We’ll always have Maui

In retrospect, the timing of our trip to Maui was quite serendipitous. We’ve since wondered aloud if I’d been laid off before we were set to go if indeed we would have gone, and the answer is always yes. A lot of our trip was pre-paid and non-refundable, and my mom was to fly up from California to watch Rowan while we were gone, so it would’ve been silly to waste the opportunity. Would we have dropped $200 on dinner at Mama’s Fish House while we were there? Maybeee not.

Yes, given what was to happen a few days upon our return, the timing of our trip to Maui was very fortunate. Despite Roth coming down with the flu (yes, the flu-flu) the night before we left (and my unfortunate experience with snorkeling), we really did have a wonderful time.

We stayed at an adorable cottage tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy parts of the island. It was very peaceful and serene, and just perfect for us.

Cottage_Front

Cottage_Hibiscus

We ate at amazing restaurants, including the famed Mama’s, but the highlight of the trip was dinner at Hali’imaile General Store.

General Store_Mahi

Ulilanis_Shave ice2

Surfing Goat_Cheese flight

We marveled at awesome vistas, including from 10,000 feet above the island (and clouds) in Haleakala National Park, and the unexpectedly treacherous Hwy 340, which made the Road to Hana seem like a Sunday stroll in the park.

Haleakala_Belly

Haleakala_View

Hwy 340_View2

Hwy 340_Vista

(Much more Maui here.)

***
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank the people who helped make our trip a reality.

First and foremost, there’s my mom, who agreed to come to Seattle in the middle of January to stay at our place with Rowan for five nights. The timing of HER trip was a bit tricky, since she’d just started a job a few days before, but thankfully her new place of employment was understanding of her pre-existing plans, and it was not a big deal for her to be away.

Rowan and my mom got along famously, mostly just hanging out at home because it was bitterly cold that week. That same Friday while I was hyperventilating in the Pacific Ocean, Rowan came down with a stomach bug (again), but my mom handled it well, despite his barfing all over the living room of my mom’s friend’s house. Oy. My cousin Julia, who works as a nurse in Seattle, deserves a shoutout, too, for bringing over Pedialyte and chicken noodle soup for the little sickie.

It was the last time my mom will see Rowan before Baby #2 is born, so I’m pretty sure she enjoyed all the one-on-one time she got with him. I’m pretty sure he enjoyed all that time with his Beppe, too.

Thanks also to Roth’s parents, his brother and his grandmother for helping fund the trip. As aforementioned, we got to eat out at some high-end places and drive all over the island in a rental car, something I don’t think we could’ve done so liberally without that financial support.

Lastly, a HUGE thanks to Roth, who despite feeling like utter crap the first two days we were there, rallied (with the help of Dayquil) to make sure we had a good time and made the most of every experience. Had it been ME who had been sick, the trip wouldn’t have gone as well. Also, Roth deserves a birthday do-over at some point since we spent his 35th on a 5-hour flight back to Seattle. At least there was chocolate cake included with the in-flight meal?

***
Thanks also for all of the really nice comments and support on my previous post. I plan to write more about how we’re coping with this change of status, but for now, we’ll always have Maui.

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A tale of two Fridays

Not last Friday but the one before that, I was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 10 miles away from Maalaea Harbor, bobbing up and down on a catamaran anchored to the floor of a volcanic crater. We were there to snorkel in said geologic marvel, to float atop the azure water and peer down below at myriad sea creatures — the supposed pinnacle of our trip to Maui. I’d never been snorkeling before, but it wasn’t until we were geared up, standing among strangers and listening to a hasty lesson on how to breathe through a plastic tube that I started to feel nervous.

Roth assured me I’d be fine once I got into the water. I would just need to relax my body and breathe — in and out, in and out. He’d been snorkeling before, in the Florida Keys when he was a kid, and more recently, about a decade before on another trip to Hawaii.

(I’d never been to Hawaii before, either.)

We stood at the back of the boat, my legs quivering and my eyes starting to fill with tears, fogging up the mask. I didn’t want to get in the choppy water, but more so, I didn’t want to have to tell anyone that I didn’t even try to snorkel, especially since we paid for this rare, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Somehow, with more coaxing by Roth, I willed myself toward the steps and slowly eased my body into the water.

I never knew the depth of my fear of open water until I was in it. Even though we were mere feet away from the boat, and Roth was by my side, I felt very alone. Vulnerable. Unskilled. I clung to a boogie board and tried to breathe — in and out, in and out — through the tube, to get used to the sensation, as Roth suggested, but the more I inhaled-exhaled, my breath an eerie echo in my ears, the more I started to feel the vines of panic taking over my mind.

