Cole at 21 Months

12I put my toes back into the try-to-do-work-at-home waters, but a little shark came swimming up to me almost immediately.

Cole Joseph, the sun god, Cubby Candy, is 21 months old today and is curious as ever. He climbed the chair next to me as soon he saw the laptop screen glow with life. He played it cool at first, but eventually made a move at what he came for. The little index finger of his right hand moved slowly toward the keyboard. On another night, I think, I might have been less tolerant of his interference. But tonight, I just plopped him in my lap and let him drive the cursor with the track pad. He was so excited to watch the tiny hand move around that he lost his binky.

He loves getting into things. He enjoys looking at picture books with images he recognizes. He loves screaming and pointing at things he recognizes when we are out. He still only has about 5 words in his vocabulary, but the one he uses the most is “doo-doo”. Madison and I tried to take the twins out every day during the summer. There was always a high likelihood of an Abby turd on the pad waiting for us when we got home. It began innocently enough; Madison and/or I would block the twins from the turd while saying “No, no, doo-doo,” as they saw said turd, grew curious about its existence, and approached it. This became a routine. So, now, as soon as we pull into the driveway, Cole starts saying “doo-doo!” over and over. It intensifies if there actually is a turd in the living room. He points at it, too. I hope he somehow shames Abby into stopping her malicious turdiness. How serious is Cole about this situation? A few days ago Lynnette and watched as he pulled a dryer sheet out of the laundry, then proceeded to walk around the living room, stopping only to bend over and pantomime picking up an imaginary turd while saying “doo-doo!” over and over. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. It’s the only way to make sure I still have ab muscles under there.

DCIM101GOPROG0523631.But for all his recognition, the one that makes me happiest is his reaction to learning we’ve arrived at my parents’ house. I can’t know for sure why he loves the place. I assume it has something to do with the space and new toys. But I know for sure that my mom is a major reason. Last Sunday we pulled up to the H and Cole’s eyes opened from a nap. He sleepily looked at me first, then turned his head and saw the house. He squealed. When I carried him toward the house and my mom popped through the front door, he perked up, pointed at her, and went through his list of excitable noises.

He leans into her. He doesn’t mind being held, carried around by my mom. When it’s time to leave, he cries and tries to make it back to her. Two weeks ago at the beach, she followed him around the sand and water the entire time. It might have started then. I don’t know. I just hope it never ends. My mom and I never got along. We were polar opposites in all the ways that matter, too alike in the worst possible ways, but most significantly, she needs control and I have always needed space and freedom. There were times in my adolescence and young adulthood when she was the most prominent antagonist in my life. I viewed her with contempt and anger, rage even. We never worked until I moved out and had a family of my own. Perhaps she needed to know I’d be okay on without her; maybe I had to become a parent to understand why she held on so damn tightly. But that’s all in the past. In the future, I hope that Cole can have the relationship with my mom that I never had.

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WAH-WAH!!!!!

Cole and Avery made their first trip to the water park today. It was also Madison’s triumphant return; she hadn’t been since the summer of 2015 – or as we like to call it – The Last Summer of Peace.

DCIM102GOPROG1035143.Cole enjoyed playing in the shallow waters the most. He rode the slides and was forced under waterfalls, but nothing seemed to please him as much as simply standing in knee-to-waist-high water. He splashed himself. He splashed Avery. He splashed the fake rocks that lined the kids’ area.

Still, he’s such a funny guy. Whenever we’re out and he catches a glimpse of a water fountain or koi pond or sprinklers, he lunges at them with the full force his tiny frame can muster. He cries when we don’t allow him in. And then when we go to a water park where he can actually go into the fountains, ponds, and sprinklers, he plays coy. “Nahnahnah,” he seems to say in a high-pitched voice. “I nevah like dat much watah, boo.”

