Ride the Wave

There is a tornado happening in my head.  I’m slowly forgetting the magic that is this place because we are settling into normal life.  It’s a fight to remember to look at the mountains and soak in the beauty.

I mean, shit, that is the view when leaving my neighborhood.  It’s amazing!  But it’s so damn easy to get into that ‘real life’ mentality and you forget to be mesmerized like a tourist.  The good news is that I totally recognize it, and I’m working hard to appreciate everything around me.  I will not forget how excited I felt when we first got here.  Speaking of which, can you believe we’ve been on this island for an entire month?  Wow.  Just wow.

Okay, so let’s talk about what’s been happening this past week.  Not a full on recap because that gets boring quickly.

Halloween happened.  Trick or treating in shorts?  That’s totally working for me.

After t-or-ting, we went back to the house to hand out candy.  We met a few of our neighbors too.  In true Nicole form (and aided by 2 glasses of wine), I talked way more than was socially necessary and eliminated any chance of making friends with the woman next door.  That’s my goal while living here – stop talking so damn much!  I scare people off and appear self-centered (which, admittedly, I guess I am).

Either way, we had a really great night.  And we got to show off our fantastic pumpkins.  We hadn’t carved in years, so it was time.  J cut out the lids, but the kids had to scoop out their own seeds.  They also did their own designs and carving.  I was super impressed.

We waited until 2 days before Halloween to prepare them, and that turned out to be a good idea.  Within a day or two after the holiday, they were overtaken by huge snails, fruit flies, and mold.  Yum.

This past weekend, we did the Color Run.  We had a lot of fun, and there was minimal complaining from Aidan.  Once I explained that the dye was actually just cornstarch -“the same thing I put in soup sometimes to thicken it” – he relaxed and just enjoyed the experience.

We tried to jog a bit at the beginning, but my ass (like, my actual ass) was super jiggly and started tingling fairly painfully.  Even after we went back to walking, it tingled for the next few minutes.  I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I gotta fix it.  It’s like the muscle is all gone or detached from the skin or something?  I have no idea, but it’s no bueno.  Anyway, we walked the whole thing in about 52 minutes, so I was perfectly fine with that.

Most of the fun was had after we passed the finish line.

So that was the Color Run.  It was fun, I’m glad we experienced it, but I doubt we’ll ever do it again.  Audra agrees.  I’m not a huge fan of messiness.  And that was some messy shit.  But seriously, it really was a good time.  And my kids rocked those 3 miles like it was nothing.  Plus, we parked about a mile away, so we got in some good exercise that day.

And because I now know they can very easily walk 5 miles, I’m contemplating this weekend’s hike.  I think part of this funk I’m in is related to the fact that we haven’t done anything nature-y since moving into the house.  I was really loving our hike and beach times when we lived on the other side of the island (for those three whole weeks, haha).  So this weekend, I’m rectifying that.  We just have to decide which part of Oahu to explore.

Green indicates an easy hike, blue is moderate, and red is advanced.  For reference, we live almost exactly in the middle of the southern coast (Ewa Beach).  But that doesn’t much matter – we will travel anywhere.

I’m thinking we might head to the North Shore and check out the western most point of Oahu (Kaena Point).  The hike is easy and right on the coast.  We’ll see – I’m already getting excited just thinking about it.

I’m hoping that in the time we live here, we can improve to the level of advanced.  I’m not sure how I feel about doing rock climbs though, and we also probably wouldn’t be able to bring the kids.  But maybe in 3 years, they’ll be able to do them too?  I’m not sure.  I just panic a little at the idea that we wouldn’t be able to explore every available trail.  That’s kind of ridiculous – I know it.  But I can’t tell you how fantastic it feels when I hike.  I’m pretty sure I whined constantly when I went hiking as a kid.  I don’t know what changed, but I love it now.  Like, really really love it.

