Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A few observations today...

Observation #1:
Occasionally, it rains for more than 4 minutes at a time in Hawaii.
It had to happen while I was applying for part-time restaurant work in Honolulu, while wearing my best suit.

Observation #2:
I have not been sworn at, given the finger or honked at while driving since we moved here.
However….I kinda miss that.

Observation #3:
Potty training with three children three and under is really hard.
However….No quip here-It’s just really hard.

Observation #4:
I am somewhat of a novelty at Gymboree as a stay-at-home dad to three kids.
However….I’ve always been a bit of an oddity.

Observation #5:
I think about what time it is in NJ at least 15 times a day.

Observation #6:
People here think that if you live 20 minutes away from work, you live “Really far away.”

Observation #7:
If you are headed to the City of Honolulu, which is of course the Capital of the state and largest on the island, the locals say that you are headed to “Town.”

Observation #8:
Most of our Prime Time TV shows are on earlier here. Some of them a full 5 hours earlier. Thank goodness for Tivo.

Observation #9:
Bumper stickers and auto-art are very popular here. Need to get some Jersey and Eagles stickers I think…

Observation #10:
Every person who sees me out with all three kids think they are the first one to say “Whoa…got your hands full there.”

That’s about all I have to say today. I’ll be curious how the Superbowl is received here, as there is already excitement for next week’s Pro Bowl. So until then, Happy Super Tuesday.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Two weeks later, a rambling post...

Well, it has been a while, and for that I apologize. We have been really getting settled and trying to adjust to life here. I won’t replay every bit of our last few weeks, but it’s been interesting.
The kids are settling into life here, and each day gets a bit easier for me in caring for them. Managing the occasional tantrum or running away towards the street while getting in the car, and the ensuing heart attack that induces not withstanding, they are in good form.
The wife is of course doing great in her new position and is settling in there.
Our search for a new church may have finally ended, right where it started, back at the Cathedral in Honolulu. While the twins are a little too young for their church school program, which PALES in comparison to what we had back at Trinity, I think it is the best option we have. That, and after 7 weeks and 6 churches, I’m tired of looking. I’d like to stay somewhere and take the chance that we can develop a relationship with the place. I am in awe of how great things were for us and the kids in that regard at Trinity in NJ. That place was far more special then I realized. But, I am hopeful that we will fit in at the Cathedral.
Hawaii is a beautiful, yet confusing place. It is overwhelmingly beautiful, almost shockingly so, at times. Everyone talks about the “aloha spirit” and while people have been nice, it is clear to me that for the time being, we are outsiders. This is not to say that people are rude-far from it. In general, we have been very well-received, but there are moments when the reaction we get from what are, to us, simple interactions, are head-scratching. There have been moments where I have tried to engage people in conversation, only to have them stare at me, as though I’d not spoken at all. I’ve been reading more on local culture and custom, but I will admit that this particular response, which I’ve experienced a few times is irritating to me. I am hopeful that this will ease somewhat after we’ve been here longer.
Saturday Night Live was a rerun last night, and Jon Bon Jovi was the host. Made me a lil homesick…But this too shall pass. I’m ramblin now, so that’s all I have to say about that.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Quick Update

Using the Kapolei Library computer right now-we are settled in and 98% unpacked in the new house. It is amazing-far better then we hoped. No internet yet, or TV, but we are all having a really good transition.

Wife and I have spent the last few evening relaxing on our couches and listening to records....yep-vinyl ones. It's something we never had time for before...

So, lots more to tell, but limited time right now. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

As it stands currently: Aloha Spirit: 0; New Jersey Attitude: 1

Thursday, January3: Well, you can take the guy out of Jersey…Now, before you get too excited, it’s not that big a deal, but we had a little incident at the Library today. We all stopped by to have the kids pick a few DVD’s and maybe visit the kids area before taking everyone home for dinner. The boy decided that this would be an appropriate time for a tantrum, and let a spectacular one fly. Well, that set off the baby, and we made a direct line for the exit.

The wife took the boy out, screaming the entire way, and left ahead of me, while I walked down with the girls. As I moved towards the exit, the fun began-an older gentleman took the moment to loudly complain to the security guard about my kid. He of course didn’t know that I was his father, and went on for a minute before I was faced with a choice.

Do I embrace the Aloha spirit and just let it go? Or, do I call this guy out?

Well, as I said, you can take me outta Jersey, but I wasn’t about to let this one go.

As I approached, I asked him, very politely if I could help him with something, as that was my kid he was talking about. He continued his rant about how ‘you see it more and more these days…” to which I replied “see what?” He faltered there, so I said “the kid had a tantrum, we left. Why don’t you pass judgment on someone else?” I didn’t raise my voice or swear (the girls were with me, so I was very appropriate…) He stammered a bit more about it being a library, to which I replied, “Are you a parent?” His reply of, “I most certainly am.” I’ll admit surprised me, but I went with it, asking “Well, didn’t your children ever throw a tantrum?” He assured me that they had but that he “Never put my children in socially unacceptable situations, and we handled things.”

Keep in mind, we are in a public library, with an extensive children’s section.

At this point, the librarian came over, and thanked the gentleman for his concern, but that she thought we had handled it fine. He left in a huff.

I thanked the librarian, and to be honest, I’m glad she came over, as I was really irritated by his last comment. I’ve absolutely had it with some of the looks and comments I get from people, like the lady in the supermarket that rolled her eyes at us shopping, saying “three kids, what are they thinking?” Or even better, the stranger at the Zoo the other day that asked me, after I had told her that yes; the 3 year olds are twins, if the baby was planned after we already had twins. Or the people that ask “Did you want so many?” Or “did you take drugs or something?” Or “Did she deliver vaginally?” These are strangers…but I digress.

