Baby!

After our exhausting day yesterday, I was again hopeful for a good night’s sleep. Nope. At 5:30 am we were both wide awake. Today we head to the airport to pick up the baby. Were we excited? Well, we left for the airport at 7:00 am to meet a flight scheduled to land at 9:10, so you be the judge.

Despite being trapped behind a truck doing 10 miles under the speed limit for the first 15 miles of the drive and getting caught in rush hour traffic entering Honolulu, we were parked and walking to the terminal by 8:00. Honolulu is kind of an odd airport, with the exception of areas beyond the TSA checkpoints, most of it is pretty open to the outside. So there’s no really comfortable places to wait.

So we walked around a bit to get our bearings, sat for a while in the sweltering heat drinking water (my husband) and coffee (me) and finally went to perch near the exit from customs a little after 9:00. HNL kindly provided large wooden blocks as seating (not kidding). I guess they don’t want to encourage people hanging around.

The flight landed on time (yeah!) but by the time my husband’s sister walked out the door it was 10:00.  Now we can get this party started. It poured during a good part of our drive back to the house, but had receded to a light drizzle by the time we were unloading the car. The weather and everyone’s exhaustion kept the day’s agenda pretty undemanding. We managed a run to the grocery store in between downpours and there was quite a bit of quality play time before and after dinner. How she had the energy after a 10 hour flight…

The rain stopped just before sunset, so we had the opportunity to play “jump in the (wet) grass, followed up with a little walk to the ocean’s edge to let the surf splash our feet. And her dress. And her diaper. It’s a good thing we followed that up with bath time. I crawled into bed before 10:00, blissfully wiped out.

Aloha Hawaii

After staying awake until 3:30 am Minnesota time, approximately 21 hours straight, I thought I would crash and burn for at least 9-10 hours. Wishful thinking, foolish girl. As soon as the sun started lighting up our bedroom I was doomed. The sunrise was gorgeous.

For those of you not paying attention to the weather in Hawaii, I’ll give you the short version – it’s about the worst it’s been in 60 years. Not one, not two, but three hurricanes in a row have swept from the east to the north of the islands, blocking the trade winds and causing extremely high temps and humidity with a constant threat of rain. Pretty much the worst possible time to visit.

Our main task for today was to stock up on supplies, which we accomplished with a major grocery store run, followed up by a trip to the nearest Costco. Which is about 35 minutes away. It’s only 12 miles, but all driving here is done on island time.

Then we had a few hours to relax before heading to the Polynesian Cultural Center for a dinner and a show. Our tickets included admission to the center, which is a series of miniature Polynesian villages, but the weather wasn’t really conducive to strolling around. It started raining while we were driving there. Nice.

It had subsided to sprinkles by the time we arrived, so we walked around a little bit before and after dinner, frequently ducking into shops to suck in the air conditioning. We had a little backstage tour just before the show. Ah yes, the show. It gets rave reviews, but I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed.

Maybe that was due to the incredibly hard and uncomfortable plastic seats. Maybe it was due to the oppressively hot weather. I felt sorry for the performers. What I hadn’t realized when booking the tickets is that the PCC is owned and operated by the LDS church, aka the Mormons. Most of the performers are students at the adjacent BYU campus. They work at the center and their tuition is free. A fact that our backstage tour guide (a nice young woman from Mongolia with a less than firm grip on the English language) kept emphasizing.

I spent most of the show in awe of the dazzling dental work on display. Every single performer had perfectly straight white teeth. BYU must have a hell of a dental plan. Or maybe all the citizens of Pacific Island countries have exceptional chompers. When they finished up with an elaborate display of twirling flaming torches, I was begging for a firehose. I was never so happy to get into an air conditioned car.

Hell in Paradise

The first part of our journey to Hawaii went smoothly. Our cab showed up on time, the drive to the airport was quick despite rush hour and our flight to LAX departed on schedule. After a 3 hour layover, we boarded our flight to Honolulu. The flight attendant offered us a mai tai, apparently that’s a First Class tradition.

Then everything fell apart. Oh, we arrived on schedule and our bags showed up, always a plus, but it was a total shit show after we picked up our rental car. We got talked into taking a bigger vehicle, which is saying a lot because we had reserved a Tahoe. We drove away in a Suburban. After making a quick stop at Target for water, we headed for the highway.

Tried to, anyway. It was a sea of brake lights on the road we took to access the freeway. After 30 minutes of making little progress, my husband turned to me and asked “is there a child seat in this car?” No, it turns out. When we got “upgraded” to the bigger vehicle, they neglected to put in the car seat. So we turned around and headed back to the car rental place.

After picking up the car seat and taking a much needed bathroom break, we again attempted to get on the highway. I had asked about the traffic at the rental place and was told there had been a diesel spill. Since there is only one main highway leaving the airport, there weren’t any alternative routes. So we sucked it up and spent a ridiculous amount of time in traffic.

