A Travellerspoint blog


Eleven hours of hell

Traveling with kids is the hardest thing in the world. Don't listen to me if I tell you otherwise.  I never realized how easy I had it when all I had to do was worry about getting myself to the fight on time, and what I brought with me to read. With kids, it is a constant crapshoot for what you are going to get.  It could be an easy ride, after which you say, 'wow, that wasn't so bad', and you almost forget about the other times when it is difficult. Other times, your child is awakened during every nap, you forget the milk, you go through each diaper, and you are banging your head against the seat in front of you by the time the whole thing is through. Or maybe in need of a strong drink. Or three.
The anxiety of not knowing what you are going to get is the worst part.  Dreading the ten hour flight or the overnight trip or the five hour car ride.  Having a strong arsenal of supplies is half the battle. Sheer luck is the other half.

When your child is crying and unsympathetic people around you are glaring, and you are turning red-faced as you try to appease, nothing is good, and you can't get out of that situation and off the plane fast enough. Nursery rhymes, rocking, even playing with your iPhone...bribes, snacks, new toys, any method is employed to try to get through a long flight.  Planes have a higher probability of hellishness because there is so very little room to move.  You stand in the aisles, you get bumped. You stand in galleys, you are likely to get chastised by crabby flght attendants. You try to go into the bathroom but the lights are too bright for sleep. You try in your chair but the baby kicks the seat in front of you and squirms onto the floor. If you are lucky, you may have one of those children that can fall asleep half-standing in the middle of a football game.  Most of us have children who sleep best like we do... In quiet, cool, dark rooms without hordes of strangers around.  For them, as for us, sleeping on a plane is near impossible without medical help.

This last one was a doozy. Direct from Newark, New Jersey to Honolulu, eleven hours; which at first I thought was a great plan, and since have started to regress such notions of any 'better way to go'. I now know flying from the east coast to Hawai'i is torture, regardless of how many flights it takes.

The particulars of this flight started with a packed flight leaving Newark, one that we happened to board nearly last, as it took forever to get through the terminal and to the gate. Even though we arrived at the airport over 90 minutes early, we still got to the plane as all rows were boarding. No time for diaper changes and water runs, and it was rush, rush, rush. Between all the elevators and trams in Newark, I told my husband I felt like the flight should be nearly over before we even left, I was so exhausted. Usually I try my hardest to plan for a good nap before a travel day. I find it is the best predictor of success...well, that and an empty flight, which is rare and totally unpredictable.  This morning the nap was not good, a foreboding detail.

We get on the plane and get settled in with ourr eight carry-ons, including a car seat, diaper bag, cooler bag, two coats, backpack, rolling bag, bear. Since Bodhi had a miserable first nap for only about forty five minutes in the car, he was whiny and fidgety from the start. As soon as we got up to altitude, we were hoping he would fall asleep. We bought him an honorary third seat on the plane for this purpose...so he could fall asleep in his car seat as he usually does. No problem, right? Wrong. After an hour, it was clear it wasn't going to work out, so we were back to standing in the galley with him over our shoulders whisking him to sleep. Of course, right about the time we finally get him to sleep, the baby across from us decides to wake up and starts chatting and shrieking. Game over. We try for a few minutes to keep him asleep but it is of no use. He pops open his eyes and yells, 'uppa!' The second nap goes in about the same manner and I find myself staring at the computer screen with the airplane trajectory on it, willing us to go faster and get there.  During the four hours between naps, Bodhi managed to burn through all three of his outfits. One was peed through. The second was also soaked, after he tried to grab Chris's ice water and ceremoniously dumped it straight on his face.  Imagine a baby being doused with a full glass of ice water. Didn't feel good. And he sure let us know about it.  I stripped him down to his diaper in about three seconds as if I was practicing for a class in hypothermia first aid.   The third was partially soaked by the wet car seat from the pee incident and the ice water, but also got food all over it. But it will have to do for the remaining three hours.

Luckily I brought an entire carryon of diapers so we aren't going to go through all of those. We had that happen on a previous flight and I wasn't going to let that happen this time. I also thought to bring the entire jar of toddler formula instead of the bottles of milk I usually bring. Good thing because we have already burned through four bottles and the night is still young. We make it to Honolulu, and then while buying dinner and getting from terminal to terminal, somehow we miss our connecting interisland flight to Kona. And it is the last one of the night. Good things I brought those diapers and formula, because we have another overnight here. We don't have his travel crib, and we don't have anymore clothes, but what we do have will have to do. By the time we check-in at our airport Best Western, it is 3AM East Coast time and we are all more than ready for a night of sleep. Goodnight.

