Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007: A Year In Photographic Review

January: The kids visited Disneyland for the first time.

February: We all felt the love between siblings.

March: John and I took a closer look at our potential new home state.

April: Shea turned two.

May: We took a last family portrait in CA before starting to pack our things.

June: Finn turned five and John left for Hawaii.

July: The kids and I said goodbye to California.

August: Finn started kindergarten....

September: ...and soccer, too.

October: At the pumpkin patch.

November: On Oahu's North Shore.

December: Our first Hawaii Christmas.

Here's hoping all your dreams come true in 2008.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Where He's Going To Get A Snowman I'll Never Know

Yes, outside it's warm, palm trees are swaying all around, and we're still in short sleeves, but inside the house, at least, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We've got the tree up, the carols on the stereo, the cookies in the oven, and the kids have finally taken crayons to paper for their annual Letters to Santa Claus.

Finn actually went through about four or five drafts before he finally got around to telling the big guy what toys he'd like him to deliver. His inital focus was more on the touchy-feeling stuff, setting a good emotional foundation, perhaps, to remind Santa of Finn's pole position on the Good List. Here are two of those first drafts.

Shea's list, however, was quick and deliberate and as it sprang fully formed from her little strawberry mouth and I had to hurry along with my pen just to capture it verbatim.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Parenthetical Note

I know the calendar says it's the Year of the Pig, but this past Saturday in Chinatown it was totally the Year of the Tranny.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

No In-Flight Movie Shown On This Bird

Recently, a friend shared with me a funny story about how she had to leave work to pick up her son early from his after-kindergarten play program because he had been suspended after deciding it would be fun to show his butt -- or more specifically, his "brown star" -- to his classmates.

Although she and her husband punished their son later that day so he could learn a lesson about inappropriate behavior, she said they laughed about the incident behind closed doors.

"My little exhibitionist!" she chirped.

I totally understood the unique conflict -- that's so funny! that's so wrong! -- these parents faced because something similar happened at our dinner table a couple weeks ago -- an incident that forced John and I to wear our "Responsible Parents" hats while inside we were belly laughing on the floor, doubled over in pre-teen hysterics.

Let me first give you a little background.

Since we've been living in Hawaii I've, gratefully, been able to focus less on freelance writing deadlines and more on traditional, domestic responsibilities. As part of this reassignment of duties, something I call Motherhood 2.0 in my head, I've made a point to try out lots of new recipes.

I've cooked with lemongrass for the first time, sampled Korean marinades, replaced my old in-a-pinch Macaroni & Cheese standby with Udon and vegetables, and perfected a broiled Opah (moonfish) dish that will knock your sandals off.

And while I understand that some things will just fall flat on fickle young palettes, our typical house rule is "Try everything, just one bite; you never know what you might like." (It's not all annoying and sing-songy like that, though. That's just the spirit of the rule, Iago.)

This new experimentation is how we learned that Shea, the kid who eats about five food items total in the course of a typical week, loves lotus root and kidney beans. Go figure.

One night, in an attempt to put some Thanksgiving flavors on the table despite the fact that it was a balmy 82 degrees outside, I put together a pot of Creamy Sweet Potato Soup.

I'm not sure if it was the burnt orange color or odd texture that put him off, but Finn ate the rest of his dinner and left his soup completely untouched. It was only after some coaxing that we were able to get him to adhere to the One Bite rule.

This particular one bite, however, was not to his liking. Not at all.

So he jumped up and away from the table, ran to the other side of it so he was facing his empty chair and place setting, and threw up his middle finger at his soup bowl.

That's right, folks, the bird flew right across our dinner table.

"Finnegan!" we shouted, half wanting to laugh, half in shock. "What did you just do? And where did you learn that?!?"

"___ taught me in the cafeteria," he said, sheepishly.

"You're not supposed to do that," we explained while trying not to look at each other for fear of cracking up during our serious Parenting Lecture. "It's very naughty. And rude."

His response?

