island one day - up to the famous North Shore, through the fields of sugar cane and pineapple, along the stunningly beautiful coastline. Of the three islands I have now visited, I have to say that Oahu is my favorite. There is so much to do there if you like, and yet when we were at "home" in Kailua it was so quiet and and life moved very slowly. I was trying to figure out how we could relocate to Kailua, but alas I cannot think of a reasonable way to do so. So, we will return as visitors one day instead.

I hope to put together a little slideshow of some of our photos, but I've got other things that need my attention first. Perhaps I'll get to that over the weekend instead.

Aloha, for now!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Today I will be in Skagway, Alaska. While my parents take a 3.5 hour train ride, Michaela and I will be panning for gold, seeing some sled dog puppies, and experiencing what it's like to be in 40 degrees below zero temps - like the mushers and their dogs. Don't worry! From what I could tell when I booked the excursion we'll wear heavy parkas and walk through a big freezer. Ha!

However, next week I'll report back to work and then we'll be on that treadmill called "real life" for another ten months. I'll be learning the ropes as a middle school teacher, and Michaela will start a five-day-a-week preschool program. There will be new challenges and opportunities for us both.

Sometimes at this point in the summer, I start to feel a little apprehensive about the start of the school year. Maybe I'll be having too much fun on our cruise to have those back-to-school nightmares I've had for the last twenty years. I sure hope so!

One of my coping strategies for this hectic time of the year is to think about and plan for some of the fun things we like to do in the fall together. It's good to have some things to look forward to as summer fades away to fall.

Here's what we've got planned so far:

We started going to the Greek Festival when Michaela was just a baby. The food is incredible, and I love the music and watching the dancers. The parishioners at the church where this is held outdo themselves and show great hospitality. I don't feel like it's really Labor Day weekend, unless we've spent an evening at the Greek Festival.

The last two years we have gone out to Irvine Park for their pumpkin patch event. I usually get a Friday afternoon off after a long week of parent conferences, and we use that time to visit the pumpkin patch. We always ride the train, run through the maze, and take lots of pictures. But Mommy buys her pumpkins at Trader Joe's. . .

In November, we usually take advantage of the Veteran's Day holiday to make a three or four day weekend and get away somewhere. However, this year the holiday falls on a Wednesday, and so we will not be going away overnight. That's a big bummer because it's my wedding anniversary, and I like to get away and do something fun with Michaela instead of sitting home and feeling sorry for myself. We'll just have to figure something out to make the day a happy one. Suggestions are welcome. 

How do you cope with the beginning of the school year and all it's demands? 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Kauai 2013

Today we are embarking on our Alaskan cruise, and looking back at our vacation two years ago in paradise.

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We had the best time in Kauai with my parents. Like all trips to Hawaii, it was over much too soon. Some of the highlights were:

  • Flying first class to Lihue (thanks, Dad!).
  • Our oceanfront view.
  • Smith's Tropical Paradise Luau.
  • The train ride around the Kilohana Plantation.
  • A boat ride up the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto.
  • Dinner at Oasis on the Beach and Duke's Kauai - amazing views.

And, of course, there is the lovely scenery, the chickens that are everywhere, the roar of the ocean, gentle rain showers, tropical flora, shave ice, and that aloha spirit.

Michaela was a great traveler (she gets that from her daddy). She called our condo "Grammy's House in Kauai". So cute! She loved making sandcastles on the beach with Grammy, but wasn't too excited about getting into the ocean water.

Mommy had a great time, and I'm trying to figure out how we can go back next summer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What I'm Reading - Blogs

I discovered blogs about ten years ago when I decided to start the China adoption process. Personal blogs about China adoption experiences were a great resource for me, and I developed some good friendships (to this day!) as a result of reading and commenting on others' blogs. Somewhere along the line, we all seemed to migrate over to Facebook, and very few of us continued to blog as life became more demanding (kids!).

More recently, I have been in search of new blogs to read. I got on a kick of running Google searches looking for Stitch Fix reviews last year, and in doing so have discovered some new blogs that are worth reading beyond the monthly SF review.

