The Best Day of Summer ’17

There’s something about creeping August that always gets my summer ambitions up. My initial plans for today would have taken us around the island but the surf report told Lynnette that the water on the east side would be too rough for the twins. I settled instead for a trip up to the North Shore.

123The clouds hung low over Mililani when we left the house this morning and it rained on our way out to Waimea Bay – our first marker. Madison had been waiting all week to visit a playground and she was audibly upset about the rain falling. “I guess we’re not going to the playground, then,” she said in her best Karen Higa/Lynnette Higa passive-aggressiveness. I don’t even know who that comment was for? The weather gods? Sheesh.

We drove through the rain and emerged dry near Sunset Beach Elementary School. We’ve been to this playground before, so it’s wasn’t an official new addition to the #playgroundtour2017, but the kids like it and there are tennis courts which allow us to trap the twins if need be. Avery spent most of her time stepping down from the play surface onto concrete with the help of the orange security netting. She likes falling, I guess. Cole climbed like he always does, this time walking and climbing up the slide. Both Cole and Avery also walked back to the car without: walking into traffic, running away from us, stepping in animal feces, and requiring us to scream their names repeatedly. WIN.

We kept driving and picked up lunch from Papa Ole’s. It took some time for our food to get out but it was worth the wait. Madison got a hamburger steak, Lynnette got the ribs/garlic shrimp combo plate, and I got a mini garlic pork with a side of poke from Tamura’s. It’s a trek, but if you’re going to be out there anyway, Papa Ole’s is legit.

While the food was obvious highlight of my day, the new playground at Laie Elementary was the apex of Mad’s. We passed it on the way to Papa Ole’s and from that point on Madison had difficulty focusing on anything but playing on those new structures. When we finally arrived Madison found three structures unlike any she’s played on before. I asked her if Aikahi is still her favorite playground. Madison said yes, but this new one is a “close second.”

DCIM100GOPROG0010358.DCIM100GOPROG0190921.DCIM101GOPROG0351390.It remained overcast for most of the day but it never did rain while we were at the beach. We found a small area south of Turtle Bay which featured a small inlet of water for the twins to splash around in. Lynnette is terrified of the King Tides which she thinks means 7-foot faces at the shorebreak of all beaches. I told her that’s not what it meant but because I am me, she didn’t believe it. It wasn’t until she heard Justin Cruz say the North Shore would be 0-2 that she was all “Okay, maybe we can go to the beach.” In Lynnette’s defense, nobody else listens to me, either.

Beach trips are tricky because they totally depend on the twins’ temperament. During other attempts this summer, one or both of the twins have been cranky. Consequently, our outings had been cut short. Not today. Both Cole and Avery were in great spirits while at the beach. They didn’t even do that thing where they get cold after 20 minutes and want to quit it all.

I don’t know what Lynnette and I have done wrong as parents, but something hilarious and ridiculous happened to us out in the water today. Lynnette, Madison, and I caught a few hermit crabs. Lynnette held one out for Avery to see and I laid one in my palm for Cole. In retrospect, maybe what happened next was predictable, but still. Avery watched the small animal crawl across Lynnette’s hand, then quickly grabbed it and shoved it into her mouth. She started chewing! “DON’T EAT THE HERMIT CRAB!” Lynnette shouted frantically. It appeared as if she stuffed her entire hand into Avery’s mouth to swipe the crab out. And while I was in awe of Avery, COLE HAD SCOOPED UP MY CRAB AND WAS GNAWING ON IT WITH HIS FRONT TEETH. “No!” I said, at a higher pitch than the shreds of my masculinity care to admit. I swatted the crab out of his hand. It crashed into the ocean from whence it came. Cole licked his lips and shot me a confused look. I was the confused one. What did they think the crabs were? The only thing I can come up with is that we held out the crabs the same way we hold out snacks to them. I guess I can’t blame them.

Balloon Week is a Thing, I Guess

56On Saturday we went to the Keiki Fest in Mililani and were chased away by intense heat. In an ironic reversal of roles, Lynnette and I were the most irritable. It was just too hot. Madison was happy to partake in the activities and Cole and Avery got balloons. These balloons kept them busy all day. They also kept me busy all day because I’d have to get them down from the ceiling whenever Cole or Avery would let them go.

