We’re making a pitch for a new house. We decided on a realtor agent who is giving incentives we couldn’t turn down, with a solid plan to get us out of our current house and one rental and into a million-dollar home in Mr. W’s dream community, and instead of feeling excited, I’m feeling a little sad. Mr. W put me at the helm for this project, and I’m steering the ship, but I’m letting the Universe control its course. I’m okay with either Plan A (big house) or Plan B (slightly smaller big house), they both have pros and cons, but where it matters, they’re both win-win situations for us.

Maybe I’m just tired cuz I was up having an email conversation with our agent until past midnight about this. Or maybe I’m drained anticipating the unhappiness we’d have to create soon by first having to tell an agent we’d met with earlier in the week that we’d decided we’re going to go with someone else for our listings (we hadn’t committed to that agent, yet, and he certainly doesn’t need our listings cuz he’s a top-producer with a bazillion projects in the pipeline so he probably wouldn’t even be the one sitting at our open house), and then the even bigger blow we’d have to give to Jayne, who knows we’re looking for housing to get Allie into a better school district, but is hoping it wouldn’t come down to selling her home.

Oh, did I mention that the stepkidlet’s bridal shower is this Saturday at our house? And that I get to deal with Mr. W’s Ex #1 (stepkidlet’s mother) in our home because of it (which shouldn’t be that big of a deal since I’d never had any negative run-ins with her, except I know thru the stepkidlet that Ex #1 really wanted the venue moved so she wouldn’t have to come to our house, where the stepkidlet lives)? And that I found out this week that the stepkidlet felt compelled to invite Mr. W’s Ex #2 to her wedding, and that this IS a big problem because this ex (and also another major ex of his, too, come to think of it) had maaaaaajor problems with Ex #1 and there’s more bad blood there than with me, whom Ex #2 also has had problems with? Ex #2 needs to get some electroshock therapy and learn to stop trying to control people no longer in her life and to move the eff on. But she still has the stepkidlet firmly in her psychological abusive control. “I’m sorry, but yeah, I was thinking about myself when I invited her, not you and my mom; I don’t want to deal with the giant fallout and the can of hell that would open if I didn’t invite her to my wedding.” Yay.

I’m super-behind in blogging (as well as other things) and very busy with all sorts of exciting stuff, but I thought I’d just stop by here really quickly to share this tidbit with you. This happened minutes ago, so it’s as “live” as it’s gonna get for awhile.

I decided to fill the awkward silence in my jury trial while the attorneys and judge went back to chambers for a sidebar. Witness is on the stand, plaintiff is sitting at counsel table, 13 jurors (1 alternate) are staring into space in silence.

Me: Back when I had a bailiff, this is the point when I would say, “And now our bailiff is going to entertain us by dancing a jig on counsel table!” And he’d be all embarrassed. Now that I no longer have courtroom staff, there’s no one to embarrass anymore.
Jurors: *giggling, with a few sympathetic “Aww”s*
Juror #11: Well, now YOU can do the dance for us!
Jurors: *various jurors agreeing and saying, “Yeah! Do it!”*
Me: …I never thought I’d get that response, or I wouldn’t have even brought it up.
Jurors: *laughing*
Juror #8: It’s almost summer, you can do a hula dance for us on counsel table!
Jurors: Do it right now! Yeah!

…great job for making an awkward silence even more awkward…for myself.

The tooth-pull procedure went amazingly smoothly. We have an awesome pediatric dentist, and he explained everything to Allie and demonstrated on Allie’s hand before he did it so she didn’t get scared. For example, before he put the pliers in her mouth, he held her little hand up and put it against his, and said, “See how big my hand is? It’s a lot bigger than your hand. Your tooth is tiny, so I have to use this tool to help me hold on to it. My fingers are too big to hold the tooth.” Then he took out the pliers and demonstrated gently on Allie’s fingertip what it would do on her tooth as he described what he was doing. The entire procedure, like he said, from laughing gas (she didn’t laugh or seem to even respond much to it) to Novocaine (used the topical numbing gel first, then when the needle went in she didn’t move an inch, but did smack her mouth around a bit with her tongue like a dog eating peanut butter when she went numb) to tooth extraction probably took about 2 mins, not including the time spent idle waiting for numbing stuff to kick in.

The dentist warned us that after she leaves, she may complain that her mouth or tooth “hurts,” but that she’s not really experiencing pain — it’s just the only word she has to describe the weird numb sensation she’d never felt before. Sure enough, that happened and she was a bit whimpery over it.

