Adventures of Ratface & RatGrace

For Unlce Porter’s spring break, he decided to come visit us. We were thrilled to have him. We started off with a trip to the Kroc Center, where Stella showed off her swimming skills. And also used Uncle Porter as a sort of flotation device. 

I got someone to enjoy whiskey with me and teach me new cooking stuff. Wes had been working long hours for a few months at this point, so just having another adult to talk to was really nice.

Our first full day we decided to try a the Hanauma Bay Ridge hike when our swim lessons were cancelled. We got a late start and had to park at Koko Head and then got a little lost trying to find the trail head, which is actually a gate with a “No Trespassing” sign so by the time we actually started the hike, we were all a little tired and hot (not to mention worried that we were going to get fined for trespassing because I worry about things like that) so we didn’t make it to the top. We managed to still get a great view and Stella walked most of it so we called it a win and celebrated with Kona Brewing for lunch.

My brother is like a giant kid, so Stella had a blast with him from the very start. Wednesday afternoon we headed to a small beach in Ko ‘Olina that is usually full of sea turtles. We try to take guests here to see them, even though it’s kind of a pain to get in and out of with small children. My brother said he wasn’t expecting such large turtles, which is kind of funny because when I think of a sea turtle I think of something rather large. Uncle Porter convinced Stella to let him bury her, which is something she’s never been interested in before.

The next day we decided to trek into town to try some Indian food at Monsoon Indian near Ala Moana (if you’re looking for good Indian food on Oahu, go here.). Stella was a big of the samosas (who isn’t?) and tried everything else. Her favorite, in true toddler form, was the rice.

After lunch, we wandered around the mall and found Stella a new beach hat before heading to Ala Moana Beach Park to swim.

At the beach the kids got to burn off some energy after sitting for most of the morning. It’s a lot rockier there than we’re used to at Ko ‘Olina, but we still had a lot of fun. Uncle Porter brought a selfie stick that he and Coop had received as a gift so we were able to get some group photos, though it’s not as easy to use as I thought they were.

On our way to the showers at the beach, Stella started crawling around in the sand and grunting and Uncle Porter nearly lost his damn mind he thought it was so funny. I managed to get a short video of them grunting back and forth to each other while Porter tried not to fall down with laughter.

After the beach we checked on traffic and decided that we should have dinner and wait it out before heading back home. James was asleep before we even got back to the mall and slept all through dinner but we still managed to have a peaceful drive home and put him to bed on time!

Saturday Wes miraculously had off so we made a day of Haleiwa for breakfast burritos and a little shopping.

After Haleiwa we went back to the turtle beach at Ko ‘Olina. It was Uncle Porter’s last day so we decided to make the most of it and just go full tilt! Stella and James both fell asleep on the way home from the beach and I think Stella would have slept all night if we let her, but we woke her up to go to Monkeypod.

We came home and put the kids to bed and then enjoyed one last glass of whiskey. Uncle Porter’s flight out was early the next morning so we didn’t stay up too late. Good thing I have James as my alarm clock. James & I dropped him off at the airport and then grabbed donuts. The apartment was decidedly quiet the next week and having him here for nearly a week just made me sad that we didn’t live near our families.

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We Goed to Smesame Street Live

Sesame Street live came to Honolulu and some friends and I decided it would be a fun thing to take the kids to. And it was, for the kids who actually watch Sesame Street and like the characters. So, not Stella. For her first Christmas, Grandma Candee and Grandpa Jim bought Stella an Elmo doll (the sleep one, I think) that talks and hugs. She was playing with another gift when she fell over onto Elmo, who started talking about hugs and sleeping. She completely freaked out and Elmo spent the next year in a box because she was so terrified of him.

Still, I thought it would be more fun in person, and something to do just me and Stella, and after a year of sharing her parents with James I figured she could use some one-on-one time. As soon as we stepped into the darkened room, though, I could tell she was having some second thoughts about the whole thing. I tried to get her excited but mostly she just stared at all the other kids and looked like she wanted to fall asleep. 

At least Adara and Jack and all the moms were excited about the show. I even tried getting a photo of the two of us to get her enthused about it but she quickly jumped out of my arms and left me looking pretty silly. I bet if she could read she would have been dancing.

Once the show started she asked to have her jacket on, with hood, and after she got all wrapped up I was able to get her up and watching for a little bit. It helped that Jack was super into the show and she loves Jack.

