Family Vacations ROCK!

Ocean fun!
Ocean fun!
The view from Hawaii
The view from Hawaii

Thom is feeding Mia a native apple banana on the patio while James and Hannah are drinking pina coladas and, tired from all that pool time, taking a break out of the sun to watch Scrubs, a longtime fav that never gets old despite repeated viewings.  Everyone is enjoying our final day of family vacation just hanging out.  Damn.  Time needs to stand still for just a while.  What will we do when we can’t see our family especially Baby Mia every day????  Yes, family vacations do indeed ROCK but need to be more like two weeks or a whole summer instead of a puny week.  We barely just got into our vacation rhythm–breakfast/beach/nap and repeat.  How will I ever work a whole day again??  Of course, I do realize no work means no vacation so off I will go on Tuesday when we return but only under protest.  Serious protest.

Grandpa & Mia discussing life
Grandpa & Mia discussing life

With two grown kids, a granddaughter now and everyone with busy, busy schedules working and going to school, we haven’t gone on a family vacation since Florida four years ago when Mike was newly dating Hannah and Mia wasn’t even a possibility thought about yet.  Since then, Thom and I have lived in Seattle/NYC/Seattle/China/Seattle, James has graduated from college and is set to go to law school in the fall, and Hannah graduated from college, married Mike and had Mia-she’s been a busy girl!  Mia just began walking last week and had us all running so hard we needed those multiple naps a day more than she did.  Yikes!

With the dishwasher and laundry running non-stop to keep up, we ran to the beach, the pool, and cooked all that food we got at Costco after we landed on the Big Island.  Somehow we were able to drink up all the booze we bought but the leftover food will hopefully be of benefit to the cleaning crew tomorrow when we leave.  I hate to waste but goodness we bought a lot!

We found our home away from home on VRBO, which we also use to rent out our cottage in Boise.  We have always had great luck, using VRBO places from Florida to Barcelona with great results.  Our 3 br/3ba condo here was no different with lots of room for everyone, a view to die for from all windows but especially our master balcony and a pool that was perfect for baby Mia.  The beach was just a short walk down the road where the surfers rode the waves and the snorkeling was the best on the island.  Paradise found indeed!

At the last minute, I insisted on my own checked luggage and then ended up not wearing hardly any of what I packed.  Next time, a carry on is all I need with shorts, bathing suit, flip flops.  It never got cold and there was no nightlife on the Big Island so quiet nights at home needed very few wardrobe changes.  Live and learn and always pack light.  Really no need for the six pair of shoes I brought.

Siblings together again
Siblings together again and enjoying ziplining over waterfalls

Tonight is our last night together and we are hoping for an awesome sunset.  While there are always rain clouds over the middle hills of the island, the sun is usually shining by us on the beach side.  Unfortunately, a few of us got a little too much sun despite repeated sunscreen applications.  The weather woman talked about being burnt in just 10 minutes in this sun which is frightening.  As a skin cancer survivor, I use SPF70 and move to the shade whenever possible.  With Mia being a “ginger”, her momma put her in l/s swim shirts, large hats and sprayed liberally with sunscreen at every opportunity.

Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water
Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water

Though no one wanted to play euchre with me (Midwest card game I grew up on) or Scrabble with me, we may try to do another round of Cards Against Humanity again, though I usually need to look up in the urban dictionary some of the more crazy terms that everyone but me seems to know.  WTF!  Yes, I know that one.  It’s weird playing this with my kids but they get a kick out of Mom’s responses so it’s a fun time.

Now, it’s on to Italy (Cinque Terri) in late September and planning for another family vacation back here in Hawaii next year.  After all, Mia needs to run in the Keikei Run every year now and try to beat her record.  She was so adorable trying to walk the 100 yard course with her mom and dad assisting as needed.  They are putting her on a path of healthy habits.  With her dad’s love of all things baseball and Mom’s expertise in swimming, tennis & soccer, I see sports in Mia’s future.  I can’t wait!  So, ALOHA for now as the sun sets on our family vacation.  Mahalo to all and to all a good night!

