Wow. A whole month. So much has happened that I’m feeling a bit like I do when I try to tackle the end-of-year photo album, wishing I had done little updates along the way instead of one great big download. Part of why I do this blog is to take a second look at the events of my life, to say a little something about them in an attempt to slow things down a bit and notice the moments I might have missed or that blew by a little too quickly. It’s often in the retelling that I piece them together in my mind and weave a narrative to make sense of what can seem like disparate events. Here goes…
Since I last wrote, I turned 40 on June 11. It was a perfect day, both weather-wise and otherwise. In the middle of a very gloomy and chilly June (dubbed “Juneuary” by Pacific Northwesterners), the day looked like this:
I spent the better part of the day driving around, admiring it. I even captured an almost-photo of the camera shy Mt. Rainier:
I had Sally with me as usual, and my goal was to find a rock on a beach on which to perch myself, soak up some sun and contemplate this milestone birthday. Sally and I settled on this beach and these rocks:
About five minutes in, much like the four-year old who is burning up on a 70 degree day, Sally looked like this:
There was a lot of panting and apparent discomfort. So rather than forcing the moment, we headed back to the car. Upon our return, I discovered what was to be one of the most enchanting parts of my day – a bunch of bleating goats (around 250 of them!) brought to the island to munch the invasive ivy and poison oak near this south end beach. I stood with other passersby and delighted in the sight of them – males, females and their young – munching and frolicking on the hillside:
I returned later that day to show the rest of the family and to enjoy them once more before they had to depart at the end of the week. This island never disappoints.
The rest of the day entailed a visit with these two to the local feed store:
This was part of a very detailed plan my little lady had in which she would pick out a pair of socks for me and a treat for Sally before we would wander the grounds admiring the flowers for sale – not to buy, but to sniff, touch and appreciate. Naturally (if you know either one of us), it ended with a bakery visit and a shared cookie before we headed back to the ferry to grab Daddy for dinner. Daddy arrived like this like the great Daddy/husband he is:
Per my insistence, we skipped the fancy dinner spot and instead found a place where we could all (furry family member included) dine together al fresco. It’s funny, in my 20s and 30s, the day’s events would have made for a bit of a sleepy day, but I ended the day feeling more than satisfied with every bit of it – the weather, the solitude, the goats, my canine companion, my daughter’s plan for me and our dinner together as a little family of four. It was perfect.
Later that week, we had a graduation in the family:
We were all a little heartsick about preschool coming to a close. I will forever cherish this place for its role in nurturing my child’s love of the outdoors, for igniting her interest in formal learning and for the family of people there who loved and cared for her during the hours she spent away from us. Thankfully, they offer summer camp, so she will spend a few days there this summer with her teachers and buddies, eeking out a little more time at this special school.
It was shortly after preschool graduation in the middle of our house going from this:
(which is finishing up as I write due to a long rainy June), I was surprised by my husband with this gift for my birthday:
This is my dear college friend, Jacqleen, who surprised me by coming to visit for my birthday. There are photos on my husband’s phone of the initial surprise, but out of kindness to us both, I am putting a much more polished version on here. It was a genuine surprise (I was gardening when they pulled up) and I was overjoyed to see her and to spend the weekend together. She even brought these the whole way from my favorite bakery in Chicago:
(I forgot to take a photo before we divided them up). We spent the weekend catching up in person after two years of not seeing one another. As it is with cherished old friends who have known you from earlier days, we started right up from where we left off. She is one of my favorite people on earth, one of the absolute funniest people I know, and despite the fact that she doesn’t yet have kids, is somehow one of the best moms I know. (Seriously, her future kids will have it so good). The weekend went by too quickly, but it was exactly the present I wanted and needed to commemorate my big day.
It was then into final countdown mode. If you live on Bainbridge Island and have run into my child at any given point since, say February, you would know that we were going to Hawaii. You would know this because she told absolutely everyone. Lots of times. You would know that she was going to wear a certain outfit, sit on the beach with her cousin, sip lemonade, jump into the pool, repeat. And swim with dolphins – you would have heard a lot about that. A couple days before leaving, we did a trial run on the outfit:
I have never seen anyone so excited for a trip. Ever. And I don’t know what I was more excited about – trading the grey dreary weather for tropical climes or seeing the whole outfit/cousin/lemonade/pool/dolphin bit.
Our trip to Hawaii was planned as a way to celebrate several milestone birthdays in 2012: my inlaws turning 70, us turning 40 and my sister-in-law’s twins turning 10. We dubbed it the “70-40-10″ trip. Our little one added a “5″ to the end; I suppose 5 is a milestone birthday, too. Being an only child myself, I understand the attraction to spending time with extended family. My husband’s sister has three kids (thankfully) and that cousin relationship is about as close as an only child gets to having siblings. Even though The Bug was mostly excited to see her almost 10-year old girl cousin, she was excited to see the boys as well. Seeing how far we all live from one another now, the adults were similarly looking forward to seeing one another too.
