Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!
Meiling and WenYu departed yesterday morning with heavy bags filled with things we had been storing for them and Christmas goodies. We had a wonderful Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve, opening presents in the early afternoon followed by a Zoom call with our son and family. There were lots of gifts exchanged this year but all are useful and wanted. Brett got his beloved t-shirt, ball cap, and socks, but also some other clothing for travel and a back-up voltage adapter. I received a new Kindle and case from Meiling (a happy surprise!), and three pairs of silver earrings and some other travel goodies – both of us are now fully provisioned and ready to go. The girls also gave Brett and me two large personalized Occasional Nomads canvas bags from L.L. Bean, perfect for food shopping and as an under-seat bag on flights. YaYu will be getting her (early) graduation and birthday gifts from us next week, and along with the cash and gift cards she received for Christmas will have enough to purchase the new phone of her dreams (her old one is barely hanging on) so she is a happy girl, and Meiling and WenYu got several items off their lists and went home happily supplied as well. We gave each girl a big box of Hawaii/Kaua’i treats and will mail WenYu and Meiling’s to them this week, and YaYu’s right before she heads back to school.
The apartment feels empty now with Meiling and YaYu gone. We were very crowded in our small space, and there were bags, boxes, and constant clutter everywhere, but it felt so good to be together again. We fell back into our old rhythms easily and got along well the entire time. Somehow everyone got to use the bathroom when necessary, got a shower every day, had a place to sit and eat, and everything went smoothly. YaYu is back on the sofa now and has put away her stuff so things once again feel a bit more normal, but I miss our crowd (probably another week of those conditions though and we all would have snapped).
Although we never got to the beach because of the weather and cool temperatures, the girls said they got to see and do everything else they wanted on the island, and eat all the local specialities they had craved including Spam musubi, Pono market fried chicken, Puka dogs, poke bowls, and breakfast at the Tip Top. They also enjoyed mom’s cooking every evening and eating some favorite meals again, and appreciated having mom and dad do their laundry, and taking care of other tasks for them, if only for a few days. We were happy to do it all for the time they were here but admit to being grateful we don’t have to do it full time any more.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I finished The Death of Mrs. Westaway, and thought that would be the end of my year of mystery and suspense, but I still have a few on hold that will be showing up very soon, so last year’s theme will be continuing for a few weeks more. In the meantime, I am getting started on Thoreau’s Walden to be followed by Civil Disobedience.
- Listening to: I’m enjoying a very quiet morning after all the hustle and bustle of the past week. YaYu is still asleep on the sofa so Brett and I have been tiptoeing around – I’ve never heard him put away the dishes so quietly! It’s quiet outside as well with only a soft breeze blowing, but still quite cool with (more) rain expected later today.
- Watching: We watched lots of random stuff with the girls last week including the new-ish Disney movie, Luca (loved it!); almost all of the new Dexter series (the final two episodes will be released in the next two weeks); a game show that involves sword making (weird but interesting); Love Hard, a cute Christmas movie on Netflix; Love, Actually with WenYu – last year was the first time we both missed it because we always watch together; and Home Alone and Elf. I watched White Christmas last night to finish off the season, and also started watching a new (creepy) series on Netflix with YaYu, You.
- Happy we accomplished this past week: 1) The girls’ sorting continued and several bags were taken to the thrift store. 2) We all somehow managed to live together in our tiny apartment for more than a week without any arguments or hard feelings, with all of us chilling about the stuff that normally makes us nuts (in my case, clutter). 3) Brett and I firmed up a schedule for what will be sold and/or shipped to WenYu for storage next year. Up first, toward the end of January, will be the market umbrella, the sake jug lamp (it turned out to be too heavy to ship), my All-Clad cookware, and our teak table and chairs (Brett and I have been eating at the coffee table and that’s worked out fine for us). The first things being sent to WenYu for storage will be our Christmas things, the art work we’re keeping, and three boxes of pottery. 4) I had one small Etsy sale, a pleasant surprise. 5) Allie the cat was reunited with her favorite girl!
- Looking forward to next week: Hopefully there will be better weather so we can get back to walking regularly. I’m looking forward to having less stuff/clutter all over the place, and letting YaYu do more of the cooking.