Honestly, I kind of just like to move.  As long as I’m moving with a purpose.  Something has happened to me, and I’m not sad about it.  Since we arrived here, I don’t like to be idle.  I can watch an episode on TV, but then I have to get up.  I have to unpack a box, throw up some art on the walls, or organize books.  I can’t just sit there.  It drives J kind of insane, but I feel like it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.  Part of the reason I was able to gain 30 pounds back so damn quickly (and struggle to re-lose it), was that I sat around all the damn time in Indiana.  I could watch 10 episodes of a new (to me) show on Netflix or spend 8 hours reading a whole book in bed.  I was perfectly content to do nothing productive.

But now?  I don’t know.  Having that surgery changed me.  I realized that I don’t like to be immobile.  But I struggle to get off my ass when I don’t have anything fun to do.  (How immature does that sound?)  Convincing myself to stop reading so I can clean?  Ick.  But I’m loving setting up this new place.  And obviously, I’ll eventually be done with that and I’ll move into the mundane phase of upkeep.  I’m hoping at that point, our hikes and other outdoor activity (neighborhood walks, biking) will keep me up and moving.

And on the topic of biking, my Specialized hybrid didn’t make it one piece.  When the movers removed the handlebars, they threw the connector pieces into the packing material and it was lost when the bike was unloaded.  Super sad face.  I can’t seem to find replacement parts yet, but I think we will be reimbursed.  I’m just not sure how the claim process works.

Okay, so switching gears, I wanted to show you a little bit of the house.  These pictures are horrific (bad lighting, sorry yo) and there are still boxes and unorganized crap everywhere.  But hey, we found  a sofa!

This is the room you enter when coming through door.  I guess it’s like a formal living area, but we’re using it as a computer/library area.  The bookshelves to the right are from Target – they are the modular cubes.  We just didn’t insert all of the shelves so it made the design a tad more unique.  But the great news is that all of our millions of kids’ books fit perfectly.  The tables in the back and to the left are from Ikea – we had those in the playroom at our old house.  I have a lot of organizing to do.

Beyond that formal area is the actual living area.

Ignore the totes and empty boxes.  That’s what’s left out of around 250 cartons that we unpacked.  The moving company already came by to get everything else.  We just had a few boxes left of books, and we handled those this weekend.  I’m pretty proud of everything we accomplished in just over a week!  The kitchen cabinets are still a hot mess inside, so that’s definitely on my to-do list.

It’s gorgeous though, and I seriously love it.  We even picked up our new stools on Sunday.  I originally had some kick ass orange ones, but they were way too tall.  And they were discontinued so they didn’t have any left in the right height.  Boo.  It’s okay though – these brown metal bad boys are pretty awesome as well.  And the kids pretty much eat there for every meal.

It’s hard to get the full effect of this living area because I’m missing a chair, rug, some pillows, and the curtains, but there is our new sofa!  I’ll take better pictures when it’s complete.

I ordered another one of the brown swivel chairs to sit next to the first one. (It’s from Pier 1 and they only had one in stock.)  But I’m really bothered by the layout. I think the two chairs should be switched and I should get another patterned chair instead.  J vetoed that idea because he’s already worried about staining the patterned chair.  I dunno.  The good news is that all three pieces of furniture are comfortable as hell.

But can I take a minute to tell you that when they say Hawaii is insanely expensive, they really mean it?  I budgeted like a mad man before moving here and I thought I really grasped the reality of the situation.

I was wrong.

Those two chairs?  They were a full $100 more each here than on the mainland.  Same store – same damn chair.  $100 more.  The counter stools?  $25 more each.  I expected everything to be more – I really did.  But wow.  We are absolutely going to have to adjust our way of living.  Eating out is seriously a thing of the past.  We just can’t do it anymore.  And I had these big dreams of enrolling the kids in surfing lessons immediately.  Nope.  Not going to happen.  Not yet anyway.  We are going to do free shit for a while.

Back to that in a minute.

First, here is my beautiful table and new dining chairs.  We have two more of the blue ones coming too – the white ones will find a new home in the computer area I think.

And lastly (for now), our new bed.  I’m currently rocking a TV tray for my night stand.  It works and I haven’t found what I want yet.  I’m exercising a little patience.

