Family Friday: Across the Island

As I mentioned in our last blog post, we moved again! We must be crazy to live in three different houses during one assignment! It certainly wasn't the plan but we couldnt foresee the problems that we ran into. We loved our little beachfront North Shore house but the owner is extremely difficult, inconsiderate, and uncooperative, and the property manager honestly didn't do much to help us out. We were lied to often and had to fight to get basic maintenance issues fixed and even then, it took a long time and most of the things were only half fixed. We were not being difficult. I mean, the front door should have a working lock and the roof shouldn't leak, right?  Especially for what we were paying in rent. I'll get into it more in another post but for now I'll just say that it is a huge relief to be out of there.

We were very fortunate to find another great house to move into, owned and managed by a super sweet and helpful lady, and with a short term lease since we'll be leaving at the beginning of the new year.  The new house is in Kailua which is a perfect beach town on the eastern side of the island.  It's the kind of town with a ton of little stores, restaurants, and coffee shops, and people jogging, riding bicycles, and carrying around surfboards.  It also has one of the prettiest beaches on the island with the gorgeous turquoise water.

Our new house is HUGE compared to our beach house.  The beach house was TINY, furnished, and crammed full of the owner's belongings.  This new house is large, open, and empty.  Both houses have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but this house has at least double the living space.

Most of our belongings were in a storage room since the other house was furnished.  This new house is completely empty so we were able to get things out of storage.

Before everything went into storage in January, we sorted it all and made a large pile of things to sell.  We lived very minimally at the beach house and it was really refreshing! When I started unpacking the storage boxes here, I realized that we still have a lot of things that we don't need.  Living a minimal life for a while really changes your perspective on things!  I went through everything one more time and added a lot more to the "for sale" pile.  It is so freeing to have a simple, uncluttered home!  Simplifying your belongings is simplifying your life.  It really is only necessary to keep what you need, use, or love.  It is not easy to get to that mindset, however, it took us five months of living without!

This one room pictured below is bigger than the entire kitchen/dining/living room of the other house. The carpet in the photo is an 8'x10' to give you some reference.

Our new house was built around 1960 and has that flair to its architecture and details.  I really love the wall color that is throughout our new house!  It is not something I would've ever picked myself (I'm more of a classic neutral wall kind of person) but it is so bright and beachy that it makes me happy just looking at it :)

We traded the ocean for a pool in our new backyard.  Pool service is included with the rent so it really is a pleasure to have, especially during this hot summer.  I LOVE our backyard!  It is large and surrounded by a wall, has a large grassy area, palm trees and other vegetation, and it's so private! We can't see any of our neighbors or their houses, we can only see the green trees, the blue sky, and the gorgeous mountains.  It's a pretty good trade off for the ocean view of the last house!

Early morning view, opposite the sunrise - I love those mountains!

CC loves the pool!  We couldn't go into the ocean at our other house due to the coral and waves, but a swimming pool is perfect! To be honest, I do worry about having a pool and a toddler but therefore I am extra vigilant of knowing CC's whereabouts at all times.  Thankfully, CC has always followed directions well and she especially does by the pool.

CC loves to stand, sit, and splash on the shallow steps of the pool.  She loves to sit in her baby float and occasionally she'll let me hold her in the water.

Dulce hates swimming and avoids water at all costs.  We have a pool at our house in Georgia and she fell into it the very first night we brought her home.  She was terrified and that may be a factor in her feelings toward water now.

I gave Dulce some pool survival training as soon as we moved into this house.  She needed to know where the steps are in case she ever goes in or falls into the pool.  The first couple times I dropped her in, she freaked out, swam to the nearest wall, and held on for dear life!  But after she learned where the steps were and that she could get out, she went for them every time no matter where in the pool I put her.  We practiced until she was swimming calmly.  She may never get in again but I feel better knowing she won't drown if she does.

Dulce has spotted skin under her pure white fur that becomes very visible when she's wet!

