90 Days and Counting!

My friend Paula is pregnant for the first time. Paula and I have been friends for 20 years. We played volleyball together in high school, then taught and lived together for ten years until I married Shea.
This Spring, her husband Jimmy, who is a National Park Service Ranger, got transferred far away. They moved in her first trimester. New place, new home, no job for Paula. The baby was a surprise in the fact that she thought that ship had sailed, and she worried about being able to get a teaching job with a November due date.
When I talked to her in May, she didn’t sound great. She was lonely, stressed about the job search and trying to process all these tremendous life changes. Who can blame her? So the Committee decided someone needed to go see her.
Because that’s how we do.
It was a toss up for Lisa and me: we both wanted to see Paula pregnant, and we both wanted to meet sweet baby girl when she gets here. In the end, I came now, and she will go later. We pinkie-promised to take lots of pictures.
And off I went to see my pregnant friend.
In Maui.
Did I forget to mention they moved to Maui?
Maui is one of my favorite places in the whole world. Paula and I went to Maui in the summer of 2002 to reward ourselves for making the jump to public school. We had a blast. When I met Shea a year later, and found out he grew up on Maui, it felt like a sign from God that he was for me.
But this trip was not about Maui. If Paula and Jimmy had moved to South Dakota, I’d still be going to visit her, even though I have no real desire to see South Dakota. She’s my friend and she’s having a baby! So the Maui part is neither here nor there, beyond the fact that we got a beachfront condo for the weekend.
The point was to get things ready. There’s no Babies R Us on Maui. Or Target. There’s a Walmart, but Paula feels the same way I do about Walmart, so that’s out. And Paula and Jimmy are super low-key folks. A lot of people don’t even know she’s pregnant. If she was closer, she might have let us throw a baby shower. Maybe. Probably not. She is just not a big fuss kind of gal.
But a baby requires equipment. And equipment requires shopping, which is not Paula’s favorite thing. And help wading through the crap that the baby industry tells new mamas that they need.
Like a wipes warmer. I could have just set $30 on fire for the good that thing did anyone.
The first thing we did was throw a wi-fi baby shower. I came armed with love and gifts cards, and we bought a mattress, swing, bath and the two cutest towels you ever did see.
Then we rolled through the baby section and reloaded her registry, which shocked her into silence when it reminded her that she has 90 days to go! I am happy to report that while there is plenty of pink out there for baby girls, there’s also a ton of fun blue, green and melon. And car mirrors have come a long way. The one she picked has flashing lights, plays music and even comes with a remote control so mom can reset while driving.
Paula is feeling better and looks great. She got a teaching job where she is facing down the challenges of being a haole. She and Jimmy are super excited to meet their baby. And you heard it here first: Jimmy doesn’t stand a chance when Miss Thing gets here. He loves himself some Paula, and when Mini-Paula shows up, he’s going over the edge. No doubt.
In other news, Paula took me to see Oprah’s Maui estate, which is right down the road from them. It looked kinda nice:
This is the main house on the Winfrey compound. There were at least five smaller (and by smaller, I mean normal) houses too. #itsgoodtobeoprah

This is the main house on the Winfrey compound. There were at least five smaller (and by smaller, I mean normal) houses too. #itsgoodtobeoprah

And Maui? Maui’s doing all right. Not that I noticed:
These flowers smell heavenly.

These flowers smell heavenly.

The view from our beach.

The view from our beach.

 

Towards Kihei.

Towards Kihei.

 

Honu!

Honu!

Aloha! ~ Jen

The first time I went to Hawaii, I was 17 years old and it was a volleyball trip for my high school team. We spent a week in Honolulu before school started, playing in a tournament with teams from around the islands and the nation. I was hooked.

Five years later, after my first year of teaching, I went back. This time to Maui, where I felt an immediate soul connection. Maui was magic. I made the trip about every two years after that, with some of my best girlfriends. I couldn’t get enough of Maui.

Ten years later that all made sense when I met Shea. He grew up on Maui, in an honest-to-goodness sugar shack in the middle of a plantation. Our first trip together, he showed me kama’aina Maui, places tourists rarely go. And I showed him haole Maui on the Ka’anapali side.

Hawaii is important to us. The lifestyle and culture are an intrinsic part of who Shea is, and he wants to share it with our kids, who are natural water babies and fish eaters. They revel in the feeling of warm sun on their shoulders, so they take to Hawaii like they were born to it. Which, in a way, they were.

Gabriel body boarding at Hanalei Bay

Gabriel body boarding at Hanalei Bay

We just got back from a week in Kauai with my parents, where we snorkeled, body boarded, jumped waves, zip lined and ate fresh mango, coconut and fish. The Hawaiian people are enormously generous and kind, but even more so once they find out Shea is kama’aina. For Hawaiians, this makes us ohana.

Speaking of ohana (which means “family”), look at this sign we saw while shopping one day:

This was hanging outside a local souvenir shop in Koloa

This was hanging outside a local souvenir shop in Koloa

Wow, right? I just wrote about keeping the Sabbath and here was this sign, like a…well…sign. See how it doesn’t say CLOSED? CLOSED is a brusque, unfriendly word that conveys a feeling of nothing.

OHANA DAY is a whole other feeling. It says “We’re with our families. You go be with your families. It’s all good and love. We’ll see you here tomorrow.” Most of the non-super touristy places were closed on Sunday. And the parks and beaches were packed. How’s that for some Sabbath?

We had two highlight adventures. The first was suggested by a local guide on a snorkeling trip. “Salt Pond Beach is the best place to watch the sun go down” she said. “Build a fire, cook dinner, sit back and enjoy the view.”

So we did. We gathered driftwood, which the Eagle Scout (my dad) turned into a perfect beach fire. We swam in the dusk, roasted hot dogs and watched the sun set. Amazing.

Salt Pond Park, Bonfire dinner at sunset

Salt Pond Beach, bonfire dinner at sunset

Then on our last night, we went to Po’ipu Beach to watch the sunset. There’s this cool little cove that’s a natural kiddie pool—protected by rocks, only 18 inches deep. After dinner, Gabriel was out hunting crabs in the rocks with a bunch of boys when they started screaming.

You know I thought “Shark!” before my brain processed that they weren’t running away, but towards whatever it was. Then I heard TURTLE!

And sure enough, three huge honu had risen off the rocks right where the boys were playing. Scared the bejeezus out of them, since the smallest turtle was at least 4 feet long.

Hawaiian Honu, green sea turtle.This one was at least five feet long and two feet away from me!

Hawaiian Honu, green sea turtle.This one was at least five feet long and two feet away from me!

Hawaiian honu are special. For native Hawaiians, they represent longevity, peace, humility and the spirit within us all. I feel that when I see them. They seem divine in some way, like they know God. There’s also a legend that the first honu, Kauila, could change herself into a little girl, and that she watched over small children playing on the beach.

I love the honu.  I have three tattooed on my ankle to represent my babies. It was a special gift to see them that close on our last night.

The view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

My mom and dad, still loving life and each other after 45 years!

My mom and dad, still loving life and each other after 45 years!

Waimea Canyon, smack in the middle of Kauai.

Waimea Canyon, smack in the middle of Kauai.

I really can’t say enough about Hawaii. I know that it seems a world away and very expensive, but for us, it is no different than traveling to Mexico or Portugal or Croatia to take the kids back to the motherland. And it might not be as expensive as you think. Check it out!

Aloha!