Our other concern was that Allie shouldn’t suck/use straws for 24 hours hours after the procedure, or she’d pull the blood clot out. But she sucks her thumb when she falls asleep. She ended up resisting her nap, which was fairly soon after her her procedure, so we went with it and took her to the Irvine Spectrum to distract her instead. She rode the Ferris Wheel, the train, had ice cream to make her mouth feel better. Although she was still a bit whiny and periodically would complain her mouth hurts, she was good about not licking the area (cuz we told her not to) and it kept her from sucking her thumb. At night, we put her to bed early and advised her not to suck her thumb to keep her tooth area safe, and skipped brushing her teeth that night. She fell asleep without sucking her thumb, altho by the time she would habitually thumbsuck in the middle of the night, things were already fine. The dentist said the thumbsucking doesn’t create enough suction to be an issue after the first hour of the procedure, and she wasn’t bothered enough by discomfort to have the middle-of-the-night thumbsucking wake her all the way up or disrupt her sleep, so things went fine.

Here’s a video of her the same afternoon after her tooth extraction. You can see she’s fine.

It’s now been a few weeks since the procedure. Allie hasn’t really missed a beat in her lifestyle/habits, and still eats well, although biting things like tomato slices are a bigger challenge. She just slides the food to her right side and bites pieces off that way. The other day she pointed out to Mr. W that the hole in her mouth where her tooth had come out is still there.
Mr. W: That’s because your tooth hasn’t grown in, yet. It won’t grow in for a long time. Maybe when you’re 7 or 8.
Allie: What color will it be when it grows in?
Mr. W: Your tooth? It’ll be white, like your other ones.
Allie: Oh. I was hoping it would be pink. Or purple.

So the thing with the current infection.

I was brushing Allie’s teeth last Thursday night when I noticed a weird shadow cast over the front of her gums, right above the broken left front tooth. That was the worse break of the two, the one closest to the nerve, and the one in which Allie’s pediatric dentist observed, at Allie’s last checkup a couple of months ago, what appeared to be a pinhole opening from the back of the tooth into the nerve. Ever since we’d gone to Dr. Wu after Allie’s fall last year, he’d told us to watch for discoloration of the broken teeth, abscess on the gums, and something else that I can’t remember (probably pain or redness in the gums). I’d THOUGHT her front left tooth looked a little dark in the center on the inside for a few weeks, like it was slightly gray, but Mr. W said he didn’t think it was gray, so I’d let it go. And suddenly, that Friday, her gums abscessed. It was a huge bump. Like, almost the size of her remaining partial tooth huge. It cast its own shadow, for gosh sakes.

I’d never seen an abscess on gums before, and just that week, my judge told me a story about how HIS gums grew an abscess after a root canal had gotten infected, and that was the first I’d heard of anyone having a bump grow on the gum. Thanks to his description, I knew immediately what Allie’s giant bump was, and that it’s an internal infection at the tooth’s root, growing outward. Thankfully, we already had the next day (Friday) off for the stepkidlet’s graduation from college. I called that Friday morning on the drive to the graduation and got squeezed in for an appointment that afternoon. Meanwhile, Allie was her usual cheery self and still hasn’t complained about or seemed to even know about her infection, which I already knew was going to lead either to a baby root canal or a tooth extraction.

After Allie’s nap, we were off to the dentist. Allie was super-duper cooperative with the medical procedures, as she usually is at any doctor’s office, and even held her own x-ray “film” (in quotes because it’s all digital imaging these days).

