Ella Anne now rides on her own. She just started a few weeks ago. She’s more comfortable on a smaller bike which make the riding a little awkward for her long legs, but she’s working on her bigger bike as well. She’s not yet gung ho about riding, but now there’s a moment of consideration about which method of locomotion to use when we go to the park. I’m so pleased.
One of the subsequent days, we went to Hapuna Beach, which is a state park and has easy car access, showers, and even some vendors. The day wasn’t clear, but 78F is still 78F, and the water was still delightful. There was wind, which created some copy surf, but we still enjoyed the expansive beach. Later that night, we decided to take in a Luau; the preliminary activities were fun enough, but the actual show was kind of a turd. Michelle and my parents had all been to a Luau before and thought the food and show was lacking by comparison. I thought the food was just fine, but the “Freedom cost a buck ‘o five” God/Country Music/USA song was both so bad and out of place that my meal was in peril. I guess they know their audience though, because everyone else thought the jingoistic number fit right in with the “tour of Micronesia” theme. We then left shortly after Ella got scared by a Tongan warrior dancer who nearly collided with her and he weaved through the audience making menacing gestures. I can see how she might have been a little scared, but I thought it was amusing.
We continued our tour of beaches with Kahalu’u Beach Park, where we rented a boogie board with a viewing glass so Ella could see fish. Despite swimming lessons from a young age and constant bath-taking, she’s surprisingly timid around water. Still, she enjoyed the view, and Michelle and I were delighted to be in the warm ocean with our little girl. We almost collided with a turtle too, but my spastic response scared both the turtle and Ella, who was done being in the water. We moved north up the highway to the next beach which was very sandy and the surf was high. We did some body surfing, saw some dolphins, and played in the sand.
On a couple of the evenings, we wandered in to town to check out the shops and restaurants, occasionally taking in a meal. Downtown Kailua is quaint, friendly, and somewhat rundown. I’m not sure if this was purely a reflection of some local economic change, the larger economics of the world, of if vacationers had just simply reached the critical mass for T-shirts and “local art.”
I think my favorite beach (except Makalawena) was Mauna Kea Beach. It’s adjacent to a resort/golf club, but that doesn’t ruin the excellent view of the northern knob of the island, the delicious water, and trees overhanging the sand. We set up our blankets underneath a sort of locust tree and were shaded the entire time, which is good, because I think they take your infant away if you get it sunburned. We played in the surf, both girls thoroughly enjoying the warm water and gentle waves. The snorkeling was actually quite good around the rock/reef on the south end of the beach. Plenty of sea life, reef, and no one got hit by an errant golf ball.
My favorite snorkeling was actually at “Place of Refuge,” a rocky bay that is teeming with life, and where the sea floor dives to about 80 feet just off the shore. There’s a cool set of steps in the rocks (accidental, mind you) at the north end of the bay where you can drop in to the water. You’re immediately greeted by schools of yellow tangs, and if you follow the shore along the north end of the bay, there’s just too much to see. The coral is fascinating and hides so many little creatures which you don’t notice until you get close. Swim out towards the middle of the bay and you watch the coral drop quickly in to the beautiful blue abyss. I hurt my ears several times trying to really get down deep because the scale of the place misleads you about how big the place is. Plus, I wanted to try and reach the dive mustering spot with the word “ALOHA” spelled out in cinderblocks. My dad and I visited twice, the second time everyone else joined us. We also visited the National Park facility there at the place of refuge.
But like all good things, the end came, and we boarded our respective flights home. Grandma and Grandpa took off on the Blue and White plane, and we boarded ours. The trip home still went really well, though it’s possible that the effort of keeping two children happy on a 6 hour flight erases at least some of the relaxation we’d escaped for. Madeline was awake for most of the flight home, and really didn’t care to be seated much. When we finally arrived in Seattle, everyone was hungry, and all the restaurants were closing or closed. After a sleepy flight back to Portland, we were home, and only had to stomach two days of work before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Madeline passed her 6 month mark last week, and had her 6 month checkup last night. She’s doing fantastic considering the spook we had going in to the delivery, and the whole dusky thing. Now she’s a vibrant, healthy, and DAMN tall little girl. Like her sister, she’s off the chart for height (I think you’re in the 100th percentile if you’re off the chart), 50th percentile for weight, and slowly increasing to roughly 35th percentile for head size. There’s a long running joke in our family about head size, though it’s clearly not been a handicap for my brilliant wife. Still, she’ll have an easier time finding sunglasses and hats if she continues to trend upwards.
Six months is such a joy. Madeline is rolling, laughing, grasping, drooling, and now she’s starting to eat soft foods. So far, the feedings are more like the 19th hole on a mini-golf course: you try in vain to get the ball in the hole, but it keeps rolling back down the hill. Though in this case, there’s a giant tongue trying to push you down the hill as well. The food ends up severely diluted with saliva, the bib ends up in her mouth, and the energy spent is equivalent to the energy gained.
I think Ella appreciates 6 months as well. She has been very patient with Madeline, and now she’s finally getting some of the reward. Ella can make her little sister laugh like no one else. Madeline’s eyes are glued to Ella when she’s dancing or playing, and we hope indicates what their relationship will be like.
Today was my first day back at work. We’ve not yet developed routine, but this morning we probably started something like one. It was a hybrid of what mornings were like 2 months ago and what mornings were like last week. Amazingly, we made it though – dog got walked, kids were fed, Michelle and I each ate something and took steps towards getting caffeine. The hard part was actually leaving my girls to rejoin the workforce. The shuttle ride to work was quite sad, partly because I didn’t recognize anyone, and partly because I’d grown accustomed to being around my family.
The day picked up though because my office mate put cookies on my desk. Breakfast cookies and coffee rock. The rest of the morning was like a light version of a regular day because no one knew I was back, and because my phone system wouldn’t allow anyone to leave voicemail.
It was nice to be back though, in some ways. I know this is a really loaded thing to say, but it was really nice to think again. I like my job and trying to do it from home with two kids was difficult and frustrating. That being said, if Michelle steps up and becomes my sugar-mamma, I’m all about going stay-at-home.
So, here comes the rest of our lives.