Swimming with Sea Turtles

I had been looking at the ocean in front of our house for two months without getting in it.  I'm not a big fan of water and didn't want to go in alone.  When my brother and his wife were visiting recently, I finally had someone to go snorkeling with and someone else to watch CC.  I'm thankful for the opportunity and we had an amazing time!

When the tide is low and the wind isn't too strong, the water is calm and perfect for snorkeling right in front of our house.  The coral around this island is not very colorful but there are a lot of colorful fish to be seen.  The numerous giant Green Sea Turtles that we saw were an added bonus.  It was such a surreal experience to swim alongside them!

I had a waterproof Olympus Tough TG-2 camera with me to take photos and video.  I was disappointed with the quality of the photos and video at first until I changed the AF Mode to Spot in the camera's menu which made all the difference.  Not bad for a little point and shoot camera!

"At the beach, life is different. Time doesn't move hour to hour but mood to
moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun."

Family Friday: March 28

If you follow us on Instagram, you'll know that we had guests this past week!  Our house is a small furnished rental with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms.  The guest room is the smallest of the three bedrooms and there wasn't much that I could do to it.  I got all new bedding for the two twin beds and added some of our own items to maximize the usefulness of the small space.

My brother and his wife were the first guests in our beach house and flew all the way from Pennsylvania to be here.  Cameron last saw her aunt and uncle almost a year ago when we visited my family in PA.  She had such a good time with them all week and it was an incredible opportunity for her to get to know them (and them to get to know her)!

We have been living in this house for two months now but I have never gotten in the water yet.  To be honest, I'm really not a water person - I'd much rather look at it from land than be in it.  I've been building up the courage to go snorkeling but didn't want to do it alone.  Luckily, my brother was excited to join me and his wife was more than happy to relax with Cameron on the beach.

We were thrilled to discover that the best snorkeling in the immediate area was directly in front of our house!  The coral isn't very colorful but we did see a lot of colorful fish.  We also saw many giant Green Sea Turtles and swam right alongside them.  It was the most amazing and tranquil experience!  I took photos and video with my waterproof Olympus Tough TG-2 camera.  My next blog post will be all about swimming with the turtles to showcase the photos and video that I took.

We took a family hike to Kaena Point, which is the westernmost point of Oahu.  This is a five mile round-trip hike on a dirt road along the coast.  Many people try to travel this road with their four-wheel-drive vehicles but it is rough, muddy, and can be dangerous.  At the end is a fenced bird sanctuary that you can walk through to get to the point (no dogs allowed).  We saw a lot of whales and the scenery was gorgeous!

We took a trip to Waimea Valley which is on the North Shore across from Waimea Bay.  This is a scenic area with a gift shop, cultural events, and a farmer's market held every Thursday.  For a fee, you can hike the 1.5 mile round-trip paved walking path to Waimea Falls.  It is a beautiful walk through lush botanical gardens to the waterfall at the end.  Swimming is allowed with a lifejacket (provided for free) and there are life guards on duty.  My brother and his wife jumped in and swam to the falls.  Johnnie and I will do it next time :)

We live on a beach but it's still nice to go to other beaches from time to time for a different view, different sand, and different weather.  My brother and his wife had a couple beach days to themselves, going to Waimea Bay and to Magic Island, and we took one family trip to Bellows AFB Beach.  Bellows has the most gorgeous turquoise water, beautiful scenery, and the softest baby powder sand.  Cameron had a blast playing in the sand and knocking down the sand castles.

On our last day together we took them on a tour of Ford Island to see the Pearl Harbor memorials (USS Utah, USS Oklahoma, USS Missouri, and USS Arizona) and then drove through Hickam AFB to have an oceanside dinner with a view of Diamond Head.  It was a lovely day that ended with a sad good-bye at the airport.  We are thankful that they were able to make the trip to visit us while we are stationed here.

We had such a fantastic week with them and wish they could've stayed longer!  We have plenty of photos to help Cameron remember this time with them.

