I Went Skydiving

You know the very first thing that came into your head was that song – “I went skydiving/Rocky Mountain climbing/…”

Last Saturday we were up bright and early and out the door to the North Shore. I had a date with the sky and I wasn’t keen on being late.

I go back and forth between being the most zen human and the most anxious – lucky for me, zen was my sweet spot that day.

I kept waiting for my heart to race, my palms to get sweaty, and maybe even to back out. And when it didn’t happen I figured it probably would when I was in the sky, at the door of the plane, no chance of turning back.

But it never happened.

I’ve always thought I’d like to experience skydiving some day. But it wasn’t something I felt strongly enough to put on my bucket list. If it happened, cool. If not, I wasn’t losing sleep over it.

We were driving around the North Shore a few months ago and happened to be watching the skydivers and my interest was piqued again.

“I want to do that,” I told myself. “I want to do that here, where the scenery is gorgeous.”

So I googled and it, and discovered that I know more than one person whose bought shoes for more than what it costs, and it helps that for some reason it’s like the 2nd least expensive place to skydive in the U.S. There wasn’t much reason to not do it. (Other than possibly my trepidation with Heights, but hey!)

The day I had originally intended to do it months ago, roadwork was being done that made the drive there even longer, so I put t off.

Then I realized that time had slipped away from me and I didn’t really have much time left if I wanted to do it on the island. So I booked a slot and made it official.

Have I ever mentioned that I have an amazing husband? When I told him what I was doing there was nothing but “awesome!” and “can we [he and the kids] come cheer you on?” He didn’t try to psych me out or grumble that I was spending money needlessly. He didn’t tell me to chill my 30 year old crisis out. He’s kind of like the greatest human I know.

The kids all waved me on after I was suited up and the guy that I was diving tandem with – Stepan from the Ukraine – walked out the the plane. It was me and several other women also diving solo, and then a few friends who’d come together.

I was to be the last one out of the plane, which I had to laugh about because I’d wanted to be first. No time to think about it.

Turns out I wasn’t even thinking about it anyway. The little plane was loud but oh my gosh. The views.

Oahu is gorgeous as is. I could literally just drive around the island all day and marvel in its beauty. I love a good hike that takes us high and gives us outstanding panoramic views.

But from the sky? Birds eye view?

There isn’t anything quite so breathtakingly gorgeous. I was more than excited and happy to jump out of that plane and free fall headfirst into the majestic beauty of God’s creation.

I’ll be honest though; the free falling bit wasn’t my favorite. I mean, I definitely enjoyed it, but it was so much wind and air in my face that I wasn’t really able to appreciate the moment fully.

Unlike once the chute was pulled.

I understand why people do this. Like more than once. Why they jump out of planes as a regular hobby or for a living.

I can’t say I’d ever want to do it not tandem, but maybe. I could probably work my way up to that desire.

I do know that I definitely want to do it again. Hands down. That will not be my one and only time skydiving.

Sweet M was pretty sad he didn’t get to do it with me (though my biggest cheerleader. As we waited for my turn, with each person that came down, he’d yell, “Do that, Momma! Do that!”) so I told him when he’s 18 we’ll “do that” together. Knowing him, he will remember and hold me to it.

I’ve always been so good about “someday.” So I’m glad I’m being more mindful of the present and doing things “now.” Because who knows otherwise if and when someday would even come.

Baby Makapu’u Tide Pools

One of my absolute favorite places on Oahu is the Baby Makapu’u Tide Pools. They’re typically uncrowded, they’re crazy kid friendly, and we often see monk seals!

Despite having been here for a year, J hadn’t ever been with us and I really wanted him to experience them. So on a whim I asked him to come home early and go to the beach with us for he evening.

I packed up the kids and a beach dinner, and he actually came home on time!

I cannot describe how much joy it brings me to see my kiddos in the water and my husband happy, playing with them.

I so appreciate how hard he works so that this can be my normal daily life, and I don’t take for granted that he misses out on a lot because of it. So when he’s able to catch a break and enjoy time and connect with them, we all benefit.

I love this carefree, take it easy lifestyle. I didn’t anticipate loving Aloha life so much.

