Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mahalo, Mamaw

We just had one of the best vacations of my life!

My Mom (aka Mamaw) turned 65 this year and for her birthday, she decided that she wanted to take her family to Hawaii for a week.  I know, crazy right?  I remind you that this is the woman that drives an hour each way every week to give us a date night.  I am forever racking my brain to figure out how to pay her back for the weekly generosity.  After this trip, I have a monumental challenge.

This post should also be "Mahalo, Laura".  Laura made it possible for me to have one of the best vacations of my life with Simon there.  While I was reveling in the delight of the warm, tropic breezes and enjoying our excursions , she continued to manage all the logics of Simon's care.  She blended and froze*6* double batches of his food in the short week between this trip and the trip we had the week before to Albuquerque.  She made sure all his documents for travel were up to date.  When we were out and about in Hawaii, her internal clock kept Simon's feeds and meds and (potential) naptimes happening when they needed to happen.  She calculated how much colder the ice packs were that we brought and if we were out, how far in advance his food needed to get off the ice pack so his food wasn't frozen when it was time for a feed.  She kept Simon and his care front and center in her mind on this trip as she does always, and it gave me the space to have an amazing experience.  And, as you might imagine, keeping track of all those details in a new place, with 5 other people in the mix made for a trip that was not as relaxing and enjoyable as my experience.  She still had fun, but it really wasn't DOWN TIME.  I think any primary parent will attest that traveling with your charges, even if the locale is beautiful, is a little like taking your laptop to the beach.  The scenery is pretty but you still have to work.   It was a learning lesson for me.  Figuring out how to take more of those pieces on is something I really want to be mindful of on our next vacation.

 

 

Saturday (6/23)

We (me, Laura, Simon, my Mom, my stepdad, my Aunties Judy and Kris) all met at the Oakland airport in the morning to wing our way to the island of Hawaii.  After an uneventful flight (Simon napped!) we landed in warm, sunny Kona at noon, with a full day ahead of us.  We got our rental cars and headed out to our amazing condos at Holua Resort at Mauna Loa Village. Ours was a gorgeous 1 bedroom bigger than our apartment at home, with a full kitchen, king bed and best of all, a fold out couch in the living room, which meant that we got to sleep in a different room from Simon for a week.  Ahhhhh sleep. 

We hit the grocery store, came home to unpack and then went out for some of the best Thai food ever.  After lunch, we went for a dip in one of the *8* pools in the complex. Laura and I put Simon to bed and then headed out to our balcony to read for a bit in the warm night air.  It was delightful. 
View from our balcony
Directly under our balcony
 
Living room of other condo

Pool directly outside our unit
 As you can see, it was a pretty awesome place to stay!

 

 

Sunday (6/24)

Despite the fact that Simon woke up at 3:30 a.m. due to the time change, we had a great day.  We watched tennis players right outside our condo (Simon is a little obsessed).  We also learned about a new game called Pickleball that I describe as a senior citizen version of a cross between tennis and ping pong.  Simon could not get enough of Pickleball.  Like, ever.  We sat for an hour at a time watching people play.  I'm all about free, convenient entertainment for my kid, so it was awesome.

We went to beach with a totally treacherous way in (craggy lava insanity) but it was worth it.  Simon played in the shallows with me and every one else took turns snorkeling.  While my Mom was hanging onto a boogie board, a dog climbed up her back to get onto the board.  While she got a pretty good scratch, my Mom (and the rest of us) thought it was bizarre and quite hilarious.  Surfer dogs.  Gotta love Hawaii. 

We forgot to take pics.  Oops!

 

Monday (6/25)

 Our first venture to the local beach looked like this: 

Yep, that's a big ole sea turtle.  RIGHT THERE.  

It also looked like this:



Famous Hawaiian Shave Ice
That night, we went out to dinner to celebrate my Mom's birthday (it was May 11th, but it's never to late to celebrate). We had tasty food and an amazing view of the sunset and a garden for Simon to romp around in with his aunties when he got tired of sitting.
Auntie Judy and Simon checking the garden

Simon next to fresh lemongrass growing.  I had no idea that's what it looked like!
 

The FJ Family with Grandpa Eddie

 

Tuesday (6/26)

This day was totally over the top.  Simon and Laura had a 9:15 a.m. appointment with a dolphin.  No joke.

First we drove through what looked like moonscape to get to the Waikoloa Hilton.

We were in a hurry to get there so that Simon and Laura  could get up close and personal with dolphins.







video

We rented a room for the day (who knew you could do that!) so we could have  a fridge for Simon's food, showers and a place to take a nap if we needed to.
View from the balcony of our room
View from the front door of our room
Then we went swimming in the amazing pools




Swimming is HARD work!
 


Please note my step-father in my Mother's hat in the background
 

Some of us went down waterslides:
video
video

That afternoon, our friend Chewy, who lives on the other side of the island (a few hours away), flew in from a visit to California and crashed with us for a few nights so she wouldn't have to drive back any forth before her Mom flew in on Thursday.
Laura, Chewy, Mamaw

 

Wednesday (6/27)

Chewy brought coconuts, avocados and mangos in the back of her truck.  And a machete.

Simon, chilling in the parking lot drinking fresh coconut water from a bamboo straw Chewy happened to have in her truck. I love a prepared woman!
In the morning we went to a Farmer's Market and cracked fresh macadamia nuts, samples bizarro fruits and poked around at odds and ends.  That afternoon, we went to a playground and Simon ran around like a wild man.

