Our two child things (5 and 2) are currently in Hawaii, but we are a military family, and we live where the Army tells us. This blog is designed to keep us in touch with our family and the friends we have made along the way, to offer insight into our turbulent military lifestyle, and to share our experiences as we try out "homing school." So glad you stopped by!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I finally took some smiley pictures of child thing #2 and just had to share the cuteness. :) He has been doing a real "social smile" for several weeks now (and he does it A LOT-he's a very happy baby), I just haven't gotten any pics of those precious smiles until now.

I sort of feel bad about that. The very INSTANT my oldest smiled back at me, I yelled at Scott to bring the camera. But this time around, it took me a couple of weeks to get to it. Shame, shame...

Until recently, I've felt like I've just barely been able to keep my head above water. The transition to two kids has been challenging. And maybe I've had a more difficult time than most, as my life has been in complete upheaval since the day this little happy face was born. Whatever the reasons, for the first month or two I dashed here and there frantically, never getting much of anything done. Just surviving, basically. I'm finally starting to feel like I have a grip on things, and there seems to be at least a small amount of order in my life now. Thank goodness!

So I suppose that means I have a little bit of time for the fun stuff...like enjoying those huge, gurgly baby smiles. :D

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Snow Cones and Spam

It didn't take Scott long to immerse himself in the culinary culture of Hawai'i. He eats Spam musubi, a local favorite, for lunch several times a week. Me...well, I'm going to have to work on suppressing my gag reflex before I give the dreaded meat-from-a-can a try. For some reason I cannot fathom, Spam is very popular here, and Spam musubi is apparently the preferred way of serving it.

What is Spam musubi? As far as I can tell, it's a slice of spam topped with sticky rice and wrapped in seaweed. I'm not much of a seaweed fan, either. I'm one of those redneck non-sushi eaters; I don't even like California rolls.

So, since that delicacy is out, a certain 3-year-old and I gave another Hawaiian specialty a try today, one that is much more appealing: shave ice. Shave ice is similar to the snow cones I slurped up as a kid, but better! They put ice cream at the bottom (I had to skip that portion this time--still not cheating on the no-dairy diet), the ice is really shaved to a powder, so it is oh-so-smooth and not at all crunchy, and supposedly, many of the shave ice stands here make their own syrup. Yum! Those poor kids on the mainland (who walk a mile to purchase a bubble gum flavored snow cone from a rickety stand...not that I ever did that) just don't know what they are missing!

Monday, September 21, 2009

One Year Closer to 30

I wasn't feeling particularly old or adultish after turning 28 until I served a friend a piece of leftover cake, and she said, "Oh my! Maybe I shouldn't be seeing this!" (referring to the age on the cake). Then she turned the "8" over so it couldn't be seen. "We'll just leave it like that," she said, sympathetically.

Heh, heh... Actually buying a rug for our new home made me feel much more like a grown-up than my birthday did. The shopping trip was part of my birthday celebration--one of the few days of the year I can convince Scott to go to the mall with me. :P

Then that evening we drove up to the North Shore to eat dinner at a beach-side restaurant. The scenery was fantastic, but the food was not (though it was priced like it should be).

We returned home for a lovely cake that Scott and a certain 3-year-old made for me and to open gifts. Thanks to everyone who thought of me on my birthday. :)

Scott picked out an ice cream maker for me, which I am very excited about! I have wanted an ice cream maker since my cousin posted this recipe for homemade chocolate/peanut butter cup ice cream on her blog. Whoah, Nelly! Does that look good!

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to try her ice cream recipe yet, but fortunately, I have a husband who is considerate enough to remember I was starting a new diet the next day, so he brought home ingredients to make mango sorbet, which is free of dairy products. Have I mentioned how yummy and HUGE the Hawaiian mangoes are?

It was a great birthday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Farewell, Dear Friend!

Child Thing #2 went for his 2 month check-up this week, and after talking to the doctor, I have some major changes to make. We suspect that he may have a milk protein allergy because of some...worrisome diapers. Out of courtesy to my readers, I won't elaborate.