Kamananui Valley Trail

I love hiking. Fortunately, my big kids are amenable to it as well. Unfortunately, my youngest does not like to be worn, and is still not yet capable of walking. Needless to say, we have been on very few hikes in the past six months. We have still done them, but sparingly to appease her.

This past weekend we return to an oldie, but a goodie. One that the kids and I have done, but J has never had the privilege of accompanying on us. Weirdly enough, he seems to have to work for a living. It really puts a cramp in our lifestyle, ha.

We ventured off to Kamananui Valley Trail. This trail starts at Moanalua Valley Park, which is nice because there is a playground and potties right there before you even get started, and at the end. There is also a nice little shower slicker to rinse yourself/shoes off if you happen to catch the trail on a muddy day (which is most days).

I love this trail because you can make t what you want it. It can be the whole 6.2 miles if you want, you you can turn back at your own halfway point. We’ve yet to make it all the way to the end, and since we are leaving in less than a month (waaaaah!), I don’t anticipate we will make it to the end this year.

Regardless, I love this hike with kids because there is so much to see, and it’s a relatively easy, and steady trail.

The kids love taking in the river in all of it’s roaring beauty.

There are small detours off the trail in some areas. Toward the beginning there is a great one that leads to a hidden house ruins site where Douglas Damon once lived. This is definitely one of my kids’ favorite little spots!

There are several creek crossings, all of which my kids enjoy. I mean, who doesn’t like getting a little wet on a hot, Hawaiian day?

And plenty of trees to monkey around in, of course.

We are definitely not serious hikers on a mission, but we enjoy nature and being in it, and allowing our kidlets to explore and learn to love and appreciate it, as well.

Molokai

10 years ago while I was living in England, I went through confirmation for the Catholic Church. I’d been baptized in it as a baby, but I hadn’t been raised in the church and I knew at that time that it was important to me that I was married in the church, and that my future children would be raised in it.

The father there, Father Peter, had a strong sense of camaraderie with Father Damien who was being canonized that year.

There were many liturgies that he gave surrounding Father Damien’s teachings. One evening during a Catholic Society meeting we watched a movie about Father Damien and all of his work, his life and ultimately his death, in Molokai.

Pretty much all people of faith, regardless of what that particular faith is, deeply intrigue me. I’m fascinated by people who can so easily believe in things they can’t see, and have such a strong calling to something that so many find unworthy. The idea of being so selfless, so giving, whilst expecting no worldly return is something I deeply strive of myself , although I know I could never be quite that humble and selfless.

Father Damien, now Saint Damien, really spoke to me. His entire story was fearless and giving; he literally left his world to give everything, including, eventually his life, for people who were viewed by the world at the time as the most repugnant of all. He loved those people, deservedly. He served them and gospeled to them, and lived with them as an equal.

Needless to say, visiting Molokai went on my bucket list.

I’m declaring my 30s the decade of “doing shit now” instead of sitting back and saying “well, one of these days…”

I’m a fortunate human; I’ve had so many worldly experiences and privileges in my life, and I take none of it for granted. But I also am the Queen of Procrastination and turning down opportunities out of fear of failure or imperfection.

Well, not anymore.

So I scheduled a trip to visit Molokai the weekend after I turned 30.

A friend offered to keep all of my kiddos, which made planning this trip to this particular island much easier.

Molokai is not a tourist hub like Maui or Oahu. Roughly 75,000 tourists visit each year, which is not many at all.

We found lodging via Air BnB and the only car rentals we could find were on Turo.

We took the tiniest little airplane into the tiniest little airport, and enjoyed the weekend on Molokai with just Bean in tow.

Having just one little girl was so easy. Just one car seat to lug; one kid to feed and change and put to bed. No screaming or fighting from tiny humans.

Even so, we spent most of our time missing our kiddos, and I realized that I’m still not super ready to leave Sweet M overnight without his momma or papa quite yet, even though he did stellar.

We arrived early Saturday morning and spent our time driving to the eastern most part of the island. Visiting chapels and beaches, and taking in the uninhabited beauty that is Molokai.