She ended up getting a little scared when all the characters made their way out and asked to leave. Not wanting to cause a scene, we worked our way through all the other kids who were excited about seeing Sesame Street and headed for the lobby. I decided to try one more time after she said that it was too dark in there. We bought a light-up Elmo, which seemed to do the trick, and headed back in. Armed with the light, she was a little more into the show and managed to smile and interact with Adara, who was apparently just waiting for the Count to come out before really getting into it. Jack, meanwhile, was hooked.

Stella looks ready for a nap, and Jack is entranced by the whole thing. 

Shortly after intermission, Stella decided she’d had enough of the show and asked to leave again. We spent the remainder of the show in the lobby, waiting for our friends to join us for lunch. The whole thing reminded me of that time I bought new movies for Stella to watch on our 6-hour plane ride and she looked at me like, What the hell is this? Where is Brave?The moral of the story being this: don’t spend a lot of money on things your kids don’t care about. At least we got to spend the morning with good friends. Two months later, though, and she still excited that we went to it, even if she didn’t like it. Every time anything Sesame Street-related comes up she looks at me with a big smile and says, “We goed to Smesame Street Live!” like it was the best day of her life. So I guess it might have been worth it after all.

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Twelve Months: James

James turned one year old last month and I’m just now getting around to writing about it because life is crazy. He is crazy. Adorable, but crazy.

The kid has a better tan than all of us and is probably slathered in the most sunscreen when we leave the house because he’s still the baby. Apparently he learned from Dad that a farmer’s tan is all the rage. He wears it well, though.


He finally got his own chair from Grama and Grampa Bishop, and it came just in the the nick of time. He’d started getting very curious about Stella’s but she wasn’t too excited about sharing it. IMG_0151 

Twelve months, man. It flew by.  How he went from a snuggly little baby who only ate, slept, and pooped to a toddler who walks and climbs and barely sleeps just blows my mind. He is keeping us all on our toes for sure. His teeth have come in fast and furious and keep us awake at all hours of the night. I can’t wait until they’re finally all in and we can stop buying Tylenol on a regular basis.


He’s starting to understand more and more and watching the light of recognition in his eyes when he recognizes something or is able to follow a direction I give him is amazing. IMG_0154 

He is a lover, this boy. Hugs and kisses all around for pretty much anyone who wanders by him. He loves all animals and when he sees anything that looks like a dog (horse, cat, goat) he gets so excited “Dah,” he yells with a huge smile on his face.


He says “mam” (and I always think of Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers yelling for his mom to bring him meatloaf) and “Da” and I think I hear the beginning of Stella’s name when she comes downstairs in the morning. He signs “milk” for everything so you can imagine how fun it is trying to figure out what exactly he wants!IMG_0157 

His four molars are starting to pop up and it’s making life pretty miserable. Some nights are fine and some nights he wakes up screaming. I can’t wait until they’re all up and ready to to chew. He has finally gotten the grasp of keeping food in his mouth so the packets of baby food are on their way out and I’m not at all sorry about that.


His hair is a crazy mop that sometimes makes him look like he’s in a boy band and probably makes it hard for him to see but I’m not ready to cut it just yet. IMG_0155 

He is 30 1/2 inches and 20 pounds 7 ounces, a nine-inch growth from birth! James, you exhaust us daily with your endless energy but you also fill our hearts with love and laughter and watching you grow this past year has been so much fun. I can’t wait to see what your second year brings us. (More sleep, please!)IMG_3484

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Listen Up, Kid

oh, man. This is such a fun age. He understands more and more each day and I love to ask him to do things and watch as he comprehends and does them.

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June 19, 2015 · 5:46 pm

Easter 2015

Dyeing eggs with Stella is quickly becoming one of my favorite activities. Last year we only got through about nine eggs but this year I made a few more because she was really into finding them at a friends house a few days before Easter.
DSCN4271After using various small cups last year, I told myself to remember to buy plastic cups to dye the eggs but of course forgot. So we made due with what we had. Stella didn’t mind at all.
DSCN4275She dropped an egg in each color and then tried to fit another, moving them around as she saw fit.
DSCN4280 More than a few of them cracked from the drop into the cup. DSCN4281 DSCN4282
The next morning she found all of the eggs and each time she spotted one she was so excited and proud of herself. Tsunami did find one of them before Stella and managed to have a little treat before we put her outside. DSCN4289 DSCN4294 DSCN4295 DSCN4298 DSCN4300 After finding all the eggs, we moved on to Easter baskets, where Stella was spoiled by grandparents and Auntie Wendy. I don’t remember Easter presents being huge (actually, the gift that sticks out most in my mind is the year I got a word search book) so I tried not to go overboard and got her a butterfly kite and bandaids. But Grandmas spoiled the kids with books games and (the big winner) mints. DSCN4301 DSCN4307 After finding they dyed eggs, we went over to our friends’ house to search for the plastic eggs filled with goodies. DSCN4337