Said x-ray revealed that the bump is not a random coincidental unrelated gum blister, as I’d been hoping for, but is indeed a pretty significant infection at the tooth’s root. One-third of the root was already missing, and the dentist, Dr. Wu, explained that the tooth was basically already dead. The infection has to go somewhere, so it’s pushing out from the side of her gum. He was surprised and impressed that she’d shown no signs of pain. He said that given the severity of the infection, a baby root canal’s efficacy isn’t great, so our best shot to prevent damage to her adult tooth sitting right above the infection site, and to properly clean out the infection and prevent its spread (so her system doesn’t become septic), is to have that tooth pulled. The consequences of losing a baby tooth this early is that for the next 5-6 years, she’ll be missing that tooth, so it’s likely that the other teeth would collapse inward without that space holder especially since she’s a thumb-sucker (at bedtimes). That would lead to insufficient room for her adult tooth/teeth to descend, so they may be pretty crooked, and that would likely lead to needing braces when she’s older.
All this from a FALL when she tripped over her baby gate threshold last year!
Dr. Wu said he could put in a “flipper” as a space holder for the tooth, but it would force Allie to sit still for much longer, going through the tooth molding and installment process, and it would only be cosmetic (and poorly so), anyway, as far as its effectiveness. He said if it were his daughter in Allie’s position, he’d unquestionably pull the tooth and kids tolerate this very well and are just fine. He’d dope her up a little with laughing gas, put a numbing gel on her gum, give her a shot of Novocain, then pull the tooth out, the entire process taking about 2 minutes, he explained. We agreed to the treatment plan.
He went on to say that in the realm of kid issues and medical concerns, this is a “nothing.” After it heals in a week she’d be as “normal” as can be and we’ll worry about crooked teeth way later. I know that’s more likely true than not, since I had both my front teeth knocked out as a preschooler and I have no memories of difficulties or trauma. It just WAS and I didn’t think or care much about the space in my gums. My permanent teeth grew in just fine and I had perfectly straight teeth. But then I wasn’t a thumb or pacifier sucker. Speaking of sucking, it’s one thing to keep Allie from using straws and sippys when she’s healing (sucking would pull out the blood clot from the gum hole), but quite another to keep her from sucking her thumb as she falls asleep. No idea how that’s going to work.

Meanwhile, Allie is on a week’s worth of liquid Amoxicillin antibiotics to clear her abscess/infection before the dentist goes in to mess with it and create an open wound. I was nervous about medicating her, since college roommie’s daughter Alexis so loathed her antibiotics that she would run and hide behind furniture when she saw the medication being taken out, and just that week, I read this status message posted by a jujitsu friend who has a <1 year old daughter and a 4 year old daughter:

Anybody know how to get antibiotics into very small children without them being vomited right back up? The pharmacist said don’t mix them with anything, but so far, both girls have gagged and spit up at least one dose, and I’m sort of dreading 10 days of being covered in white, chalky, crud that smells like fake strawberries and quite clearly tastes awful.

Allie’s dentist said kids tend to like the antiobiotic liquid (Sandoz brand) he’s prescribing and it’s pink and tastes like strawberries. So I started prepping Allie ASAP. Leaving the dentist, we drove to Kaiser to fill her prescription, and in the car, I told her she’s getting her very own medicine, and it’s her favorite color of pink, and it’s yummy. She badly wanted her very own medicine. After receiving it from the pharmacist, Allie desperately wanted to hold the bottle, so we let her, and she was delighted to see that it is, indeed, pink. “Can I twy it? Can I taste it?” she asked. We told her not yet, and the entire car ride home she was begging, demanding, asking to “twy” the medicine, “dwink” the medicine, she wants it “now, not later.” “I want my medicine. Can I have my medicine? I just wanna hold it. Can I have it? I wanna drink it. Can I taste it?” At home, we filled the dispenser syringe with 5ml (1 tsp) of the pink stuff, I told her this is going to be really fun because she can suck on the syringe as we push the meds in her mouth, and she sucked it all up (we tried it with water first so she knew what to expect) and demanded more. She has SO taken to this medicine that we’re now using it as a bribe for her to finish her dinner. Just tonight…
Allie: I don’t wanna eat the gween thing.
Me: That’s spinach. You like spinach.
Allie: No, I don’t want it.
Me: Do you want medicine?
Allie: *face lighting up* Yeah!
Me: You have to finish the spinach to get to the medicine.
She ate all her dinner, including all her spinach, and she got her dose of medicine very happily. I don’t know what I’m gonna do after we’re done with the bottle. Guess I’ll have to go back to bribing her with multivitamins.

Tonight, after 6 days of antibiotic treatment, the abscess bump finally looks smaller, altho still present. Allie’s appointment for the tooth pull is on Monday. I keep thinking about how I should be taking photos like crazy of her adorable smile now, because after Monday, all her smiles will be with a crooked gap for the next 6-7 years. And after that, who knows what her adult tooth would look like coming in to a possibly crooked environment. But I am, however, comforted by the fact that we did wait about a year before having to do any medical intervention on the broken tooth, so that Allie doesn’t have to be put completely under for a procedure, like the first dentist wanted to do. And having found this 2nd dentist whom we love, we also got to save Allie’s other broken tooth, because even now, not one word was ever said about baby root canals or tooth extractions on the other broken tooth which is still asymptomatic. I think I’m pretty well-adjusted about the situation now, but I was seriously, seriously bummed on Friday after the return from the dentist. I’d posted then on the social networking site:

