Ho Ho Oh No...

My quasi-New Year's Resolution (in addition to the usual things like losing weight, listening more than I talk, dancing like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction) is to attempt to write my blog at least once a week. This might be an epic fail type resolution, seeing as how I am now Mommy to four, but I will go for the win.

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. Ours started out fairly well with my mom, Steve, and Hannah coming to visit. The kids had all had some chest congestion, but they saw the doctor the day before and I wasn't too worried. Until about 5 on Tuesday. James was struggling a little bit so I took him to the doctor again. She saw him and had me take him to the Emergency Room for chest x-ray and RSV test. I took him and they did all kinds of test. They took blood cultures and saliva cultures and Culture Clubs. They tested for influenza and RSV and gave him an IV and put an oxygen hood over his little melon. And decided they would keep him. For 48 hours. They gave us a nice bed in the ICU.

So my son spent his first Christmas in the ICU. And while because my mom was here, I still got to open presents with the other kids and eat Christmas dinner with other people, I still feel that my Christmas wasn't just different, but a dismal failure. It could have been worse, I tell myself, it could have been a lot worse. The doctor even reminded me how much worse it could have been. She said she was so thankful that I had thought to bring him in because most times people just go with the wait and see approach, which would have meant a VERY different Christmas. I am usually a big fan of this approach, but this time I wasn't. For whatever reason, I called the doctor.

The nurses were mostly good. Everyone was helpful. Some even a little too helpful what with waiting until my poor sick boy was asleep to strip all his clothes off and weigh him, thus waking him up again. The Respiration Therapy nurse and Liz, my day nurse, asked for permission to suction out his lungs and I said okay, so for Christmas, my son had a tube shoved down his nose. And it worked. After that he started to get better. The doctor finally decided on bronchialitis until the labs came back. The tests said he had some pnuemococcal-I can't pronounce what this is-thing. Which is a virus that the older kids brought home from school and James was just too little to stave off. And had he been just a month older would have had a vaccine for.

They let us go on Boxing Day and he is 100% better, so I will try really hard not to complain that my Christmas sucked hard and welcome the New Year with open arms.

And pray that it goes better than last year which pretty much sucked.


Oh holy crap...our first trip to the store sans anyone who can actually hold Ruth.

So about two months ago, I got this fabulous idea (no, no, I am being serious). Why buy a carrier/snugli/sling/two kid stroller when I can just sew a sling for cheaper and be done with it? And thus, my very own slingy-thing was born and it was even in fact cheaper which is sometimes not the case when you are sewing things. Especially if you mess up. With 5 yards of fabric. Anyhoo, today I decided I could no longer stand to be cooped up in my house with Ruth and James and I needed to get some Christmas gifts anyway and I want to travel a bit so I will go to the Border's in Hilo.

I am supergenius. Gaze on me and despair.

I put James in the slingy thing. It works absolutely fab-oo. He is so snug he continues sleeping as though nothing had happened. I get out Ruth. Everything is still good. We enter the Border's.

All cohesion breaks down.

Okay, so it wasn't quite that bad. Except as I entered, I realized I would have to go to the bathroom with a baby strapped to my chest. And I had forgotten how hard it is to chase said small person around with a baby strapped to your chest. And manage to do some shopping at the same time. Paying is especially interesting. No, I don't need anything else. I (and every other person in the store) would just like to pay and be done please. Here's my money, take it!

But all in all, Ruth did very well. Including the full body sprawl in the parking lot where I had to pick her up.

With a baby strapped to my chest.


James Kekoa Barrett

December 3, 2008 at 12:00am
6 lbs. 12 oz.
20 1/2 inches


First off, everything's fine.

Just so no one worries. On Friday, I came down with a nasty stomach flu that had me throwing up every 45 minutes. I finally gave in and went to the hospital at 630pm because everytime I threw up the absolutely nothing in my stomach, I would then get this really sharp stabby pain across the top of my stomach.

So they hooked me up to the monitors and discovered that the sharp stabby pain was in fact labor. Which is in fact a bad thing at 35 weeks. Because I was so dehydrated, I went into labor. Who knew? And at 35 weeks, a delivery would mean flying the baby back to Oahu. That's no good.

So they hooked me up to an IV. They gave me some pills which I threw up. Ohmigosh, how I hate throwing up. Especially since I was nine months long morning sickness pregnant with Owen and now when I throw up it's, "holy crap my stomach is coming out of my throat and I am choking to death, pounding on the floor, because I can't BREATHE!!!!" So they gave me some shots instead. One to stop throwing up and three to stop the labor which I was to frickin' exhausted to fight off anymore. So then I became Stoner Sara because those non-puking drugs always make you high as a kite, but then the non-labor drugs made me like a speed freak junkie with the shakes. And of course the non-labor drugs pump up your heart rate which pumps up the baby's heart rate which means...a whole night of observation in a crampy non comfortable, not made for eight months pregnant woman's back, totally too short bed. They finally let us go at 7 the next morning.