Dulce is in her glory in this backyard! We haven't had a backyard like this for almost 4 years.  It actually took her five days before she realized all the freedom she now has and how much space she has to explore!  She is outside constantly, running around, hopping through the bushes, and chasing lizards and birds.  She is one happy dog!

This house is perfect except that it is very hot during the day (so was the beach house) but it doesn't cool off at night like beach house did. Thankfully there is an air conditioning unit in two of the bedrooms which makes it more comfortable for sleeping.  During the day, we sweat a lot.  Jumping in the pool in the afternoon helps cool us down.

We didn't give up beach living entirely! We aren't beachfront now but we are a very short walk and the beach here is gorgeous!  I thought that I'd really miss it but it's actually nice not having the constant saltiness that coats, rusts, and ruins everything.

Dulce and I don't get morning beach time as often as we used to but when we do, Dulce still likes digging for crabs.  The beaches here are bare.  There are very few seashells in Hawaii but on the North Shore I enjoyed finding rocks and coral that looked like hearts and letters. There isn't anything to find here so I'm glad I kept a collection from the last house.

There are a lot more people enjoying the beach and water here. There are always people surfing, wind surfing, boogie boarding, swimming, kayaking, running, and walking.

What I love about Kailua and the location of our house is that there is so much within walking distance!  We can walk to church, to restaurants, to stores, to the library, the post office, and to beach parks.  We can even walk to Whole Foods (it takes 13 minutes) which excites me to no end!

We were here for the 4th of July and walked one block to see a parade, then we walked to a great Vietnamese restaurant for dinner, and then walked to the beach by our house to see fireworks over the ocean!  I absolutely LOVE having the convenience of having everything nearby and not having to drive.  There are many bus stops nearby as well which will provide CC and I with some fun adventures soon!

It's a shame that things turned out the way they did with the beach house but we really are lucky in a way because now we will move from here having experienced life in three vastly different areas of the island!  This part of the island is definitely my favorite for living!  No regrets. We are very glad that we moved off base, we are glad that we lived on the North Shore, and now we're glad we are living here.  Live and learn and enjoy the ride!

"Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change."
~Jim Rohn

Family Friday - June 26

How is it the end of June already? This year is flying by! Perhaps it seems to be going even faster than normal because we know that our time in Hawaii is coming to an end.  We are due to leave the island within the first couple months of the new year.  It will be a few more months before we find out where we're going next but the possibilities are certainly occupying our thoughts.

CC has turned into little miss opinionated lately.  She has strong opinions about what she wants to wear now (though luckily she's still open to suggestions) and she also has opinions about what I wear!  There are some days where she will pull at my shirt and say "no, no" and then take me by the hand to my room where she opens my drawer and picks out a different shirt for me to wear.  I'm not exaggerating!  I don't usually comply unless it's a hot day and she picks out a tank top :)

She also has strong opinions about TV shows now as well.  Sometimes we start 3 or 4 different shows before she agrees that one is suitable enough to watch.  Lately she has been watching Curious George, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and Sesame Street (but she hates the Elmo's World portion of it).  We watch one show before lunch most days.

CC's new favorite phrase is "How 'bout... "  When we ask her any questions concerning what to do or what she wants, she enthusiastically replies "How 'bout (baby babble)? How 'bout (more baby babble)?"  She is trying to make suggestions but we can't understand the babble so we give her some options and she says yes or no.

She has also developed an interest in photography this week.  She carries around my Olympus Tough camera and points it at things, saying "cheeeeese".  Once she learns how to actually take photos, I will write some posts featuring her work :)

CC has had some pretty epic tantrums lately.  It's almost always when she is tired or hungry and I tell her not to do something or I don't do what she wants me to do.  She will stand, red faced, and scream as loud as she can, and then she will cry like it's the end of the world.  Funny thing is that if something distracts her for even a second, the screaming and crying instantly stop... until she remembers that she was in the middle of a tantrum and then quickly resumes.