Posted by globalmomma 00:24 Archived in USA Tagged travel flight kids with hawaii airplane Comments (0)

Cause and Effect

This morning at 5:45am I heard a little voice calling, "Momma, momma". He was awake and ready to get up. I lie still and listen again to the urgency, momma, momma. I climb out of bed and over to his crib, and he is more emphatic now: MOMMA, UPPA!

I bend down and he he wants to show me something: he is touching both of his pointer fingers together in an arc. Perhaps I should not be amazed by this, but to me, it is as if he has shown me the architectural plans to the Eiffel tower. At 17 months, he has truly baffling hand-eye coordination. I can tell he's pleased by his latest discovery as well. We have been practicing baby signs with him since he was about 4 months old. At first, it was really more of an intellectual experiment for me. But when a month later, he was signing 'milk' and meaning it, I was hooked. For the first five months or so, milk was his only sign, possibly because it was really the most important word in his world. Then he began signing other words we had been learning: more, all done, bye-bye, ball, flower, thank you. It definitely helps him communicate what he sees, and what he wants. But more than that, I think it has helped develop a real awareness of his hands and different movements he can make, and enhanced his dexterity. He watched these videos called "Baby Signing Time", and he watches them intently...he just loves them. A friend recommended them to me, and I also think they have been one of the best investments in baby entertainment I could buy. I find myself humming the tune to the songs, remembering the simple signs, and actually, it is one of few baby/toddler videos I can stand to watch.

So this morning, I lift my son out of his crib and he takes off running toward the kitchen where he knows his favorite toys, duplo legos, are ready for him. Each night I set them up differently so when he wakes up, he can pull all of the pieces apart, one by one. He is in a phase of complete obsession over how things work: open, close; up, down; apart, together; in, out; off, on. There are not many traditional toys that fit this model, so he plays with the legos, but mostly his playthings are doors, levers, switches, buttons on phones & ipads, knobs on appliances. Cause and effect. Every action has a reaction. He runs around opening and then slamming doors. Opening the dishwasher, pressing all of the buttons, turning things off and on. Unscrewing his bottle or food tops, then putting the lids back on. It is funny to watch but also can be challenging when he is turning the stove knob from high to low, while you are trying to boil water. Or when he opens a food jar and it spills all over the floor. Or when he presses the little button and locks the bathroom door like he did yesterday. My husband had to take pliers to a wire and open the door again. Five minutes later, it was locked again. At least he hasn't yet figured out how to unlock the front door, because he reaches up as high as his little toes can lift him and pulls down on the handle of the front door. Outside. Luckily, there are a few handles and knobs still out of reach.

Posted by globalmomma 00:21 Archived in USA Tagged hawaii development toddler infant growth parenthood Comments (0)

Amazing Grace

Remember the previous entry wherein I described the new toddler and his free will? Well, with some trial and error, we have arrived at a compromise. And it was through the power of a song.

One night, after holding my son and rocking him close to sleep, I laid him down in his crib and he again popped right up to standing. He doesn't want to holding and rocking to end. So I decided to coax him down and began singing "Amazing Grace", which is a song that has long been a favorite of mine, even though I am not religiously affiliated. I just love the words to this song, I love the rhythm, I love the story. It is so emotionally moving, so heart-centered, so powerful. I sang him all three verses that I know, and he was lying still. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Epiphany! The song has that calming sense... Now each time I am putting him to bed when he is struggling to fall asleep, I sing him "Amazing Grace", and each time, he falls straight asleep. Again we are in a blissful routine of sleep, and it makes such a difference for my mental state, and his as well.

My favorite part of the song "Amazing Grace" is the final verse, "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun..." I love visualizing us as balls of light, shining as the sun. What will Bodhi get from that song? Is it the melody that he will remember? Another line he will love?

I found this statement on a website that I was reading about children's development from 0-2 called "Parent Further":
"Even very young children discover a spiritual perspective of the world. If parents and caregivers are warm and caring, they’ll find a wonderful world."

I believe that when babies are born, they have a much clearer sense of their spiritual nature, and also of subtle things like intuition, intention, and spiritual presence. I watch my son daily be able to discern if he wants to interact with a person or not, based on the energy they are projecting. I want to cultivate that wonder, that deep sense of knowing, that intuition. But it is difficult to communicate with a toddler about things that are unseen, and things that are intangible, since they explore the world with their senses. I wonder about what to teach my son about the universe, about God, about living and dying and truth. Perhaps it is my background in philosophy that makes me question and contemplate these issues, and also has developed within me a sense of spiritual individuality. I don't relate entirely to any religious system, yet I have believed strongly in spirituality for my entire life. How do you encourage your children to take the good things and discard the bad? How do you help them respect and understand the amazing natural world around them, the incredible gifts that they have been given, and the connection to other living things?