DCIM102GOPROG0874670.Avery, on the other hand enjoyed running across the park on its many concrete walkways. For a full five minutes, I followed her around the property as she bounce-jogged. “She’s running with her eyes closed!” exclaimed a woman who could see Avery’s face. “Is she really?” I said. “Yes!” the woman replied. Well then Avery must have some kind of supernatural sense for the absolute worst places to run. She tried multiple times to run into the water at the bottom of the blue slides. She tried to run down into the Shaka waiting area. Best of all, she ran all the way to the wave tank, saw it from the railing, then got on her hands and knees and tried to crawl under the railing which was 6 inches from the ground. Another woman nearby cracked up. “I don’t think you’re going to make that one, sweetie,” she said.

DCIM102GOPROGOPR4957.Avery was the first to fall asleep. Lynnette strapped her into the Ergo as she and Madison went to get lunch. By the time they returned with their plates Avery was knocked out. She rested with her mouth wide open on Lynnette’s chest for the entire meal. She was still knocked out when we returned to the kids’ area. That’s one of the things about Avery – she doesn’t fight her naps. If she’s tired and someone (mostly Lynnette) rocks or carried her for long enough, she’ll go to sleep and stay asleep. She took a nap at the beach last week, too. I hope this continues as long as it possibly can because…

DCIM102GOPROGOPR5319.…Cole is like Madison. He rarely takes naps outside of a car ride, and worst of all, he fights his sleep. This leads to the arrival of Fussy Cole who hates walking, loves being carried, and melts down at even the slightest hint in the shift in the carrier’s body posture and weight that the carrier might put him down. Madison used to behave exactly like this, too, but as she’s gotten older, Fussy Madison manifests herself in sass, sarcasm, and eye rolls. The teenage years are going to me nothing short of amazing. And by amazing I mean maddening. She said something to me the other day about Lynnette taking her bra shopping “probably about the same time” as she gets her own cell phone and I made a face like I smelled a fart, then got lightheaded.

DCIM102GOPROG0995029.For now, though, Mad’s still a kid and today made her whole summer. Every time we drive past the water park on the way to Target, she wistfully looks out the window and/or makes some comment about wondering what it’s like now and not having been there since before the twins were born. She had been looking forward to today for almost a month. I am happy to report that she played on the bigger kids’ side for three hours without having to tend to Cole or Avery. It is the least Lynnette and I could have done for the Big Sister who spent her summer in service of her family. I hope you enjoyed the last weekend of your summer, Mad. 4th grade starts Monday.

Thank you for a wonderful day, Uncle Mutts and Aunty Tanz!

DCIM102GOPROG1065256.

So Long, Summer 2017!

I have work meetings tomorrow and Thursday. I’ll meet my homeroom and take my 20th yearbook photo as a student/faculty member of Damien Memorial School. Time, as they like to say, flies. But honestly, it flies whether or not you’re having a good time, just like this summer.

1This summer was far from ideal but it was better than the last. Last summer Madison and I hand-fed the twins during breakfast and lunch and spent two months inventing sturdier makeshift barricades which were always eventually torn down or worked around by my two favorite raptors. Also, nobody got seriously ill this summer, so it has that going for it.

We ran some errands today, this last day of summer, because although summer ends, life never ever does. I paid for the snacks in this photo; fear not. We found a Coke bottle with Cole’s name on it. Cole and Avery nearly rioted when we passed the ball pit without taking one, and Madison didn’t help, either with her “Look, dad! They (I) really want a ball! It’s only $3!”

24I broke out the pool in the afternoon. After a cloudy morning, the skies smiled down upon us. At the beginning of the summer the twins couldn’t handle much more than 20 minutes in the water before getting cold and asking out. Now? When I ask them if they’re ready to get out, they’ll make some noise that means “no” – even while they’re shivering.

I really have to hand it to Madison. There have been some rough spots this summer, but overall, she’s been a great big sister to Cole and Avery. Did you know she’s strong enough to carry Cole and Avery (one at a time, obviously) up the stairs now? Well, if they let her.

Fittingly, Avery caused a never-before-seen stir this afternoon. Madison got Cole up the stairs and in a diaper without incident, but “without incident” is the antithesis of Avery’s existence. Madison got up two steps before Avery started squirmed. “Just let her go,” I said. “Naked?” Madison squealed. “Why not?” I said. And so this. A bare-assed Avery climbed up our staircase as a bewildered Cole looked on, Madison laughed on, and I took this priceless photo. “What is this business?” Lynnette asked when she viewed the photo. This business, love, is our life.