Cindy has never in her life cited scripture, much less purchased scripture jewelry, but this morning at Mariner’s Church for [the stepkidlet’s] graduation from Vanguard University, I happened across inscribed rings at the gift shop as I walked from the restroom to meet Allie and hubby at the campus cafe. Uncharacteristically, I bought two rings because they spoke to me (although almost all of the 30+ designs were beautifully done with a wide variety of touching scripture). This was before Allie’s dental appointment and the heavy feeling I now have knowing what she would soon endure. With all the healthy kids around me, I feel sad that Allie has to endure patching daily for many years until she has eye surgery, and has to endure the same number of years of being without a front tooth which would obviously affect her eating, her bedtime thumb-sucking (until the extraction wound heals), the ability for her adult teeth to come in easily, and both may get her made fun of in school when she starts attending. Why her? I wondered sadly. What lesson or purpose will reveal itself later?
I’d almost forgotten about the rings. I just pulled them out of my purse, and read the two inscriptions.
“I know the plans I have for you.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Fear not, for I am with you.” Isaiah 41:10
I was pre-fortified, and wasn’t aware of it. This status message was created with fingers dressed in His earlier and daily message to me. I hear You, and am grateful.

This status message garnered a lot of support, comforting anecdotes, reassurances from friends, for which I am also very grateful. Keeping fingers crossed for next Monday.

The weekend after our return from the Hawaii vacation, Mr. W changed Allie’s convertible crib to a toddler bed. The mattress is dropped closer to the ground, and the front rail is changed out and replaced with a half-rail. We’d talked to Allie about getting a “big girl bed” that big girls can climb in and out of on their own, and she wanted one. She was very excited after the conversion and wanted to go into her room to hang out on her bed during arbitrary times in the day.
We first explained that although she can climb in and out on her own, she is not to get in and out after she’s gone to bed. She ran around the room, pointing at various things, and said, “Can I touch this lamp? What about this cord? Can I touch this chair? How about this clock?” No, no, no. Only after her nap or in the morning after bedtime can she get out when we come get her.
She did well and only slipped a couple of times. One time in the first week, Jayne caught her in the camera, after crawling into bed for her nap, across the room reaching up on her dresser. Jayne opened the door, stuck her head in, and (according to Jayne) Allie froze mid-action with the horrified “I’ve been caught” look on her face. “Alliiiie,” Jayne said, “Are you supposed to be out of bed?” Allie’s chin and lower lip trembled as she shook her head. “Wanna come close the door and get back into bed?” Allie walked over, guilt-ridden look on her near-tearful face, and gently closed the door. Jayne watched her on camera climb right back into bed and stay there for the duration of her nap. In the mornings or after nap, when we see she’s been awake for awhile (10-15 mins), hanging out on her bed and playing with Mr. Bear or singing or whatever, we knock, and we watch her excitedly climb off her bed and run for the door and open it for us.
This is Allie’s first nap in the toddler bed. It went well and uneventfully.

This is Allie’s first night in the toddler bed. It also went well…sort of. But rest assured, she was asleep in these photos. And she did eventually get back on the bed on her own to finish out the night.

Notice all the padding on the floor. I was afraid she’d fall out. She didn’t like all the stuff under the opening, as I guess it hinders her ease of getting in and out (during permitted travel times). I finally agreed, after many uneventful weeks, to remove her safety padding as she’d always asked me to do. A few nights later, she fell out of bed. I went in to comfort the terrified sobbing girl, and from that moment on, she never again protested my putting the padding back under the opening. She fell out one other time (I think, as I didn’t see it, only heard 2 thumps and then the crying afterward), and that was luckily padded. The reason I wasn’t sure if she fell out, or if she may have gotten out on her own and tripped, is because I’ve seen her come out of bed briefly just to get back in facing the other way, or to go to sleep half-standing and half laying on her mattress thru the opening, and one time she did this:

Only this week, she started doing something new. She started opening the door on her own after I’ve put her to bed, asking for an extra drink of water, or another hug and kiss, or to bring up that we forgot to wash her face after dinner, or forgot to give her a vitamin. These requests are made in tears prior to her falling asleep, and I have no idea what’s wrong as she’s sometimes crying so hard she’s hiccupping her words. So far I’ve quickly obliged, mostly to calm her down, then she goes back to bed, insists on pushing the door closed like she does every night from inside the bed (standing against the rail closest to the door), then she lays down and the sobs subside and she goes to sleep. But in the morning, or post-nap, same thing. She awakens early and suddenly in tears, runs to the door and opens it, stands at the baby gate we put just outside her door so she doesn’t wander out in the middle of the night, calls tearfully, “Mommy! Daddy! I’m awake! I’m awake!” I’m hopeful this is just a phase. Or maybe it’s because she’s not feeling well, since she’s fighting an infection she’s never hinted at having any discomfort about. I’ll write about that next.