Posted by globalmomma 02:46 Archived in USA Tagged religion philosophy grace toddler spirituality Comments (0)

The Keiki Pools


Our new favorite spot is a place called the "Keiki Pools". "Keiki" is the Hawaiian word for child or baby. It is a small beach with white sand and lava rocks, like most beaches on the Big Island of Hawai'i, but it doesn't have the things all other beaches here have: waves. We were told about it two weeks after we arrived in Kona.

It is a series of small pools, about knee deep, that make natural baby pools or child swimming zones. Every day we have been here to this beach, we have met a group of children all swimming and playing. The water is warmer than the ocean and super salty, so you can easily float. Best of all, our son is not afraid to run splashing & laughing into the shallow water. Usually, when we bring him to the beach and get close to the water, he begins shaking his head, No, No. Like, 'No, I am not going in there, you guys are crazy if you think I am going in there.'

Here I can actually relax on a beach chair and watch him run through the sand, play on the shore with his shovel, and not feel I have to be one step away. It's exceptional, and we have made it a point to go at least once a week. Bodhi is becoming a real water baby, between the pool, the bath, and the keiki beach, he goes into the water every day. And he loves being in water.

This week we went with my mom (grandma) to the pools, and Chris and I both tried on our new Vibram water shoes. You know, the crazy shoes with five toes? They are awesome... when I wear them, I feel like an avatar. It is like being barefoot, but with better feet. I wish they had child shoes, because B has become a real Hawaiian baby already with callused little feet and tanned legs. He also wants to climb every palm tree we pass, and he can't do that unless he has Spidey-shoes like Momma and Daddy.

Posted by globalmomma 12:54 Archived in USA Tagged ocean bath pools hawaii kailua-kona vibram Comments (0)

Surf's Up!

Lesson One at Kahalu'u Beach

sunny 86 °F

My husband Chris's birthday was Saturday. For his birthday, I decided to surprise him with a surf lesson. Luckily, my mom was here, so we could go take a lesson together. We woke early and I drove him down to the beach. At this point, he was pretty sure what was going to happen. We put our rashguards on. We got a quick lesson on land on how to hop up onto the surfboard. Slide one foot forward and keep the other foot back, both facing sideways, arm pointing forward toward the shore. Luckily for Chris, the stance is similar to snowboarding. Luckily for me, the stance is similar to the yoga pose Warrior 1. He and his regular foot, and me and my goofy foot, carry our foamy surfboards across the street and into the ocean. We climb awkwardly on, and begin paddling out toward the waves. I won't exaggerate about the size of the waves... they were baby waves, about 2-4 feet. Our instructor paddles out effortlessly. He is a tanned local Big Island Hawaiian, and he looks like he has been on the ocean every day of his young life. I would have estimated that Dom (the instructor) was 20 years old, until he informed us that he also has a 2 year old son, and that he is one of his several children. Dom is sitting on his surfboard, legs slung over each side, watching the waves come from the horizon. He tells us to point our boards out toward the waves and watch. We aren't really sure what he is seeing. But before we know it, he says, "Turn around guys, and start paddling". We spin around and I begin paddling frantically with both arms. "Faster now" he says, and then he gives us a quick nudge and the wave is under us. "Stand up now!" he yells, and we both leap forward like we were taught, bending our knees and trying to stay upright. I am amazed that the wave is still moving under me, and that I am managing to stay upright. About ten seconds later, the wave is gone, and I fall off the surfboard, grinning widely. I start paddling back to where Dom is sitting, and when I arrive, I try to climb down and sit the way he is sitting on the board. But before I can balance, he says, "here comes another one, Get ready." I see nothing. But I climb back onto my stomach and turn the board around. I am again paddling as hard as I can and he shoves the board under the wave. Again, I leap up and ride the wave to the break. It is amazing what a rush of adrenaline I am getting as I yell to Chris, "I'm really doing it!!"

The last time we tried surfing was at Bondi Beach outside Sydney, Australia in 2003. It was a fun experience, but I was never really ready to move from my torso or my knees up to my feet. I spent the whole two hours boogie boarding, and cheering for Chris. This time, however, I was really surfing, and loving it. I can see why this sport is incredibly addictive. For one, it is unbelievably rewarding when you catch a wave. Secondly, you are out on the ocean, sun on your back, feet dipped into the cool water, a perfect morning activity. Thirdly, each ride produces a rush of adrenaline and giddiness that honestly took me by surprise. Fourth, like fishing, it can be anything you want it to be. You can put in a lot of effort or a little. You can continuously ride waves or you can basically sit on your board and watch the waves float by.