"But that's what you're supposed to do when you don't like something!"

Friday, November 30, 2007

It Still Feels Like August

My first holiday season in Hawaii has me in a bit of a tailspin.

Mostly it's because of the weather. The delicious, tropical weather that tells my brain it's still August, balmy and lovely, and why in the world are you worrying about shopping lists and shipping times?

But the calendar tells me a different story. It's November 30th and that means two things:

1. The Christmas countdown begins tomorrow and I'd better get my act together and take that adorable Christmas photo of the kids for the Christmas card already, and

2. NaBloPoMo is over.

Hope you enjoyed the daily posts and don't hold a grudge that I put up mostly photos throughout the month.

I can't imagine I'll return to that pace again for a while, but I promise not to abandon you entirely, either. We've still gots lots of fun stories to share here (stay tuned for a PG-13-rated one, courtesy of Finney Boy himself), and once I put down the sunscreen and pick up the Christmas decorations I'll be back to send some tropical warmth your way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tastes Better Than Miami Vice

We took our first family road trip last weekend, up to Oahu's North Shore -- world famous for its big surf and spectacular views. While making our way across the upper portion of the island, we visited Haleiwa, a little village famous mostly for two things: surf stuff and shave ice.

Matsumoto's Grocery Store, a little bunker of a roadside shop opened by Mamoru Matsumoto in 1951, apparently is THE place for shave ice. So on our northbound drive up the center of the island, we kept hyping the kids that they would soon get to try their first Shave Ice, a Famous Hawaiian Treat.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Can Finney get one, too, Mama?" Shea repeatedly asked me.

"Of course," I responded, not quite grasping what she meant. "Finney can get one, too."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Once we arrived at the store, the kids' eyes grew huge as they saw the patrons in front of them receive what must have looked like a chilly rainbow heaven atop a paper cone.

And the syrup selection soon began.

"I want pink and green. And red. And orange. Oh, and yellow," said Shea.

She finally settled on the rainbow combination, the perfect solution for toddlers who aren't quite adept at distinguishing colors from flavors yet.

"And what do you want on your shave ice, Finn?" I asked.

But before he could answer, Shea excitedly interjected with:

"They have Finneyvice, too?!?!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Apparently, she thought we'd been saying all day they'd be getting "Shea Vice."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Putting Her Inner Rock Star Down For Nappies

One of my favorite things about our new Hawaii home is that the kids now have their own bedrooms.

Here's a photo of Shea's bedroom -- personally, I think it's the best one in the joint, tucked into the quiet back corner of the lot -- which has two sets of windows with lovely views of tropical plants and trees, and sits under the aegis of a mature mango tree.

That's what it looks like when it's clean and tidy, all picked up and vacuumed. Which happens about once a season. Just for pictures.

What's that? Oh, you noticed something different about the room? That's right, Inspector Detail, Shea no longer sleeps in her baby crib.

She is a FREE AGENT.

Because she's a "Big Girl" now.

The crib has been passed on to another family with a new baby on the way, and Shea now is the proud owner of a Pretty Princess Big Girl Toddler Bed (which really just used to be Finn's old rack).

She's excited and delighted to have this new bed. So much so that she spent most of her first day in its possession just lounging naked in it, pretending to read books and calling for her fiddlers three.

Here's what she looks like, on a good day, when she's napping in it -- all cheeks and thighs and toddler sighs.

As my Mom is fond of saying, "I'd like to just freeze-dry her in this stage."


Then there are days that are less picture perfect, when I peek in to check on her nap status and I discover this spatial imbroglio ... but no Shea.

Can you find the sleeping toddler in this picture, or did your heart also stop, ever so briefly, as you entertained the thought that somehow, maybe, she had climbed up and out of those pretty windows after first doing her best impersonation of Robert Plant trashing his room at the Chateau Marmont?

Here's the same scene from a different angle.

Well, she may not be the most conventional of nappers, but at least she was engrossed in a good book before the Sandman finally took her down.