CC still loves to dance and now she likes to hold our hands and dance with us.  We even got Dulce in on the fun a few times!  Luckily "dance with me" (me holding her paws and taking some steps) was already in her trick repertoire so she doesn't object too much.

CC has a head full of curls that makes her hair look a lot shorter than it is.  It is actually well below her shoulders, it just seems to curl tighter the longer is gets!

We have been busy in the past week because we're moving!  Yes, again!  And no, we're not leaving the island yet.  We love our beachfront house on the North Shore but we have been dealing with an extremely difficult, inconsiderate, and uncooperative landlord since we moved in.  Things have gotten worse lately and we've had enough so we're moving out.

This is a sudden move - certainly not planned.  At first, it was pretty devastating to think about leaving this house but then we realized that this a great opportunity to experience yet another very different part of the island!  We were blessed to find a great house in Kailua on the east side of the island to stay in for the remainder of our time.  The house is clean and it's empty so we will be able to get all of our things out of storage and live comfortably.  It is considerably larger than our current rental, it has a large enclosed backyard (perfect for Dulce), an in-ground swimming pool, and it's only a few minutes walk to a gorgeous beach with turquoise water and white sand.  Best of all, the owner is amazingly helpful and friendly!

This is an easy move since most of our belongings are in a storage room.  I have been packing up what we can so that the moving company can get in and out quickly.  CC has been helpful, trying to assist me with the packing :)

Dulce loves life here so she's not too happy about the changes going on.  She doesn't yet know how much she's going to love her new backyard!  She has been grumpy this past week and tried to unpack her things as I was packing them.

Here on the North Shore, we see sunrises and sunsets.  The sunrises are over land, as are the sunsets for half the year.  On the east coast, we'll miss out on sunsets but we will see spectacular sunrises over the ocean every morning - the photographer in me can't wait!!

Kailua is a pretty amazing town with a lot of shopping and restaurants, and the nicest beaches on the island.  It is vastly different from the quiet, laid-back, hippy lifestyle of the North Shore.  We are certainly blessed that in this one assignment, we get to experience living in three very different parts of this island.  We will leave here with no regrets.

I am really going to miss our ocean view and having the beach in our backyard.   I am thankful for every day that we lived in this house, despite the difficulties we put up with.

Ocean view + sunset + wine = happiness :)

When I started this blog three+ years ago, I put the tag line "Life is an adventure every day" at the top under our title.  That's actually not how I always looked at life up to that point but I wanted to, so I vowed from then on to change my attitude and believe it... it's been a process.  Life is far from perfect but it is a hell of a lot more enjoyable when you have the right attitude.  This quote is a good reminder of that:

Count your blessings, be thankful everyday, and know that everything happens for a reason.

"A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour."
~Author Unknown

Big Island Day Trip

A couple of weeks ago, Johnnie traveled to the Big Island (the island that is officially named "Hawaii") for a two-week work trip.  If we could drive on water, it would have only been a 2.5 hour drive to get to him.  Since we don't have an awesome car-boat, we flew on Hawaiian Airlines from the Honolulu Airport instead to spend Father's Day with him.  The plane was large and comfortable, and the flight only took 40 minutes.  This was a fun day-trip adventure; we were gone for about 10 hours.

I honestly feel that life with a toddler is exponentially easier than life with a baby.  Take this day trip for example: I took Cameron and a lightweight backpack - that was it!  No need for a carseat, stroller, baby carrier, bottles, baby food, blankets, burp rags, baby toys, or the billion other things that babies need.  This was a very simple, easy, and enjoyable trip off the island!

Our day trip backpack contained: diapers, wipes, one outfit change for CC (just in case), a straw cup, snacks, a pacifier, sunglasses, my wallet, my phone, and CC's Barney doll.

