Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Beat Goes On

Now. I won't deny that I likely suffered from some form of slight post (pre??) traumatic stress disorder up to 24 hours after the incident, however, I will say that there was hardly chaotic pandemonium all around, as has been reported by many news resources. Actually, things were pretty calm in the building where I reside even after a mass text message went out statewide in Hawai'i (falsely) warning  residents of an impending ballistic missile.

It actually felt like a hoax, a hack even, and--without panic--the three things that ran through my mind simultaneously once I was notified of the message were:

1.  Why aren't the sirens going off?  I'm pretty up on local  processes and know that the outdoor siren warning system that is annoyingly tested on a monthly basis without fail should be sounding off in the event of a tsunami, hurricane, missile strike threat, etc. (Note: I later learned that the sirens did sound off on some parts of the island.)

2. Huh??? My husband is continually tuned in to national news (which I often hear by default and which we laugh about and discuss frequently) and last I knew, Trump 'nem were busy offending Africans and Haitians, not having another war of egos with Kim 'nem. This seems so all-of-a-sudden.

3. Where is said missile coming from? Are people just randomly shooting missiles? Or am I just to assume North Korea is the culprit?

And finally:

4.  Is there any knowledge of whether it's headed for O'ahu, Kauai, Maui, Big Island, Moloka Lanai, Niihau, or Kahoolawe--the seven main islands that make up the state of Hawai'i?

Yes, all of that was instantaneously on my mind in that moment.
Nevertheless, a querying mind is no match for an indication of a missile strike, so we took what precautions we could given the situation.

I waited in silence with the ones I love and pondered how--if the building collapsed--I would manage to push the rubble off the babies and myself.  Call me naïve, but I saw us all surviving no matter how it all went down.  My concern was moving cement blocks, which I somehow thought wouldn't crush us, even as the floors above came tumbling down!

Things were pretty much back to normal in the hours following statewide confusion.  Beach time with the babies, my two and a neighbor. 

To say the very, VERY least, thank goodness it was not real. In reality, though, we've got water stored away and have read up on sheltering ourselves from radioactive fallout. (There's also a "Get Off O'ahu" plan in the works). I certainly don't expect a missile of any kind to strike this island, and I won't live in a state of worry.  There's plenty of speculation about whether something like that would or wouldn't happen. In today's political climate, I'm just sure to keep my ears open and keep keeping on.

It's very Hawai'i for it to take 38 minutes for a correction text to be sent out.--Jimmy Kimmel.  

So, so true. The kicked back vibes here can be a bit much at times. Nonetheless, the Aloha is palpable.

Photo taken by her big sister.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Home Training

I've heard this a lot in my lifetime. Home training--either somebody not having it, somebody needing it, or somebody having it but acting like they don't.

Chances are that this is a cultural thing or a southern thing--the pervasiveness of the terminology in speech, I mean. Whatever the case, it was on my mind recently.  Although "home" is an important word here,  the assumption--I assume--is that said training should carry over and be effective no matter where the trainee finds her/himself.  If so, I have to wonder how does one effectively impart home training, particularly with a highly energetic child who is committed to simply taking advantage of the freedom of her unburdened limbs every chance she gets?  Cause despite my consistent efforts to do so, my three-year-old still has no qualms about climbing up/over/under/through trees, walls, benches, chairs, and rails in public places.  Anyone witnessing her level of activity might surely assume her father and I have made no effort to instill in her more suitable ways to be when out and about.
Such was the case recently when our family took a rare trip across the island to the town of Kailua. 

Highway taken to and from Kailua through the mountains.  Some of the most amazing views, for sure!  (Photo courtesy of

Having finished eating her food at a store we visited, my child commenced to climbing back and forth from the bench we were sitting on outside the store onto the (empty) bench behind us. At one point, as she straddled the top of the back of our seat, I looked at her and for a split second thought, explicitly,  "This child ain't got no home training."

I know better though.  She does, too. Yet, there's something about her absolute nature that forces me to re-train myself in how I'm bound to relate to her during these times.   Given who she is, I'm learning that there are moments when she needs the freedom to just be her wild, free self--within the confines of safety, of course--no matter how it might look, seem, or actually be.

Once, as I stood in line at the bank and my child wiggled and moved all over the place and attempted to swing from the deposit slip table, an elder behind me--sensing my uneasiness and hearing my fuss-- told me, "She's OK. As long as she doesn't climb or fall and hurt herself, she's OK." And with that, I just kept my eye on her and let her be.  After all, when you name a child Wangari, which translates to "of the leopards," you can't lose too much patience when she continually displays inherent acrobatic tendencies no matter where the mood strikes her.  Plus, with the high level of activity I was engaged in myself while she was in the womb (diving, swimming, hiking, climbing, etc),  I feel like we set ourselves up for this one!