43Later that night we ended up at Ala Moana for a Genius Bar appointment. We had dinner at Shirokiya. When I got back from getting my food, two more balloons were tied to the stroller. Eventually, Avery fell asleep clutching her ballon. Cole went down hours later with his the string of his balloon wrapped around his right pinky finger. By Sunday morning all four balloons had either been deflated (by time) or popped (by Avery’s teeth.

12Then yesterday Madison found a bag of small balloons and began inflating them. First, she made three at a time, one each for her and the twins. Today, she just went ahead and inflated a bunch of them and dropped them onto the twins in Avery’s crib. “Balloon Pit!” she cried. I heard the twins squeal. I went into the room to see what all the commotion was about. I was surprised. I mean, I don’t know what I was expecting, but that’s on me, I guess.

It’s a little strange, but it’s one of those things that always amaze me, like: not visiting a place in years, then ending up there 3 times in the span of 2 weeks; wondering about an old friend and bumping into them randomly; waking up with a song in your head then hearing it come over the speakers in the grocery story. Happy coincidences, you know? There can’t possibly be more balloon-related nonsense this week, right?

A Long Year That Felt Much, Much Longer

A year ago today Avery underwent surgery for a bacterial infection in her throat, behind her airway. The initial prognosis was that she would be home two days later. We would later learn that the infection made its way into her bloodstream and affected areas around her heart and lungs. Some of her organs began to shut down. She stayed in the hospital for 7 weeks, four of them in the PICU under heavy sedation and on breathing machines.

4

The Gravy Boat, one year later.

Today, Avery is healthy. If you were to judge her solely on her belly, you’d guess she’s thriving. She’s a runner, a climber, and an out-and-out rebel. She loves Lynnette with an intensity that rivals mine. She and I have this thing now. We’ll  make eye contact and I will open my eyes as wide as I can before blinking in an exaggerated fashion. Avery will blink back, snort at me, or come over to where I am and climb on me. That last one is my favorite. This week I started singing the opening line to Smashmouth’s “All-Star”. You know how it goes – “sooomeBODY once told me the world is gonna roll me…” Every time I get to the BODY part, I tickle Avery. Now, if she hears the sooome part, she covers up. She’s the cutest.

Maybe that’s why all of those things surrounding her illness seem like they happened years ago, to someone else. I know the beats of the story and can get down to the details if I try hard enough to pin them down, but maybe that’s because everything has kind of bled together since the twins were born. My best guess is that my personal version of survival mode is objective-based portioning. When I’m in that state of mind, the priority is getting to the next task. My vision narrows. Only those meals and naps matter, other things not so much. I think that’s why I don’t remember much of Cole and Avery as newborns and infants. When I mentioned this to Lynnette, she laughed and said I probably blocked it out. “I didn’t actively do it,” I said. “You don’t have to, that’s what the brain does to shield itself,” she said. “It’s just a way of coping.” The result is that I have to look back on old pictures, videos, and blog posts in order to remember.

There is all of the emotional stuff. But more than everything else, there is all of you. I scrolled through all of the comments and messages I received during those weeks and I was blown away all over again. I was grateful in the moment, but even more so now with the added benefit of perspective. You rallied for us. Thank you all for your support of my family then and now. As always, my heart hopes for the best for all of you and yours.

 

 

Cole and Avery at 20 Months

The twins are 20 months old yesterday/today. I’ve enjoyed getting closer to them this summer, even though it’s been mostly chaos in our hot hot home.