This time, we were riding each wave that Dom told us was a good one to take. For the next half hour, it felt like each time I got back out to where he was, he was telling me to go again. By forty minutes in, my arms were really tired. I was having to paddle using my entire body. I was trying to paddle simultaneously with both hands. It felt like it was taking longer and longer to get back out to where Dom was, and that he was moving further and further out. Turns out, he was moving further out. As we got 'better', he moved us out to the next rung of surfers that were another hundred yards out to sea. With these waves, we were able to jump up and ride the wave until it crested, then it would pick up again and we would get to go another ten seconds almost back to shore; Making each ride twice as long, and each paddle back out twice as hard. By the end I was lying face down on my surfboard telling Dom, "I will wait for the next one", because I literally didn't think I could paddle back out again without a few minutes recovery. Talk about arm and shoulder strength! Now I know why all surfers are incredibly lean with amazing back musculature. I definitely will need to improve my back and shoulder muscles before I come back out again.

As the two hour lesson was ending, we each got in our final wave and climbed out of the water carrying the 12 foot surfboards on our heads. I had a permanent grin on my face. I knew Chris would be a natural at it, but I never expected to do so well myself after my last experience. I never expected to get a love for it on the first lesson. Now, I am shopping for a surfboard, and we are talking about going to the beach and tag team surfing. I stay on the shore with Bodhi while Daddy surfs, then we switch. A perfect Hawaiian morning and a perfect way to jump right in to life.

Posted by globalmomma 13:06 Archived in USA Tagged ocean beach surf waves surfing hawaii lesson exercise kona instructor kahaluu Comments (0)

Easy Remote

Life in Hawai'i

I am starting to realize why people come to the islands for vacation. Yes, the beach, the sunshine, the warm 80 degree temperatures year-round, the relaxed pace, the ability to wear sandals and sundresses and tanktops in the middle of January, all are HUGE reasons to come to the islands on vacation.

But a larger draw, in my opinion, is the idea of 'getting away from it all'. At first glance, this technically means just leaving your workplace and the piles of papers, the ringing phone and the to-do list that never gets shorter, the bills, the errands, the monotony. But it feels that much more powerful when you literally place MILES and MILES between yourself and those day to day chores. The stress tends to add up little by little over time, compiling like someone else's money in a 401K. It grows and grows until you drain it somehow, and then it creeps in and rebuilds. So in order to release the stress, many of us run as far away from the stressors as we can possibly get.

Hawai'i is literally thousands of miles of ocean away from any other large land mass. So when you come here on vacation, it truly is getting away from it all. And you can feel that stress being lifted as you fly the miles and hours to arrive here. But when you start to live here, you begin to realize just how far away from everything you really are.

Everything is double the price, because it often has to fly halfway across the world to get here. So everyday items like shoes, toys, shampoo, milk, cost 2-3 times what they would cost on the mainland (this is Hawaiian for 'rest of the USA other than Hawai'i'). Gas, cars, everything has a surcharge here, kind of like a luxury tax for being able to reside in such a beautiful, remote, healing place.

Then you begin to realize just how long it takes to visit the ones that you love. And how far away you are when you are missing them... Today my mom flies here from California, and I cannot wait to see her. We are arriving early and waiting for her to come through the gate. I cannot remember the last time I actually parked the car at the airport and went inside to wait for a flight, rather than circling. It is such an event to have a visitor already. We have been 'living' in Kona for almost three weeks, and the time is passing by so rapidly. It feels like we have just arrived, and we are still in that phase where we are exploring, getting lost, finding new spots.

There are a few things that make us still visitors: (1) the rental car, that we are hoping to trade in for a purchased used car at some point in the next ten days before our rental contract runs out (2) the un-tanned skin: although we are working on remedying this situation, we still do not look dark enough to be islanders who have a steady base of sunshine on their skin (3) no permanent dwelling, no plans past next week

The things that are localizing us:
The fact that we carry in our car at all times: a boogie board, two towels, several wet bathing suits, a football, a cooler, sunglasses, and a beach chair. Just in case. You never know when you may need it. When you may just decide it is such a beautiful afternoon that we might as well stop at the beach and have a quick swim, which we have done at least every other day since we arrived. You would think that there is only so much time one wants to spend at the beach, but I will tell you that we have not yet reached that point. Basically, any spare moment throughout the day after work is finished, we either say, "hey, let's go to the beach", or take a dip in the pool.

We have island time down. In fact, I have always lived on island time. It was the rest of the world that had it wrong :) The islands are always moving slow, so being five, ten minutes late is recommended...and customary. I love this. Absolutely love it. And the fact that everyone wears easy shoes, and slips them off the moment they enter into anyone's home, so at least half of your life is spent in bare feet. Bodhi loves this. It is an easy life. But also a remote life.

Posted by globalmomma 18:48 Archived in USA Tagged beach surf in island life swim pool time hawaii barefoot aloha Comments (1)

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