Monday, January 21, 2008

Day Three - Always an Adventure!

After feeding the babies in the morning, we headed out in search of a cheap breakfast for me. Wise to the ways of cheap breakfasts, we vowed not to order anything else off the menu for fear of an enormous bill.

We found a new place with $2.99 breakfasts that was upstairs but had an elevator, waited in a long line to get in, and then ordered. We proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. We must have been there for 40 minutes waiting - or at least it felt like it as the babies' began to lose their patience.

Once babies hit their limits, mommies go into Emergency Baby Mood Rescue Mode. We begin to do anything we can to distract them until we sense it is no longer working. Then we go for Desperate Mommy Measures. The main one: Change Environments Immediately.

"We have to leave," I told B. and she agreed. We looked around and didn't see our waiter so we began gathering our belongings and securing babies in strollers.

Just as we were about to leave, we saw him carrying plates. Relief. We sat back down. But the meals were for another table.

"We have to leave as soon as he's gone. And FAST." I said. The moment the waiter disappeared, we jumped up and pushed our strollers out the door, down the hall, around the corner and to the elevators. Hurry, hurry!

The elevator arrived and we rolled in, hit the button, the doors closed. Then we rolled out on the 1st floor and headed to the street.

I wasn't sure we were "safe" until we made it to the store down the block. I kept waiting for the waiter to chase us down the stairs with our plate of eggs, sausage and pancakes. Sure, I felt a tinge of guilt, but our top priority was our babies.

At the store, we discovered that the Zoo was within walking distance. It was actually right behind the park where we had sat and eaten lunch the first day. So we headed to the Zoo. On the way, we found Ruffage, the health food store listed in one of the tour books. For breakfast, I had a scoop of tuna in a cup.

The Honolulu Zoo reminded me of the zoo in Portland Oregon - a manageable size for a half day excursion. The babies were thrilled with the bird, then even more thrilled by the monkeys and lemurs. NG tossed her sippy cup into the monkey water but luckily I had a 2nd one available.

We had Ceasar salads for lunch as roaming pigeons and peacocks kept the babies entertained. Then we hit the Kiddie zoo where the girls got up close and personal with goats.

Before we could reach the African Savannah exhibit, they were fast asleep. I rested briefly on a park bench under a tree with my purse under my head and hand on NGs stroller.

While the girls were still sleeping, the mommies made a beeline for the Banyan Bar for another delicious pina colada. When the babies woke up, we treated them to a Tropical Breeze - a non-alcoholic drink made of guava, strawberry, pineapple, papaya and coconut cream. GG sipped hers from a straw but NG proceeded to dump half her drink down her dress. Sticky baby's first cocktail.

Back at the hotel, we took turns showering and bathing our babies. Dinner was leftover burritos from the Mexican dinner the night before. NG hadn't napped long enough so began to get a little crazy, throwing and breaking a hotel plate and refusing to eat.

Eventually she calmed down and snacked on fruit and cheese. Then both girls sat in front of my computer and watched a few Elmo DVDs, singing and dancing along to the music one.

B. and I tried watching a little television to see if the girls would get sleepy. NG was getting crazy again so B. and GG went back to their room and I proceeded to pull out all the stops to get NG to sleep. Finally, she laid her head down on the bed and was out like a light. I fell asleep immediately beside her.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Day Two - The Fiasco

We started out the day feeding the babies, then I needed a real breakfast so we headed to a restaurant that offered a $2.99 breakfast with eggs, sausage and pancakes. Of course, we ended up with a $10 bill and figured out that they could charge $2.99 for a big breakfast because they charged a fortune for small orange juices and coffee.

Next we headed to the store to get a bus pass. I reached into my bag to get my wallet...and it was gone. Gone? How could it be gone. I quickly mentally retraced my steps. I remembered paying for the breakfast. The what did I do? I set the wallet down. Where? The table?

First, B. and I emptied my bags onto a towel to make sure the wallet wasn't tucked under a diaper or spare baby shirt. Nothing. We looked in the stroller seat, the stroller basket, pulled out the baby blanket. Nothing. So I ran down the street back to the restaurant while B. watched the babies. At the restaurant, nobody had seen the wallet. It was definitely gone.

I went back to the store, and we all returned to the hotel so I could begin calling my credit card companies. We sat in the lobby where I could access wifi if I needed and B. read to the babies and kept them entertained.

I started off calling Wells Fargo where I have my business account. I had to cancel both a credit card and a debit card. To say that Wells Fargo was NOT helpful is a total understatement. I told them my predicament and asked if they could help me. They had to confirm my identity, of course. I gave them my name, my company name, my social security number, and then they asked me for the amount of my last deposit.

I wracked my brain trying to remember the last deposit I made. I could only remember the second to last deposit and told them the approximate date and the amounts of 5 or 6 checks that I had deposited.