The beaches and lava rock were breathtaking. Molokai is definitely my island. I could have stayed there forever.

And the food?

There weren’t many options, obviously. But we found a tiny little joint way outta the way that was SO worth it that we went back for breakfast the next morning. And it was worth it the second time, too!

Because we had Bean with us we were not able to trek down and tour the historic Kalaupapa. Individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed. I knew this before we made plans for Molokai, and although I would have greatly enjoyed making the hike down, I’m glad we opted to take Bean with because I know I’m not ready to be without her for that long quite yet. She’s much too little and precious to not be with her momma or papa for more than 24 hours.

It didn’t prevent us from taking the small hike to look at the cliffs where it lays below though.

Then we hiked to the nearby Phallic Rock, because with a name like that who could resist? During this hike J and I also realized how terribly out of shape we’ve both gotten since moving to this island. Eep.

We spent the evening walking the beach near our Air BnB and talking about life and beauty and how, after 10 years of loving each other, we are still both happily here, doing this awesome thing and raising these amazing people, and loving pretty fiercely the whole set up of it all.

The next morning we went for breakfast and then we drove to the west side of the island. The town of Mauna Loa is called a “ghost town”, and the valley below is inhabited mostly by crazy rich non-locals. The beaches are grand.

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It was such a wonderful, low key trip. I put a check on my bucket list and really got time to cherish and enjoy my husband’s company outside the hustle and bustle of our normal, every day lives. It was needed and so very appreciated. And I’m glad we got to do it somewhere so beautiful.

Saying Goodbye to Hopper

Pets are hard.

But letting them go is harder.

Hopper had never been a part of our plan, but he hopped into our backyard and practically right into Miss H’s lap and that was that.

I was torn from the beginning on what to do with him; knowing our stay here was temporary; knowing nothing about rabbits.

But the kids named him.

Hopper Smithsonian.

So that was kind of that.

In fairness, I thought we’d be here a bit longer than what it’s playing out to be, and after a bit of research, I felt pretty confident that we could take him back to the Midwest with us.

Then things changed and we learned that after we left for Europe in July we wouldn’t be returning to the island. And we couldn’t very well take Hopper all through Europe with us; even if it was allowed it wouldn’t be fair to him.

We screened a few families and found him a home with a little girl who seems to love him as much as my H does. Even H said she really wanted to be sad, but it was hard when she saw how happy Hopper’s new owner is.

It was a good few months with him. It was nice for me to see where my big kids have grown and matured, the areas where they have naturally begun being responsible, and the areas they’re still working on.

It is certain though, Hopper was dearly loved around here and will be sorely missed; but we are all excited for his new adventure.

Our Last Weeks on Oahu

Whelp.

It’s official.

We are mainland bound this summer. Our year on Oahu is coming to and end, and it’s the most bittersweet feeling ever.

I love this island, despite all my intentions not to do so.

I love the people.

I love the lazy beach days (every day).

I love the food (the fact that I haven’t even almost lost the baby weight from Bean is proof of that, haha!).

I love how chill I am.

But I don’t love the heat, haha.

Or the rats and mold.

Def don’t love the traffic or the absurd cost of living.

But did I mention that I love the people and the beach and the laid back vibe? Because really, that makes even the things I don’t love worth it.

I have a lot of hard and mixed feelings about leaving this island behind and returning to a place that will be equally familiar as it is foreign.

Regardless, I have to wipe my kids’ confused tears and empathize with their sadness and their joy; their deep grief of leaving their friends and island life here, their excitement to have their own rooms and return to school and be closer to family again.

And I can empathize with them. Because I have the same feelings. But it does no good to cry with them, too.

So here I am.

Planning our last weeks, loving friends hard, and handing all my stress and worry over to God because I know it will do me no good. And He has an adventure for us, and I just have to trust it for now because I certainly cannot control it.

It’s funny how a place you never wanted can become your home, and a life you hadn’t prepared for can bring you joy, even as you watch it slip through your fingers because you knew it couldn’t last in the first place.

Big changes are happening. Good things are happening. We may all cry a bit, but I have faith that what is supposed to happen will happen, even if it hurts a lot right now.

