Saturday, August 20, 2016

We put the "stay" in staycation

We ended up "hamping out" for 25 days. It actually went better than I originally thought, but was still very challenging. Even more of a predicament than living in an empty house, was living without a second vehicle. We're still not exactly sure what happened, but apparently the company we used to ship our minivan out to the island held onto it for a month before sending it to California. So what should have only been a 29 day process, has now turned into two months and counting. 

But for that first weekend, while Jon was off of work, we were able to settle into our new town and start exploring all this side of the island has to offer!

The boys have picked up boogie boarding like they picked up bike riding!
We moved into our house on July 1, the start of the 3-day holiday weekend. So naturally, we were excited to be out of the city in time to celebrate the birth of our nation in small-town style.

We weren't quite sure what to expect, especially when considering this was our first Independence Day NOT in one of the 13 original colonies. But for the most part, it reminded us of 4th of July parades back in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The biggest differences were that instead of waving, the Hawaiians do the shaka. And although we got some candy, we also got a LOT of seasoned dried seaweed. And no one in the J Crew was a fan.

The tree house at our friends air bnb place!
But then the holiday ended, Jon went back to work, and I was stuck in an empty house with 4 kids, no car, and days upon days on end. It was a little bit of a "thorn in the flesh" type of experience.

For the most part, the kids did quite well. I'm amazed at how much fun we were able to squeeze into those small carry-on backpacks ... and how long the fun lasted! It was also a good opportunity to get creative with building habitats for tiny plastic sea animals and army men.

Food Trucks are a big thing around here--they've even influenced Jack's Lego building!

Why yes I packed hillbilly teeth in the kids' carry-ons.
Having the bikes around was a huge blessing as well! And we were able to dig up enough things around the house to build bike ramps and create obstacle courses.

We certainly had our share of behavior issues, but I'm still trying to decide if it was the stress of moving or just the shift of having all four of my kids home all day for summer break. Either way, we've had some long, tough days. And it wasn't just the kids. I had a difficult time adjusting as well.

But I also learned a lot about myself during these past two months. For instance, I had become entirely too dependent on Target runs and Chick-Fil-A stops. Or maybe just the whole idea of "getting out of the house" in general. I'd gotten really sloppy with planning and errands, because it was just too easy to "run out" and grab something when I needed to. But even more than that, when the kids were driving me crazy and I couldn't get away, at least I could get everyone away. I could meander the kids down the Target Lego aisle while sipping my Starbucks. I could let them run loose at the Farm Park while I allowed myself to complete a thought or two on the bench. I could give myself a day off of dinner and dishes if we hit up CFA (because they're just soooo nice there, it has to make up for the unhealthy aspect!!)

And suddenly I don't have that anymore and all that's left is just me--this mess of a mom who desperately needs Jesus each and every day because I.just.can't on my own. And so when people asked me how we were doing, I'd just say it's hard but good. Hard, because I realized there were too many things in my life ("good, but limited things," as our pastor here would say) that I'd allowed to become anchors. And good, because it showed me that hope in Jesus is the only anchor I need. And so while I'm thankful to have had this wonderful experience of "hamping." I won't be sad to see it end!

This is our new church. We talk about anchors a lot because, well, that's it's name.
One particular frustration for me to deal with was living so close to so much, and not being able to enjoy it. Once Jon started his new job he immediately jumped into working long hours and getting into a good working groove. Most days, he's up at 5am to hit the gym before work. And then not leaving the city until well after 6:00--getting home in just enough time to kiss the kids goodnight. So we not only had to adjust to not having a vehicle for the majority of the day, but also not having a second adult around.

We made up lots of fun with whatever we could find!

My birthday gift--a hammock chair for reading and all around not-being-disturbed! It hasn't worked yet.
One day I was sitting at breakfast, literally watching my tan fade away, and decided that was it. We weren't going to spend another minute circling bikes in the driveway when the beach was so close you could almost hear it. (Okay, not quite that close.) I mapped it and, according to my phone, the closest beach access was .6 miles away, or a 20 minute walk. Except I forgot to tell my phone that the walking would be done by 4 kids ages 7 and under. But hey, even if we doubled that time (and we sure did!) we at least would be relaxing by the ocean.

So we set out on an adventure and started out strong--so strong! Everybody had a backpack to carry our lunches, towels, and beach toys. Of course, the boys insisted on bringing boogie boards, despite my protests. And both discovered their hands could no longer carry them about halfway there. And then Joci's legs just stopped working, like they usually do when things get too tough.

But then we arrived and it was just beautiful! And so empty. We practically had the beach to ourselves! And then the first child started screaming. Because apparently, when it's especially windy (like it had been the first two weeks we lived in our house) the Man 'o Wars come in. I didn't even know what these things were. We're used to jellyfish in the Atlantic. But these guys are little and dark and I don't even know how you'd see them in the water. Obviously. Because throughout the course of our beach day, 3 out of 4 of my kids got stung both in the water and on the beach. Jude actually still had one attached to his leg when he ran up to me and I had to pry it off. So fun!!

So note to self, when our stuff finally arrives and I have an actual beach bag, keep some vinegar in it for the Man 'o Wars. Hawaii has a learning curve.

One of the tricks with having so many kids is remembering to take care of yourself. I know "self care" is a big buzzword these days and usually involves lots of chatter about mommy pedicures and overnight hotel retreats. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about making sure each and every one of your children is fed ... and then realizing 3 hours later that you never fed yourself. Or, as in this case, lovingly applying sunscreen on all your offspring, only to arrive at the beach and discover you forgot to bring some for yourself. You know, basic mommy survival skills.

