Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Solo parenting for the win

I told Jon the other day that I feel like all our memories of Hawaii are going to be of just me and the kids. That’s not true, of course, especially since we tend to have more fun when Jon’s around. But it does sum up the majority of these last few months—Jon traveling the western hemisphere or on the island but spending long days at work, and the kids and I holding down the fort here at home.

Occasionally we'll venture to the beach in the evening to blow off steam and get out of the house.

Sadly, we’ve all gotten used to this new lifestyle and the kids are able to adjust pretty swiftly to Daddy’s comings and goings. I think it's a little more difficult for Jon to reacclimatize in between trips. When you're not around for new developments, you may not be aware of new routines. For instance, YOU DON'T SHUT THE 5-YEAR-OLD'S BEDROOM DOOR AT NIGHT. Otherwise, she'll come barging into your room at 3am to let you know her door was shut. Not that that happened last night or anything...

The things that go down here when there's not an extra adult to supervise...

Face painting gone wild.

A minute before the seam busted.

A four-kid sleepover! (It lasted 20 minutes.)
But when Daddy he is around, we usually end up doing something special. And that’s what I hope we remember--all those grand adventures we’ve had here living on the island. Unfortunately for them, one of those fun adventures did not include the kids. Jon and I were able to enjoy a night away for our 11th anniversary during Marmie and Poppa’s second visit to Hawaii. We stayed at the Turtle Bay resort on the North Shore where we got bumped up to an amazing room with ocean views.

Watching the surfers in the sunset.
It was so peaceful and relaxing wayyyy up there on the north end—a very different scene from the better part of Hawaii resort life in Waikiki. We would have gladly stayed longer but that might have been a bit excessive for “just” 11 years. We decided to choose one special activity during our day away and Jon voted for a Segway tour.

I may have rolled my eyes a little but it was actually a lot of fun. It could have helped that we were the youngest people in our group, other than our tour guides--who were the hippest Segway guides I’ve ever met. (Okay, okay, it was my first Segway experience.) But hey, this island isn’t that big, and we’ve already seen a lot of it, so it was well worth it to have the opportunity to explore one small corner on a different mode of transportation.

We returned to love notes and Marmie's famous apple pie!
And while we’re on the topic of “moments without kids” let it be known that we found a REAL babysitter. Whom we love. And can afford. And who seems to enjoy our small band of misfits. So we hired her one Saturday morning to do something we’ve been wanting to do for so long but couldn’t … paddle board out to the Mokolua Islands.

 Those would be “The Mokes” for those that don’t know. They are two small peaks that rise out of the ocean just off of Kailua Beach. They’re kinda what we’re known for around here. And if you see shirts or a bumper stickers with them on—it’s how we identify who is an actual citizen of “the windward side” of the island and who is just here for a visit. (I’m still trying to decide where I fall on that spectrum.)

 We had the PERFECT morning for paddling. A storm was supposed to kick up later that day, but during our few hours on the water it was clear and calm as could be! Not only did we get to experience some unique views of our town from the water, but we also could see clearly all the way to the bottom of the sea. It was great fun and I highly recommend it to anyone who chooses to visit us!

Another date night. Just for kicks. And because we actually have a sitter.
Some kind gentleman on the beach thought we were tourists and offered to take a photo.
We utilized Sam the Sitter a third time this spring when Marmie and Poppa were visting and we decided an adults only evening was in order (also, we wanted to do a luau and didn’t want to pay for the kids. Just sayin’.) Everyone here says Paradise Cove does THE BEST luaus. So that’s where we went. And we weren’t disappointed!

Not only did we get a delicious dinner (I use “delicious” loosely. It was good for luau food but I’m still adjusting to Hawaii local fare.), singing, dancing, and fire throwing, but we also got some flower crowns and tattoos and all sorts of authentic Polynesian fun. Oh, and a sunset. Because ya’ll know we don’t see many of those here on the east side of the island!

We also had a few more "haven't done this yet" experiences while Marmie and Poppa were visiting, including whale watching off of Honolulu, where we saw some actual whales (although photographing them is much more challenging than spotting them!), enjoyed another Hawaiian buffet, learned about whales, made leis, and enjoyed gorgeous, clear views of the city from a floating vantage point.

Afterwards, Jon drove us to Tantalus Lookout. I have no idea what this is or what purpose it served, but after reading the nearby plaque I believe it was a posh area to live, at one time, as well as a popular picnic destination (think Box Hill from Emma.) Basically, we're all about the views here on the island! (And selfies. Because all the tourists do them all.the.time.)

And then of course, there were beach visits, paddle boarding, and pontooning in the bay. Like we do.

Marmie was killin' it on the paddle board!

In other news, I wrapped up my final MOPS meeting of the semester. It’s been a wonderful year, and a hard year. I’ve met some amazing mamas and despite the challenges of leading a group of women I didn’t even know a few months ago… so well worth it. Some of my favorite people in all the world are right here in my MOPS group and I’m excited to learn how to be better moms with them again this fall… after a little time off, of course.

My MOPS mamas! We had a tea party for our last meeting and it wasn't even my idea. *heart eyes*

Julia started gymnastics this year. She LOVES it. Although I’m not sure if she loves the actual physical challenges of gymnastics or just the social aspect. It’s hard to tell with her. And I really couldn’t tell you if she’s learning anything because I barely get to watch. I’m usually outside the door pulling a 3YO off the roof of the storage shed or breaking up my sons’ latest soccer game turned wrestling match. Thus, no photos of actual gymnastics. Although that's pretty much our usual life here in the house anyway.

Our third child is all registered for Kindergarten in August and just had her evaluation last week. And I’m not even sad this time. It’s been really sweet having “just the girls” home these last two years but Lia girl is SO READY to be in school, or just make friends. I’m not quite sure if she’s caught on yet that school is so much more than socializing.

Actual face paint. Not to be confused with what Joci does with her watercolors.
And speaking of school, Jack and Jude have had a great year. I’ve been so impressed with how much they’ve learned and grown. Both boys love to read. And more than once I’ve gone to check on them at night only to discover a light on and one of them up late with their nose in a book.

One of our favorite projects this year--an economics fair!

School isn't the only place where we learn! Petting a hammerhead on the beach.
Another area they've really advanced in is football. They went into the January season barely knowing a thing about the sport and now they're in their second season performing as all-stars (and Jude is even playing up an age group!) It may help that their dad is the coach. And being able to play catch with the coach after dinner definitely has its perks.

Go team!
And for that we are thankful. We may not have Jon around often. But at least we have him around. And that's more than many kids can say in this heavily-populated-by-military area. When he's here, we play football, hike, and paddle board. And when he's not here, we eat fish sticks and smoothies for dinner. Maybe in front of the TV. While watching "Fixer Upper." With promises of a "sleepover" to follow but only if they go to bed an hour early... Because while solo parenting can often cause me to lose my mind, at least I still have my wits!
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