What a Day

I woke up ready to take on the world.

I even straightened my hair, and I can’t even tell you the last time I did that.

Despite a bit of a rough solo week (thanks, vog, for all the sickness. These are memories I will always cherish), I had the day conquered in my mind, and my husband would be back on the island,and all would be perfect.

Whelp.

The world was ready to take me on.

I dropped the big kids off at their theatre class, and Sweet M insisted on a playground. I had two full hours of him and Bean, so playground it was.

I made a wrong turn, and while trying to get back to the original playground I’d programmed into my GPS, Sweet M spotted another one. It was in a slightly more seedy area than I really wanted to be, but I set my reservations aside and adhered to his desires.

Bean had a diaper blowout and I had no extra clothes with me, so being the classy lady I am, I wiped off the leg of her romper with some baby wipes and let her continue rocking out in it.

Not even ten minutes of us being there, Sweet M declared he was hungry and thirsty and wanted to leave to get food. We have several friends with birthdays this month so I decided Barnes and Noble would be a great place to visit – M could have a soft pretzel, I could grab coffee and gifts.

I loaded up the babies in the all ready hot van. Sweet M is rarely super amiable to getting into his car seat, but he was really wanting his tummy full.

I turned the ignition key and…click.

Fuck.

Click, click. Click.

Dead battery.

My heart sank down into my knees.

I called my brother first, but he was headed off to a water park for the day. Next I called a friend. At this point both babies were screaming, strapped in their seats. I had 1.5 hours before I needed to pick up my big kids, but oh my gosh! What if I couldn’t get there!?

After chatting for a few minutes with my friend K, I hung up and gave my insurance’s roadside assistance a call. They were champs and promised to send someone over to jump start my van.

Great.

My phone vibrated and the name of the company and their number was sent to me. Also that it’d be approximately 90 minutes before they would be there.

That was thirty minutes after I needed to pick my big kids up.

I called K back, and asked if she could please come pick my kids up. She was on the other side of the island, family visiting in town, but didn’t skip a beat.

At this point I had pulled both sweaty babies back out of the car. Sweet M was losing his ever loving mind because he was so hungry and thirsty.

I ransacked my van looking for nourishment (you’d have thought he hadn’t eaten an egg, half an avocado and cheese an hour prior). Fortunately my big kids have impeccable reliability for never fully unloading the trunk when asked, so there was a full tin of caramel and cheddar popcorn I’d bought at Target on whim Thursday because it wase clearanced out for $3.

Perfect.

Food.

Except that just made him thirstier.

I typically always carry a case of water in the trunk, but we’d just finished it that week and I hadn’t yet been to Costco to replace it.

Nothing.

Nada.

Zilch.

At this point I’m offering to like squirt milk into his mouth like a game because he’s long since self weaned, and he’s having none of it. Snot is running down his face, his neck is caked in it. He’s blubbering like the 2 year old he is.

By now three different gentleman have stopped by, unphased by the hairy situation I am in, asking if I have any money to lend them.

I have a baby on my hip literally wearing shit covered clothes, a toddler laying on the curb losing his cookies because he’s dehydrated and hasn’t had a drop of water in a solid hour, sweat is visibly rolling down my face and I stink like the high heaves because this hippy deodorant stuff does nothing for me on the equator (or wherever Hawaii is), and they seriously want to know if I can lend them money?

Nope. No, I can’t. Would I if could? Yes, yes I would.

But here’s another fun fact I’m trying not to panic about.

I left my purse at home!

You guys.

This day is just going…

“I have popcorn,” I offer one gentleman sheepishly.

He waves me away.

At this point I haven’t encountered any humans in automobiles, but as if sent to me by the Gods, another gentleman pulls in front of me and parks.

I muster all be courage I have in me (have I ever mentioned I have some pretty deep social anxiety? Like speaking to strangers is up there on my list with having a lobotomy; just nope.) and approach the gentleman. I ask him if he happens to have any jumper cables.

He looks at me a bit perplexed and I ask him again.