"Because we failed to identify you properly, we can only cancel your credit card and issue a new one."

"How long will that take?"

"Five to seven days."

"Is there any way you can send me a card at my location so I can at least get food. I have a baby with me."

"Because we failed to identify you properly, we can only cancel your credit card and issue a new one."

"So you're telling me that you can't do anything at all to help me out? I've been a business customer since 2005 and I'm stranded and you can do nothing to help me?"

"Because we failed to identify you properly, we can only cancel your credit card and issue a new one."

I asked to speak with her supervisor, and by then I was near tears because I was so angry. In the meanwhile, I had B. run up to the room and get my computer bag where I was hoping I'd find my check register that listed the last deposit I had made. Sure enough, it was there.

I asked the supervisor if she could please verify my identify again so she did. I answered all the usual questions, then she asked the date - January 17 - and amount of my last deposit. I gave it to her, straight off my register.

"That is incorrect."

""What do you mean that is incorrect. I'm looking at my register right now. I can see the date and amount I made the deposit."

"I'm sorry, that is incorrect."

Furious, I accessed the the hotel lobby wifi and went into my Wells Fargo bank account. It turns out that even though I made the deposit on the 17th of January, it must have processed on the 18th because online it said the 18th.

I explained this to her.

"I'm sorry but you gave the incorrect date."

So Wells Fargo basically cancelled both cards and did nothing at all to help me.

"Have a nice day," said the supervisor as we hung up. Bitch.

Calling Capital One was a completely different experience. I explained my situation and after identifying me, she immediately went into Help Mode. Bottom line was she arranged for an emergency card to be Federal Expressed to me to arrive Tuesday (it was Sunday) and also helped me make a payment on the card by phone to make sure I had sufficient funds available on the new card to take care of us while we were in Hawaii for the week.

"I hope you can enjoy your trip," she said as we hung up.

Bank of the West could do nothing but cancel my card and account for 15 days until I could get things straightened out when I returned home.

I finally called my husband to give him an update and explained how both B. and I ran back to the restaurant as soon as I realized my wallet was missing, and how B. and I searched the stroller. As I said that, I felt the stroller and felt something in the folded up shade. I unfolded the stroller shade, and there was my wallet!

All we could do was laugh. For the next two days, B. would have to "support" me and baby, paying for everything until my emergency card arrived.

After the entire morning was wasted on credit card company phone calls, we headed upstairs to our hotel room and ate leftover noodles. Then we put the babies back in their strollers and headed to the other end of Waikiki to take them to the Aquarium. We let them play on the fenced-in grassy lawn behind the Aquarium for a while, wistful about sunshine and green grass as we thought back to the cloudy skies, snow covered ground and freezing temperatures back at home.

After the aquarium, we took the babies to the small strip of beach behind a man-made breaker. The water was calm and not very deep at all. Both GG and NG enjoyed their first ocean "swim."

Dinner was a little open-air Mexican place = La Cucaracha - at the top of a flight of stairs, so we lugged the strollers up and luckily had help carrying them down the stairs from other patrons as we left.

Exhausted, we returned to our hotel. It has been a long day.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day One in Hawai'i - Barking Dogs

B. didn't know the expression "barking dogs" means "aching feet." I don't know where I got that one from, but after Day One in Hawaii, my dogs were barking.

We spent the entire Saturday basically walking most of the length of Waikiki several times as we started off at the hotel in search of a place for breakfast. I decided we should have 1 breakfast splurge so we ended up at the Royal Hawaiian sitting on their outdoor patio with pigeons flying around us.

B. had fresh fruit that she shared with the girls. I had to have a hearty meal in the morning or I knew I'd pass out by midday so I had scrambled eggs, link sausage, and hashbrowns with an incredibly good cup of coffee that must have been Kona.

NG was enthralled with the pigeons and birds that she pronounces as "bood, bood." I only had to chase her once as she followed a pigeon to the other side of the restaurant. Overall, the girls were pretty tantrum-free, however, we were keenly aware of a mood shift when they were ready to leave so scurried out of the restaurant before a meltdown occurred.

I'm fascinated with how I've developed the Tantrum Radar, a sensitivity I never had before and not something that is taught in a book.

We proceeded to walk to the grocery store, stocked up on groceries, dropped them off at the hotel, then walked to the beach, found a spot in the shade of some palms, and took turns taking our babies to the ocean while the other mommy and baby watched the strollers.

NG was simultaneously thrilled by the ocean waves and absolutely terrified. The first time we walked down to the water, she kept saying "Wa-Er" in recognition but clung to me like a monkey. I put her down so she could stand on the sand as the waves came up and lapped at her feet. Initially, she began to cry but eventually started walking closer to the water.

