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Shayla and Asher’s Excellent Adventure: Part One

September 19, 2013

Last month, Asher and I went to see my brother and his family in Hawaii. As it was mainly a “my family” affair and vacation days were in short supply, Ragnar did not go. But The Hobbit and I saw and did some truly incredible things. Because we were there for nearly three weeks, I’ve decided to divide the telling of our exploits into three posts. Now, Part One of our excellent adventure…

Day 1: Saturday, August 10th was the longest day of my life. I mean that quite literally—for me, it was 28 hours long. It started at 2:30 am, after an hour or two of restless sleep. Asher and I, along with my oldest brother, Michael, embarked on the most excellent adventure of my life. Eight-month-old Asher will not remember a second of it, but for the rest of his life I will remind him that it was excellent nonetheless.

As you might imagine, the twelve hours between entering Denver International Airport and leaving Honolulu International Airport were very long ones, particularly with an eight-month-old. The pinnacle was probably when I learned that the plane (the one that we spent six-and-a-half hours on) had no changing table. That was after holding a poopy kid for several hours, waiting for my chance to take him to the bathroom. But really, I can’t complain about anything else.  Asher was great. Really, really great. Even the other passengers said so. And he handled seeing the ocean for the first time like a boss.
Asher on plane

I should note that I saw the ocean for the first time when I was 21. Michael saw the ocean for the first time when he was–Am I allowed to say this? No? Well, let’s just say, he saw it for the first time at the same time that Asher did. And remember that he’s my very oldest brother. So basically, Asher is very travelled/cultured for an infant.

When we had crossed the many waters (for what felt like the space of many days), we were greeted by my wonderful brother and sister-in-law—Ryan and Sarah–and their three fantastic kids, McKenna, Evan, and Alana. We got leied. My lei had orchids, LOTS of of orchids! I was sure that it had cost an arm and a leg, but Sarah told me that orchids are cheap there. That was perhaps my first clue that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Just kidding, that was the humidity. Oh, the humidity…

R&S were keen to show us a good time, pretty much from the moment we stepped off the plane. For them, that was 11:30 am. For me, considering how early I’d gotten up and how little sleep I’d had, it was more like 7 pm. Still, we went to “The Nex,” which was kind of a mall with lots of discounted stuff for members of the military and their immediate families. That was the first time I realized how heavy the military presence is in Hawaii. There is lots of “military-only” type stuff.

Also—and I felt kind of racist saying this—but I asked, “Where are all the white people?” At the Nex, there were lots of Asians and Polynesians, but we were possibly the biggest group of white people around. For the first time in my life, I felt like I stuck out. You see, I had pictured Hawaii as any old state in the US of A, with a smattering of native Hawaiians and, oh yeah, it just happened to be an island in the middle of the Pacific. (That just sounds ridiculous now.)

“Whites are the minority here,” Sarah told me. “You’ll see a lot of Japanese and Filipinos. They’re the majority.”

“You mean, the majority isn’t even native Hawaiian?”

“No, there aren’t really a lot of native Hawaiians left. Most of them were wiped out.”

That blew my mind. Already Hawaii was much more different and interesting than I’d imagined. I probably spent the first week peppering Sarah with questions about Hawaiian culture and history. Sorry, Sarah, if I asked more questions than your four-year-old! I found it all so fascinating (more on this later).

After The Nex, I think I took a nap. I don’t really remember, because I was so exhausted. But I do remember that night going to R&S’s ward party and eating Kalua pork. Oh my land! Kalua pork. I must find some place that serves it in Denver. It has awakened my tastebuds to a new kind of yearning. Also (or “also-ly,” as Alana would say), I now want to go to a church that is open-air, where the Relief Society room and chapel open onto a beautiful courtyard. Mikey said even he would repent of his sinnerly ways and go to church if his church building was that cool.

Day 2: We all (except sinnerly Mikey and then-sickly Evan) went to church. I wasn’t too impressed by the friendliness of the ward, but I think I’m comparing it to R&S’s old ward in Lubbock, which is basically the friendliest ward ever (I hear this is typical of Texas). BUT, the speakers all start their talks with “Aloha!” which is echoed back by the congregation. And if that’s not friendly, I don’t know what is. AND, I got leied again in Relief Society. (Can I say that?) It was a cool lei, made of seashells. I forgot it when I packed, and I’m sad about it.