Breakfast at the Tip Top Cafe
- Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We had an absolutely marvelous Christmas week with the girls. Every minute of their stay was perfect and WenYu and Meiling are already missed more than I thought possible. 2) We had an amazing breakfast at the Tip Top Cafe last Thursday; the girls ordered their favorites of oxtail soup, fried rice, and a big bento plate, and Brett and I had yummy banana pancakes. 3) The Zoom call with our son and family on Christmas Eve (Christmas Day in Japan) was also wonderful. We couldn’t get over how grown up and big our grandkids are now! They spent their grandparent gift money on Legos and a Paw Patrol set and were excited to show them off to us later that day.
Together for Christmas this year, one way or another.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We bought what we thought was a heavy, full-size suitcase for WenYu at the thrift store for $12 and discovered a matching carry-on bag inside (which she didn’t need). We’ll use it to take some of YaYu’s things to her when we go to Pennsylvania in May. 2) With the full-size suitcase from the thrift store Brett was able to get all of WenYu’s things, including her mini-Strat guitar and amplifier, into two suitcases for her flight home. Meiling and WenYu upgraded their seats on their return flight for $40 (each) so WenYu only had to pay $40 to check her second bag. The total for getting all her stuff back to Massachusetts, including the cost of the suitcase, ended up at $92 versus the hundreds it would have been to mail them or ship via UPS. Meiling was able to get all the things she kept into her one big suitcase and carry-on. 3) We bought three tomatoes (that we had forgotten to buy the week before), one can of tomato paste (which thought we had it but didn’t), a box of oranges at Costco, a tank of gas; breakfast at the Tip Top, a lilikoi pie, and WenYu’s suitcase and that was all! 4) We put $2.43 into the change/$1 bill bag. 5) There were very few leftovers this past week and those were always eaten the next day, with no food wasted or thrown away.
- Adding up the things we sold: I sold one hashioki on Christmas Eve. The total going into my travel account next week will be $3.32.
- Grateful for: Brett and I are beyond thankful for the 10 days we got to spend with WenYu and Meiling, and eight days with all three of the girls together – we have missed them so much and it was fun to see them interacting with each other again. We’re grateful that all three girls are healthy, vaccinated (and either boosted or getting it done next week), have good jobs or in YaYu’s case, working toward educational goals, and that Meiling and WenYu are in happy, supportive, long-term relationships. We couldn’t ask for more and feel very blessed.
- Bonus question: What’s your favorite holiday movie? I have three favorites: White Christmas, Love Actually, and Home Alone which still makes me laugh out loud. Love, Actually is at the top of my list although I know many think it’s an absolutely awful movie. WenYu and I have always loved it and the ensemble cast, but Meiling and YaYu left the room when we put it on. I finally got around to watching Elf for the first time last year and it’s another must watch for me now. Die Hard is NOT a Christmas movie in my opinion, and I’ve only watched It’s A Wonderful Life twice in my life (good but twice was enough) and I’ve never seen A Christmas Story.
The girls and I had a conversation last week about marriage when Meiling asked why their dad and I had gotten married so young (I was 25 and Brett was 27!). WenYu and Meiling are in that age range now, and are in long-term, serious relationships, but see no need to get married and feel that they’re too young (YaYu says she doesn’t want to get married). I explained that for their dad and me, besides being in love, it was also about getting me/us qualified for military benefits, including health insurance, commissary privileges, housing, etc. We didn’t think of ourselves as “too young,” and both of us had been previously married and knew what we were getting into. To them though it still seemed like I was marrying “to get benefits,” which was a poor reason in their minds. However, when I mentioned I knew women that had gotten married and had children in their teens and that felt too young to me I was told I was being judgmental! The whole thing was a great adult conversation, and although the generational gap between us is large, and yes, times have changed, it was interesting and important to hear their thoughts on the topic (for the record, I am in absolutely no hurry to see any of our daughters get married).
That’s a wrap for what was a wonderful week at Chez Aloha. I hope everyone (who celebrates Christmas) had a wonderful week and holiday celebration as well. We turn now to the end of the year and the month coming up as well as spending time with YaYu, who will be with us until near the end of January. Wishing all a great post-holiday week!