3I’m not going to lie. Sometimes when I’m washing those highchair trays, sippy cups, and unmovable suction cup plates that move because they’re too big for our highchair trays, I stare out the window at the sky and think about all the things I want to be doing instead: hiking, going to the beach, Pokemon Go-ing. I get frustrated. I know this is not the last summer like this one. Yes, it will be better next year like this one was better than the last, but still. I’m human and I don’t feel the least bit ashamed to say that I have sublimated many of my own personal desires for the sake of the team, in the name of family – and sometimes I wonder when is it going to be my turn? Even though I know that it will likely never come to pass.

Yet, I finally got my tan (at least in the face) that will last me through the middle of August. We got around to fishing. I got to take a ton of pictures of my family. I ate much better than I should have. Somebody massaged me with their feet. I have all three legendary Pokemon. I went to Shirokiya then Mai Tai then Dave and Buster’s then The Republik on a Wednesday night and I managed to function on Thursday. My air conditioner works. Best of all, I’ve got a whole set of new memories with the summer squad.

So long, Summer 2017! Nothing gold can stay.

Insert Fishing Pun Here _________________

DCIM101GOPROG0563735.I have spent the last month adjusting to a change in my health and some of its consequences. It is not terribly difficult, but it requires more thought and attention to detail than I am accustomed to because I haven’t thought about or paid attention to my health for the last, okay, since forever.

Lynnette can be a pain in the ass sometimes with the nagging and the urging and the passive-aggressive mentioning that’s really suggesting but c’mon, it’s really a statement of preference, figure it out, Phil. In this, however, she has been such a pillar of support. I am lazy. When I am not lazy, I can be stubborn. I can apply my cleverness to the slippery of logic of justification in attempts to weasel my way out of things and into my comfort zone. But Lynnette has never let me just float around in my comfort zone.

Today at the beach, she rocked Avery into a nap. I needed a rest so I plopped down next to Gravy and closed my eyes for a little while. When I got up, Lynnette was still standing on the reef fishing. I walked over to where she and my dad were set up and had my camera ready for what I hoped was an eventual, inevitable strike. It took a while. So I watched her from behind. She leaned forward slightly to hold the line in the water. She jerked the pole skyward when she felt a nibble. I could see a little frustration. She had only caught one, another came off the hook as she brought it out of the water. As I watched her, I got hit with one of those “how did I end up here?” trains of thought. I looked at my father, patiently baiting the hook for my wife. I turned to see my mother leaning over my son, holding his face in her hands, whispering something meant only for him. My older daughter shouted as she dove into a shallow pool in hopes of scooping some fish. My youngest child lay still in the shade of a small tent.

Moments like these feel like time travel. I recall the events required to get here. I wish here could last forever. I imagine the events between here and the all the way down there. And all my thoughts – the then, now, forever – are only possible because of Lynnette. Thank you for all that you do for me, Love. I love you.

Dunkin’ Donuts is Back!

1“I swear the Dunkin’ Donuts hype in Hawaii won’t die down until I’m back in AZ, at a Dunkin’ that’s completely empty.” -Carina, a former student

Dunkin’ Donuts on Wednesday opened its first Oahu store in years. As with all mainland food chains newly opening in Hawaii, it brought much fanfare with it. Lynnette tried to pick some up earlier in the week. She drove around the block three times and each time a police officer at the entrance to the drive-thru turned her away so as to keep traffic clean. “And then one time I passed by and this other cop let a car in with less space than I had when the other cop told me no!” she said, apoplectic in retelling the tale.

3“Well, if you’re gonna wait in line, why not wait in the one that’s air conditioned?” -Phil Higa, pointing to his head like the guy in that one meme

We assumed Dunkin’ Donuts would still be busy today, but gave it a shot anyway because we were in the neighborhood. Cole had an appointment for a hair cut at 2 pm and we got in line at 1. At 1:30 I called the barber to cancel.