"'Ohana means family - no one gets left behind, and no one is ever forgotten."
~Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, Lilo & Stitch

Family Friday: 18 Months Old

It's hard to believe that Cameron is one and a half years old already!  Life is certainly getting easier as she gets older, although taking her monthly photo is still a challenge.  I need her facing forward so that I can Photoshop her onesie and it would be nice to have her looking at the camera and smiling.

We tried two different locations last week to get this month's photo...  the first location was the pergola structure Haleiwa Beach Park which looks pretty from a distance but is actually quite run down.  Cam was not a fan and did not want to be there.  The second location was simply a old scenic dirt road nearby.

I knew I didn't get any good photos of her looking up at the camera that day so I had plans to go back and try again... which is why this blog post is late.  We never did get the chance to go back because of the weather but after finally going through the photos that I already took, I fell in love with one despite that fact she is looking down.

At 18 months, Cameron is approximately 23 lbs and 30 inches tall.  She is wearing size 4 diapers, mostly size 18 month clothing, and just moved up to size 5 shoes (her feet are finally growing).

Cam got her first two teeth when she was 9 months old.  Now, nine months later, she has all of her teeth except for the second set of molars that should come in during her 2nd year... although at her rate, she may get them sooner than later.

Cameron eats three meals and one snack a day.  She is a fantastic eater and will try most foods but she is not a fan of most vegetables.  She especially hates potatoes (all forms of) which is funny because that's the food I ate most while I was pregnant.  She also no longer likes carrots which used to be her favorite food!  To make sure Cam eats some vegetables, I make veggies muffins (such as these Whole Wheat Zucchini Carrot Apple Muffins) which she will happily eat and ask for more.  Cam drinks water all day but does not like to drink milk or juice.  Thankfully she loves cheese and fruit so I make sure she has those things at most every meal.

Last month, Cameron weaned herself off of bottles.  In this past month, we have packed away all bottles and sippy cups.  Well, all sippy cups except for one... we kept out her Tommee Tippee Lil Sippee Trainer Cup because it "drinks like a cup" and she loves it.  We switched over to cups with straws (for example, First Years Take & Toss Straw Cups) and to the AVENT Natural Drinking Cups which are spill proof but are exactly like drinking from a real cup.

Cameron sleeps 12+ hours every night and takes one 2 hour nap during the day.  I'm not sure she actually sleeps the entire night but at least she doesn't wake us up crying.  Occasionally I will wake up to her laughing or talking to herself at an odd hour in the early morning.  Lately Cam has been trying to put off bedtime... needing one more story or needing to get one more toy to sleep with.  It could go on all night so we have to say good-night and leave the room.  She cries for about a minute and then settles down to go to sleep.

Cameron's most said words right now are hi, wow, no, this, that, and uh-oh.  When she sees a baby (in a picture or real life) she says awwwww and when she sees food she says num num.  She knows which animals say roar, meow, woof, and moo, and thinks every other animal goes ah ah ah.

Cam is doing great with her physical coordination.  She can wave, clap, dance, climb, walk backwards, spin in a circle, march in place, run walk very quickly, and almost get both feet off the ground when jumping.

While video chatting with my parents last week, my mother asked Cameron some questions like "Where is your nose?" and "Where is your hair?"  It was cute seeing her answer them but it suddenly made me realize that we have never asked her specific questions like that before!  We did finally ask her about everything else... it turns out that she knows her belly, feet, hands, nose, mouth, teeth, eyes, and hair :)

I know that Cameron knows a lot of things but I guess I don't feel the need to question her knowledge or force her to demonstrate her knowledge.  She will get enough of that at school someday and I had my fill of it being a teacher.  If I say after eating "Let me wipe off your hands," and she holds them out for me to wipe, that shows her knowledge just as well as randomly asking "Where are your hands?"  I don't want Cameron to ever feel that it is necessary to tell me the right answer or show me that she can do something in order for me to be proud of her.  I am going to try my hardest to nurture her interests and create self-driven motivation so that she can be proud of herself.  I encourage Cameron to explore and figure things out for herself, I provide her with opportunities to experience new sensations and ideas, and I tell her about things that I do and things she shows interest in.  I know she is absorbing everything and learning new things every day just by interacting with me and the world around her.