He shakes his and tells me someone is coming to pick him up and he’ll ask them (in broken English, so mad props for replying, dude).

I ask his friend who arrives two minutes later, but no.

At this point I seriously want to cry. But Sweet M is finally calming down, so I lead him back to the playground.

Soon after this K does a mini drive by and gives me her kids’ water bottles and some bugles to tide Sweet M over as she heads to grab my big kids.

Another friend is headed our way, so I’m googling how to jump a car in case she makes it before the tow truck.

Another car suddenly parks. I pick up Bean who is eating leaves and now… sticky? I approach the man who, I’m not going to lie, had a hell of a time parallel parking his little Prius.

I ask him if he has jumper cables, and he kindly tells me no, but he couldn’t jump my van anyway with super chic, eco-friendly Prius anyway.

Well, thanks, anyway. My gas-guzzling van is too cool for you anyway.

Also. During this time there are not bathrooms nearby. I’m on my period. It’s getting ridiculous. And for the first time since I was like thirteen I leak through my pants! Real life, y’all. Womanhood is some pretty glamorous shit.

At that point my big kids arrive, armed with McDonald’s, and I’m pretty sure that Sweet M and I have never been so delighted to witness such a feast. We’ve been stranded for two hours at this point. It’s safe to say we are weak from near starvation.

And coffee. There really are miracles.

The tow truck guy arrives about ten minutes after that. Late. Obviously.

He jumps my van in about 2 seconds flat and tells me I need to take it straight to a shop for a new battery.

But at this point I’m over adulting, and I’m not making those sorts of decisions without J because what if it just needs a charge and not a whole battery? How am I supposed to know?

So I pack all my kids up, bid adieu and many thanks to K, and head home where my other friend, H, meets me.

I have J’s car since I had dropped him off at the airport last week, and I put the babies’ car seats in his car. H brings me more coffee. Bigger coffee. Bless her. The gods are trying to make amends. I get it.

I load Sweet M and Bean up, ready for their naps, and head to the airport.

Well.

Slowly.

Merging onto the freeway and going .4 miles takes me 20 minutes. No jokes. Hello, Honolulu.

During these 20 minutes my phone randomly turns off five times.

Why!?

It’s also on 8% battery and I didn’t bring a charger so fingers crossed my older progenies don’t maim or dismember themselves and someone needs to get ahold of me.

Longest drive ever to the airport. J is there. Still good looking.

Cockroach in his trunk as he goes to put his luggage away.

Fucking Hawaii.

Sweet M awakes two minutes before we make it to the auto shop to purchase a new battery (J decides we need a new one simply based on my story). He needs to pee. We aren’t fast enough. Sweet M is distraught because ohmygoshheistwoandtwoyearoldscannotpeeonthemselveswhentheyaregentlemen!

I mean, I’d be grumpy if I peed on myself, too.

But. With it all said and done. I have a new battery in my van. Car seats have been washed, which inspired me to also clean out and vacuum my van. My 8 year old made a super yummy cake. My darling husband is home rocking babies again.

And most importantly: I got two coffees today.

So basically I’m winning.

A Parisian Education: When Homeschooling is More Than Books

If you ask Miss H where she has wanted to go her whole life (yes, all those 8 years!), she’ll tell you Paris.

It’s interesting, because she’s wanted this before she even fully understood where or what Paris is. Before she ever knew it was the place where her papa got down on one knee and asked me to be his forever, and thus the story of our family began.

Because the cards fell into order, she gets to make her wildest dreams come true and visit the City of Lights (or is it the City of Light?) this summer.

Since we homeschool, this has allowed us to play around with our curriculum and incorporate some learning about Paris, it’s history, and the country as a whole. It’s been a lot of fun as someone with a degree in history to learn new things with my kiddos.

I have learned things about Leonardo da Vinci and his childhood that I was oblivious to. In fact, I actually knew very little about Leonardo da Vinci outside of the very basics.

We wept together as we read about Marie Antoinette’s life, and her tragic end. Mostly we wept for her young children. We wept for a past where a woman was forced to bear children she never wanted to begin with. A past where women had so few rights that Miss H could hardly wrap her brain around such things. Which led to discussions about women’s rights movements, how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go.