Put your face in the water, he said. Just look down.

I did. I did. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel good.

Just relax, he said.

I tried. I extended my arms and put my face in the water again, this time I was able to see to the rocky bottom, a scant few fish slithering by, but I couldn’t breathe. I was holding my breath. No in. No out. No, this wasn’t working. Despite the utter vastness below and outstretched before me, I felt claustrophobic. This wasn’t the magical experience that’d been touted in the guidebook. I had to get out of the water, and so I did, encouraging Roth to stay and get his money’s worth.

As I sat alone on the top deck of the boat, tears streaming down my face from behind my sunglasses, I felt like an idiot. We’d come all this way — not just the 10 miles from the harbor, but all the way from Seattle to Maui in the middle of winter to have an amazing! and awesome! vacation — and now the trip was marred. All that planning, and it was no longer perfect because I’d failed at snorkeling.

Several hours later, as Roth and I sat in our rental car trying to work through the anger and disappointment that’d taken over the rest of my day, we had a breakthrough, an epiphany, of sorts, as I remembered something I’d read in The Happiness Project last January.

“Just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it’s fun for you.”

Or, more specifically, “I tried snorkeling; snorkeling is not for me.” Period.

The rest of our trip — all the meals and driving and sightseeing and relaxing — was awesome! and amazing! It just feels so surreal that we’ve already gone to and returned from Maui, that two weeks ago I was adrift in an ocean of emotions. Little did I know that feeling of not being able to breathe would happen again just a week later.

***
This past Friday, the one after that, I was in a small conference room, the one without any windows to the outside, hearing my breath echo inside my head again, this time as I listened to the COO of the company for which I’d worked almost seven years tell me my position was being eliminated, that I was being let go, effective immediately. Like a scene out of a movie, another man I’d never laid eyes on before, an HR manager flown in from the corporate offices in San Francisco, extended a box of tissue in my direction as my eyes started to fill with tears.

The feeling of hearing you’re being laid off is not unlike the feeling of drowning. You try to breathe, see straight, and cling to the facts — it’s not you, it’s just numbers; you’ve done nothing wrong — but the water rises quickly in that situation. You’ve been sunk.

Obviously, this wasn’t part of the plan.

I didn’t see it coming, though I should have, having been through several cycles of layoffs and department consolidations in my time with the company. The sticky thing is, a month prior we’d all been assured that despite tough times ahead, there would not be any layoffs. Wrongly, I’d let myself feel safe and secure, especially in my diverse and varied role. I’d gotten too comfortable. Complacent, perhaps. Heck, I was 7 months pregnant. They’d never let ME go!

HA. Ha, ha.

Several days later, as I sit on my couch in my pajamas, with Rowan now at my side (the world as he knew it has been rocked pretty hard, too), things look a lot different than they did just a week ago. I’ve been through the gamut of emotions — sadness, anger, fear, woe, confusion (I’ve never been let go from a job before, either) — but I think things are really going to be OK. Thankfully, my former employer is not leaving me totally high and dry. There’s severance — a token, perhaps, of how terrible the powers-that-be feel, given I was one of six who were laid off that day — and help with insurance, too.

And there’s a silver lining, of being able to collect unemployment, of course, but also of being able to collect myself. Had this not happened to me, I might’ve stayed at my former company another seven years, but maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me it’s time to put my face in the water and see what else is out there.

To sink, or swim.

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Start again

Oh, hello! And a belated Happy New Year to you!

It’s hard to believe it’s more than a week into the new year let alone that it’s already 2013 to begin with. So much of the latter part of 2012 was me telling myself and others, “I’ll deal with THAT next year!” And here it is, next year is now, which means I really need to get my act together with regard to some important things like, say, any kind of baby prep.

Honestly, I’m not too stressed about any of it this time around seeing as we have a whole basement full of baby stuff, but I should probably put together a list of things we’ll need sooner than later and create a timeline for getting it all ready because I’m certain the next 15 (or fewer!) weeks are going to zoom by.

Backing up a bit, though …

We spent the holidays driving a whole lot. Ten-plus hours the first day down to Redding to stay with Roth’s grandma for a night. What should have been 5 hours the next day ended up being 7 hours from Redding to Sonora, thanks mostly to white-knuckled rain-and-wind conditions.