By the time we arrived at our rental house it was pitch dark and more than tricky to find the place and navigate the multiple gate codes. It didn’t help that we were driving a vehicle the size of a small country. The house was ridiculously hot, so we cranked up the air and I unpacked our stupid amount of luggage. Welcome to paradise.

Packing and Hoping

I’ve gone and done it – I packed the first bag yesterday. Yes, it’s a bit premature, since we’re not leaving until Tuesday, but I just couldn’t help myself. Most of the bag was occupied by our duffel full of snorkel gear and the little remaining space was largely taken up by three packs of diapers. (For the baby, of course!) So it wasn’t really a whole lot of packing, but still.

I’m probably really setting myself up for disappointment by building up so much anticipation for this trip. Especially since Hawaii is getting slammed by heavy rain, first from a tropical storm and now from a hurricane. Part of Waikiki was closed because of a sewer back-up from all the flooding. It doesn’t bode well.

So what’s the worst case scenario? We’re stuck inside for the entire trip while gale force winds pummel our tropical vacation home. The adults can console themselves with technology and beverages if the weather is a total blowout, but what about the baby? I don’t want to have a week of cranky indoor baby.

Hopefully the hurricane currently on a collision course with the islands will change course or weaken before it reaches them. Hopefully we will only see scattered showers and not a relentless downpour. Hopefully we will enjoy a week of happy baby, not cranky baby.

Bad News Good News Bad News

I’ve been trying to be more humorous lately. My dear mother, bless her heart, recently mentioned how much funnier my blog posts were when I first starting writing five (!) years ago. It stung, but she’s right. The last nine months I have been fretting over the design of our new house, riding an emotional rollercoaster and banging out posts with an eye more towards record keeping than fun.

So I’ve tried to do better over the last few weeks. I don’t know if it’s working, but at least I’m making an effort. Unfortunately, the last few days have just sucked the wind out of me. It started with the hideous stock market tumble that began at the end of last week and is continuing into this one. Just as I’m freaking out about the budget for our new house, our investments are taking a big nosedive.

Then, another IndyCar driver died after a race accident on Sunday. We weren’t at the race and we didn’t know the driver personally, but it still felt like a punch to the stomach. His loss is a blow to the entire racing community. My own trivial personal worries should crumble in the face of such real tragedy.

But, of course, I still managed to be disappointed, although not surprised, that our architect failed to deliver our latest revision on schedule. Numbness commencing to set in. So, what’s the tiny ray of goodness in this tremendous shit sandwich? Our niece was accepted to her first choice for private school. Of course by “her” I mean her parents, as two year olds aren’t really involved in these decisions.

So I’m trying to focus on the one gleaming ray of happiness and light right now – our impending trip to Hawaii for some quality baby time. The fickle hand of fate is not making that easy at the moment.

Falling For It

It’s a beautiful fall day. Which is really odd, since it’s not quite the end of August. It’s not the first fallish day we’ve had recently, I went out to dinner with friends on Tuesday night and it was in the mid 60’s and raining. I wore jeans and boots and a jacket. Just a weird way to be dressed in the middle of August.

But today really feels and smells like fall is upon us. I checked the temperature before leaving the house this morning. When I saw 61, I again opted for jeans and boots with a long sleeved shirt. But no jacket. A decision I came to regret. It was cloudy and windy – a combination that made it feel a lot chillier than 61.

I was shivering walking to and from the car during our first outing – a reception for local Tesla owners in honor of the 1 billionth mile driven. How do they know this? The cars phone home on a regular basis – Tesla knows everything. Our second stop was a Target run. By the time we reached our third stop, the sun came out and all was well. Now the lack of a jacket seemed like a good call.

So now we’re watching the second to last IndyCar race for the season and enjoying the cool breeze coming in the window. It looks like we’re going to have a pretty nice stretch of weather for the next week. Consider it a fall preview.

Here, Have a Coaster

I made a stack of coasters today. Not intentionally, of course. It started with a simple task – make an MP3 CD to use in the rental car on our Hawaii trip. I’ve made dozens and dozens of music CDs over the years. Old school ones using WAV files and newer ones, including multiple sets for my previous vehicle, using MP3s. It can be a fussy pain in the butt, but not a particularly onerous task.

The last one I made was about 18 months ago for our 2014 Australia trip. We used it when we borrowed my sister-in-law’s car for a road trip. She liked it, so I gave it to her. After all, it costs pennies to make and I already had the songs in a separate folder. So I could just burn it again, right? Ummm, except I made it on our computer in Phoenix.

But I could use one or two discs from the last set I made for my car, right? Uh, I left those in the car when I sold it, because I can use an iPod with my new car. So, I had to start from scratch. Turns out, that was not a simple task. All of the CD burning software I’ve used in the past was installed under Windows XP, which is no longer supported. So my husband downloaded a Windows 7 version.

And then the coaster making started. After spending way too much time selecting the songs and getting them sorted, I made the mistake of not saving the list. So, naturally the software crashed and I had to start over. Then, when I finally did get a CD burned, it wouldn’t play. Turns out, it had essentially burned the song titles in order, but not the actual music files.