Next plan if this continues: I’ll stop indulging in her requests so she doesn’t think, “This works, I’ll keep doing it for attention or to stall my bedtime.” I’ll simply pick her up, tell her it’s bedtime baby, place her back into bed, give her a kiss goodnight, and leave, closing the door behind me. She gets up again, same thing but this time sans words, sans kiss. Just business, so she knows it’s ineffective. This should stop her if she’s doing it out of habit. I’m humoring her for now just in case it’s illness-related, because this is so uncharacteristic of her to wake up crying and needy.

Allie had her pediatric ophthalmology appointment today, as a follow-up to her diverging eye issue. Ever since out-of-network vision therapy failed as a viable option (Allie being too young to meaningfully participate) and Allie’s first follow-up with her pediatric ophthalmologist showed her not getting better, we had all been faithfully following the patching prescription. 6 days a week, an eye is patched for 2 hours, one eye on one day, the other eye on the next day, and so on. Allie is an amazingly good sport about it. She has occasional special requests, such as “I want Daisy Duck!”, which we try to oblige.

But generally, she picks out a patch that matches what she’s wearing for the day from 2 boxes of adorable pre-printed colorful designs, she closes her eyes as the patch is applied, and she goes about her day. 2 hours later, the patch is removed, and she goes about her day again. She went thru a brief bout in which she refused to have the patch removed because she said it would hurt. (The adhesive on the Master-Aid brand designer patches was much stronger than on the flesh-toned Nexcare patches.) We resolved that problem by sticking the fancy patch on our forearm lightly two times before affixing it to her eye, to weaken the glue a bit. Now she can remove the patch herself when time’s up.
Her eyes seem to both focus well, and the turnout is much less common, only when she’s tired. She even stopped turning out when she was spaced out and daydreaming. And it was easier to bring her eyes back to center. I was hoping that she’d be out of her patches by the time the next follow-up happened, but she was still having occasional turn-outs, so I knew she’d likely have to wear the patch just a bit longer. Another 2 months, maybe. I anticipated the pediatric ophthalmologist giving me the good news of her progress.
Instead, I got the shock of my life. He was really happy, it seemed, because she hasn’t gotten worse. What? You mean she’s gotten so much BETTER, right? No, he said the degree outturn measured the same, and there’s no cure and improvement at a “30” outturn is rare. If she had “10” outturn (degrees, maybe?), there may be the possibility for a return back to normal, but not “30.” No, this patching thing is just to prevent her from getting worse until she could get corrective eye surgery. WHAT?! Yes. And if she got worse in the meantime, we’d switch to over-under glasses to force her eyes to work harder to see, and if that doesn’t help, then early surgery. WHAT?! What’s meant by “early?!” Kids’ eyes, muscle growth, control and coordination are still changing and developing until about age 8, so to do any surgery before that would be akin to putting braces on a 6 year-old. So we’re looking at closer to 7, 8 for surgery.
Eff, eff, eff. Wait. Does that mean we’re going to keep PATCHING DAILY for the NEXT 5-6 YEARS?!
Apparently so. Unless she gets worse, in which case, glasses is Plan B, earlier surgery is Plan C.
Eff. I am going to re-enroll her in vision therapy when she’s a little older as a last-ditch effort to avoid cutting her eyeball muscles.
My poor baby.

This Easter, Allie had 2 egg hunts…the one in the backyard with just us and my parents, like last year, followed by her cracking and eating an egg or two for a snack, and one in a park with a bunch of the moms/nannies/kids that Jayne became friends with, cuz the kids apparently all hang out in our neighborhood park.
She also got to meet and get her photos with the Easter Bunny.

Where does the time go?