There are a number of things that could be causing the problem, but I think the milk allergy is the one that fits the best (though he is gaining weight nicely and acting happy and alert). We won't know for sure if he has the allergy until all dairy products are eliminated from his system. That means I have to put him on a soy based formula, or, if I want to continue to breastfeed, I have to go on a dairy-free diet myself. I'd really prefer not to give him formula yet, so I am bidding farewell to my dear friend ice cream, who has always been my weakness.

Today is the second day of my new diet, and so far, it has not been easy, even for someone who dislikes milk. No cheese, no butter (nothing cooked with butter), no ice cream... I wonder how soy milk tastes?

The other news from the check-up is that my baby is not nearly as big as I thought he was. He weighed in at 12.5 lbs, which I thought sounded HUGE for a two-month-old. Apparently not; his weight is in the 55th percentile. He is certainly larger than his sister was at this age, though.

How can a baby who looks so healthy and happy be sick? Perhaps the dairy-free diet is all for naught. At the very least, the lack of ice cream will help me kick those pregnancy pounds that are still hanging on. I can hope!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hawaii Tourist Review: Dole Plantation

Aside from the Awesome pineapple flavored soft serve ice cream, I found the Dole Plantation to be somewhat disappointing. The plantation includes a garden, a train tour of a "working pineapple plantation," the largest hedge maze in the world (or so they claim), a cafe and a huge gift shop, all of which are very staged for tourists.

The garden and the train ride provide some basic information about the history of the Dole Plantation and their method of growing pineapples, but it certainly isn't very in-depth. I have to admit, however, that a certain three-year-old was very excited about the train ride.

We didn't try out the hedge maze on our trip, but is probably a good way to pass the time. The cafe serves decent food (and delicious ice cream), and the gift shop, well, what can I say?

If your home decor theme is pineapple, you have found your heaven. :P The gift shop sells more pineapple items than you can image: snacks, blankets, clothes, dishes, decorative items, etc... And of course, they offer fresh-from-the-field pineapples for a hard-to-swallow $6 each.

Overall, the place wasn't bad, just your typical tourist trap. If you only have a limited amount of time to spend in Hawaii, the Dole Plantation probably isn't one of those can't miss sights. But if you've got a hankering for pineapple ice cream, have always wanted pineapple shaped bottle opener, or have a kid who loves trains, you may want to check it out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Church Hunting

I like the way Hawaiians do church--in the open air. What could put your spirit more at peace than singing praises to the Lord as the breeze carries in the fresh scent of passing rain showers?

We have started our hunt for a church home in Hawaii, and our first trip to a church on the island was pretty typical of what we're used to, except for two things. The first is that the sanctuary was open; one side of it was basically a wall of shutters, and the other side had HUGE sliding doors the whole length of it. Both were open for the service, which I found to be quite pleasant.

The other difference was the blowing of the conch shell at the start of the service. Native Hawaiians blew the conch shell 4 times, facing the north, south, east, and west, to invite the spirits into their presence. It was pretty cool to experience that native tradition within a modern Christian setting.

Although I enjoyed the exposure to the native culture (most of the people there were natives, as well), we probably won't end up joining this particular church. There were very few younger families there, and the preacher didn't seem too excited about having children sit through the service. I like to have my child things participate in worship as long as they aren't causing a ruckus, so we shall continue our search.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Things a Military Spouse Has to Put Up With #1

Things a military spouse has to put up with #1--living far from home.

About a week ago, my sister-in-law brought a precious little girl into the world (Congratulations, by the way!). Then she sent out this picture. Ack! So sweet! How can you resist such cuteness? And how can I wait another four months to meet my little niece?

I'm certainly not going to complain about Hawaii. I feel very blessed for the chance to live here for a few years, but being so far away from family may possibly be one of the hardest things a military spouse has to put up with. Maybe not as hard as deployments, but still...