So that’s the update on our place.  We are in the process now of hanging things on the walls.  It’s not fun, but it brings the place together and makes it a home.  I still love it soooo very much.  The only thing missing is our puppies.  Our van even arrived yesterday – we really are living here!  Whew.

Alright, back to the money thing.  I think J and I are both falling into a bit of a funk about it.  It’s scary moving here.  You can plan yourself silly, but it never works out the way you think.  Things are going very very well, and we are really happy.  But actually settling in has proven to be a bit of a process.  I think most of it would be the same anywhere.  There have just been some added expenses because of specifically moving here.  And I know in a few months, it won’t all seem so overwhelming.  Just gotta handle things one baby step at a time.

But because we’ve spent way more money outfitting our place than we anticipated, we have to make some adjustments.  And as a mom, I’m stressing myself out a bit over it.  I don’t want to lessen the kids’ experiences because Mommy wanted a fancy chair in the living room.  But then I think – those same kids have just about everything they could want and in the end, we worked hard to find a home that allowed them each their own room.  So do I need to consume myself with regret over a few things they can’t do?  I don’t know – there isn’t a right answer.

I want to be this perfect parent that doesn’t exist, and sometimes it eats me alive.  I firmly believe in the homeschooling lifestyle we have chosen, but then I often let my fears invade my mind space.  Stepping outside of the box is difficult.  I don’t want to screw up my children.  I really don’t.  But I worry that I am.  Someone close to me recently alluded to the fact that I was being selfish by packing up the children and moving them here.  Maybe I am?  I mean, they seem happy, but will they grow up to resent J and I?

Parenthood is not easy.  I am working hard to be a fulfilled person so that I can effectively teach my kids to be the same in their adult years.  But I can’t give them every experience.  I can’t give them the conventional suburban life and the abstract free bird one as well.  And honestly, it pisses me right the hell off.

I’m trying though.  I think one of the things that has made my life so difficult (emotionally) is that I thought I had to be someone I’m not.  I thought I had to fit into a mold as a daughter, friend, wife, and mom.  And I don’t fit (who the hell does?), so I hated myself for that.  I think when we do things a certain way in life just because that’s how it’s supposed to be done, we screw ourselves.  We enjoy our experiences less because they feel forced.  So that’s my take on parenthood.  I want to fit in conventional childhood things where they are enjoyed, and remove them when they are not.  I want that to make sense more than I can.  Sorry about that.  I always sound as if I’m putting down any style of parenting that doesn’t match my own, and that’s not it at all.  I want us to each parent the way that feels right and natural without fear of judgement or longterm negative consequences.  It’s just not always easy.

I grew up in suburbia, so that’s what I know.  That’s what feels like the normal way to raise your kids even if it isn’t what feels right in my heart.  But lots of kids grow up entirely different than that – in the city, in the country, traveling all over the world – and we have successes and failures all across the board.  The problem with raising children is that they are all vastly different so even when you parent them the same, they will have different views of the experience.  And I guess that’s why I’m struggling. I want to let them each have the experiences that fit them, but I want to do the things that feed my soul (and J’s) as well.  It’s a process.  I haven’t mastered it yet.

So in the interest of conventional things, Audra has a Girl Scout meeting today with her new troop.  I spent way more time than I want to admit yesterday assembling her new Brownie vest.

The iron-on patches were no big deal but the four on the back took me 90 minutes to attach with a needle and thread.  You really can’t even call it sewing because it was more like double stitching here and there.  Ha.

But she is very excited, and I am too.  There are multiple meetings and events in the next month alone.  And because I’m desperately needing to make some damn friends, I’m actually really excited about the family Christmas potluck party in December.

For Austin (and Audra too if she’s interested), we are thinking about doing winter Little League baseball.  There are some serious upsides to this perfect weather – year round outdoor sports! 😉  There is a league on base, but that’s a pretty decent drive from us.  The one here in Ewa Beach is a lot more expensive, but also a lot closer.  Plus, I just found out that a team from here won the LL World Series back in 2005.  Cool, huh?  And maybe a little intimidating.