So we spent the whole day at the beach until everyone agreed they were ready to go, and then began the long trek back. The long trek made even longer but four small and tired children. Joci's legs stopped working before we even made it to the beach path. So I ended up carrying my toddler, the boogie boards, and the beach bag over my sunburnt shoulders the entire .6-but-felt-like-no-point-6 miles back. We made it. But let's just say mama has not attempted to walk to the beach with the kids since.

Another challenge I wasn't anticipating is that during these first few weeks of settling in (actually, make that months now) we spend so much time working on house projects and running errands for stuff we need, that we have no time for exploring the island. Everyone keeps reminding me that we have four years to get to know Hawaii better. But it's just a tad disheartening to know that most people accomplish more in their one week of vacation than we have in our nearly-2-months of living here.

Lanikai Beach with the Mokulua Islands in the background. Everyone tells me we have to watch the full moon rise between the Mokes, so it's now on the Hawaii bucket list!
So we've made it a point to put down the housework, step away from the tools, or put off the laundry a few hours longer and do something fun as a family on Sundays.

Rain or shine (or even super-windy before a tropical storm) we've been at the beach at least every weekend!

Bellows Beach--the other side of the Mokes!

They call this "the pool." It's funny how much they appreciate dirty back-water simply because they can stand in it and there are no waves.
After about 3 weeks of hamping, one of Jon's co-workers loaned us his third vehicle. It didn't have AC or carseats, and we couldn't drive it on base, but at least we had it around when we were in a pinch. I was excited to finally have the freedom to explore more and get out of the house with the kids. And then "Paradise Fever" hit the family. And we were right back to being stuck in the house.

But first, I need to go back. It was our little Jocelyn's third birthday on July 21st and I kinda forgot. Or not so much forgot, but just did not realize, it was coming up. When you live without a calendar and you have no commitments because you have no car, time just sorta runs together. So I kept telling myself I had time, because her birthday was at the end of the month. And the next thing I know, it's her birthday week and I have NOTHING planned. And no Marmie to bake a cake to bail us out.

You guys, she's such a fiery little thing and I hate that she just keeps growing up!
 I have no idea how or why, but she suddenly went from requesting a "Paw Patrol AND Frozen" cake for the last 4 months to simply wanting a "Hawaii flower," Yaaas! I can do that. So the Fantastic Four and I walked to the grocery store and spent a small fortune on birthday cake supplies. And in case you think I'm exaggerating about the local grocery store (me, exaggerate??), I snapped this picture of proof of the "Everyday!" low price on Life cereal.

So in going along with the our summer theme of "work with what you have," I made a flower birthday cake using a glass casserole dish and red serving platter, both on loan from our friend Cara. Only the best for our Omega Baby!

I actually had a whole list of birthday gift ideas on Amazon, but since I forgot about her birthday until a few days before, there wasn't time to order. So I made a late night trip to Target 15 minutes before they closed and grabbed a few junky toys off the clearance rack. I hated spending money on toys knowing that it wouldn't be long 'til she'd be reunited with all her fun stuff again. But the poor girl just HAD to open SOMETHING!

To make it up to her, we announced that we'd be taking the whole family to Sea Life Park for our fun experience that weekend. Cheers all around! Joci had requested to swim with the dolphins for her special treat, but after checking out the prices, we had to gently break the news that she just wasn't that special. It didn't really matter much anyway because by the time we pulled into the park, she was getting super-duper whiny.

She kept crying about being hungry. So we bought her a very cute and very expensive lunch and she refused to touch it. By now, I was getting annoyed. And when she practically ruined the dolphin show for me with all her moaning and fussing, I was kinda over it.

We made it through the rest of the park. And at least the other 75% of our kids seemed to have a fun time.

But after spending the final hour holding a screaming, crying baby, we decided it was time to head home. So we started walking towards the exit ... and that's when she threw-up on me. And not just ON me. Like, after it happened, I thought, "Phew, that's not so bad." And then I looked down into my shirt. Oh, there it is. Puddling in my bra. Try cleaning that out in a public restroom. We scratched our plans to visit a lighthouse and drove straight home.

And since this was hamping in a totally non-glamorous way, we used beach buckets for barfing and beach towels to ward off chills. Poor thing didn't even have a couch to sit on, so I ended up moving my air mattress out to the living room so I could keep an eye on her. And then this went on for days.

She wanted to help me label all the school supplies.
I thought this was just some 24-hour stomach bug. Oh no. By the fourth day, she had hardly eaten a thing, had kept down nothing, and hadn't urinated since early that morning. By the time I called the clinic they were closed. So they referred us to the Army hospital ER. But we had to wait until Jon got home since he had the car. (Also, he's our designated ER attendee.)

It was after 6pm by the time they left and after midnight by the time they returned. But thankfully they let her come home, because apparently they had discussed keeping her overnight. She was so dehydrated they had a lot of difficulty accessing her vein, which I'm sure was a traumatic event. And then they filled her up with two bags of IV fluids.

Of course, if you ask Joci about all this, she'll just tell you about "my pink hospital" (yes, the Army hospital is actually pink) and "my purple popsicle." And now all the kids are jealous and looking for an excuse to visit the "pink hospital" themselves.

My now 3YO baby slept with me that night. We cuddled up together on the single air mattress, and it didn't even matter. Because I knew that it was our last night on the air mattress. Assuming all went as planned, Tuesday was the day our household goods were arriving. My little girl was on the mend, my husband was about to have an actual day off of work, and in less than 24 hours, I'd be sleeping in my very own bed for the first time in 43 days--hooray!

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