Allie was completely back to her usual playful, cheerful, independent self by Day 7. Mr. W noted how much it sucked that she’s totally acclimated now and is over her illness and able to enjoy herself, and we’re leaving the next day. But she did recover in time for us to enjoy stuff we couldn’t when she was super-clingy and whiney. Water slides, for example. The Aulani has two that end up in different pools — one is a tunnel slide you go down individually, and the other is an innertube slide you can go down in a one-man or two-man innertube raft. Unfortunately, Allie only allowed us to take her down the slide once. Once she knew what it was, she told us it was “too scawy and too fast” so we just took turns playing with her while we each went down the two slides a few times on our own. Wanna live vicariously? Here is Allie’s first and only trip down the slide.

Wasn’t that fun? Don’t you want to go now?
Once we regrouped, Allie went into independent play in front of us which gave me the very rare opportunity to actually take a picture of the hubby and me without the kid. So here’s me in all my makeupless glory.

We dared take our eyes off the kidlet for a few seconds for this photo, and when we looked back, she was on a rock wall.

Another second later, she’d worked her way to a corner where there was a higher wall she couldn’t get on, and a drop-off on the other side. “I need help! I need help, mama! I’m stuck!”

Since we’d done everything (a couple of times) by this point, it was a free day to let Allie do whatever she wanted. She chose the beach.

Yeah, that’s pretty much the extent of my ability to assist her in sandcastle-building. Luckily, the hubby is a pro. See video below, which I made specially for this post. =)

That afternoon, we took a casual walk around the resort, finished up the special effects game, and took photos.

Allie got to practice her shakas some more, although it took tremendous concentration on her part.

Okay, so Allie’s doing more the “I Love You” gesture than the “hang loose” shaka gesture, but it’s also appropriate.

That evening, we booked a reservation and had a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant (“Ama Ama” at the resort) overlooking the beach, close to where we had our sunset pizzas.

It seemed an appropriate way to say goodbye to our last Hawaiian sunset for awhile.

The beach days left their influence on the little one. Day 8, the morning we were leaving, Allie told us that she made a sandcastle in her crib with her legs. What? So she took me to her crib and pointed it out. “It’s still there. The water didn’t take it, yet.”

It was shortly after this photo was taken that she discovered that the crib sheets provided by the hotel had cartoon images of Menehune (Hawaii’s version of sprites; I guess they’d be island nymphs) on them, and said happily, “Oh! Look! Menehune! Lots of dem!” Her little toddler voice pronouncing “Menehune” (men-nuh-HOO-nee) has become a favorite delight, much like her effortless pronunciation of words that Mr. W has trouble with, such as “Kombucha.”

You can read about our flight home in the first post of this Hawaiian trip series. :)

On Sunday, Allie and Dada decided to hit the beach but Allie wanted her sand toys, so I went back alone to our hotel room to grab them. I also decided I would go to the hotel’s gift shop to get another bottle of spray sunblock, since were had 3 more days left and maybe a quarter ounce of sunblock for it. It’s not often I get to run errands child-free, so I wanted to take advantage.

In line at the giftshop cash register, I overheard a male voice behind me saying, “Oh, look, they have small bottles of vodka there behind the counter.”
Female voice: “You wanna get one?”
Male: “Do you have any idea how much bottles like that would cost here? It would be three times the price of a big bottle at home.”
I instantly thought of the giant bottle of vodka we picked up the first day from Costco, of which we’d drunk very little due to the facts that I don’t drink much, and that hubby was too busy regurgitating everything he ate and drank the first night and hasn’t been in the mood to test his stomach thereafter. I turned and found myself facing an older couple, in their late 60s. “Are you guys going to be at this hotel for much longer? We have a really large bottle of vodka upstairs in our room, and we’re leaving Tuesday and won’t be able to drink it all.”
They were surprised, and we chatted a bit about when we were all leaving (they’re going home to the East Coast on Tuesday, as well) and how horrified the wife was at the price of food that morning for breakfast, and then it was my turn at the register. After I paid for my sunblock, I waited near the store exit for them. I think they thought I’d walk away, not serious about my vodka offer, and appeared pleasantly surprised to see me there. Their room was in the same tower as ours, just a floor down, so we went there first, chatting along the way. The trip was on their bucket list, he was recently retired from the aerospace industry, she’s on the brink of retirement herself, they had taken a cruise that stopped here and decided spontaneously to take up the option to disembark on Oahu, stay for a few days, and then fly back home from here. They were Disney Vacation Club timeshare holders and never quite thought they’d make it out to the Aulani, but this is a splurge they thought would be their last opportunity to do before they both retired and had a limited fixed income. They talked about how they discovered that as Vacation Club members, they had a 10% discount everywhere in the Aulani, but how outrageous prices still were. In exchange for the vodka, they offered me the use of their discount for anything in the hotel shop, and I confessed that I HAD been eyeing an Aulani signature cotton jersey. They were completely friendly and open, but as we approached their room, I had a brief thought of how easy it would be for them, once in their room, to rob me. We’ll call thoughts like those an occupational hazard. I reminded myself that this was my idea, not theirs.