When I was a kid, all of my extended family lived pretty close together, so we visited often and always had fun together. It's sad to me that my children won't have that daily interaction with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

Even though the military life includes some hardships, like living so far away from family, it is not so bad. What life doesn't include hardships, after all? But really...how am I supposed to ignore that pink little bundle, just begging to be cuddled by her auntie Amanda? :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Home sweet home

We have a home!! After more than two months in transition, we are finally in our new house and nearly unpacked. We opted for military housing, and our house is older, so it doesn't look like much from the outside. Lucky for us, it was refurbished right before we moved in, so the interior is decent. And you certainly can't complain about the views!

Even though it's not large, this place is definitely roomier than the rentals we viewed off post. Housing in Hawaii is tiny! And crammed so close together. It's a small island, after all. Here are some photos of our new home. This is the entryway:

If you turn to the left, you'll be in the living room/play room. I'd like to get a floor screen to divide the two areas even more.

If you turn to the right, you will see a big box, a half bath and the laundry room.

Down the hall is the kitchen. Unfortunately, when the refurbished the house, they didn't get to those lovely cabinets.

And beyond the kitchen is a pretty good sized dining room.

My goodness, how many boxes of kitchen items can one possibly own? It reminds me of my Grandmother, who likes to joke that her philosophy in life is "She who dies with the most dishes wins." Or maybe she's not joking, I don't know. :P

The upstairs is still pretty chaotic. I'd be embarrassed to show you pictures, so we'll save that for another day, shall we? It has never taken me this long to unpack before. Having two child things around the house sure slows down the moving in process.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Mommy's Nightmare

My little girl fell out of a second story window! It pains me to tell the tale, but I shall do so to ease curiosity and perhaps to prevent this from happening to another child.

Last week, we moved in to our new house, a two story townhouse. Of course the house was heavy with paint fumes, and central air conditioning is practically non-existent in Hawaii, so the windows were open to let in some fresh air. My little girl and I were in her new room, unpacking boxes and re-arranging furniture. I pulled her bed against one wall and thought, "I don't know that I want her bed to be that close to the window." However, I didn't see the need to move it immediately (oh, how I regret that decision!), so I began moving some other furniture. As I was pulling a dresser across the floor, she climbed up on her bed, and in an instant, in mid-sentence, she was out the window.

Supposedly when you are in an extremely dangerous situation, your life flashes before your eyes. But as I was racing down the stairs to get to her, the rest of my life without a daughter flashed before my eyes. It was the most terrifying 10 seconds in my life.

When I reached my little girl, she was bloody and wailing, but not lying in an unconscious heap as I'd feared. I picked her up--the paramedics later told me I shouldn't have moved her--and called 911. I told the operator what happened, and she promised to have an ambulance sent right away, but she couldn't find our street address. After repeating it several times, this frantic mother screamed step-by-step directions at her, and she finally said, "Oh! You don't live in town. You live on the military reservation." Yes! I said that! Three times! Frustrating! Then I hung up and called my husband at work.

Once our location became understood, it wasn't long before a fleet of emergency vehicles parked outside our house. (Hello, new neighbors! We have arrived!) Shortly after that, my husband got home. After the paramedics did a once-over of my little girl, they advised us to drive her to the hospital ourselves. She showed no signs of serious head or spinal injuries (she was walking and talking normally), and being strapped down in the ambulance would cause her to struggle and possibly injure herself more, they said.

So, we grabbed the baby and raced to the Army hospital in Honolulu. When we arrived, the ER staff was appalled that the ambulance crew sent us on our own. Falling that far often results on serious spinal injuries, so she needed to be immobilized immediately. They ended up strapping her down to a board anyway, and, boy, was that traumatic! I know one little girl who will cry every time she goes to the doctor for many, many years.

For nearly an hour, countless doctors, nurses and technicians were in and out of our room, and I cried the whole time. Finally, the head pediatric surgeon told us he thought our little girl was fine. No head or neck injuries, no broken bones. Miraculously, she escaped the episode with nothing more than cuts and bruises. Thanks to God for his protection over her!

Everyone at the hospital was very kind and told me not to feel guilty, not to blame myself for the accident. I can't help but feel that way, though. Ultimately, I was the responsible adult in the house at the time. Perhaps I didn't cause the fall, but I surely could have prevented it. I am just glad that God protected my little girl when I couldn't.