So I am trying to ignore that my house is in shambles, there is a monumentous pile of laundry stacking up, we cannot eat because all the dishes are dirty, and I must still drive Owen to school. Abra sadly cannot go because...

Now Abra is sick.


Help! Help!

I am 30.

When did this happen? Was I sleeping? How did I get to be 30?

I don't feel old (which is good) and I am not really upset (which is better), but I am still curious that time seems to have taken a giant leap from 22 to 30. Okay, maybe frightened is a better word than curious. Because if it leaps like this for the next eight years, holy crap, I will almost be forty!

Ah well. At least I still look 17. Right? Right? Just smile and nod, damnit.


The Carving of the Pumpkins

And so begins the delectable delights of the season. With purchased pumpkins from Foodland, at a totally abysmal price of $0.59 a pound, having not been able to arrange the pumpkin patch this year, we commence the holidays. I have always wondered at the Harvest Celebration ritual in which you force a gourd to reliquish its innards in the name of all things ghoulish. But oh, how I love the smell of burning pumpkin. And the squishy-ness. And how Owen always says, "I want to do it all myself." Yet I have never bought that fourth pumpkin for myself. This year, he at least deigned to spoon out some guts. Which Ruth promptly ate. And ate. And ate some more. I was at a loss as to how exactly I could stop her when I was covered in orange goo. Eventually, the high chair came into my view, and with a cookie, the pumpkin feast ceased.
Abra did an awesome job, all by herself. It's the squinty one on the right. Jeff's is on the left; he said he was going for maniacal laughter, but stopped just short at crazy giggle. Mine, I mean, Owen's, is the one that apparently looks like he's been sipping the pumpkin beer. Just one more round, friend. Owen always wants one that looks like the one Lucy draws on Charlie Brown's head, but I just can't bring myself to carve that many triangles so we settle for, "how many teeth do you want?"
I love this time of year. Even when the leaves don't change colors.


Just another manic, uh...Wednesday.

Today I am officially 31 weeks despite being in denial that I am pregnant at all. Ruth and I went for our walk down Mud Lane (yes, that is its real name) where she decided about 1/4 of the way to not walk anymore, thank you very much, and you will please carry me all the way home. Where is the stroller, you ask? We never want to stay IN the stroller so Mommy very foolishly decided that we would try out just doing the walk. Yes, I hear you all laughing together. So we rode mom's shoulders all the way home as that seemed like the best option. Almost four kids and I still choose poorly. Stop laughing, I mean it.
The doctors have moved me to getting seen every two weeks and I go to my diabetic lady before I see them. We have another ultrasound scheduled for the 28th of this month, when I will be roughly 34 weeks and still heavy in denial. I can however still see my toes. Perhaps this is a good thing as it means I have not gained very much weight and we are all proponents of that.
We are starting to think quite seriously about building a house here. This seems quite well, ridiculous in light of recent economic events. In fact, it seems kind of stupid. There seem to be lots of things that our little family could do, but not one concrete thing that we should do. This one however, does seem to be the best option. For now (cue the scary music). Since Jeff is in construction and knows all the right people for that, building seems to be better than buying for us. In the meantime, we will save our pennies (and nickles and quarters and benjamin's) and wait for as close to the right time as possible. Whatever that is.
While we are saving our pennies, we will continue to enjoy those things which are unique to living here as the right thing might be something else later. We will go to the beach in October and pick pumpkins from the patch in Hawi after. We will eat Chicken Katsu before we go trick or treating in Waikoloa, study the ancient hawaiian navigation techniques in Hilo and have cheeseburgers, and we will enjoy what we can with the time that is given us.


The County Fair

So, then...moving on.

Today we went to the County Fair and Owen got on his very first big person scary ride. Jeff made him sit in the back of the big rocking boat thingy. Which left him exiting the ride like screeching banshee. Sitting in between Grandma and Grandpa, clutching Grandma's shirt for dear life, wailing in full volume; it was a complete repeat of Abra last year. This year she went on the Zipper and pronounced it awesome. Jeff has turned them into *gasp* amusement park groupies!