That evening, the four grown-ups played Cranium. Can I just say how much I love board games? And Cranium especially? And my family especially especially? And my family when we are playing Cranium especially especially especially? We are not a family-home-videos-type family, but when we play Cranium, I wish we were.

Day 3: Finally, we went to the beach. Evan’s sickliness appeared to be worse than a cold, and so Mikey and I took McKenna, Alana, and Asher (of course) to the beach while Sarah took Evan to the doctor. Now folks, I had been to “the beach” before. I’d been to Mission Beach, and Pismo Beach, and Venice Beach. And all of those California beaches were nice. But Hawaiian beaches are their own category. How to put this…Californian beaches are of a Terrestrial glory. Hawaiian beaches are 100% Celestial. (Can I say that?) The views are incredible, the sand is incredible, the warm water is incredible, the sheer number of beaches and their accessibility is incredible, and the people—what people? That first beach we went to, called Iroquois Point, was practically deserted. It was walking distance from the kids’ elementary school, and it looked like a Corona commercial, complete with those little grass hut things.

corona commercial

(You know, like this.)

It was lovely. Asher crawled around and got sand all over and ate quite a bit of it, which he pooped out the next day. I held him at the water’s edge and let him experience the waves coming in and washing over him. I sat on the beach and marveled at how gorgeous it was, looking out over Pearl Harbor. I played in the balmy water. And I just about decided, right from the start, that I might never go home.

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Alana showing off her seashells

Alana showing off her seashells


I also developed a tiny scratchiness in my throat that day, which, I’m sorry to say, will also be discussed more later. I should also mention that Evan’s doctor diagnosed him with Strep that day.

Day 4: Hawaiian beaches are to Californian beaches, as Hawaiian hikes are to all other hikes I’ve been on. This was evident from my first Hawaiian hike, the 4.8-mile Aiea Loop trail between Ewa Beach (where R&S live) and Honolulu. Sarah was very kind and offered to watch Asher while Mikey and I went on our excursion. Asher was very kind and took a three-hour nap. (I love that kid!) Once we found where we were going—no small feat—it was a whole new world. It was humid, and dense, and hot, and it rained off and on the whole time, though we didn’t always feel the rain in the jungle. It was also surprisingly non-buggy (there are oh-so-many perks to being thousands of miles from anything).  I’m sad to say that the pictures really don’t do it justice.

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Some nice bare-footed hikers offered to stop and take our picture.

Some nice bare-footed hikers offered to stop and take our picture.

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When we got back to R&S’s I learned that Asher had been very well-behaved, but that he had a cold. Still, it was a pretty great day.

Day 5: There’s really no other way to say it. Day 5 was a bummer. Asher was sick, and very fussy. I spent most of that day in an internal struggle. I sent Ragnar lots of texts along the lines of “Asher is super-clingy but won’t sleep. Everyone else gets to go to the beach. This sucks.” On the one hand, I felt like a big cry-baby for complaining while I was in Hawaii, because my truly angelic son had a cold and was having a hard time with it. ON THE OTHER HAND, I was upset that I had travelled thousands of miles and was spending almost as many dollars only to sit around the house all day and wrestle a baby who wasn’t comfortable in large part because he wasn’t at home. In the end, I did get to go to the beach with my family, but I spent the whole time (AGAIN!) wrestling Asher and trying to get him to sleep. I couldn’t even set him down, because that beach had tons of little rocks and shells and plant debris that were prime choking hazards. Once I got him to sleep, I prayed that no one around me would yell or try to talk to me, so that Asher would stay asleep…and that I wouldn’t have to cough. Because that tickle? It was getting worse. Ragnar sent me the following text message: “Ya know I really feel sorry for you. You are holding your son at the beach. Yeah it’s not ideal but life is still pretty good.”

I vacillated between being really ticked off and agreeing with him. He had just come back from a long fishing trip to Alaska, and he hadn’t spent a single day of it canceling his plans to take care of a sick baby. And yet, this is what moms do. They take care of their kids, even when they’re sick, even when they’re on vacation, and even when they’re (justifiably!) feeling really sorry for themselves. It is always hard to accept when our expectations are dashed. I’m slowly learning that if I want to be sane as a mother I have to have very, VERY flexible expectations. This lesson was repeated several more times while we were in Hawaii.

I should note that the beach we went to that day—White Plains—had been the site of a shark attack just a couple of weeks prior. So, you never know. Maybe I would have died or something if I’d gone in the water that day. Plus, I have a touch of galeophobia.