Cole at 20 Months
Favorite food: fruits and sweets
Favorite toy: shape shorter and shapes
Favorite non-toy toy: Go Pole, long wooden spoons
Mom’s favorite behavior: Cole trying to shaka at the end of the KHON news, clapping during Wheel of Fortune
Dad’s favorite behavior: Every single time he listens to vocal commands
Spirit animal: golden retriever puppy

1Cole’s spirit animal is a golden retriever puppy because he listens enough for us to know he understands what we’re telling him, but he still gets into trouble all the time. For example, he’s recently found joy in taking the soda cans out of the 12-pack boxes. If I catch him and say “put it back”, he’ll actually pick up the cans and place them back in the boxes. If he’s standing on one of the dining room chairs, he knows what it means when I say down – but he hasn’t learned well enough not to climb the damn chairs in the first place. I actually say “good boy” and rub his head when he listens. He’s already ahead of Abby with regards to obedience. Ironically, though, maybe he’s training me. A few days ago, the erstwhile sun god began pulling this stunt where he asks/whines to be picked up, then upon being taken up, points in the direction he wants the adult to move. This might upset me – if he didn’t emotionally manipulate me by patting me on the back with his other hand.

Avery at 20 Months
Favorite food: everything except blueberries and strawberries
Favorite toy: Minnie Mouse plush
Favorite non-toy toy: mama’s old phone, colander
Mom’s favorite behavior: when Avery laughs at random things
Dad’s favorite behavior: when Avery shoves her face in mine and blinks quickly to make eye contact with me
Spirit animal: raccoon

2You’ve probably got a mental image of a raccoon stirring stuff up. Well, just replace that critter with an image of Avery and you’ve nailed it. Avery roams the house like every inch of it belongs to her and consequences don’t exist. Just today when the three kids were cruising in the bedroom I heard Madison shout “Avery! You’re just like Moana but instead of wanting to be in the ocean, you want to be by the nightstand!” She takes things out of the cabinets and draws and leaves them in her wake. As upsetting as this is, she’s too damn cute to be upset at. Tonight Madison rearranged all of the twins’ books on the bookshelf neatly. Soon after, Avery saw them and walked to the bookshelf. She faced the books and laughed. We all turned to look at her. “Don’t do it, Avery!” Madison shouted. Avery cackled, squealed, and clapped her hands. “She’s so happy you fixed her books!” Lynnette said. “Yeah, because she gets to knock them all down!” Madison said. “Noooooo!” a biased Lynnette said. Avery then launched all of the books from the shelf. Sometime in the next week I fully expect Avery to knock over all our trash cans.

Anniversary Weekend 2017: Sunday

I asked my mom to watch the kids earlier this week. I planned to surprise Lynnette with a massage and lunch. Everything was perfect until Saturday night when those instincts honed over 11 years of marriage kicked in.

“Hey, there’s no brunch at my parents’ house tomorrow. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I’m taking you to get a massage tomorrow,” I said.
“What?” Lynnette said.
“Yeah. I told Mad to keep it a secret, and she did a good job,”  I said.
“So?” Lynnette said.
“Because I don’t want you to be surprised – like you didn’t wear the right underwear or you weren’t ready for it or something. The last thing I want is for you to not enjoy it,” I said.
She didn’t disagree.

12 I booked a couple’s massage at Tiffany’s Thai Massage on the strength of their Yelp reviews and their status as the Star Advertiser 2017 Best Massage Award. When we got into the room, there were pipes exposed on the ceiling. I was put off a little. After a few minutes of pressure with a heat pack, my masseuse asked if I had ever been given a massage with feet before. “No,” I said. “You want to try?” she asked. “Sure,” I said, hoping my self-imposed mandate to try new things would not backfire. A few moments later her feet were in my spine. Surprise!

It was the most unusual massage I ever had in my life. It was also the best massage I ever had in my life. As soon as the session was over, I looked up at the ceiling. Those pipes were installed for the purpose of the massage. Then I turned to look at Lynnette. I enjoyed the entire massage but a small ball of anxiety floated within me throughout. I wasn’t sure Lynnette would enjoy having another human dig their feet into her body.

“So?” I said.
“Oh, my God, that was so good!” she said.

We spent the whole drive over to Ward talking about how mysterious and incredible it was. “I don’t think I can go any place else,” Lynnette said. We both agreed that we felt unusually refreshed, unlike after other massages which had left us sapped or saggy. We laughed about how we both had the same underwhelmed impression of the pipes when we first entered the room. “I guess that’s what the ‘Thai’ part is,” Lynnette said.