Not that I am complaining. Ruth and I stood nearby in the shade as it was just downright frickin' scorching. In Hilo! The city with the most rainfall in the US! Not a single damn cloud! Exclamation Point!!! But apparently we have climatized enough or our sunblock was extreme as none of us are burnt. Ruth pet a chicken but that one was free; the rest of the petting zoo cost $3. Hell, we could have gone to the real zoo and pet animals for free. She did not enjoy that cottony part of the cotton candy, but the turny dragons kicked butt.

Seriously, it was too hot to eat anything. Or move. And it wasn't big enough of a fair to go do that fun crafty stuff that I like, but we had fun. With funnel cake.


Well, it's official...

It took three years, but it finally happened. I am the big, ugly, white man. Despite not being big, ugly, or a man. Or even all white. I got called a haole today outside of KTA supermarket. Since most of my family doesn't know what Haole means, a quick description: Haole typically means foreigner, but over the years it has become derogatory. Almost like calling someone a n*****.

Part of me wants to laugh about it. I have been inducted. I have surpassed tourist status and remained long enough for slurs about my non-brownness to head my way. And maybe tomorrow I can. I am still too mad right now. I realize, in the grand scheme of things, three years in one place is a bit of a joke but for our family, it's tantamount to homesteading. We're always moving.

It wasn't improved by the fact that I was on the phone with Jeffery talking about how we couldn't go to the camping site we originally chose because a white guy sitting around the campfire with his family got the shit beat out of him by six "Natives" who materialized out of the darkness. How I hate that fucking word. Native. We are all native. Native to planet Earth. Despite not having EVER treated someone poorly because their skin was a different color. Despite being a good law abiding citizen, contributing to the economy, sending my kids to public school, shopping for local goods. Despite an attempt to respect and learn and grow about a different culture. Oh no, it doesn't matter because I am a haole. Fuck that. Sorry to be so crude, but FUCK THAT. If staying in one place long enough to birth two babies and buy groceries for four children and say hi to my neighbors and go to church isn't enough to make this a home, then what is? Oh, respect the 'aina, respect the 'aina. And on my walk today, next to the horses is a used condom. Who the hell put that on Mud Lane?! Some bike riding tourist stopping long enough to get it on? Bull. Bitch and excuse and condemn me all you want, but I sure as hell wasn't leaving my car battery on the side of the road, was I? I was walking across a parking lot with my children and you almost back up into my daughter, but I'm the interloper of doom? I sent the smallpox and leprosy to decimate your ancestors specifically so I could arrive two hundred years later and own the asphalt. Kiss my technicolor ass.

Alright, that's enough ranting, but it was rather upsetting. Like finding a worm in my pristine apple. Okay more like walking straight into a telephone pole covered in dog shit, but nevermind. I love it here. And not just because it's "pretty." I love everything about here. And I thought...I thought...I don't even know what I thought. Yes I do. I thought this was my home. More than almost any other place I have ever lived. Silly me. I am just a haole.


I killed me some chickens!

So now, as the world approaches the Apocolypse, I am prepared. It is a good thing that my morning sickness has ended as friends Becca and Matt had some chickens to kill and asked me if I wanted to help. I said yes and am still not sure if that was a good plan or not. It was actually shockingly easy. First is the slaughter of the innocent poultry. Okay, so not really, but they opted for the cutting of the throat method as hatchets were not available. Then we scalded and plucked. These chickens had actually been Easter presents so underneath their lovely white feathers, there was a soft down of blue or purple or green. It was quite sad at that point. But our lust for blood did not pause and we moved quickly onto the removal of the innards which, in truth, was the grossest part. I will spare you the details.
I took home Mr. Purple and made curry. He was extremely tasty, but I did have a hard time near the end. So, I have learned a worthwhile skill and if you look close, you can see that I did it in slippah. If I can cook, so can you, Choy Gin!


Ruthie's 1st Birthday

Last Saturday we celebrated Ruthie's 1st birthday with BBQ on the beach. Our big girl got very sandy and ate watermelon and chicken. She wasn't too sure about the potato salad, but hey, neither was I as it came from Costco. Dad scoped out the beach and set up two tables with food and drink; he got to the beach at the ripe hour of eight, but we didn't have to come until ten. Abra got to bring her friend and Owen got to bring his boogie board, so all were pleased. I am not sure the kids even came out of the water, except to eat and get lotioned up, but Owen got pretty burnt anyway.

Lots of friends came and helped us eat an enormous chocolate cake with equally enormous frosting balloons on them. Think 1/2 inch thick. It was downright scary. Ruth actually was too full to eat any cake. Either that or the sand was just too much fun. We went swimmies and she kicked beautifully. Everyone had great fun and returned home asleep.

And then there were presents.



On the 16th, we left for Oahu and the boat, Dorcas.