I have really great memories of going over to my cousins’ house to hunt for eggs and loved that we were able to do the same thing with close friends. There were close to a hundred eggs with only two 2 1/2-year olds to find them so we tossed most of them on the grass to make things easy for them. The delight on their faces when they found them was so much fun to see.
DSCN4313 DSCN4325 And, of course, the stickers, tattoos, finger puppets, candy, and figurines that were hiding inside the eggs were pretty exciting, too. DSCN4353 James was more interested in the electronics that were out. DSCN4397 Afterwards we went to the beach where Stella got buried in the sand over and over. Jack wasn’t interested in being buried so he did the shoveling. IMG_1378 James and I spent time snuggling on the blanket because he was not feeling well. Once we got home I realized he had a 101 degree temperature. No wonder he wanted nothing to do with the water!IMG_1386After the beach we had lunch before heading home. IMG_1397 Stella has been trying to climb trees for a while so Dad helped her out. IMG_1403 And then we went home to put James to bed and fly Stella’s new kite. It was a beautiful day to do it. Stella ran around like a nut and jumped of the utility box cover that is a favorite toy of all the neighbor kids. There was lots of jumping before we all finally took a much-needed nap. IMG_1411 IMG_1417 IMG_1441 IMG_1486 IMG_1490 IMG_1501 IMG_1502 IMG_1503

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11 Months: James

James is now 11 months old and it’s hard to believe that at this time last year I was just complaining about everything. How has it already been 11 months? Since learning to walk, James has been getting faster and faster every day. No doubt that he’ll be running around soon. DSCN4580 He figured out how to climb out of the dog door (a trick that Stella seemed blissfully unaware of until she was nearly 18 months old) and that has made life so much crazier. He can (and will) climb everything in his path, which means I’m constantly running between cooking dinner and peeking out back to make sure that he hasn’t fallen off the back of a chair or the little table. Mostly he’s covered in Tsunami’s water, but that’s definitely preferable to taking a dive off the chairs. He also enjoys putting various items out the dog door so I’m constantly finding toys or remote controls or books outside. DSCN4550 Tsunami’s water and food bowls are some of his favorite toys so I spend a lot of time picking him up, soaking wet, and relocating him to some place I think is far enough away to make him forget about it, only to have to remove him 30 seconds later. Tsunami’s been handling it pretty well and will just back up when James crawls under her to start playing. DSCN4552 He loves to open and shut doors and smiles when he opens it for me or Stella. We’ve luckily only had one finger-slamming incident, but it was minor and Stella learned that maybe playing open-shut with James isn’t the best idea. Now she handles the closing and opening of doors when they play together. DSCN4553 He learned to wave, but is still mastering when exactly to do it. He also learned to clap and he gets the biggest smile (the kid is full of big smiles) when he catches my eye and claps. He will clap when he hears other people clapping, whether it’s in real life or on tv, and when someone says “yay” he’ll get in on that, too. DSCN4579 His 8th tooth popped through and though I was prepared for many sleepless nights, he managed it pretty well. He also got another cold, which brought back those random night-wakings. We’re still working our way out of it. DSCN4574 He gives big hugs and slobbery kisses and runs at full speed towards most anyone. Sometimes when we’re outside, he’ll roam around and then catch my eye and rush towards me with a smile. He’s fine when I’m out of the room, but as soon as I come back in he calls “Ma-ma Ma-ma” until I pick him up for a cuddle. For a baby who wasn’t really into cuddles, he’s definitely turned into a snuggler. Mostly when it suits him, but I don’t mind because he is one good cuddler. DSCN4567 He is signing for milk now, which I think encompasses everything from breastmilk to water to food. It’s so cute to see his little hands going, unless it’s 1am. DSCN4565 He is “talking” a lot more and I love to hear his voice. He squeals and babbles and Stella and I spend car rides wondering what he wants. One day when he was crying Stella said, “I’m sorry James, but I don’t have any milk in my boobies for you.” They were buckled in their car seats and I was driving and she was worried that he might think she was ignoring him. Sometimes Stella can be a little rough with James, but the love she has for her little brother constantly amazes me, and the smile he gets when she comes down in the mornings can’t be beat. DSCN4559His eyes are still bright blue and his hair is growing out of control. He gets all his food in it and I’ve said it so many times that Stella has taking to letting everyone know that “James has crazy hair.”
DSCN4556He is bigger than Stella was at 14 months old, and can walk like a pro (a drunk pro, but a pro nonetheless) so I have to remind myself that he’s still just a baby. But he understands more every day and watching that flicker of recognition in his eyes when he knows what you’re saying never gets old. He is a messy boy with a big heart, who maybe needs a haircut.