OK, so let the rant continue: or the cowardly lady downstairs, who again complained to the manager about us, rather than call me and talk to me directly, and yes, I gave the front desk my number to give to her. Just be a human being and talk to us if there’s a problem. I’d have bought the lady headphones or something, or adjusted their schedules if it meant being a better neighbor, but she won’t give us that chance.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ll be the first person to question a parent allowing a child to just go off without taking action. I can assure you that neither I nor the wife simply let them go off-we either settle them or remove them. I know, better than anyone, how irritating it can be when they go off, but I am not about to lock them in a room and wait for them to go to school. We have only been here 23 days, we are cramped in a two-bedroom apartment, and we are all adjusting as best we can. All things considered, the kids are doing very well, and as I spend more time with them then anyone these days, I feel quite qualified to judge that.

That said, I understand that people don’t know us or our situation, and just react how they react. But I think it took a lot of nerve for this guy at the library to call me out as a parent because my kid threw a tantrum. It happens. He’s three. We left. Get over it dude. I’m supposed to not take them anywhere because he’s three?

Maybe I should have let it go, but I couldn’t let this guy badmouth my kid right in front of me. I know how irritating it can be to hear a kid scream (trust me, I know), especially in a quiet place like a library, which is why we left immediately. I could see if we were letting it go on and on and not doing anything about it. The kid went off-we left. End of problem.

So, the moral of the story is that I might be in Hawaii, but there’s plenty of Jersey in me. I may not be the world’s best dad, but I won’t accept the judgment of this dude.

After all… my boy, later that same evening, participated in the following exchange with me during bath time. We were talking about turtles, and I’ve been trying to teach them some words in Hawaiian, including Honu, which is Hawaiian for turtle. His sister has really embraced it, but he’s been less interested in Hawaiian words, except for Ohana.

Me: “So, Boyo, how do you say ‘turtle’ in Hawaiian?”
He thought for a moment and says, matter of factly: “Turtle in Hawaiian.”

And then he smirked. He knew it was funny. He is definitely my kid.

And right or wrong, I’m always going to stand up for them.

Addendum: Saturday evening: Girls went to see “The Bee Movie” while the Boyo and I went to visit the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor. He’s still a bit young for the Arizona Memorial, but we had a great time exploring the USS Missouri, which as you may recall was the sight of the Japanese surrender during WWII. We are going to try to do more with them separately, as I think it makes a difference in the twins temperament, especially while they are still sharing a room. We hope that our stuff arrives this Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Holy New Years. I mean, WOW!

Traditionally, I hate New Year’s Eve. I’ve had enough specifically bad eve’s, and enough non-descript eve’s that the night has rarely meant a whole lot to me.

Yet, if you’d told me last year, that I’d be sitting on a balcony in Honolulu a year later, I’d have removed you from your beverage of choice.

And yet, here I sit, on the balcony of our temporary housing, looking out at Uptown Honolulu, and beyond, as although the night is somewhat cloudy, fireworks are abundant here, and they do tend to cut through the fog.

I went to the grocery store with the wife and kids today after we picker her up from work. It turns out that, in several of the grocery stores here, you can purchase your fireworks, meat, milk, bread, and wine, all in the same place. And they have been purchased. In abundance.

We are on the 17th floor of our building, and so we get a nice view of both the street level revelers, and those in the distance. For the moment, there are no “official” fireworks in the city, but I see plumes popping up from all over Honolulu. I can even see some of the smaller communities up on the mountain, where I can only see one or two home lights on, firing off fireworks right from their homes. They are the only lights visible, so I know that it’s very much like my Uncle lighting them off when I was a kid in his backyard.

Its 11:47 now and business has picked up. There are several blocks here in Honolulu competing for the best show. I will admit that the effect to this moment is not as exciting as NYC or Penns Landing in Philly for sure volume, but knowing that each plume here, and the incessant firecrackers since 7pm, each come from one family, or at least one community that is spouting off their New Year’s Cheer, is somewhat new, and it is in many ways like watching neighbors compete in a holiday light contest….except that I can see them compete all at once-here is a plume from King Street, and here is one from Nu’uanu Street. The Kids downstairs on Ala Wai are doing mostly sparklers, but they are trying.

The sound of firecrackers has been constant since 7pm local time here, which was midnight EST. I find that interesting, but with 7 minutes left to go, who know what we will end up seeing here. I know that many Asian cultures invoke the firecracker at New Year’s to drive away Evil Spirits, and if that be true, this city is fine…

Whoa did it kick into gear at 11:57. Constant firecrackers and M80’s. I can see the flashes and smell the smoke from all over the city.

12:12 AM. Wow-I think they know how to do it here. From our balcony, I can see not only Honolulu, but the Mountain towns in the far distance, and there are flashes, and colors, and booms in every direction. I only figured out just now that one series of firecrackers that I thought was done a while back was in fact a string that is continuing to run down a very long side street to the east of our balcony. It’s been running so long that the smoke alone is noticeable, if not the 45 minute constant cracking.

What was great about this is that to my understanding, these are all private people firing off their New Year’s cheer and hopes.

It’s been amazing and my hope is that my year can be as exciting as this display. Maybe they are more excited than normal as UH plays in the Sugar Bowl tomorrow, but I think, based on the fact that fireworks were available and cheap, people here are just firing off what they feel.

Here’s hoping I feel that way a year from now. Last year, most of us fell asleep watching the “Rockin Eve.” The wife and the kids seem to have slept through this whole fireworks onslaught. I am wide awake and so is most of this city.

I think this is a good omen, as I typically hate New Years. My family slept through this, but I think it was a pretty awesome welcome to 2008.

So, bring it on. If you'd told me a year ago I'd be here now, I'd have questioned your imbibing. And yet, here we are.

There, but for the Grace of God.