“Hi, I have an appointment for Cole at 2.”
“Yes, sir, how can I help you?”
“I made a huge miscalculation by getting into the Dunkin Donut’s line, we’re not going to make it. I’m going to have to cancel.”
“Ooooh…we have a Dunkin’ Donuts here?”
“Yeah, just opened Wednesday.”
“Oh, wow!”
*silence*
“So, yeah. I’m gonna have to cancel.”
“Oh, right! Thanks for calling, sir!”

2“I’m gonna go on their website and see what their offerings are.” -Lynnette Higa, drooling all over her phone

We noticed what looked like an inefficiency in the drive-thru line: it was taking people much longer to make their order than to receive the food. Makes sense, most people wouldn’t inherently know what is on the menu in the same way that they might hypothetically have a McDonald’s number four, large, no pickles, with a Coke memorized – requiring no thought for speaking it. Lynnette cleverly went to the website to check out the menu. As she is a savvy shopper in every sense, she figured out her order long before we got to the intercom. Also, it gave her a chance to fantasize about what and how she was going to devour the same way she used to do for me, back when my stomach didn’t hang over the waistband of my shorts.

4“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t have those in right now. Hmm…let me check on those…we only have the blueberry and chocolate.” -woman on the drive-thru speaker

When it was finally our turn to order, we found out why things were taking so long:

A) They didn’t have everything on the website menu.

B) They were limiting each order to a dozen, filling each box with an assortment rather than letting people pick and choose (because they were super busy)

C) What was available was changing constantly (because they were super busy).

5So, now for the $16.40 question:

“Honestly, was a one-hour wait for 7 doughnuts, a bag of munchkins, and a caramel latte worth it?”

“Hell, yeah!” -Lynnette Higa, doing her pre-snack lust dance

“Of course, dad, it’s doughnuts!” -Madison Higa, prying open the box of doughnuts

***raspberry noise*** – Avery Higa

***sound of sucking on binky*** -Cole Higa

***sound of inhaling a Boston Kreme doughnut*** -Phil Higa

876Happiest about procuring Dunkin’ Donuts Power Rankings:

#7 – Cole: Cole ate his first muchkin very quickly, leading Lynnette to believe he was a big fan of the treat. She gave him a second doughnut hole and he promptly crushed it in the palm of his hand, getting crumbs everywhere, except for his mouth.

#6 – The roaches in the van: In addition to loving doughnut crumbs, they also love Cole.

#5 – Avery: Ironically, Avery is the one who usually crushes her food. I guess she knows what rare occurrence she was treated with today.

#4 – Abby: Abby has gained 5 pounds since the twins started eating in the high chairs because she roves the carpet beneath them for fallen bits. Or she just licks their hands and faces. Whatever works, she said. She also said to follow her in Instagram at @abby_higa.

#3 – Lynnette: She did get her latte, but she also got an alternate version of one doughnut she wanted, and they forgot to include her jelly-filled. She would have ranked #1 had her expectations been met, but Dunkin’ Donuts is new to Hawaii so they had no way of knowing that Lynnette’s expectations are impossible to meet. But they shoulda known.

#2 – Phil: By default, mostly. The are too young to understand what’s really happening, the dog wasn’t there, the roaches had to wait until we left the van, and Lynnette was bummed out. But the Boston kreme was pretty good, though.

#1 – Madison: Timing had us in the drive-thru after lunchtime and we hadn’t eaten yet. “I guess you’re going to get doughnuts for lunch,” I said. Madison looked at me and the angle of her eyebrows were as sharp as those on the face of Bad Boy Club logo – except she was smiling. I guess she must have felt it was totally her lucky day because she even had the courage to tap on Lynnette’s coffee drink – we very rarely let her have caffeine – and look up at me. “Sure, why not, it’s their grand opening,” I said. She took a sip and raised her head. Those evil eyebrows were bouncing up and down wildly about ping pong ball-sized eyes.

Cold Air in the Living Room!