3We got lunch at Piggy Smalls and were greeted by my friend Mel. Lynnette ate the LFC and I had a pho-strami sandwich. Before those, though, we had oysters. I don’t usually care for them raw, but I had someone’s toes in my knee pit like 20 minutes before that, so why not. After lunch we looked over the dessert menu for a few moments. “Can we just get two more oysters?” I asked. Lynnette scoffed and laughed in disbelief. “You clown,” she said. They were really good, man. But as luck would have it, Mel sent us over a dessert for our anniversary. It was a wonderful gift that allowed Lynnette to get her sweet fix. Thanks, Mel!

The highlight of the day, though, came before any of these festivities started. The contact lens in my right eye gave me trouble all morning and Lynnette noticed on our way out of my parents’ house.

“You want me to drive?” she asked.
“Nah, I got this. It’s our anniversary,” I said, squinting my right eye.
“But I want to be safe, how bad would it be, if we died on this of all days,” she said, half-jokingly.
“Well, I would say that it’s appropriate considering my life ended 11 years ago,” I said.
Lynnette recoiled in her seat and her jaw dropped. Incredibly, impossibly, she was speechless.
“Yeah, I said it,” I said.
“You frickah!” Lynnette said. We sat at the long stop light on Pono Street and Moanalua Road and laughed until green.

Thank you for all the well wishes on our anniversary, friends. We’re lucky to have all of you in our lives.

Us (in words and pictures)

Lynnette,
Very early on in our relationship I asked you whether you thought it mattered that we didn’t have much of a personal history. You astutely answered that history could only come with time. Your answer, of course, was obvious. In retrospect, I don’t think that’s really the question I wanted to ask you. What I really wanted to ask you was Do you think we’re going to last? I was afraid we would fall apart as quickly as we had come together. You were too good to be true. You were out of my league, I was out of my depth. I can’t swim.

1234567891011121314151641235678910111213141516When I went back and looked for old pictures of us, I knew exactly which pictures I’d find. They’d be a bunch of selfies I took with the various Sony Cybershots I owned in our 20s. There would also be pictures of just the two of us taken by others. We’d have jawlines and collarbones and tans and we wouldn’t have wrinkles and kangaroo pouches and maybe we’d be drunk.

And I also knew that as the pictures grew more recent, those details would begin to slide the other way. Maybe Madison might appear in the background of some of them; Madison even took some of them. Time is a hell of a thing.

I’ve never met anyone who looked forward to growing old. But it’s the only path available to us, I suppose. It is the way of all things. I am grateful that you will be at my side as time does its thing to you, to me, to our children. One of the few good things – maybe the only one – that comes of the passing of time is the ever-growing number of memories we’ve made and will continue to make. They haven’t always been good or exciting or fun or worth remembering at all. But they’re ours. Forever.

Happy Anniversary.

Love,
Phil

 

 

Anniversary Weekend 2017: Saturday

Ominous gray clouds hung in the Mililani Mauka sky this morning. They threatened my plans for the pool. By 10:30, slivers of blue made themselves known and those small measures of promise were all we needed to load the kids into the van and head to Rec 7.

DCIM100GOPROG0298460.You’d never be able to tell it from her homework, but Madison is capable of simple math. She noted the 1:1 parent/twin ratio and quickly popped a “Can I go now?” as soon as we placed our things at a table. She was gone, man.

Lynnette and I took Cole and Avery too the 18-inch pool and I was surprised by their reversal of behavior. Avery was the water baby today and Cole seemed a little standoffish about the whole thing. When we finally moved over to the big pool (and the sun came out), everyone seemed to chill out a little. Avery loves floating on her back; Cole loves splashing everyone, including himself.

Eventually, Madison found her way back to her family. She played with both her brother and sister, then entertained them by bombing near us and splashing us with huge waves of water. Cole was delighted, even though he couldn’t breathe or see. He invented the hybrid cackle/cough today which means “this is too much fun to stop, even if I might drown.”

Sadly, there are no pictures of Lynnette and/or I today. We left our summer bods back in 2003 when we first started dating, and we were both recovering from a heavy meal the night before. No one needs to see too much of that. Some of the other pictures we do appear in feature strategic placement of toddlers so as to obscure unflattering angles. It’s easier than losing weight.