Cameron loves to read books, loves her dolls and her truck, loves animals, loves hearing music, loves playing the keyboard and other instruments, loves pushing her shopping cart around, loves purses and shoes, and loves scooping and pouring.  She loves taking things out of drawers and she almost always puts everything back, just not as neatly as it once was.  She likes getting her hair fixed but does not like brushing her teeth.  She mimics a lot of things that I do and things she sees other people do.  She give kisses and hugs but only when she wants to which makes her random, unexpected hugs the sweetest thing ever :)

"The more we observe, the more we understand and appreciate the enormous amount and speed of learning that happens during the first two or three years of life. We become more humble, we teach less, and we provide an environment for learning instead."
~Magda Gerber

Family Friday: March 7

This week we met a group of friends for a play date at the Kaena Community Center park (next to Solomon Elementary) on Schofield Barracks.  This was our first time to this playground and I was very impressed by the size and variety of equipment and also by the rubberized bark surrounding it to help cushion falls.  Cameron had a blast climbing, sliding, and watching the other kids play!  Next to the playground is a splash park that we will definitely try out another day.  A bonus to playing at this park is that we can meet Johnnie for lunch afterward or stop for groceries at the commissary - definitely worth the trip for us!

Cameron got a new toy truck this week.  We were walking past the toy section in Ross when she spotted it and instantly fell in love.  She pushed it around for a few minutes and then put it down to look at some other toys.  As soon as she left it alone, another little boy immediately picked it up and handed it to his mother who put it in their cart!  Cameron watched them walk away with her truck, arms crossed and lip quivering.  Luckily there was another one just like it on the shelf and once she got her hands on it, she didn't let it go.  She pushed and carried that truck all by herself from the back of the store to the front.  I couldn't say no, especially since she doesn't have any toy trucks or cars yet.

The truck is the Mega Bloks Caterpillar Constructor which is for ages 1 and up.  (I'm glad Cam picked something age appropriate!)  The Amazon description says it is "the dream truck of all active little boys"... it should say children because girls can obviously love it too!  The truck has a large handle for pushing and carrying, and it comes with a small dump truck and a bulldozer.  Cam loves putting the little trucks inside the big one and pushing it around.  Vroom! Vroom!

The truck adds some nice variety to Cameron's mostly girly toy collection.  She is all about wearing shoes and accessories, carrying purses, holding her "babies," and pushing her shopping cart around (filling it with her most prized possessions).

Cameron loves shoes and can put our shoes on her feet all by herself.  She has been figuring out how to put on her own shoes and also how to put on clothes.  She does a pretty good job!

Cameron's hair is growing thicker and longer which means I actually have to style it daily now.  My hair is wavy but it's nothing like Cameron's curls (she gets that from Johnnie).  I've learned that you can't brush dry curls or else they turn into a frizzy mess.  Every morning while Cam eats breakfast, I comb water through her hair and then let it dry into ringlets.  I'm thankful it is that easy!

This is one of those real-life snapshots below... a half-finished picture wall project and things of all kinds sitting around.  Cameron is eating sliced pears, french toast cut into sticks, and cheese.  There is milk in the cup with the straw and water in the sippy cup.  Life is just like that :)

Cameron and I both wake up every morning with crazy hair.  I tame Cam's hair with water and tame mine with a flat iron.  Fortunately for Cameron, the salty humid air keeps her curls looking great all day.  Unfortunately for me, that humid air brings back my waves within an hour.  There is nothing I can do with these awkward wavy post-baby bangs except hide them under a headband or plaster them with hair spray every. single. day. and wait impatiently for them to grow out.  I like the bangs but they are way too much work.  The pictures you saw of me with nice straight bangs... there was half a bottle of hair spray involved there.  I can at least be thankful that Hawaii is not fancy (flip flops are considered professional attire here) so crazy hair isn't too out of place.

Life (and hair) shouldn't be taken too seriously when you are on the beach :)

"Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning."

~Fred Rogers