So, after several months of planning and talking it up, we set off for the Big Island of Hawaii. Anyone who lives on the island knows that getting to the airport is an affair of planes, trains and automobiles. As the laws of travel would have it, (and to curse me, the one who likes to be early), our taxi to the ferry was for the second time before a big trip, nowhere to be found. After lots of nervous phone calls, it finally arrived in time for us to have to hustle down the plank with all of our luggage in order to make the ferry we needed to make to get to the airport on time (the situation I was trying to avoid by being early). We made it, and ran into several friends on the boat which allowed my daughter to tell them (again) where we were going:
After another taxi ride on the Seattle side, we finally made it to the airport and were soon Hawaii bound.
Having been to Hawaii just once, and having stayed north of the airport in the Kohala area, I thought that Hawaii always looked like this:
(Photo taken the day we ventured up to said area).
Instead, our weather looked a lot more like this:
(Photo taken from the Costco visit we had to make to stock up on food before heading to the rental house).
So while the small fry had visions of leis, dolphins and cousin Morgan, this relatively new resident of the grey Pacific Northwest was hoping for a vitamin D overload and a revisit to the Hawaii of my old photo albums.
The house where we stayed was beautiful, though, and treated us to views like this:
and had fun little nooks like this:
Perhaps the best antidote to feelings of disappointment about the weather was to see the trip through the eyes of someone with no expectations about the weather or things outside of her control. We literally got to see the trip through her eyes thanks to a great idea from my super-creative friend Melisa, who gave her daughter a digital camera to use on their recent trip to Italy. We did the same with The Bug and discovered that a trip to Hawaii is also about:
Your view from the airplane window,
your feet in your new cool sandals,
you, sporting a new lei and surrounded by goodies just claimed at Costco,
your cousin’s feet, and your view from the backseat:
And then, there is your sweet cousin, five years older, your surrogate sister for the week. She’s the one doing her best not to mind you hugging her and calling her name once every five minutes and she’s the sole reason you’ll well up moments after hugging her one last time before heading back to the Kona airport for departure after what seemed like just a few short days after having arrived:
Then there was my favorite part of the trip – the dolphins. I could tell you the same story I’ve told everyone else – that swimming with them was for The Bug, but really this was a shared dream. It totally delivered:
I think I might have welled up a little bit too, especially when the pregnant dolphin rolled on her back for us to rub her tummy and we felt the thump-thump of the little tail fin within. The Bug loved the whole experience as well:
and really, who wouldn’t?
There were also volcanoes, sea kayaks, lu’aus, snorkels and mai tais on the visit – it was a treat for us all. It was a continued treat to arrive back home just in time for Summer to arrive (it apparently shows up each year on July 5) and to be here for our first July 4th celebration. Even though this is our third Summer here, we typically head back to the Midwest to spend the 4th with my husband’s family at their place in Door County, Wisconsin. We’ve been a part of their small-town parade, but there was something special about the small town being our own small town. The all-island celebration started on July 3 with a street dance and BBQ:
Bainbridge doesn’t yet feel too small to me, so I enjoy seeing the throng of neighbors and friends out celebrating together. The sun didn’t get the July 5 memo, either, and the 4th was a perfect Summer day:
We donned our patriotic gear:
and clapped for all of the misc. groups who had a spot in the parade, including my personal favorite:
For the record, Miss Sally was invited to be in the parade, but her mother declined for her, concerned that her dislike of big crowds, lots of strange dogs and the heat might not make for a good mix. I had a pang of regret when I saw these guys, but still contend we were all happier with the option we chose. There’s always next year.
Speaking of Miss Sally, as of yesterday, she looks like this:
Yes, that is the dreaded Cone of Shame. At our annual non-anesthetic dental appointment (which we do in order to avoid her having to go under to have her teeth cleaned), the technician discovered that she had a fractured molar which required extraction. This would have been plenty, but I happened to mention a little bump on her eyelid that I thought was a sty, but turned out to be a little benign mass that she also needed to have removed and stitched, thus the need for the cone. Add to all of this an inexplicable limp she acquired on our weekend trip to Gig Harbor and our little Sally girl is one sad sight. She’s pretty drugged up right now and is thankfully sleeping off any pain (or shame) she might be feeling. We have two weeks with this cone, so wish us luck.
I hope to get back to a regular posting schedule now that we’re easing into Summer, but with the two short months we have before Labor Day, I will admit that the days may be pulling me outside to soak it up and bank it for the months thereafter. I am starting to feel a familiar panic that I get every year around this time, of all of the things I want to do and see before the clouds re-envelop the sun and the damp chill returns to the air. As a mom of an only child, I’m also trying to balance our schedule, to allow for structure to our days as well as free time that can be used as we please. As those of you with only one child know, you are often called upon to be playmate, activity guide and camp counselor and Summer can be more taxing than the school year when it’s possible to get a bit of a breather. Thankfully, the days are long in the Summer, otherwise I might be seeking my pillow at a much earlier hour than I’d like to admit, wiped from following a 4-year old’s schedule all day.
Speaking of the 4-year old, I thought I’d treat you to a little ditty that we’ve been hearing a lot of around here lately (as in 20+ times a day). When your favorite cousin is into pop music and performs for you on vacation, you pay attention. Cousin Morgie did such a good job with this song that The Bug learned it without ever having heard the real rendition (we have since downloaded it for continued enjoyment). If I disappear for a bit, just call up this video and hit “replay” about 17 times and you’ll be right there with me, wherever I am.