That evening, one of Ryan’s friends from the ward came over to help give Evan a blessing. Evan had had a high fever for four days by then, and the antibiotics did not seem to be helping. Ryan offered to give Asher a blessing too, but I had planned to put Asher in bed. “If Asher’s still awake, I’ll bring him down,” I told him. Asher was exhausted (as was I), and I was expecting him to fall fast asleep. But instead, he fussed and fought and refused to go to sleep. I decided to bring him downstairs for a blessing. As they blessed him, he finally relaxed. They blessed him that he would be better. It seemed as if he knew that he needed to stay awake until he had that blessing. He went to sleep soon, and the next day he was so much better!

Day 6: Oh Day 6, how I love you.This was the day we went to Turtle Bay on The North Shore and went snorkeling with sea turtles. Yep, you read that right. Snorkeling.with.S-E-A-T-U-R-T-L-E-S. I had never been snorkeling before, and it took me awhile to wrap my head around the idea of breathing under water. Michael and I went out together to find the turtles. It was against the law or something to get close to them onshore, but out in the ocean, you could basically ride them. (Kidding!) But seriously, we were CLOSE. As in, I got close to one sea turtle, tentatively reached out to touch it with one finger, and then a wave washed me smack-dab into ANOTHER sea turtle! They were very polite about it too. I thought they might snap at me or at least flash some rude gestures, but they were cool. One dude didn’t even mind when Mikey and I camped out on either side of him and just watched him for a few minutes. Oh, and did I mention the fish? There were patches of rock (coral?) with lots of big, colorful, lovely fish. Snorkeling is awesome.

Asher had still not learned his lesson about sand, and I still hadn’t learned my lesson about slathering him in sunscreen. So, I slathered, and this is what he did.


Followed by this:

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And so, after hastily snapping some photos, I attempted to rub off all the sand (AND all the sunscreen!) before it got in is eyes and orifices. So yeah, not really sure why I bothered with the sunscreen. He only kept it on for like five minutes. But maybe the pics make it worth it.

After we went Snorkeling.with.S-E-A-T-U-R-T-L-E-S. we mosied on over to the little surf town of Haleiwa for some grub. We got some yummy Thai food from a food truck off the side of the road, as is the thing to do (so I’m told).

That evening, Evan was sick. Sarah had thought, after the blessing, that Evan was ready to go to school for the first time that week. Evan had thought so too. But as his fever spiked yet again, R&S decided it was time to take him to the ER. Ryan took him, and the rest of us talked logistics. Michael, Ryan, and I had planned to get up early (like, 2 am early) to hike the Stairway to Heaven on Friday morning. You have to go insanely early, because the hike is technically illegal and there is a guard that gets there at oh-dark-thirty to prevent people from passing. (And yet, if he sees you coming down at, say, 8 am, he just gives a little wave and carries on. Weird.)  Hiking the STH was one of the things I had most looked forward to on my trip. But we could all see the writing on the wall. Ryan was at the hospital with Evan, Sarah needed help getting ready for Evan’s big birthday party that weekend, and me? I was not feeling so hot myself. The Stairway to Heaven was indefinitely postponed.

Day 7: Ryan and Evan got home from the hospital at about 1:30 am. Evan had been dehydrated and malnourished (he hadn’t wanted to eat or drink much all week), so they gave him lots of IV fluids and steroids. He was very brave through the ordeal, as Ryan tells it (more on Evan’s bravery later!), and started to feel better soon after. I felt like crap. I had wanted to be a big help to Sarah that morning, but I think I mostly slept as much as possible. Asher was feeling fit as a fiddle, but I had a nasty cold.

That afternoon, the whole lot of us packed up and went to the beach at Bellows Air Force Station. We were to spend the weekend there at a cabin on the beach, where R&S were throwing a big eighth birthday party for Evan. I’ll discuss Bellows in-depth in my next post, but for now, suffice it to say that it was the most surreally beautiful place I’ve ever been.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    September 19, 2013 8:54 pm

    I am so excited to read your next installments! I’m glad your doing a day by day account. I have such a bad memory that I forget some of the awesome things we did. I loved reading this. 🙂

  2. September 20, 2013 4:18 am

    I want to go baaaaack!!!!!

    And I will never get over my insane jealousy that you got to snorkel with sea turtles.


  1. Happy First Birthday! |

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