In their room, we emptied out Gloria’s water bottle, Ron located his Disney Vacation Club Membership Card, and we headed back to our room. When there, I poured almost half our giant bottle of vodka into their water bottle (and would’ve poured more but Gloria stopped me and reminded me that they’re only staying a few more nights and can’t take it with them on the plane, despite the fact that Ron was saying, “Oh, I’ll finish it! I have a drink of Ketel One every night at home!”), and since they were hurting from the price of breakfast that morning, gave them 3 cartons of assorted Chobani Greek yogurt (we bought practically a palletful from Costco) and assorted sliced turkey and ham, as well, since they had English muffins in their room. Now I’d feel less guilty about having to leave all that food behind or throw it away, given that had really too much of everything thanks to the hubby and Allie’s lack of appetite the first few days.

Not knowing if we’d pass by each other again, Ron suggested we go down to the giftshop immediately to use their discount to buy that shirt I’d wanted, so we walked back to their room to drop off the vodka and food (and they returned a clean plate to me to replace the plate I’d used to put their luncheon meat on, just in case the resort counted the numbers of dishes, etc. in the fully stocked kitchen after the guests leave and would charge me incidentals for a missing bowl), then we all walked together to the giftshop. I learned that this cruise was a combination birthday and anniversary celebration. Ron was turning 70 and they were married something like 43 years. At the giftshop, I went to the clothing section while Gloria and Ron went to look at a different section, and soon Ron came to me and took the shirt out of my hand. “We’ve decided to buy this for you instead of just using our discount for you,” he said. A Disney t-shirt in Hawaii is very overpriced, and I protested. I told them this practically nullifies the free vodka they got; they may as well just have bought those bottles themselves, then (altho what I gave them was close to double those giftshop bottles). Gloria said that she doesn’t consider money spent on food/drink to be money well-spent as it’s just gone as soon as it appears, but money on a souvenir, she’s happy to spend. She said she’s been jaded and pessimistic about people in the world these days, but meeting me and being the subject of my spontaneous generosity toward strangers has restored some of her faith in “young people.” They both insisted that I take this gift from them, remember the story I can tell of the origin of this shirt in my wardrobe, and to “think of us whenever you wear it.”

We parted with a hug.

By the time I got back to the pool and found hubby and Allie, I was relieved they had passed the time well and weren’t angry I took so long, nor minded that I gave half our food away. I told them I had a story to tell by way of explanation about why I took so long. (By the time we checked out of the resort a few days later, we STILL had food left over in the fridge, and I had tried to get Gloria to take more when they were in our room, but she wouldn’t.)

I never did see Gloria and Ron again, but I hope Ron had a great birthday the following week.

Allie was still resistant to water and pools, but could be convinced to stay in if you keep things fun and lively every time she starts to whine about wanting to get out. One of the ways I did this was by bringing one of her favorite things into the water — throwing her about.

In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s a swimdress. Yes, the fabric does fine in the water and doesn’t weigh me down (much), probably because it’s designed by swim giant Speedo. And yes, I’m that self-conscious (but fashionable, cuz swimdresses are “in” right now!).

