Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Closer to Death Day to Me

Cutting vegetables, gripping the steering wheel, or turning the pages of a book, I have recently been more frequently startled at the realization that I have my mother's hands..the hands that belong to this wise woman who was mature enough  to rise before the crow of the rooster and do a day's worth of work and study before she always so cheerfully woke her 8 children (she had 8 of her 10 children when she was my age).  I haven't earned these hands.  I am still one of the children that needs to be shaken awake.  Every year I wonder if this is the year that I am going to become an adult.  There is a significance to turning 37.  I have now tipped the scales.  I have officially been an independent adult longer than I was a dependent child.  Why does this produce in me such a lurching tumult of nausea?

1.  I am closer to death
2.  I am losing value as a woman in society
3.  I need to act my age

Corey chose this cake well.  Fudge brownie foundation followed by layers of dark, milk, and white chocolate mousse.  I hope I never get mature enough to not over-indulge in such goodness.
My sweet neighbor brought these gifts over in the morning.  My grandparents had the same hummingbird feeder.  If I can age as gracefully as they did, I will refrain from complaint.
Kathryn brought me flowers and Joal and Elizabeth (sis and bro in law) drove all the way from Pullman to watch the kids so that Corey and I could go on a bike ride together.  

Emmy woke before I did (she always does), crafted this adorable card, slipped into my room unnoticed, and placed it on my nightstand. I have a feeling that Emmy will earn her aging hands.

Corey made sure that a few musical geniuses made appearances at my party (in CD form, of course)  Andrew Bird (above), Neko Case, and Matthew Ward recently came out with albums that I highly recommend.
Ansel is pointing out the fine details of his artistic gift.  He is also thrilled that I received a pack of Pokemon cards that he is sure I will share with him.  A fine example of how I am 37 going on 
Savanna also took a few moments to create my own personal forest.
Hallelujah!  I have been achingly pining for a kayak for the past 4 years.  I love her already. Anything to keep me from my responsibilities.
We decided to make an afternoon of it.  Corey took the kids biking while I paddled around the nearest lake (exactly 10 miles from our driveway)
Ahhh.  I could die right now a happy woman

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hangin' Loose In Hawaii

Being a little "stitious" as opposed to super "stitious" (thank you Michael Scott), I have purposely avoided discussing our upcoming trip to Oahu, feeling as if I needed to knock on wood every time I mentioned the possibility of us actually arriving there. Snow has the evil habit of sabotaging many of my travel plans and occasionally believing that I am, indeed, at the center of the universe, I was sure that snow would go out of it's way to purposely keep me from soaking my feet in the surf. We were planning to leave on Saturday morning for our drive to Seattle, where our flight was scheduled to depart in the afternoon. As soon as Corey walked in the door on Friday evening and announced that a storm was coming, I rolled my eyes and frantically began throwing things into suitcases. We were out the door by 7pm and missed every single speck of snow that plagued our region for the next week.

After our arrival, I pulled my shoes and socks off and heard an audible hiss of released pressure...all the tension that I had been hoarding throughout this long winter seemed to travel down my body and out my big naked toe. Going barefoot is one of those glories that can't be rivaled. To have my feet in direct contact with the earth allowed me to reacquaint myself with the world in an intimate

Our first day in Hawaii was spent in a long shoeless embrace with the beach. With no spoken words, we agreed that we shouldn't be torn away to do much of anything else (except buy Savanna a swimsuit, which I had forgotten in my desperate packing frenzy).  My sister, Julia, and her family were staying just a few miles away and we were 90% inseparable the entire week. Ansel and Ella didn't care much about anything but being in each other's silly, giggling company. There exists an alternate universe in which only 5 year olds reside, where an incomprehensible language brimming with jokes we foreigners label as 'dumb beyond belief', is spoken and understood. 