My husband tried multiple times, varying the settings each time. No luck. We were racking up an impressive stack of coasters. Turns out, burning MP3 music CDs is pretty obsolete, so the software is not even supported anymore. After doing extensive research on the internet, my husband came to the conclusion that you could find software that sorted songs in order but couldn’t burn them or you could burn a CD but not control the order. Thanks, Windows!

So, I went with the brute force method. I renamed the 115 songs in the order I wanted from 001 to 115. Yes, it was a total pain in the butt and no, I don’t want to ever do it again, but it worked. I now have a CD that will work in any modern (last 10 years) CD player. You can pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

RBF Syndrome

I have finally received an official diagnosis for my affliction. I suffer from RBF – resting bitch face. It’s on the internet, so it must be a real thing, ’cause you can google it. Ironically, I found out about it not from the internet, which I spend way too much time on, but from a newspaper article given to me by my mom. Yes, she’s that old.

Urban Dictionary defines it thusly – Resting Bitch Face: A person, girl especially, whose regular facial expression makes them look like a bitch. I have always been afflicted with this syndrome, I just never knew there was a name for it. Of course, there is no male equivalent, hence the bitch part. Men with RBF are just serious or focused, not angry. Except Kanye, he really does have male RBF.

The biggest issue with RBF is that people constantly ask if you’re upset or tired. Or they just avoid you, which is actually more of a positive side effect, in most cases. There’s nothing that discourages lame pick-up attempts or street harassment faster than RBF. I can honestly say I have never been hit on or cat-called.

I always used to think that was because I’m not really a girly-girl. I have been mistaken for a man from the back more than once. If I didn’t have a nice rack I would probably have the same problem from the front. But now I know the truth, it’s just my RBF.

The Dream Shatters

One of the consequences of our flight landing nearly 4 1/2 hours late on Tuesday is that we missed the pickup window for one of our FedEx packages. I guess I should have seen that coming. Just another chapter in the ongoing saga of our troubles with FedEx. But that was only the start of our disappointment upon returning.

We had the big meeting with our architect and builder yesterday afternoon. The news is not good. Really, really not good. I knew the estimate would be over our budget. I was guessing it would be 50% over. That turned out to be optimistic. It was 100% over, as in double. I knew we were in trouble when I quickly added up the numbers on the first page and we were already over our budget.

So, while we talked through options for reducing cost by reducing the foundation size, in the back of my mind I just kept thinking that the discussion was pointless. All of the things we talked about made sense if we were trying to cut 25-30% off the cost, but 50? I just didn’t see any way we were going to get there without a drastic design change. A total gut job, in fact.

So, the architect will go back and make the changes and we’ll review the new layout and the builder will do a new estimate and it will still be way too much. What happens after that, I don’t know. Right now I just want to cry.

Haboobed

The first sign that our journey home would be less than smooth came as we were waiting to go through screening at the airport. There are two separate lines, separated by a long walkway. As we were waiting in the first line, a TSA agent came in and “invited” people to move down to the second line, promising a shorter wait. Since we had already unloaded things onto the belt, we decided to stay.

What the agent neglected to mention was that they were completely shutting down our line. So after urging people to move, he said “last chance” and then told my husband to move forward. Since there was a woman standing right in front of him, my husband’s response was “to where?” “MOVE FORWARD!” So, my husband had to push up against the woman. The agent then brought down the rolling steel door, trapping us all in the security area. Where we stood for 15 minutes while they sorted out some equipment issue.

Why the fuck couldn’t he have just told us all to move to the next line because they were having equipment issues? Because TSA agents love being dickheads. After we finally got through security hell we sat down by the gate to wait for our flight. The inbound plane was supposed to arrive at 10:18, about 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Perfect. Or so it seemed until about 10:00, when the wind started picking up. “Is that rain?” Sure enough, it started to pour.

The wind, rain and complete lack of visibility shut down takeoffs and landings for about 30 minutes. Right during the window when our plane was scheduled to arrive. So it was diverted to Tucson. Of course, by the time it landed there, the weather had cleared. After refueling, it headed back to Phoenix and landed at 12:00. Our rescheduled departure time was 12:40, only 75 minutes late. Minutes after the passengers finished unloaded, our preboard began.

The wheelchair passengers went first. The families with small children were packed up in the boarding area, awaiting their turn. Then the announcement came. Our pilots would time out before the plane was scheduled to land in Minneapolis. Really, you just figured this out now? Nice math skills. Good news – they had another pilot coming in who could fly the plane without going over his allotted flight time. Bad news – his flight wasn’t coming in until 3:00.

So, our plane would sit at the gate for another 3 hours. And so would we. My husband went to grab us a table at the only restaurant in the concourse. I got on the phone with Delta’s customer service to see if they could get us on the flight scheduled to depart at 1:30. He was successful, I wasn’t. So I drowned my sorrows with two margaritas and a plate full of nachos. We were better off than some of our fellow passengers, many of whom would be missing connections. At least we would be reaching our destination by the end of the day.