Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hiking Diamond Head

The girls spent a lot of time in the ocean while we were in Waikiki. They could have spent all day there if we didn't want to do so many other things.

We became really good at taking The Bus, which is Oahu's public transportation system. We took The Bus to Diamond Head to hike the volcano with hundreds of our closest friends. I had read that Diamond Head had grown into a the tourist attraction, but I didn't realize what that really meant until we arrived at the base. It was still early, yet it was really crowded.

We purchased the audio tour and set off. The girls were pretty patient with me as I had to listen to each segment. They learned long ago that I was going to stop and stare at every pretty plant/animal. We made our way up the volcano to the final stairs.

I looked at the steep stairs and said, "I'll wait here." The brunette twin decided to keep me company. The blond twin looked at the stairs and said, "You coming Dad?" She set off with Daddy to conquer the final path to the top.

When they got to the top, after climbing the steep stairs, going up a spiral staircase and crawling through a tunnel-like path, they were rewarded with spectacular views. The pictures Daddy took were breathtaking. The blond twin received a certificate announcing that she made it to the top.

The brunette twin and I waited at the landing until Daddy and the blond twin returned. Daddy and the blond twin had great stories about making it to the top. Part of me really wished that I had gone with them, even as I knew that there was no way I would have made it up the stairs and through the tunnel.

We all purchased t-shirts to commemorate the adventure, happy with our efforts and filled with stories.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

And we're off

Who thought it was a good idea to take a 9:30 a.m. flight out of O'Hare airport? I wondered this several times between the moment the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. and the plane wheels left the runway at 9:40 a.m. Of course, the answer was me. I booked the flight, so the morning chaos was completely my fault.

We settled into our eight hour flight to Honolulu by organizing our space. We sat in  single row, with four seats next to each other. We lifted the armrests between our seats so the we had a big couch. It was a long, tedious flight. Even though we thought we had enough books. games, devices to keep us busy, eight hours is a long time to be on a plane.

The aisles were so narrow that it was hard to get up and stretch our legs. We tried, but you couldn't walk up and down an aisle without bumping into people. Eventually we started standing near the restrooms trying to stretch a bit.

By the time we saw Oahu out the windows, we were really, really ready to start our Hawaiian vacation. We were returning to the islands. The girls were making their first visit. And, as we got into the cab to go to the hotel, we were all ready to start making memories together.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas memories

Christmas fell on a Monday this year, which meant the girls did not start Winter Break until December 22. It felt like they were never going to get out of school. The last few days were a slog as they dragged themselves to school.

December 23 we spent baking and delivering cookies. Actually, Daddy did most of the baking since he's home now. We packed up the cookies and the girls took Holly around the neighborhood, while walking their dog. When they returned, we got into the car and started dropping cookies at their friend's houses. It didn't take long before the girls were bouncing back to the car talking about how surprised their friend were to receive cookies.

We've really been trying to show them that it doesn't take money or fancy presents to make someone's day. The simple act of delivering Christmas cookies made them and their friends so happy.

Christmas Eve we hosted coffee hour at church. It was a departure from our usual Christmas Eve tradition. This year December 24 was both the fourth week of Advent and Christmas Eve. As our pastor said, "It's Advent until Noon, when it becomes Christmas Eve for me." She would deliver sermons for both in one day. We came home to watch Christmas specials and eat cookies. We continued our traditional pizza on china dinner before opening a few presents.

Christmas morning the girls woke up early. We kept thinking we'd have to wake them since they are teenagers now, but they surprised us. We ate breakfast and went back to church. Typically we don't attend Christmas morning services. A former rector once said that Christmas Day services were among the best kept secrets in the US church.

This year our rector asked the girls to acolyte on Christmas morning. An area military family made a special request to have their baby baptized on Christmas. They were going to be in town for a few days to celebrate Christmas. Since the family was going to be al together, they wanted to baptize their baby.

We were immediately happy to help. I won't say the girls were thrilled to be acolytes Christmas morning. They don't really like to change our holiday traditions. They were happy to help the family celebrate their new addition, but would have been a bit happier if it had not been Christmas morning.

When we arrived at church, the family was already there. They had an adorable toddler in a frilly Christmas dress. I told the girls, "You used to wear cute Christmas dresses like that." Both girls smiled and rolled their eyes. It was the perfect teenage reaction.