Miss H and Mr. B have been excited to learn about the Eiffel Tower, and they’re fantasizing about the foods served in its four restaurants (because lets be honest, they said food and that’s about the only fact I’ve retained).

We mostly do child led schooling. Although there is also a lot of encouragement for doing the the basic three R’s as well. I love when it all comes together and they’re reading books about things they’re interested in and writing me papers with facts, and eagerly doing math as they turn meters into feet and try to decipher how tall the Eiffel Tower is. And they’re learning and doing so much and all they see it as is fun.

Which is was learning should be.

I’m so excited to take this adventure for them off of the page and into the city they’re so enjoying in just a few short weeks.

But it makes me wonder: if a little girl spends her whole life dreaming about Paris and finally sees it; what will she dream about next?

When J is out of town I typically have crazy insomnia. This time, it’s the opposite. I can hardly keep myself awake!

I have fallen asleep for the night before 8:30 pm since he left. I never sleep that early.

Of course this would be the case when I had completely stoked myself out that I would try to gently coax Bean back to sleep every other wake up or so without the boob. It’s crazy how a baby can go to falling asleep all on her own and sleeping in 4-5 hours stretches to…not. When she sleeps for a solid two hours these days I call it a miracle.

Oh well, she will get there when she gets there, just like all the others before her.

I’m really trying to cherish our time left on the island. Our movers come June 28th. Eep.

There is still a possibility that we will remain here for up to 6 months after that, but as of right now, there are no papers signed. So it’s not a thing until it is.

And then we head to Europe on the 4th of July for an epic adventure.

J and I had planned to return to Paris for our 10 year wedding anniversary back before we were even married. It’s where he proposed. It’s beautiful.

No, we aren’t at 10 years yet, we still have another year for that. But one of my dear friends is getting married in Germany in July so we bumped it all up a year.

There is still lots of planning to do, but the flights are all finalized – Germany, Spain, France, and England – so I’m feeling really good about it. And we don’t get a lot of time for all of us together, especially since living on Oahu where J is always working 10-12 hours days, so a whole month of us is sounding really awesome.

But for now we are loving this paradise we are so lucky to live in, and drinking up one another and this beautiful island.

In this family, we read.

We are kind of terrible homeschoolers, I admit it. We spend more time on the beach than we do doing math worksheets, but I make them cook their own pancakes and assume it all evens out. Right?

Although we don’t do sit down workbooks every day (we do do them though), we do read. Every. Single. Day.

So much.

I genuinely, genuinely believe that other than allowing them to be outside and playing most of the day, reading to a kiddo is the most important thing you can do for them.

We read during the day. All sorts of great picture books and graphic novels and non-fiction. And every evening I curl up with the big kids and we read chapter books. Sometimes even Sweet M will curl up on my lap with his bottle of milk (I know, I know) and listen with us.

It ebbs and flow how quickly we read through them. Some books we plow through in just a few days. Other books we sip and savor, reading slowly over a few weeks.

There are books that were my childhood favorites, and books I’ve never heard of but were on one reading list or another that I grazed. Books that came highly recommended by others and books that I picked up on a whim.

We read fairytales and light hearted books. We read books that touch on heavy subjects like World War 2 and bullying (heavy topics on very different levels, obviously).

We read books that have tidy and happy endings. We read books that leave you hanging, thirsty for more, so many questions unanswered.

Although Miss H can read all of these books herself at this point, she is still eager to climb into bed and spend this time with me. I am acutely aware that one day she won’t want me reading to her. She’ll shoo me away, and I’ll be lucky to even get a good night kiss.

But for now, I will savor this time I have with her. With Mr. B. Reading into the night, bringing them into the fictitious literary worlds created by imaginative people who took the time to put pen to paper and bring these stories to life. Worlds that I grew up in; worlds that shaped me into the person I am today, and that I know will help shape them into amazing beings, too.

They may not know what a hanging participle is quite yet, nor can they do long division or recite the periodic table; but they can delve into the world of books and have endless conversations about the stories they’re read.

And for now, that’s really all they need anyway.