Mia's first Keikei 100 yard run in Kona
Mia’s first Keikei 100 yard run in Kona

Boise to Beijing-The Journey Begins

Good bye blue skies and fresh air!  Hello grey, chunk-filled air that causes me to cough..hard.  So long family and friends!  Hello insane work schedule though I love what I do.  Tomorrow I will make the long, long journey from Boise, Idaho to Beijing, China.  Leaving behind my new granddaughter Mia and my lovely family including my husband, who will stay to oversee the purchase of our new home here in Boise, our retreat from China but primarily a vacation rental till we expatriate.  Though I have been busy working from Boise to get ready for my big project in China, I have been blessed to at least be able to see the baby and family every night.  We take a walk around the neighborhood-the whole crazy crew:  Baby Mia, Hannah & Mike, Thom and I plus the crazy canine duo pulling us along, Izaak and Ollie, plus Det. Stabler, the only cat I know who goes for walks too. Now, I really don’t favor cats, being a dog person, but I will acknowledge that Det. Stabler is an unusually loyal and smart cat.  Not that I ever want to support a cat again.  Ever.  I prefer dogs who love you always and never give attitude.

Thom enjoying some puppy love from our Izaak.  I miss him so much!
Thom enjoying some puppy love from our Izaak. I miss him so much!
Det. Stabler coming along for the walk sans leash
Det. Stabler coming along for the walk sans leash

For the next month or two, I will be all alone in Beijing working hard.  More days in a hotel than I want to think about, not that it is a bad hotel but I miss being home.  Our Ayi Pink probably thinks we bailed on her.  I wonder what she does all day in the apartment with really nothing to do except dust the ever present dirt that is spewing out of the vents and hopefully watering our plants so they are not all dead by the time we return.  The wave pool with sandy beach will be open for the summer by the time I return to Shanghai in late June.  I’ve been watching the feral cats use this sandy beach as their own private litter box all winter while working out in the gym overlooking it.  Wonder if they’ll clean up all the cat poop before the season starts?  Oh, right, I live in China.  Note to self–wear shoes in sand.

What do I miss from Shanghai?  I miss the daily adventures walking the streets with Thom.  Experiencing the unusual and crazy life in China.  I don’t miss the pollution AT ALL.  My lung scare is still top of mind and I don’t look forward to wearing my mask more to protect myself but I will because I value living and breathing.  My CT scan showed lung damage caused by remote exposure to TB but thank God, I was tested and it’s not active TB. Did I get “exposed” to TB in China.  Yep.  Damn Subways.  Oh well.

Three generations enjoying lunch on a sunny, clear day in Boise.
Three generations enjoying lunch on a sunny, clear day in Boise.

Packing today was an experience in futility.  Due to the lure of low, low prices in the U.S., I may have overdone the shopping a bit. Well, maybe more like 20 or 30 pounds worth. Don’t judge me–the top size in China is a small 4 so I loaded up on the generous US sizing to help my self confidence.  Now, I am forced to make my son bring over some of my clothes when he comes.  Sorry dude but you’re Momma’s mule!  (He doesn’t ever read my blog so I’m safe)  He’ll come over with Thom at the first of July with an extra bag or two to have adventures all summer exploring the China that I’m too afraid to see.  Yes, until you live outside the U.S. you never consider that your travel plans will be heavily influenced by the reality of “are there are toilets or not?”  In pretty much all of rural China, it’s a definite “NOT”.  No toilets, no go -just my policy.  Men can go anywhere, anytime–females are challenged in that regard especially if you don’t like to squat by the side of the road.  So, Thom and James will take the trains here and there and see lots of crazy shit I am sure.  I will stay home and work where there are heated TOTO toilets close by–my new office is AMAZING!

So, on my last day in lovely Boise, we went to a great lunch, sat outside on the patio and soaked in the clean air.  I will never, ever take for granted the simple things in life like being able to drink a margarita on the rocks with no worries that the “rocks” will be made of toxic water that will induce projectile vomiting.  Ahhhhh….I will miss those little things….Beijing, watch out, here I come!