We were so relieved to finally arrive at our Christmas destination — seriously, Roth deserved many beers for getting us there safely — only to experience Barf Fest 2012 a mere 30 minutes later. Poor Rowan had no idea what was happening to him as he puked all over himself, me and the leather couch. We thought maybe he’d eaten a bad burger at In-N-Out earlier in the day, but a couple days later, Roth’s 94-year-old grandma got similarly sick, and then the next night, I got sick, too. It got Roth later the next day (and probably the worst), so I’m fairly certain there was some sort of norovirus/24-hour stomach flu thing swirling around the house that we all (unfortunately) caught.

Thankfully, the stomach flu felled the majority of us AFTER Christmas Eve and Day. Rowan had recovered in time to thoroughly enjoy his spoils from us, the grandparents, Uncle Lane, and of course, Santa. So. Much. Stuff. It’s his last year as a Singleton Grandchild, though, so it just sort of happened. Next year will likely be very different.

A few days later, and after we’d (barely) recovered from the flu, we headed down to visit my dad in Modesto for a couple of days, which was really mellow and probably what we needed after being so violently sick. My dad gave Rowan his first two-wheel bike (with training wheels), so we spent some time outside trying to show him how to pedal. It might be a long road before he fully gets it, but I think the will to learn is there.

On New Years Eve, we left my dad’s house very early and started the 10-hour drive to Bend, Oregon, rather than our usual trek back up I-5. Even though it was a long day of driving and some of the roads were not plowed, it was an awesome diversion from the norm. A longtime blog friend Shannon had hooked us up with a great rate at the hotel where she works. I finally got to meet her and her family for dinner that night, too, which was fun. We were back at the hotel early enough to watch the New Years festivities unfold on the East Coast and then asleep by about 9:30. Par-tay!

After another quick meet-up with Shannon and crew at an awesome coffee-slash-beer-slash-bike-and-snow-board-repair shop (Bend, you so quirky!), we started the final leg of our journey home. The drive from Bend to Portland to get back to I-5 was farther than I thought, but oh, it was beautiful that day through snow-caked trees with Mt. Hood looming in the distance. We stopped in Portland for a very late lunch with the newly engaged Kerri and Matt, who were also headed home after many, many days on the road. I’m so glad geography worked in our favors so we could see them for a bit before the final 3-hour trudge home to Seattle.

Roth and I both went back to work the next three days, and I promptly came down with a sore throat-turned-head cold that’s still lingering more than a week later. With regard to us getting sick over the holiday break (and me still sick now), I keep telling myself, “Better now than Maui.”

Today we’re a week away from our trip to Maui, and with so much rain coming down, this babymoon-birthday vacation couldn’t be happening at a better time. Am patting myself on the back for making the trip a reality because seriously? WE NEED IT LIKE WHOA.

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Four

Dear Rowan,

For months now, we’ve been talking about the day you turn 4. We’ve been planning and discussing every detail of your birthday party — who to invite, what color balloons to buy, where to put up the banner. You and Dad would look at the calendar and count the sleeps until the party and the actual day — today, in fact — and it’s just that we’ve all been SO EXCITED.

So tell me, dear son of mine, why you woke up on your birthday so stinking cranky about the whole thing? Are my math skills really that terrible and you’re actually 14, not 4? Perhaps we overloaded you all weekend with just a bit too much celebrating, and now that your birthday is really here, you’re kind of over it. I get that. Sometimes the anticipation of something as exciting as turning 4 is better than the actual event.

Vehement denial aside, today you are finally 4. Every parent says this, but it’s just so hard to believe how big you are, how smart you are, how amazing you are. This past year has seen you transform from a still-pudgy toddler-child into a full-fledged kid, with very specific ideas and opinions. You don’t just like trucks — you like monster trucks with big chunky tires, Rescue Bots and shiny Hot Wheels cars. You don’t want to listen to just any music — you prefer rock ‘n roll, and more specifically, fast, drum-laden rock ‘n roll, like The Black Keys or The White Stripes. (The verdict is still out on Led Zeppelin and The Beatles — I don’t think I fully appreciated the classics until I was about 14, so perhaps my math skills aren’t THAT bad after all.)

Your mind is far more analytical than mine, as you often ponder how something works, where it comes from, or what it’s made of. I do believe you got this trait from your dad, and it’s fun to watch the two of you discuss the hot water pipes or the heater ducts at great length. You’re a pretty tactile kid, too, as I recently watched you bend Play-Doh into the shapes of the alphabet, something you refuse to even try with a pencil and paper.