I love Dorcas. Were she not docked in Ala Wai, I would want to buy her and live on her. Forever. And I have never been on her in the open water. I love Dorcas.

Aside from that, we had a very nice family time. On the 17th, we went to the MALL. I always think of it that way, in capital letters, for capitalism. The Ala Moana MALL is freakin' enormous. And has actually gotten bigger. Yet, I digress. We took Connie with us to spend money. Aside from Ruth being rauchy when Abra was trying on pants, and announcing to the entire food court how hungry she was watching Owen eat his pizza, it went pretty well.

The next day the kids and I walked to Magic Island while Jeff worked off our trip welding on the boat. I had forgotten how rocky it was. Ruth proceeded to try and eat all the rocks off of it. So I took her swimming in the freezing cold ocean. We had a blast and by the time we got back to the boat, it was officially hot. And sweaty. We walked down Waikiki and had dinner at Yardhouse. Connie got the most gigantically large pot pie I have ever seen, through no fault of her own. Seriously, they should warn people when they order that thing. At least six people could have eaten it. And gotten stuffed. But the blue crab hoagie rocked. And the sweet potato fries kicked butt.

Finally, on Saturday, we went to the Kokua festival. Jeff and Connie left early and so we used them and cut in line. What slacker cheaters we are. Anyhoo, we found the Keiki Corner almost immediately and the kids proceeded to make recycled cardboard butterflies and fish for pencils. Some concert promoter person was up on stage yakking away about rubbish and then she said for all the parents to move back for a "special guest." Jack Johnson came and played Curious George songs for only the kids and Owen got to be on stage with all the other kids and Jack. It was schweet. But really, Dave and Tim were the best part. I love Dave and Tim.

All in all, it was a very kewl first concert experience for three very tired children riding the bus home from the Waikiki Shell. And really, what else could you ask for?


A Cultural Kind of Day

After a leisurely morning spent around the house, the family and I traveled to the Amy Greenwell Botanical Gardens. It always strikes me as quaint when I expect a large sign or parking lot and end up with a tiny dirt road to a grassy area. I enjoy the Big Island immensely when these things happen. It amplifies the sense of adventure I was looking for when I sent out for most of these places. We spent a lunchtime eating sandwiches on the seat of our van and studying the various trees that surrounded it. Ruth ate some grass along with her cracker and Owen decided to not finish. Abra was excited to show us around as she had already been there on a field trip. I tried not to picture a group of sixty fourth grade students milling about aimlessly and shattering the quiet. We began our small trek through the Gardens by seeing the Taro plant and finished with a plant that makes a small paintbrush-looking seed. As it is still very early in the spring, most of the flowers and smells were not doing more than poking through. The highlight of our journey was the Papala Kapau tree whose sticky seed pods were once used to catch birds by the Native Islanders. Jeff chose to see just how sticky that actually was. By the time we walked away, he had practically a whole bush attached to his foot. It was fantastic.
After the Gardens, we drove down to Pu'uhonua O Honaunau, or as it is more commonly known by its haole name, the City of Refuge. We spent a whopping $5 on entering the parking lot full of rental cars. The Ranger at the gate was so excited that Abra had brought us back to the park with her, I fear that this cultural landmark is not visited very often by locals. Which, to be sure, is a shame. I am not sure what I was expecting from my Kmart bought book of travels, but it certainly wasn't the sense of peace that permeated from the sand. I could actually hear time stop and it was music through palm leaves. At least until the quintessential American tourist walked by, complete with non-rubbed in suntan lotion and overlarge sunglasses, to jump in the ocean after crossing the Royal grounds. Ah well, I suppose we all look like that in other places. Might as well wear big signs on our backs.
As we were driving back up the hill, we decided to stop at the Painted Church. On a quiet hillside, with an abundance of flowering shrubs, sits a tiny white chapel. Inside it has been painted with biblical scenes both of Grandeur (capital G, of course) and Sadness (might as well be fair and capitalize that too). There is a small winding staircase to the loft where once one rang the bell to come to church. It made me ponder how people used to just be smaller. Like my mother and stepfather probably couldn't have made it up if they tried. Not that you can go up. We signed the guestbook as Barrett Ohana.
I marvel at how although we have lived many other places, until we lived on the Big Island we never really explored the heritage of the area we lived in. It's something that says to me that here we can have a home. I wonder sometimes about all of the things that make me want to move elsewhere: more money, more time, a house of our own, infringing on the Native Hawaiians. But here is the first place we have ever actually made a life and I cannot help but feel it is because in some way we belong here. I thought all these things while we stopped to get pizza on the way home.