Aidan tried baseball a few years back and he was not at all into it.  He says he likes playing soccer (they all played a few seasons in Indiana), so we may do that in April for him.  But honestly, he was way more interested in sitting on the bench chatting than actually playing.  So I’m not sure if that’s the route to go.  What I think would be amazing would be to have him be a stat person for a little league football team.  I’m just not sure how to have him go about doing that.  Maybe he would even like doing it for baseball?  Hmmm…  I suppose we could get him a stat book and see how he does on his own for a few games.  No pressure to get the info right either.  That could work.

But we do need to find a way for him to make friends as well.  The other two are outside every single day playing in front of the house.  They’ll talk to anyone and they’ve already made friends with a little toddler a few houses away.  There have been some mad water gun wars happening.  I was hoping there would be more older kids outside playing, but that hasn’t happened yet.  We also haven’t ventured out much in the neighborhood (other than on Halloween) so that may help.

So that’s pretty much everything going on.  I adore blogging.  My head felt so full and confused before I sat down.  My thoughts, worries, and feelings were going in a million directions (as depicted by the disorganization in this post).  Now, I’m feeling more clear about what I need to focus on to get out of this stressed mind space.  I need to take our time here week by week.  I want to organize life to death, and all it does is overwhelm me.  But if we aren’t letting our weekends get away from us – if we are consistently finding fun things to do, then there will be no regrets.  There won’t be any “should’ves” because we will have done everything that our time frame allowed us to do.

And ultimately, I need to cut myself some slack as a parent.  I can’t micromanage their childhoods and I can’t force their success as adults.  I can parent in a way that feels natural, and I can gauge their responses to each experience.  If they’re consistently negative, I need to adjust.  If not, I can continue on that path.  But I have to stop second-guessing my decisions.  It’s not helping me to be the parent I want to be.  It’s not helping me to be the person I want to be.

In addition to that, I have to stop worrying about money.  We are here now, and although I underestimated just how expensive it would all be, it just is.  If, in the end, my budget plans are off by a bit, then they are.  If I spend the next year (or 3) agonizing over our finances, then our time here will have been for nothing.  If I can just ride the wave and love the time we get to be in paradise, then we can just view it as a really extended (and expensive) vacation when we leave.  This has been a chance of a lifetime, and I’m not going to spoil it worrying.

Lastly, I’m already starting to get all Negative Nelly about making friends.  I don’t know what I thought – that as soon as we moved in, women would just start lining up at the door to hang out?  Ha.  I have to put myself out there and I have to be willing to be rejected.  I have an abrasive personality, a trucker’s mouth and as already mentioned, I talk too much.  Not everyone wants to be around that.  Plus, I’m picky too.  So I need to be patient and flexible.  And I have to get over my fear of cooking for others too.

So the outcome of this blog post is that I’ve decided it’s all going to be okay.  I have never before been so absolutely sure that life is what you make of it.  If you ignore the beauty, then life can be quite ugly.  But it’s up to you to switch your view.  Everything in my life is just about perfect, yet I’m finding ways to focus on my fears and the negatives. That’s effing ridiculous.  Who does that?  Well, lots of people do.  But I don’t want to be one of them.

• • • • •

I’m about a week late, but I finally took some updated 2 month post-surgery pictures!  I don’t think my scars look too much different yet.  I’m excited to see how well they fade over the coming year.  And my area in the back is still open, but it’s less than a half inch long now and not very deep.  So I’m hoping it closes soon.

You can definitely see I’ve gained weight since surgery – specifically in my hip/thigh area.  Wow.  But, my swelling has gone down some so that’s a plus.  It’s still there – especially right above my pubic area.

I’m really impressed with the scars on my breasts.  I’m pretty sure I’ve described them before, but they go around my areolae and then straight down.  Then the lines meet an upturned arc underneath that goes the length of each breast.  At first, the incisions were dimpled in, but that is lessening.  As I’ve mentioned before, they don’t match exactly, but overall I’m very happy.

And that’s my surgery update – I still have numbness and occasional thigh soreness, but it’s no biggie.

• • • • •

I really am going to try to get better about blogging.  If I’d written all this out days ago, I could have saved myself some time stressing out.  Check ya later gators.