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Ten Months: James

James is 10 months old and so busy, which is why this is getting written closer to the 11th month than the 10th! He started out the month taking more and more unassisted steps. He wasn’t able to stand up by himself, but once he was up with the help of a chair, table, or me, he would be off. On Wes’ birthday, he finally figured out how to stand up by himself and within an hour he was trying to chase Stella around the house. That particular attempt ended in a face plant, but he’s since learned his limitations. DSCN4460He climbs anything in his path and I have to remind myself on a daily basis to watch him closely. Stella didn’t walk until she was a year old, and even when she did, she was loud. I never had to question where she was because she let out squeals as she moved around. James, though, is pretty silent, especially when doing something that he shouldn’t be doing. Like climbing on top of the kids’ picnic table. Or moving Stella’s wooden table next to the patio chairs and trying to climb them, an act that had my heart in my throat as I raced to grab him before he got distracted and fell. Something like that seems to happen on a daily, if not hourly basis.
DSCN4464 He is a sweet boy. He is constantly moving but usually stops long enough to give me a quick cuddle before moving on to the next big thing. I don’t think he’ll every snuggle as much as Stella does, so I take these hugs where I can. He gets excited to see his dad in the mornings, and some days the early wake up call is worth it to see how happy he is to see Wes. DSCN4470 He has also got quite a temper, especially when you take something from him. Bath time is especially rough because there’s only a few toys and in an enclosed space they inevitably want the same one. Once I talk Stella out of stealing whatever hot toy James has got, he will usually hand it off to her. I think about all the times my brother and I fought over every little thing and I just get exhausted, but I also think about the times we played happily together and I look forward to that. DSCN4471 After Grandma Candee left I decided that sleep training was in order so that we could all be a little more rested, but that very night he slept through the night and, with the exception of a few nights here and there, he has ever since. I hope that he has it all figured out because I don’t think I can go back to those nightly (or twice nightly) wake up calls. His naps are getting more consistent, which makes planning activities out of the house so much easier. DSCN4474 His hair has grown so much in the past few months and it looks a lot like Wes’ does when he needs a haircut. Grama Tina wants us to wait until his first birthday to cut it, which actually might happen because I have no idea when I’ll find the time to take him somewhere to get it cut. DSCN4494 He is the messiest eater, and will shove everything I put on his plate in his mouth, as if I’ll take it away if it stays there for longer than 30 seconds. Most of it ends up on his hands or in his high chair, and this makes Tsunami so happy while also driving me crazy because Tsunami now thinks she can get scraps from anyone with food. DSCN4500 He has the sweetest smile and his eyes fully light up when he grins. He’s happy to see most people and will offer up hugs to new people, just like his sister. He also has some serious separation anxiety and will scream if I leave the room for 15 seconds. Once I’m gone, however, he’s just fine. It’s when I’m in eyesight that he gets upset, screaming as if to say, How dare you put me down when you can hold me! I admit that I give in a lot and pick him up because I love the way he rests his head on my shoulder. DSCN4501 He wants what he wants and will do whatever to get it. When he hears the fridge open, he comes running (fast walking) to the kitchen, hoping to get in there before we shut the door. Same thing with the dishwasher, cabinets, front door, basically anything that opens he wants to get in. DSCN4504 He loves Tsunami and will snuggle with her when he gets tired. Tsunami loves that she gets his table scraps and so allows a certain amount of rough housing before abruptly standing up and knocking him to his butt. DSCN4507 He has seven teeth and makes a mess of his face daily, so much that I’ve just stopped trying to clean him up. But he’s the cutest messy baby ever. DSCN4509

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