this is getting old

WARNING: This is a venting post. Read on at your own risk..not that there’s any profanity or gossip to stink-talking…but it can be kind of a downer. Just sayin’ I can’t remember what it’s like to just be the THREE of us. To have our own space. To eat what WE want to eat. To not have other peoples’ stuff in my room. To own a car. To not feel like a total leech. To not have my creative energy sucked into the drama of everyone around me. To feel like I can just take care of MY daughter. To not feel totally helpless. It is so, so hard to stay positive. I love my parents and Keola’s grandma, for taking us in. Love love love them. But I feel about an inch tall. Our marriage is tight as ever, but the stress is getting to us.

We have basically forsaken money to be close to family, to make a life here in Hawaii, for Keola to find work that doesn’t eat away at his stomach lining every time he leaves the house.

But I feel like we traded in our problems in Oregon for a whole new set of problems. It is so degrading for a high schooler to be making more money than us at their summer job at the movie theater when we put in so much time and money to educating ourselves. I feel like society lied to us about the value of college. It hasn’t done much for us because now college isn’t enough. Employers want EXPERIENCE but how can you get experience if you can’t get hired? Oh he’s had internships. People want PAID experience.

Keola just got a job. It’s 15 hours a week, $25/hr. Federal grant money. I’m happy we’re getting somewhere, don’t get me wrong, but it’s frankly, impossible to live on that in Hawaii. It doesn’t move us out on our own, but at least we have a little more self respect. We can pay rent…help with bills. Pay off credit cards. Save some money. Progress.

He has an interview for a position in Kona on Friday. Enter the guilt of leaving behind his sweet grandmother should he be hired. I LOVE HER TO DEATH. She’s like my own grandmother. I want to help her. I would LOVE for Keola to land a good job here so we can help her with her upside-down mortgage. Yes. She owes more than the house is worth because of all the refinancing they did. Don’t refinance if you don’t have to. It’s evil. She’s even more stuck than we are. She’s taken care of everyone her whole life, depleted her savings for others. Someone SHOULD take care of her. But we can’t take care of her if we can’t even take care of ourselves.

I don’t want to be rich. Well, it would be nice maybe (that opens up a whole NEW can of worms that I’m not too keen on either)….but that’s not my highest aspiration in life. I just want to stop worrying about money. I wish I lived in a society where money didn’t exist. Where you built your own house and lived off the land. Where you knew you’d be cared for till the day you died. Where you didn’t have to worry about a rat race. Where you didn’t have to worry about your 401k disappearing, or your children’s’ college fund, or ridiculous health care costs. They say money can’t buy happiness. I say it can buy peace, and stability – which would make the average person pretty happy I’d say. I know money won’t solve all our problems and I’m not expecting it to, but right now…a pile of it would certainly make my life easier.

keola’s wife

Buggas Wedding
Of all the relationships in my life that I am defined by,  (daughter,  granddaughter,  niece,  in-law,  sister, mother) I am the most grateful and proud to be Keola’s wife. I think I feel this way because he was the only one I chose. He is my companion through life and beyond.  It’s been five years today,  since we promised each other we’d be together forever.  Each year has had its’ unique challenges and blessings but the outcome of each year has been that we’ve grown in love,  respect  and adoration for each other. I love my life because he is in it. He gets me, and I get him.
Our daughter is a manifestation of our love for each other. It’s so clear to me that her happiness is directly influenced by the state of our marriage. She is happy because we are happy. She loves because we love.
So,  as I type away the morning and watch my husband and daughter still curled up in bed,  I am struck by tremendous gratitude for the family I have created,  the life I have chosen. It’s a scary notion – giving yourself to someone,  but when it’s the right one,  the result is sheer joy. We have almost no worldly possessions,  but we are rich with love.  I have everything as long as I am Keola’s wife. Happy Anniversary bugga.

a one of a kind gift for a one of a kind lady

This weekend I flew back to Hilo to surprise my mom for her *ahem* 50th birthday! Well…her birthday was last Tuesday but her party was on Saturday and I just knew that she would LOOOOVE to see Noweo (and me, but especially Noweo) so I made sure I was there for the big shindig.
Since I was flying solo, I was a bit preoccupied with keeping myself and the little one reasonably sanitary (which is HARD with a 14th month old switching between shoving saucy chinese food in her mouth and playing in dirt) and didn’t get to take any pictures. I sure developed a greater appreciation for my husband (4 hands are better than 2) and greater admiration for parents who fly solo 24/7.
BUT, the reason why I wanted to save this post until I found my camera was because I wanted to show you my mom’s birthday present. Graphic design lends itself stupendously to unique gift creation and I seized the opportunity to practice illustrating.
So I created this notecards for her to use at work. She’s a Hawaiian studies teacher at the elementary school we went to as kids. Manaʻo means “thoughts or ideas,” makua” means parent. Usually the Hawaiian studies teacher is of the grandparent generation and is called “kupuna” but since my mom is still young, the kids call her “Makua Meyers” instead of “Kupuna Meyers.”
The flower is a lehua blossom, which is famous in Hilo and the bird is a Hawaiian Honeycreeper. It took me FOREVER to get those wings right but I’m pleased with the end result of the design. Printing was a different story. It didn’t turn out as sharp as I would’ve liked, but still had a nice overall effect.
I was a little short on supplies so I tied the cards together with a piece of thread.
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I wanted the wrapping to have an organic feel, so I crumpled up a piece of brown paper bag. Keola’s grandma asked if I wanted “something nicer.” I think she was a little horrified that I was putting my mom’s gift in what she saw as a piece of trash.
I hadn’t gotten her a card, so the thought occurred to me to write on the wrapping like so:
CIMG3075CIMG3074CIMG3071
Once that was done, I  wrapped it up and happened upon a piece of brown rope that was the PERFECT length so I used that as ribbon and tied a bow. Didn’t get a picture of that because I was rushing to the airport, but believe me when I say it couldn’t have come together any better.
I love the feeling of creating something unique and thoughtful that no one else has. Mom got a truly one-of-a-kind, personalized item. She loves thrift, creativity and practicality, and my gift utilized all three. Forgive my boasting. It’s usually really hard for me to come up with a good gift for my mom and I’m proud of myself for this one. I really need to give props to the creative community because there are so many inspiring bloggers that help me think outside the box and find joy in making things.
More on my mom a little later because she deserves a blog post all to herself. Have you ever given a gift you were REALLY proud of?