Later we went to Uncle Steve's for the Cartwright family Christmas. We laughed a lot, watched too much TV, ate too much food and opened too many presents. I made Aunt Reenie a quilt using some of her late father's shirts. She cried when she realized which squares were her father's shirts. I cried because, well, I'm a crier.

By Christmas evening we were home, resting and telling stories about our long Christmas weekend. We created so many fun memories and had so many fun stories. It was a busy, often crazy, three days that extended some family traditions and created some new ones that we'll carry on to next year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

By the numbers

Before we left this morning, Daddy made cookies. He left the girls a note saying that they could have two cookies each when they came home from school.

When we came home Daddy noticed that there were new cookies on the cutting board. He asked the girls about the peanut butter cookies. They said they made cookies when they came home.

Daddy asked how many cookies they had and the brunette twin replied that she had two of his. She smiled when he asked about the cookies she and her sister baked.

I said, "They ate two of your cookies and baked more so they could eat more. We never told them how many cookies they could eat if they baked them."

The brunette twin smiled. We couldn't reprimand them as they only ate two of the cookies Daddy baked. They exploited a loophole we never thought to close.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Driving lessons #2

Overheard at our house...

Mommy:  "I was backing up in the parking garage when I bumped the pole. The plastic cover is shattered and the left blinker doesn't work now."

Daddy:  "I better see this on the blog."

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Eighth grade photos

Today the girls are taking their eighth grade school pictures. What used to be a quick pull-something-out-of-the-closet moment, became a multi-week event.

The girls went through their closets only to declare that they had nothing to wear. I stared at them blankly, reminding them that they had many, many dresses I haven't seen on them lately. They insisted that they couldn't wear a single thing in their closets.

After a few shopping trips, the girls had dresses. They spent some time accessorizing and making plans for the night before. Last night was the night before graduation pictures. What a night it was.

The girls came home, did their homework, ate dinner and started getting ready. Two hours later they were still doing their hair. Three hours later they were still getting ready. At one point we told them they had to go to bed. An hour after that Daddy went upstairs to find the blond twin still getting ready. He told her she had to go to bed immediately.

When he came downstairs, he said that we probably needed to start now if they were going to be ready for prom on time. We laughed that awkward laugh that happens when you know you are right, but you don't want it to be.

The girls woke up early to finish preparations. They went to the bus stop looking like glamour girls. Our babies knew what they were doing when they spent all that time getting ready. Now I can't wait to see the photos.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Driving lessons

I was at my desk working when I heard a strange sound coming from the garage. I ran outside to see parts of our new car's passenger side mirror on the driveway. I asked Daddy, "What happened? Are you ok?"

He replied that he was playing with the radio as he left the garage. He clipped the passenger side mirror on the garage.

With a big smile, I said, "As soon as the girls come home you are telling them that story."

Many years ago I was pulling into the garage when I damaged Daddy's car's passenger side mirror. Daddy was so mad. The girls have never let me forget it.

Today Daddy damaged his car. He broke a mirror. He knew exactly what I was thinking when I said he had to tell the girls. He said, "Now we're even."

Daddy went out to run some errands when the girls came home. Somehow he forgot to tell the girls the story. I told them and they stared with their eyes wide open. They couldn't believe that Daddy damaged his car.

I said, "What's the lesson here?" They said, "Pay attention when you are driving." Since they will have drivers' permits next year, I'll take that as the lesson. I wanted to add, "Now stop telling the story about how I broke the car mirror" to the conversation, but I resisted.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sleepover sleeping arrangements

The girls had friends spend Friday night. I decided to shut down the fun about midnight. I walked into the brunette twin's room to find all four girls sitting on the brunette twin's bed. In the middle Holly was sleeping with a pillow under her head.

While we were talking about Saturday's adventures, Erin looked at Anna and said, "Where are you sleeping?" Anna replied, "I don't know."

I said, "What do you mean? You're sleeping in this bed. The dog can sleep on the floor."

All four girls looked at me like I was crazy. I reiterated that the dog was not sleeping in Anna's spot. Holly might join Anna and Ally, but Anna was not sleeping on the floor so Holly could sleep in the bed.

The four girls finally went to sleep in the correct places. Holly decided to crawl into the blond twin's bed. When I went to bed everyone was sleeping happily.