Here are some of my favorites:

I think I found Edie's blog on Pinterest a while back. Seems like I was looking for either Stitch Fix reviews or fashion for forty-somethings. I will have to say that her blog is no lightweight, though. Edie has a lot of poignant reflections about life and faith, and her blog is uniquely and beautifully presented.

I'm not even sure that Cassie from hi sugarplum does Stitch Fix reviews, or not. So I'm not sure how I found her. Nevertheless, I love her sense of style. (Stripes and florals really do look cute together. Who knew?!) She also did a series on the Alaskan cruise she and her hubby took a few months ago, and of course I loved that. In addition to fashion and travel, you'll find home decor and DIY posts.

I stumbled across Dorothy's blog when she guest posted last week on another blog I've been visiting. I can relate to her journey as a single woman, and as someone coming to grips with a terrible loss. I am always drawn to people who don't have a picture perfect life, but who strive to live life gracefully.

Cyndi's blog was definitely a Stitch Fix related find. I love that she's over forty, fashionable, and that she points to the Lord as the source of all beauty. As someone who enjoys clothes, but struggles with putting it all together with accessories and such, Cyndi's blog gives me daily ideas for the contents in my own wardrobe.

I came across Sarah's blog this summer, and I've been inspired by her tips for frugal living and generating additional sources of income. I changed out many of my lightbulbs on her advice, and looked into simple ways I could monetize this blog. Her posts seem to make me take action!

These are just a few I enjoy reading throughout the week. The thing I need to work on (that I used to enjoy so much!), is commenting. I know how much I enjoy reading comments on my own blog posts, and so I need to be generous with my comments on the blogs I read. That's how relationships between bloggers are established.

So, what are you reading? Who is your favorite blogger?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cosleeping - Our Experience

Long ago, before I had children, I was one of those people who thought cosleeping was for hippies. Seriously! I could not understand why anyone would share their bed with their baby or their little children. It seemed weird and inconvenient to me.

Then I had a child.

A wonderful child whose love language seems to be touch.

But it took me a while to realize that cosleeping would be the best thing for her - for us.

When Michaela was a newborn, she slept next to my side of the bed in her bassinet. Aside from waking in the night for a feeding, she was a good sleeper.

Then I had to go back to work.

I think I started transitioning her to her crib at least couple of weeks before school started that year, but she did not like the change at all. She awakened in the night more than once, and resisted going back to sleep. It was really hard having my sleep interrupted like that, and especially when the alarm clock was going to go off at 5 AM. The first two months of the school year were brutal in that regard.

If it weren't for a trip to Las Vegas that November, I don't know that I would have figured it out as soon as I did. Although I had brought the portable crib, that first night in the hotel room I had an idea that changed everything. The bed was close to a short wall, and I decided to fill the gap between the bed and that wall with the extra pillows - that way she wouldn't fall off the bed. Then I put her in the bed with the pillow barrier on one side, and I was on the other. Lights out, and voila! She slept the entire night. She didn't even wake up for a feeding. It was amazing!

So that was the beginning of our cosleeping.

Almost four years later, we still cosleep most of the time. During last summer and this summer, I expected her to sleep in her own bed most nights because we have a lot of time together every day. But when I go back to work in a few weeks, she will sleep in my bed again most likely. A Facebook friend who also cosleeps with her school-aged daughter, said that it seems like it fills her daughter's bucket (so to speak) of that close time with mom. I have to agree with that.

It's a sacrifice to share your bed with your baby or young child, for sure. If I were married still, I'm not sure it would have been an ongoing sacrifice we would have been willing to make. But being that it's just Michaela and Mommy, there really is no downside to letting her sleep in my bed. I'm sure there will come a day in the not-too-distant future when she would rather be in her own bed. Until then, this is what works.

Do you, or did you, cosleep with your child(ren)? If so, was it the result of a change of heart (like me), or had you always intended to cosleep?