CC walked herself through the airport and onto the plane... actually, she was skipping and hopping at times :)  She LOVED seeing airplanes up close and seeing all the little carts speeding around outside.

CC is under two years of age so we got an "infant in arms" ticket for her.  The plane was not very full on our trip to the island and the two seats next to mine were empty so CC sat there for most of the flight.  She sat down and buckled herself in and waited patiently with her pacifier and Barney the entire time we were taxiing.  She moved over to my lap for the actual takeoff.  She whimpered a bit as we were climbing in altitude, unsure of what was happening but once we leveled out, she returned to her seat and looked at the in-flight magazines for the remainder of the trip.

Johnnie picked us up from the airport in a rental car with a carseat.  CC's carseat is still rear-facing in our car but we put the rental carseat facing forward.  This was a new experience for her and she was pretty amazed by all that she could see out of the side and front windows!

Our first stop was a coffee shop for some lattes and then we headed to the Historic Kailua Village to explore for a while before lunch.

We had a delicious and enjoyable Father's Day lunch at The Fish Hopper restaurant with a great table overlooking Kailua Bay.

After lunch we went to the Kamakana Playground at the Harold H. Higashihara Park located at 78-7300 Kuakini Hwy.  This playground is HUGE!  Johnnie and I were just as excited as CC to play on it!

This playground is at about 1,300 feet in elevation.  Since we spend most of our time at sea level, the altitude made me feel short of breath after being there for a while.  CC seemed to be fine with it but then again, she can't really speak to let us know!  I felt better once we returned to a lower elevation.

We left the playground in time for CC's nap.  She was so tired from running around and climbing that she fell asleep soon after the car started moving.

We took a long scenic drive to let CC nap.  We relished in the vastness of the landscape and the open road with virtually no traffic... it was such a welcome sight after living on a crowded island for the past 2+ years now!

Some of the land was practically glowing with bright and vivid color...

while other areas were rough, volcanic wasteland.

When CC woke up, we stopped to browse at a Crocs store in the Queen's Marketplace in the Waikoloa area.  CC tried on a few pairs of shoes and fell in love with these pink ones.  Once they were on her feet, they weren't coming off.  The sales clerk cut off the tag so she could ring them up and CC wore them for the rest of the day (and every day since then).

Johnnie flew home with us at the end of the day!  This flight was more crowded so CC sat on Johnnie's lap the whole time.  She did fine on this trip but was more unsettled since she couldn't move around as much and she got angry when she couldn't put the tray table down until after take off.

We may take a trip to another island this year but that will be as far as CC will fly until we move from Hawaii.  It's at least a 5 hour flight to the west coast of the mainland and we don't care to go through that with a toddler until we absolutely have to.

"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind."

Family Friday: 21 Months Old

For Cameron's 21 month photos, we went to the Wahiawa Botanical Garden... twice, which is why you'll see Cam wearing different shoes in these photos.  The first time (the pink shoes) we went with a sweet friend and we had a great time exploring but I didn't get any photos that I could use for her monthly number photo (notice all the scowls with the pink shoes below).  She and I went back the very next day (the white shoes - she insisted) and got the photo above within the first 5 minutes.

The Wahiawa Botanical Garden is in the town of Wahiawa, near the center of Oahu.  It is free admission and open daily from 9am - 4pm. The garden is 26 acres but only a small part of that is stroller and wheelchair friendly.  The rest of the garden has steep ramps, stairs, and uneven surfaces that would be more fun to explore with older children than a toddler.  The flat main area of the garden is gorgeous with wide paved pathways.  There is a large variety of plants and trees with plenty of shade, making it an enjoyable place to visit.

At 21 months old, Cameron is wearing size 4 diapers and mostly size 2T clothing.  She just barely fits into her size 5 shoes, starting to fit into size 6 now.