 

Holy Crap-I’m a Nai Nai

Living in China, I wasn’t able to see my daughter Hannah progress in her pregnancy except through social media and two brief visits. Arriving in Boise from Manhattan last week and walking her around Target at 10 p.m. to try and induce labor made it all real. Holy Crap-I’m a Nai Nai now! But I’m too young to be the “G.. word” and I live so far away–how can this possibly work?  As Hannah often tells me, “Mom, it’s not all about you!”  Really?  I thought it was..

Me and Mia
Me and Mia

Taking the assignment far, far away from family would be tough, sure, but I never expected that there would be a little Mia coming this quickly.  Hannah and Mike have been married almost two years but she’s only just turned 23.  I thought I would get away with a few years working overseas before I would enjoy this wonderful experience.  Why didn’t they consult me first before beginning a family??  Oh, right, it’s not about me and my work schedule.  Okay, I get it.  Maybe.

Luckily, work brought me closer and allowed me to be here for Mia’s arrival.  So at least I didn’t have to miss all of her life like I will after I return to China.  Damn.  After all the visitors in the hospital monopolizing little Mia and Thom was the worst by far, hardly sharing at all, I finally got to spend some quality time holding her once we got them all home.  Our little one has slightly red hair in keeping with her Irish lineage of the O’Dwyers  on Thom’s side plus her daddy’s coloring as well.  The ginger runs strong in her. That she will be spoiled is an understatement.  Her nursery already bursts with everything and more that any baby could every wish for or desire.  Her Mama is a fashionista and so shall Mia be.  Her substantial feet will be shod in the most trendy shoes with outfits to match.  Hannah is a master of finding bargains online at various sites.

We will be launching an online business soon (more to come) and guess who will be the one and only model and namesake for our venture?  Thank goodness she is so pretty!  Yes, obviously I’m prejudiced but let’s face it, there are not so pretty babies out there that eventually grow into their looks but come out of the womb needing some time to adjust before they face the world.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I am now a Nai Nai.  I helped my gorgeous, smart, talented daughter and her equally wonderful husband take Baby Mia home from the hospital to meet her animal siblings, Ollie the Great Dane and Izaak the Vizsla plus the ridiculously hairy cat, Detective Stabler.  This brood went from being the “babies” of the family to just animals.  Sorry, lady and gents but you are no longer the sole object of your parents affections.  Move aside because that little bundle with a bow in her hair just took priority though you will all still be loved.  Loving and protecting Mia is now your primary job vs. running after squirrels and chewing bones.  Ollie & Izaak may get a little more variety in their diet as Mia starts eating solid food in the years to come, which will inevitably fall to the floor or into open mouths as they quickly learn where to position themselves to take advantage of feeding time.  Yum–Cheerios and other delicious finger food flying your way soon!  Puppies–please try to keep Mia out of your food bowl.  Unlike Thom, who not only let Hannah eat dog food but staged it to take a picture because he thought it was so funny,  Ollie and Izaak need to guard their food well because I am pretty sure that dog food can’t be good for babies and must taste horrible.

Enjoying Blue Skies in Boise
Enjoying Blue Skies in Boise

While we’re visiting this week, I’ll be working hard as my schedule is overwhelming right now but I’ll find time to hold Mia and help with the dogs, who need to run daily to be happy.  Taking them out to frolic on the hills around Boise off leash, we hiked for miles on Mother’s Day enjoying the fresh air and blue skies.  Boy, it will be so hard to leave here and go to Beijing on Saturday but go I will because I have a family to support and responsibilities to fulfill.  Quite frankly I’m not sure how but I will find a way to make it work and be a good Nai Nai to Mia.  One day I hope she will enjoy listening to stories about her crazy Nai Nai’s adventures in China, which will inspire her to see the world.  Your Nai Nai loves you, Mia.