Our second day featured a 6 mile hike to La ii Falls. It was some rough terrain and we had forgotten our food in the car. In retrospect, it was most likely because we parked by a gate that said, "If you are not blood, you will bleed." I think a simple "Do not Enter" would have sufficed. Emmy developed sandal blisters within the first mile and chose to be barefooted the remainder of the hike, earning our utmost respect. She knew that hike in a way that none of us ever will. It was incredibly beautiful and the kids were troopers considering that it was long and they were starving.  Ansel and Ella, again in their own little world, probably would have walked 10 more miles.

Our third day excursion included hanging at a few beaches and Matsumoto's Shaved Ice Shop.  
I had a short-lived freak out moment when Savanna was momentarily swept up in a wave.  She was not phased and in time, I got used to the fear of my children being carried out to sea.  

Sunshine intermingled with frequent rainstorms was the daily forecast. We easily went through 4 bottles of sunscreen and still Savanna severely burned her neck, Ansel fried the back of his ears, Corey scalded his feet, Emmy roasted her legs, and I cooked my scalp and lips.  I am not complaining about the frequent rainstorms since they may have saved us from further discomfort and the moody weather created some spectacular rainbows.  

One of the things that I loved about Hawaii is that life really seems to go at a slower pace.  I didn't check my e-mails, surf the net, or even check the news.  Sometimes I feel as if our daily routines have us pulled outward in so many opposing directions.  Family vacations are times when we can temporarily cut those many ties and concentrate ourselves in one unified place without distraction.  

Even the Hawaiian alphabet, with only 12 Roman letters, is laid back and simplified.

Hānau kū'oko'a 'ia kānaka apau loa, a ua kau like ka hanohano a me pono kīvila ma luna o kākou pākahi. Ua ku'u mai ka no'ono'o pono a me ka 'ike pono ma luna o kākou, no laila, e aloha kākou kekahi i kekahi.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

We decided to spend Day #4 delving into the island culture. This included a morning trip to the Honolulu Flea Market  buying cheap t-shirts, fake Pokeman cards, and sipping fresh coconut milk.  Next, Corey wisely voted on a trip Polynesian Cultural Center.  I must admit that I was brimming with skepticism and  anticipated an afternoon of antics chocked full of cheesiness.  We were all immediately swept up in well-rehearsed entertainment.  We threw darts, banged drums, got tatoos, and watched a skirted man climb a coconut tree. Donned with fresh leis, we were treated to hula dancing while dining on poi, salmon, and fresh pork.  Savanna seemed to forget the horror of seeing the roasted pig in his entirety when she was able to take her first sip of Mango-Pineapple Slushie.  We returned from the night show feeling as if we were truly on an island 2000 miles away.  And I really wanted to do a squat dance.  

My personal favorite activity on our vacation was snorkeling.  Experiencing a world that is completely submerged underwater, breathing in and out in slow, metric, intervals, coming face to face with a sea turtle, is a therapy that cannot be replicated.  

Ansel can be such a poser.   He has been spending too much time around those egotistical surfers.

After snorkeling, we hiked to Makapu point for an amazing panaramic view of the Pacific.  

We dressed up the kids for a nice dinner and a photo shoot.  Yeah, this was the best shot.  And they didn't behave much better at dinner.  Luckily I had some coconut crusted green curry island fish and some macadamia nut ice cream that I will be craving for years to come.  Poor Corey had to sit closest to the kids. The meal will be unforgettable to him in some not so pleasant ways.

My sister Julia is an excellent traveling companion.  We basically just followed her around and let her show us a good time.  

Corey's final request was a stop at Banzai Pipeline.  Growing up in Southern California, he had become familiar with the beaches of epic import to surfers.  It was windy and rainy and the wimpy girls didn't want to "hang ten" for more than 30 seconds.  We bee-lined it to the less windy west side for some more snorkeling. 

We topped the vacation off with one last trip to Matsumoto's and a sunset on the beach.  The next morning, I apologized to my feet, promising them freedom in hopefully a few short weeks, and painfully crammed them back into their sock and shoe hibernation.