CC's sleeping schedule is still consistent. She is in bed by 7:30 and sleeps for 12+ hours.  She also takes one 2 hour nap a day in the afternoon.  We always put her to bed with some dolls of her choice, a couple of board books, and a couple of pacifiers.  She reads the books before falling asleep and when she wakes up, she happily plays with her dolls and reads until we go in to get her.  She has been crying less at bedtime lately, and has even told me when it was nap time a few times now!

When CC is tired, she throws tantrums.  She hits things, throws things, gets clingy, cries, and does things purposefully to get my attention.  The tantrums don't really bother me and don't last long because I know they are simply her way of telling me that she needs sleep or at least quiet time to rest.  She is always a different child after a nap.

Cameron eats four times a day (three meals and one scheduled snack) with no snacking in-between. Because of this, she eats really well at meal times.  She drinks a lot of water throughout the day but still won't drink milk or juice.  She does enjoy drinking thick liquids like fruit smoothies and Naked Juice.

Cameron has mastered drinking out of a real cup in the past week.  We have been using Avent Natural Drinking Cups for months now which drink like a cup but are non-spill.  At first it was easiest for her to drink out of a very full cup which allowed her to tilt her head down instead of tilting the cup up.  It took her a few days to figure out how much to tilt the cup up to avoid spilling the water or pouring it up her nose.  Now, she can easily drink regardless of how much liquid is in the cup.  We have the Munchkin Multi Cups which are the perfect size for her little hands and mouth.

Cameron talks constantly and is very expressive with her tone of voice.  She mostly speaks in her own language but at least once a day, a perfect English sentence comes out!  For example, today she was eating dinner and she looked at me and said "Mama, where's daddy?" perfectly clear and understandable!  The other day we were walking and came to a parked car that was sticking out onto the sidewalk.  Dulce and I walked around but Cam stopped, looked at the car, patted it, and said "'scuse me" before walking around it!  It seriously blows my mind when she does this - it's like a translator switch was flipped in her brain and makes her speak another language.

Cameron understands so much and she is understanding in two languages! My Spanish is limited but I've been consistent with it since she was born and it's paying off.  For example, I can ask either "Where is the dog?" or "Donde esta el perro?" and she will answer either one without missing a beat.  Her first official Spanish word is agua (water).  She asks for agua to drink and points out agua whenever she sees it.

Cameron also sings all the time.  She sometimes makes up random melodies but usually sings her favorite song - the Barney "I love you, you love me" song.  Many times when I'm sitting on the ground, she'll come up behind me, wrap her arms around me, and sway me side to side while she sings the Barney song to me - it's seriously the sweetest. thing. ever!

Just to clarify... the Barney song as sung by Cameron goes something like this:
na, na, na
na, na, ne
uh, uh, uh
na, na, na

I need to get it on video one of these days :)

Cameron loves her dolls!  She has a favorite baby doll (Hasbro Baby Alive Luv N Snuggle) and a favorite stuffed animal (Barney).  She pretends to feed them and give them drinks, she pretends they cry (she makes a fake cry sound) so she can pick them up and comfort them, and she puts them in her shopping cart and pushes them around.  It's so cute to watch and makes me extra aware of how I treat her because she's using that as an example as how to treat her baby dolls!

Cameron's hair is growing and getting lighter!  Thankfully it is really easy to care for.  Once it is wet, it drys naturally into curls.  I wash it every second or third bath (unless it is needed sooner) and comb it with a fine-toothed comb to get every knot out.  In between washes, I spritz it with water and use a wide-tooth comb.  We recently got some detangle spray to use as needed which works pretty well.

I really, truly love being Cameron's mom and I really feel successful at it now.  I am a much better mother now than I was when she was little.  I do not miss those tiny baby days at all, nor do I wish that time would slow down now.  I am so excited for each day that CC grows, changes, and learns new things.  I love watching her develop into the person she's going to be, and I feel blessed that I can travel alongside her on that journey.

"Treat a child as though he already is the person he's capable of becoming."

~ Haim Ginott