summer fun

Since we’ve been sick (and lacking funds) we haven’t done much adventuring here on Maui, but fortunately you don’t have to go very far  to have fun, especially when you’re surrounded by beautiful ocean and beautiful people…
Noweo and daddy
like daddy…
Summer fun 1
and cousins and aunties
Noweo: favorite faces
and these to die for expressions on my favorite baby… (Noweo fell in the sand and came up with a perfect Hitler moustache)
diptic
These moments are the sweetest. I hold them close.

she quit nursing…cold turkey

Perhaps you saw my perplexed tweets on this issue, perhaps not. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that it’s official: We’ve weaned. There was no gradual stepping down of feedings, no effort whatsoever on my part. It was quick…I’m talking lightning quick here. One minute she loved nursing and couldn’t live without it, and the next…it was like “Mom what are you doing? That was sooooo 10 minutes ago.” It happened on Friday…or whatever day we went to go see Kung Fu Panda II (loved it btw). Noweo hadn’t nursed very well that morning and every nursing session included purposeful biting. Lots of people would chock it up to teething, but she’s been teething for months, her front teeth have been in for almost as long as she’s been alive, and I’ve never had an issue where she bites me EVERY SINGLE TIME. It soon became clear to me that something clicked in Noweo and this issue wasn’t going to go away. What made me sad was that she still acted like she wanted to nurse, but when I’d offer, she’d just bite me. She had no latch whatsoever, and I couldn’t comfort her the way I always do, so she’d roll around and cry and she seemed quite sad about not being able to nurse. She wouldn’t even take pumped milk in her sippy.

After 24 hours of trying to get her to nurse, I gave up and decided not to offer. She responded and stopped asking, and has showed no interest whatsoever. And that was that.

I had been wondering how nursing was going to end, but I hadn’t figured on such an abrupt severing of our nursing relationship. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. I’ve been directly nourishing this girl with my body for almost 2 years (from conception in July 2009 on through nursing for 13.5 months). It’s almost like I’ve been pregnant this whole time because my body has not been completely mine, and I’ve come to associate motherhood very closely with birth and nursing, and the fact that Noweo’s completely independent of my body leaves me feeling empty and useless and not special, even replacable. Now, there’s nothing I can do for her that no one else can do, and that kinda sucks.

BUT, there is a silver lining. Since Noweo stopped nursing, she’s become a MUCH better eater. I think she knows that this is all the food she’s gonna get, so she’d better eat up! She’s also become a better sleeper, suddenly able to get through the whole night without eating. Even though she still wakes up and rolls around, she doesn’t need me and puts herself back to sleep pretty easily. Falling asleep is even easier! I just plop into bed with her, stick a binky in her mouth and she’s down in a few minutes.

I feel like she’s grown up so much in just the last couple of days, and my faith in the process of growth and development has been reinforced. Why did I question myself so much? Probably because I didn’t know any better, but I trust the process now. Noweo was ready to be done, and she let me know, and whether or not I’m ready, it’s about her not me.

I know my feelings of being replaceable and not special anymore are irrational, but I needed to get them out. I know she loves me, that she wants me more than anyone else and she’s often devastated when I leave her side. She’s gonna need me less and less and less as she gets older and other things will become more important that “Mom,” and that’s natural and I’ll have to get over it every time.

I’m so happy that I nursed for as long as I did. I have beautiful memories of curling up in bed with her, of talking to her about nothing, locking eyes with her and making her laugh. Nursing is more than feeding a body. It has literally fed our love and connection to each other, and though our nursing relationship may be over, our mother-daughter relationship is just beginning.

it’s all in the details

I love old houses for the feeling that something’s been lived in, has stories to tell, has seen multiple generations born and grown. I love worn paint, quirky collectibles showing up in unusual places, rattling windows, the way the years are layered on as time ticks by…
Grandma’s house, is just that sort of house.
This was belongs to little Keola. It’s now my “office” chair.
Shoes make great doorstops. Just stick your foot in it when you want to close the door.
Noweo can climb on beds now. She also hits her head against the wall, which fortunately is a soft, forgiving wood.
[not about the house, but about the picture] We’re sick. And our computer almost broke without us backing it up FOR MONTHS so when we got it fixed we immediately got out our time capsule and backed it up .
Noweo’s obsessed with windchimes. I like this pretty rainbow dove one, even though it’s wood and doesn’t “chime.”
The thing I love most about old houses like Grandma’s, is that even though it changes and evolves throughout the years, it’s still here standing, still the place where the family gathers, the rock in the storm, a place to come home to.