 Later that day, we went into the town of Kona and stopped in a Flea Market to get fresh fruit.  We got mangos, mountain apples, lychees and pineapple.  The woman threw in a free strawberry papaya just because.  They were all awesome.  We walked around Kona for a while:

Beautiful flowers everywhere!
video

 Simon, goofing in Kona

 

Thursday 6/28

This day was not so good.  In the morning as we were planning our day, my Mother began to have chest pain with pain radiating down her arm. I sat through a "Women and Heart Disease" lecture about 15 times at a former job and the thing I remember most was that women often have vague symptoms, don't want to bother anyone and often don't go to the hospital to get help until there is already damage.  We talked about what to do for about 5 minutes before I made the executive decision that we were calling 911.

My stepdad and I spent all day in the ER of the podunk Community Hospital with my Mom while they ran all sorts of tests.  The highlight was the "IV intepretive dance" I created on the spot to distract my Mom while they put a bigger bore IV in so they could do a CT with contrast on her lungs.

The low points were listening to all the trauma and drama around us.  There was some nasty stuff going on, including the middle aged woman we were sharing the tiny curtained off area getting diagnosed with, wait for it...Congestive Heart Failure.  I felt a little lightheaded with that gone. There was also a young guy with some major trauma who ended up getting intubated.  I was really ready to get the hell out of there. (FYI, she ended up getting discharged the next morning with antibiotics for a suspected lung infection and started feeling better within 24 hours.)

When I was home that night after my stepdad came back to be with my Mom at the hospital, I just sat in the car with Laura and cried uncontrollably for about 5 minutes.  It was kind of bizarre and totally the appropriate response given the PTSD we likely both have from Simon's hospital time.

We decided to go to Kona and walk around town to clear my head.  It was perfect.

Iris, an incredibly sweet Israeli woman we met who was working at a shop on the strip.  We stopped and chatted for at least 30 minutes.  Of course, she fell in love with Simon.
 





Simon was desperate to see hula dancers and we managed to actually find a Luau across a little inlet and "poached" some hula.

Friday 6/29

We found the MOST amazing playground on this day





Each picnic table is in the shape of one of the islands
 

Picnic tables in the shape of each of the islands

Hand carved portraits of each of the kings and queens of Hawaii


We also got Simon some up close and personal hula at the shopping center near our condo.  The video didn't turn out so well from this, but Simon dug it.

This night Laura and Ed went on a night snorkel to swim with Manta Rays in the ocean!  No pics of this, but Laura said it was amazing and she had a 9 foot diameter ray inches from her.

No pics from their adventure, but for the record, this is what they were swimming with:
http://www.honusports.com/HonuImages/mantaray.jpg

Saturday 6/30

This day we went to a cultural festival at a fascinating place called The City of Refuge.  This is the blurb from the National Park Site to explain what it represents:
Imagine you had just broken the sacred laws, the Kapu, and the only punishment was death.  Your only chance of survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the Pu'uhonua, a place of refuge.  The Pu'uhonua protected the kapu breaker, civilians during the time of war and the defeated warriors.  No harm could come to those who reached the boundaries of the place of refuge.




Mom making a beautiful garland for her hat.
 

Cool sand wheelchairs!

Kava (an herb often used to help reduce anxiety/insomnia).  Usually drunk in Hawaiian culture as part of a ritual but they were just serving samples.
Simon trying Kava.  It made my tongue and throat numb for a while but I sure felt mellow!





Simon fell asleep on the way home so we went to the South Kona Fruit Stand where we got mangosteen, rose apples, mangos, soursop, passion fruit, loquats and apple bananas.  Yum. Laura fell in love with this kittie there:

That afternoon, Laura, my Mom, Simon and I went to a beach that was less for snorkeling and more for waves.  Holy crap.  It was 10% fun and 90% terrifying for me (I'm a chicken when it comes to the ocean) but Simon LOVED it.  Twice he got slammed by a wave and knocked under (well, the adult holding him did-  once me and once my Mom- and he went under too) and each time, once he stopped sputtering, he demanded, "BACK IN THE WATER".  He is Laura's boy, that's for dang sure.
Simon and Laura post-ocean, both with slightly maniacal looks on their faces
video 
Video of Simon surfing the waves
Please notice my dorky sun protection suit and glowing white legs and then notice the color of my son's legs.  Redhead at the beach v. Laura's genes at the beach.
Laura managed to even surf a little with our boogie board!
video
That night my Mom gave Laura and I date night and we went back into Kona and had some of the best fresh Ahi tuna (caught that morning) and walked around town once more.

Sunday 7/1

On our last day, Auntie Kris sprung for us to take a *Submarine* ride and go over 100 feet down in the water.  It was so cool!
Real, live shipwreck. 


Me, muffling Simon's very loud singing on the very small submarine
Laura and Simon on the boat to the sub

Mamaw and the Aunties on the boat to the submarine
Simon, on the boat to the submarine
When we got off the boat, we saw a big crowd gathered at the beach just across the parking lot from the dock.  Turns out there was a very rare monk seal chilling on the beach!  I found out later it was incredibly rare to get this close because there is a state law that mandates a 100 foot distance from them if you see them.  The line the marine specialist on scene drew was only about 10 feet and then at one point, the seal started halumphing up the beach directly at us (I got up with Simon and booked it) but it was only about 5 feet away for a few seconds.


Finally, just before we drove to the airport, Laura made a run here for the most amazing fresh poke (the tender delicious bits of fish left on the skeleton after a fish is filleted).
The plane was a bit late but I could care less because the waiting area is outside and it was a gorgeous day.  The flight was uneventful and thankfully the last half of the flight looked like this:
We got in at around midnight (ouch) and couldn't go to sleep until about 2 a.m. so the wake up at 6:30 the next morning (which was really 3:30 a.m. Hawaii time) really hurt.  But honestly, SO WHAT?  We got to go to HAWAII!!!!

Written by:
Jaime