2We finally had the air conditioner in our living room replaced yesterday but things did not go as planned. The unit stalled out on us several times in the afternoon and did not seem to cool the room as deeply or quickly as our old unit. Today, Brian and his great team at Affordable Home AC replaced it and our family spent this afternoon in a bliss, chilly state I had sorely missed. Our summer vacation is nearly over, and that was truly the impetus for finally getting a new unit: we didn’t want to stick Mama and Papa and the twins in the house during the hottest months of the year. So, even though our days are numbered, we’ll be crying about it in cool comfort.

3I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out the “white fan” for shouldering the cooling responsibilities up to this point. True, he was just blowing around warm air, but he tried his best. Some days as I lie on the couch looking for Pokemon raids, the faint breeze provided by the white fan would remind me of my first road trip to Vegas in college. My friend Kevin drove us in his Volvo station wagon and something malfunctioned – either his windows or his ac – ultimately forcing us to drive through the desert with the windows half-open. It was hot, man. . When I bought the white fan on sale from Target, neither I nor it knew it would have to assume the role of alpha-cooler. It wasn’t built for that, but did it anyway. That’s clutch, baby.

1Finally, I need to thank our Whirlpool unit which was amazing for almost a decade. I grew up without air conditioning and early on in our new home, I avoided using it. But then we had guests over and I turned it on and it hummed to life and brought the frost with it. I never wanted to go back. Lynnette would shake her head at me whenever I’d find the flimsiest reason to shut the windows and turn it on. What can I say? The old Whirlpool spoiled me for natural breezes. Cole saw the hole in the wall, then the new unit. He stared at both and pointed. He made some unintelligible noises. Will he despise change like his father? Or is he just as thrilled as I am that we once again have the capability to beat the heat at home? I can be both, I suppose. Thanks, Whirlpool. You were great at your job.

Ordinarily, I’d play Michelle Branch’s “Goodbye to You” as a send off, but the Whirlpool air conditioner has earned the distinction of the first appliance to be inducted into the Higa Household Hall of Fame, and so it has earned this instead:

Legendary Pokemon and a Legendary Big Sister

IMG_0982IMG_0986You may recall my obsession with Pokemon Go last summer. It lasted into the first quarter of the school year, but faded quickly soon after. Even the introduction of second generation Pokemon earlier this year couldn’t get me as excited about the game as I was in those in those first two months when the game was brand new.

This week Lugia and Articuno were made available for capture through gym raids. I was intrigued but didn’t move much to do anything about it. I didn’t think I would get around to it. It seemed kind of complicated. Also, I have the kids during the day.

But I went last night after dinner, and damn it, it was fun. It was great talking story and hanging out with like-minded again. It also probably helped that I caught Lugia on my first attempt.

“Do you want to go hunting for legendaries?” I asked Madison this morning. “Yeah, it’ll get us out of the house and into the AC,” she said. So we loaded Cole and Avery into the van and went looking for Lugia and Articuno. The twins were happy to get out of the housey, , too.

IMG_0972IMG_0974I took the kids to a playground in Makakilo because it’s fenced in. This is a feature vital to maintaining control over Cole and Avery and also my sanity. The highlights of our trip included Avery doing 360s on her belly right there on the final step while trying to figure out how to get down and Cole almost flying out of the spinner. It’s hot in Makakilo. Super-hot.

I caught the two legendaries and I owe it all to Madison. She’s so good with the twins. When we were at a small park in Mililani, she played with both of them and even carried Avery for a spell when she felt like being pampered. Cole climbed up the hill a few times to hang out with me, but appeared to more want to descend the hill while laughing and screaming. She fed them snacks and scolded Cole for trying to enter the tube with dirt and leaves inside of it (yes, Madison does have some Karen Higa in her) I stood on a sidewalk above the play area among other Pokemon hunters, but facing my kids. Soon, there would be a handful of other children, children of other adult Pokemon hunters to join Madison, Cole, and Avery.

Because of her assignment with the twins, Madison didn’t actually get to watch me participate in the gym raid or attempt to capture a Pokemon. We fixed that after dinner. She and I left the house for Mililani Mauka Rec Center 5, where Articuno had been sighted. She cheered loudly when we caught the bird. “Do you want to go again tomorrow,” I asked. “Yeah!” she said. But…um…can we leave the twins with mom again?”