   Tree climbing outside the doctor's office after an appointment.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Fair Warning

Once when I was seventeen, my grandmother--in an effort to thwart any notion I may have had to have a child before I probably needed to (and trust me when I say I had no such notion)--described for me the level of change that takes place in people's lives once children do enter the picture. More specifically, she commented on the change in the quality of one's mobility. 

"When you don't have a child," she said, "you just have to worry about getting yourself ready. You get yourself dressed, grab what you need, and go."

She continued, "But when you do have a child, Honey, you got to get yourself and that child ready. Then you got to make sure you have everything the baby might need while you're out. Get the diaper bag together, get that baby, and then go.  A lot more work in general goes into it all when you have a baby!"

Here I am eighteen years later as a mother, and let me just say,  she was absolutely correct. In fact, since she'd had six children of her own, she could have emphasized the point by telling me what it's like when you have at least two! Most days when it comes to leaving the house to go somewhere, it's in my best interest to start getting us ready at least two hours in advance, since it never really goes smoothly. Even still, all that pre-planning and pre-doing might find me fumbling, dropping, and forgetting things when the actual time comes to head out the door. I can only imagine what it must be like for those who have 3/4/5/6 little ones.

At this point I don't really recall what it was like to be responsible for getting only myself ready to leave the house. Although my children are only three and one*, that seems like so, so long ago.  Many of the moms I socialize with have only one child, and they ask me how I do it with two. Well, honestly, there are plenty of moments where I'm not sure whether I'm coming or going, and when I'm going, it surely has the potential to be a hectic mess!

*My youngest is a year old today!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Easy Play

...cause what's more fun than riding your tricycle through a puddle and making lines on the asphalt?
(Also good for an impromptu lesson in math and counting!)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Gather Together In My Name

I can say with much certainty that many of the women who are in my (off internet) life would not be there were it not for one factor--actually two in my case. These are great women, too. They're diverse--coming from Germany and Brazil, Puerto Rico  and Argentina, Philippines and Hawaii, Chicago and Japan, Wisconsin and California. They're acupuncturists and teachers and photographers and surfers and stay-at-home-moms and doulas and artists. One is even trained to be a doctor in her home country.

They're great and inspirational. We can discuss all things child-related, then, even more; and that's just it. These children we have unite us in ways that our personalities, ideas, practices, introvertedness, and lives in general wouldn't necessarily allow. I'm confident that, were we not mothers and had we not crossed paths  in settings and situations that made such a status evident, we'd maybe smile in passing, extend a casual greeting, and continue on with ourselves and our lives.

And this is OK.

*The title of this blog post is a nod to a memoir by Maya Angelou with the same title, one of my favorite titles in the history of titles.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


(Originally written 9/2017)

Something that I've learned and relearn daily is that a toddler might just do anything. Generally speaking, they're not beholden to the order and restraints that we adults often are in the name of being grown-ups. To this point, I've got a three-year-old who epitomizes a free-spirit , fun-loving, "doing me" energetic, active, and engaged young person.  Although she will eventually fall in line when orders are handed down to her from me or her daddy, she really doesn't like being told what to do and takes pleasure in asserting her continually blossoming capabilities.   This is the reality of the situation day-to-day in my household, and I know I'm not the only one.  In fact, a recent experience with my child that was characterized by all that I have said of her above brought me to a realization about a particular point of discussion that I have witnessed come up from time to time.

I was standing in the hallway one Saturday having just dressed myself in some actual "nice" clothes--not the usual sarong and spaghetti strap top or bandeau-style bra that is typical of my leisurely, around-the-house Hawai'i attire.  I mean, I had on my new jeggings, a cute tunic designed and made by me, and my favorite sandals. My fro was out, and one side was ever so slowly forcing its way out of the hairpin I'd placed there to hold it back. Everything was cool.

My family and I were preparing to go out for dinner, and as I stood there with my head cocked to one side securing an earring, I got a glance up the hallway of my toddler. Her fro was also out--a bit crunchy and dry from having been out in the sun earlier.  She'd run from me screaming with her hands flailing in the air just ten minutes earlier when I attempted to spray it with water and massage in coconut oil. I didn't quite get it done.

The fro was also lopsided.