Even though you’d rather spend hours with your hands digging in the dirt or tinkering with tools than coloring or crafting, you do have a very sensitive side, as evidenced by your love for your floppy stuffed elephant aptly named Ellie. I’m not sure when you started sleeping with Ellie every night, perhaps it was when we moved into the new house and you needed some extra comfort, but she’s always under the crook of your arm each morning when you pad down the stairs and into our room for a snuggle.

Last night I tucked you and Ellie in next to your two new Rescue Bots, which was an interesting juxtaposition, but maybe it’s actually quite symbolic? One the one hand, you’re like this BIG kid, kind of rough and tumble on the outside, but on the other hand, you’re still a bit of a baby on the inside, too, occasionally curling up with me under a blanket. We’ve been testing your maturity the last couple of months, too, letting you watch movies both your dad and I loved as kids, like E.T. and The Goonies, both of which you seemed to enjoy quite a bit. Randomly, we turned on Jumanji the other day, and it got to a part where there was a giant, Seymour-like plant trying to swallow up the kids, and you got so scared, you let out this authentic scream of sheer terror, one we’d never heard from you before. Uh, oops! As your dad joked, guess we won’t be letting you watch Little Shop of Horrors any time soon.

As you turn 4, I think what I love the most about you is how gregarious and charming you can be. I sometimes worry you’re a bit of a chatterbox, but at your birthday party yesterday (and at other recent events like our friends Terrell and Andrew’s wedding), I watched as you talked to adults in a very mature way, and to your friends, too, making sure everyone was having a good time, taking advantage of all the party’s offerings. You’re a consummate host, often greeting guests at the door with contagious enthusiasm. You’re also gracious and kind, quick to slap a high-five or tuck in for a bear hug from just about anybody you’ve known for even the shortest amount of time.

A quick perusal of your previous birthday letters (one, two, three) reminded me that I pretty much came to the same conclusions then, too, so if history is any indication of the future, I think it’s safe to say that 4 is going to be even more awesome than 3, which was more awesome than 2, and so on. Four may present some interesting challenges, too, what with the addition of a sibling in a couple more months, but I’m wildly optimistic that you are going to be a terrific big brother.

Happy Birthday, Ro. Your Dad and I just love you so, so much.

xo Mama

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Half-time show

Time sure is a trickster, isn’t it? How can it be that it’s already December, and that the end of another year is nigh on the horizon? That we’re preparing to celebrate Rowan’s fourth trip around the sun, followed in short order by Christmas and all that jazz? And yet, on the other hand, it feels like I’ve been pregnant already for a thousand weeks instead of just 20, as my pregnancy app tells me, and I still have so far to go.

Perhaps I’ve felt every single week of this pregnancy because my body (and the wee baby inside of it) has not let me forget it for one second, what with the weekly puke sessions I thought were just a myth the last time I performed in this three-ring circus. I’d hoped by now I’d see the return of my energy, as is typical of the second trimester, but all I want to do every night after work is put on comfy pants and wrap myself into a cocoon. The absence of light and presence of cold certainly doesn’t help, but still: it seems my energy is taking a sabbatical all winter long.

Belly, 19(ish) weeks

The good news is, outside of all the barfing and general malaise, that everything is going well with the pregnancy. All my early blood work came back normal, no signs of defects, and on Monday, we got to see Sapling wiggle and squirm for good 45 minutes during the anatomy ultrasound, which of course, also would’ve been the big gender reveal, had we wanted to find out the sex. We stuck to our guns, though, and didn’t peek as the technician poked around the baby’s parts. Not even my doctor knows if this baby is a boy or a girl because the ultrasound report did not surreptitiously include this information. So, it will be a surprise for everyone come April!

Baby, 19(ish) weeks

In between then and now, though, are a few big events to look forward to. First up is Rowan’s 4th birthday, for which we are celebrating with a make-your-own pizza party at a parlor down the street. The next weekend we are driving down to California to spend Christmas with Roth’s family, followed by a couple of days at my dad’s before heading back up to Seattle before the New Year.

Just a couple of weeks after that, we’re headed to Maui! I almost can’t believe it’s true since about a month ago, we weren’t sure we could even swing the trip. But, we searched high and low for a flight deal, secured a sitter (my mom!) for Rowan, booked lodging, confirmed the time off work, and it’s a go! This trip is part babymoon (gah, I know), part Roth’s birthday celebration, as he will turn 35 the day we fly back to Seattle. I’m really glad we were able to make this trip a reality. Once Sapling gets here, I don’t envision us going on a vacation again until … um.

See, time IS a trickster.

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