"The water will come to you," I kept telling her to encourage her to stay put so we wouldn't get washed away by a wave (yes, one of my fears). I try so hard not to let my own phobias influence her. I want her to be bold and brave but not reckless. How do you strike that balance, I wonder?

She ended up insisting that we go back to the water 3 times and each time she was a little more bold. By the third time, she let the waves splash up to her thighs and one almost knocked her over but she held her ground. She ended up crying when I finally picked her up to take her away from the "Wa-Er, Wa-Er, Wa-Er."

After Baby's First Beach, we walked toward Diamondhead and placed sarongss over our strollers to help the babies sleep. B. and I had lunch from a Vietnamese food stand at an art festival in the park in the shadow of Diamondhead, listening to musicians playin Hawaiian flavored jazz and oldies from the 50s while sitting by a little pond.

The babies still slept as we walked back toward the ocean and found a boardwalk for a stroll by the sea. By the time the girls were awake, it was almost 4pm and the mommies were ready for cocktails.

We asked an "Ambassador" for suggestions for places to drink - they were by the beach wearing lime green tshirts and carrying first aid kits. I thought the woman gave us a peculiar look - two mommies with babies asking for alcohol - but she told us the Westin had a nice garden bar under a huge banyan tree. Sounded like the place for us!

So we spent the next hour or so sipping tropical drinks under a banyan tree as the girls toddled about, chasing "boods," sitting on a stone stoop side by side, eating pineapple and spitting out maraschino cherries, greeting other customers, and running off toward the bar with mommies chasing them through the maze of tables.

Right before another toddler meltdown, we hurried out of there to change diapers and go back to the hotel to change for dinner. I, of course, failed to pack any skirts. Then again, I probably don't own any summery skirts that fit my post partum body anyway. Luckily, the sarong I had used on NG's stroller during her nap just barely fit around my midsection and turned into a lovely long skirt.

We changed the girls into dresses, then headed out in search of a place for dinner. We had a 20% off coupon for a placed called Chuck's Cellar but the entrees were minimum $25 each so we decided to take B.'s earlier suggestion to have noodles at one of the many noodle houses in the area. So we walked to the other part of downtown and found a Japanese noodle house for dinner.

The girls enjoyed eating noodles and so did the mommies. The place was filled with Japanese men and women who seemed entertained by our little white babies slurping up noodles and NG saying "hi" and "bub-bye" and "fooootd" for food.

On the way back to the hotel, I spent the last of the $100 cash I had just pulled out that morning on gifts. How did I run through 100 bucks so quickly? Now what am I going to do for the next 6 days???

By the time we got to our hotel, our dogs were barking loudly. We sat for a few minutes in the lobby where they have free wifi so I could upload some photos to Flickr, then we headed upstairs, read books to babies, and struggled to get them to sleep.

I've typed this blog post in the dark living room that NG and I are sharing as she snores softly on the bed across from me. Who knows what adventures Day Two will bring. Maybe the zoo? I'll have to go online and figure out my money situation. This was a very last minute trip, something I had not saved up for, so I wasn't really prepared financially. But it was too good to pass up the experience. So here I am, probably broke, with 6 more days of fun in the sun. Well, if I have to starve anywhere, it might as well be Hawai'i!

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Flight to Hawai'i

B. thought the flight would be 7 hours so I had psyched myself up for 7 hours of toddler tantrums. When I found out at the airport that the flight would be 5 and a half hours, I sighed with relief. I could do 5 hours in a plane with a toddler, right?

The plan was that B. and I would sit next to one another so our babies - GG & NG - could keep one another entertained while we chatted and took turns helping each other when we needed a break. Well, you know what they say about best laid plans.

Turns out airlines don't allow two lap babies on the same row (unless there is an empty seat between them) because there wouldn't be enough oxygen masks. So we were seated 2 rows apart at the window seat - another airline rule - lap babies are automatically placed at window seats which makes no sense to me because we'd end up disturbing everyone in the row all the time to change the baby's diaper or give her a change of scenery.

NG and I lucked out with an empty seat next to me, however, the man in our row was across from his family so wasn't going to trade seats with B. I was pretty much on my own, but NG had her own seat which was much better for a baby who hates (and I mean hates) to sit on my lap for more than 30 seconds.

The best parts of the flight for me:

1. NG was entertained temporarily by each distraction item I brought along including"
- 5 new books,
- new sheets of stickers,
- an Elmo DVD playing on my laptop
- several more Elmo videos I downloaded from iTunes
- snacks
- crayons and a coloring book
- the kids across the row who took turns sitting in their dad's seat to play with Noa
- the woman behind us who had a load of toddler entertainment ideas up her sleeve as she proceeded to get totally drunk on the flight

The worst parts of the flight:
I can't really think of anything. It was tough, it was tiring, but it wasn't unbearable.

We're going to Hawaii!

2 mommies, 2 babies and a whole lot of sunshine!

Hawaii, here we come!!!