Her clothes were ok, even though she'd managed to find and adorn herself with the dingiest shirt she could find--one stained with paint from one of her many art sessions. At least it was clean--in the general sense of the term--and had a sweet little tulle ruffle at the bottom. Then there were her shoes.  Despite my efforts to coerce her into wearing her pink, Velcro strap canvas high tops that look nice with the pink pants she had on, she preferred her white light up sandals--the ones that her toes hang over the top of, since they're now one size too small (yes, these should have long been taken to the thrift store or at least hidden away). *

I looked at her in the living room dancing around, threatening to do a headstand, and not giving a care in the world. She felt good, she was free, and she was looking forward to going out for some pho. And so, I, in my "fancy" clothes (that really aren't but can be considered so by comparison), my husband, our eight-month-old-baby, and our three-year-old left to go eat.
Freedom Lover

In that moment, though, that moment where I was standing in the hallway, putting on an earring and looking my child over, it hit me that I was that mom.  You may have read commentary or even made remarks yourself about a parent--particularly a mother--who's out looking all cute and/or together, yet their child is standing there looking like "who did it, what for, and why."  I've previously not had much thought on these matters. Now that I've had the experience, I can just say that I get it.  I know how it is or can be. Yeah, there may be times when it can be considered some form of neglect, but I know that there are those times where a mama may have sincerely tried and failed at better organizing the child's appearance. That Saturday wasn't my first experience with it and --given who my oldest child is--it surely won't be my last.  Many a day I have succeeded in getting her dressed and "together" in a manner that I deemed appropriate for a trip to wherever we may have been going.  Some days, though, she's just not feeling it.  We may have the best intentions for our little ones as it pertains to their appearance or any other area. Yet they're often committed to their own agenda, no matter how much it fails to jive with intentions we have for them.  The notion of "pick your battles" comes to mind.

That Saturday I didn't trip.  We went, we ate, and we had a great time.  Crunchy fro and all! And least importantly, nobody we encountered cared whatsoever. (That's probably saying more about the culture in Hawai'i than anything else.)

*I did manage to persuade her out of the too small sandals into some more shoes--some brand new ones that had arrived in the mail the day before.  Yeah, the colors in them further added to the disarray of her overall outfit, but at least her toes weren't scraping the ground!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

These Babies

It's been stated that 2017 is the year of the baby.  I don't doubt it, cause really, what year isn't?  However, I will say that--around the building in which I reside--2016 was something special where baby conception is concerned.  Including me, there were eight women in the building who conceived last year.  Eight! Six out of eight of us met or will meet our new babies this year, while two were fortunate to do so late last year.  

One of the ladies who recently welcomed a new addition is my next door neighbor.  When I say next door, I mean that the entrance to her door is literally 2-3 feet to the right of my own.  The close proximity and the nature of the construction make it to where, if I'm sitting in the front room, I can hear the cries of her baby as they float out of her open windows, into the outside air, then in through my window screens and ajar jalousies.  (side note: I had no idea what a jalousie was until we moved to this place.)

The cries are soft, tiny, and sweet and signify the child's displeasure with whatever is or is not being done in her favor.  They sound just as cute as the tiny little body from which they originate.

Many nights, after she has continued in her unhappiness for several minutes, I hear the neighbors' door open, then there's the recognizable sound of mommy and daddy with stroller bound baby as they emerge from their condo on a mission to push the child all the way to the other end of the walkway, then back. All the way up again, then back.  Up the walkway one more time.  Then back.   It's their strategy for getting the little one to relax and/or fall asleep when they're at a loss for what else to do.  

Occasionally, I witness this fairly routine outing of my neighbors as I am sitting on the sofa trying to rock my own baby--who's just two weeks older than the infant next door-- to sleep.  My youngest is a pretty mellow child who isn't much of a crier.  Instead, she opts for "talking" and yelling out when she requires attention.  And although she doesn't cry or even gripe much at all, she sometimes will take issue with the audacity I have to sit down while rocking and soothing her to sleep.  She likes me up and walking and makes this known by firmly pressing her little few-months-old body against mine and forcefully pressing her feet into my thighs, stiffening her lower limbs with each push.  She's adamant, and those strong little legs are relentless.  Eventually I give in and am up pacing back and forth across the living room floor until her little head relaxes on my shoulder, and she is peacefully at rest.

As my neighbors push and I pace, I laugh to myself at the thought of the hold these little beings have over us, demanding that we extend ourselves to them physically and energetically not only in service of their most basic needs.  They require that we treat them like the little princesses (or princes) they are by, for instance, creating whatever conditions they need in order to be most comfortable as they prepare to carry out the business of sleep. They want and need us there to do for them what they can not do for themselves, even when the task--rather than having to do with the fundamental diaper changing and feeding activities--speaks more to a comforting pleasure.  And, despite being tired and sleep deprived and sore and drowsy and generally exhausted ourselves, we mamas are certainly here for whatever these little wondrous beings need. 💖

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