We even got to float around the water in the long lazy river loop (“Waikalohe Stream,” pictured above). I’ve had more than a couple of people ask me whether the Aulani was overrun with kids and therefore not a great “adult” place to be. I had the same concern, which is why I never had interest in Disney cruises, despite others’ claims that Disney vacations are “first-class.” I just picture dirty sticky kid-worn facilities and screaming kids all over the place. However, in this experience, at least, everyone else was right. I think Disney has the money to keep the kids’ places fun, clean, and surprisingly technologically advanced, right next to the first-class adult facilities, and if you don’t want to hear kids and deal with kids, you don’t have to. For example, just a few steps away from the main pool, full of gleeful kids, is an adult-only oasis of a two-tiered infinity spa, where you can sit on the lower level in warm water, gaze out over the beach and the palm trees swaying in the setting sun, while a hot waterfall pours down over your back from the higher level, and you’d never see nor hear the kids from the main pool. If you know much about Disneyland’s design, this is the architectural illusionist magic that Disney is known for. (When you enter Disneyland and go under the Disneyland Railway bridge to step onto Main Street, USA, you are steps from the busy freeways and entryways, but when you look back, you’d see none of the “real life” city of Anaheim based on strategic placement of the railway bridge. You’re fully emerged in Disney’s land. And when you look forward toward the center of Dland from that spot, the iconic Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is made to scale smaller to make it look as if it were far away in Fantasyland and give the illusion that Dland’s bigger than it is, but if you were to turn around and walk toward the exit as if leaving, the stores around you on Main Street are designed with a slight tilt and sizing increase to give the illusion that the exit is very near, so people would feel less in a rush to get out and feel like there’s enough time to linger and browse.)
Here’s a photo of me in the adult-only heated infinity spa I described above, taken from behind the waterfall, giving you the famous view of “The Backside of Water” (famous line from Disney’s “The Jungleboat Cruise” ride).

In much the same way as the layout of the hotel’s larger features, here is the hotel lobby’s restroom with the little keke sink (kids’ sink) juxtaposed with the adult sinks.

If you want to seek out kids’ stuff, of course they’re readily available, but not intrusive. After Allie’s nap on day 5, she walked out on our balcony and peeked down in the courtyard. Next thing I knew, “Oh! It’s Chip and Dale! I wanna go see Chip and Dale!” We rushed her shoes on, rushed down the elevator, rushed outside…just as Chip and Dale were leaving. Allie called out, “Don’t go, don’t go! Wait for meeee! Don’t go!” The two chipmunks stopped, and opened their arms to Allie, who flew into them. And that’s how we got this photo op.

At the same time, we saw a generic looking bear farther down the lawn. We were told this is Duffy, whom we’d never heard of. Duffy was very nice, and invited us in for a photo, as well.

We later learned that Duffy (hugely popular in Japan’s Disneyland) is a teddy bear that Minnie Mouse made of Mickey Mouse as a traveling companion for his tours around the world. A mouse making a bear as a gift for another mouse is just…funny to me. But with Disney Magic, I guess anything is possible. Anyhow, ever since then, Allie has spotted Duffy everywhere in Dland and would say in glee, “Duffy!”
Good night, Oahu, Day 5. Yes, that is Allie sitting there with her new friend, whom she still talks about. “I was sitting next to the little girl. I showed her the sunset! Little girl was in a towel.”

I ran through the sand so hard to get in place for the above shot, btw, that “Baywatch” flashed through my head.

Day 6 was a Sunday. I learned a little something about myself that day during the ample beach time we had…

…I learned that I SUCK at sandcastle architecture. I can’t even get the sand out of the bucket in one piece. It really didn’t look that hard — you mix sand with water to make a paste and then it should just stick to itself, right? I’ll just say it was very obvious that playing in the sand or going to the beach was not a big part of my childhood. However, it’s a pretty big part of Allie’s recreation and she did fine without me.

The resort rents out Nexus tablets to the kids (free) and on it is a scavenger hunt game, where you follow clues given out in video clips of a woman who needs your help around the resort to save baby turtles, find lost hikers, uncover magical artifacts. You learn a lot about Hawaiian culture and history, and as you find the areas around the resort, you can make special effects happen. We got a kick out of people stopping and staring when we made islands emerge from the koi pond, the volcano erupt with fire and lava, water spray at lazy river riders from a hidden nozzle in an overhanging tree. Here is Allie and Dada standing in front of one such scavenger hunt spot. The story behind this one is that a young lady’s video of her late mother’s aborigine dancing was lost and she wanted to know the rhythm of the native dance, and the map led us to these decorative-looking drums. Once we found it and activated it, the drums lit up and played the rhythm of the dance.

That afternoon, we followed through on hubby’s idea of walking to the food/shopping plaza across the street from the resort to a New York pizza joint (giant New York-style pizzas with a Hawaiian flare, with toppings such as Kahlua pork) and getting a pizza, garlic bread knots, and a salad to take back to the resort, so we could mix East Coast with a Western sunset. Here’s Allie dancing to a Taylor Swift song blasting through the speakers outside the pizza place after Dada kicked us out for being “too active.”

The hotel was packed to 80-90% capacity, but you’d never know based on how easily seats were available at our favorite sunset spot, which is basically an outdoor lounge overlooking the beach.

New York Pizza + Hawaiian Sunset = bliss.

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