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I’m thankful every day and every night and all the hours in between that Christian and I can provide for our children’s physical needs. And in those hours we’re also trying to squeeze some time so that we get a hug or two out of them, do something fun with them, read scriptures, and have a meaningful conversation that is not about cleaning their room or why they can’t scream at their sibling just because said sibling is breathing close to them.

When 2:00pm rolls around I am racing against the clock to make it all happen. On a normal day 30% of everything I want to happen actually happens. On a low expectation/forgiving day where I redefine the terms of “quality-time” about 90% happens.

Scenario: I made Enzo sweep the floor 3 times because he was rushing to get it done. Raised my voice 5 times.

  • On a normal day: I’m a terrible mother. It’s so much faster if I just do it myself. If I had done it myself it would have taken me 5 minutes instead of 20 minutes managing Enzo. Plus I wouldn’t have lost my temper. Also, I could have been reading a book with Eliza if I had had those 15 minutes. Arghhh.
  • On a forgiving day: Alright Enzo NOW knows how to clean the floor. Sort of. I’ll probably still have to go over this with him 10 more times but he knows he needs to sweep under things. If Enzo truly learns how to clean a house our life and his life will be so much easier.

Redefining quality time is so much more productive than drowning in an Olympic size pool of mom guilt.

  • I didn’t get to read for 20 minutes with Eliza. In fact, I read for zero minutes with Eliza….But she got to play legos with Enzo. She loves Enzo. Her fine motor skills are getting better.
  • Crap we forgot to read scriptures with the kids again…well they went to bed at a decent time, tomorrow we’ll listen to scriptures in the car, the kids love the soothing scripture reading narrator voice.
  • Enzo just spent an hour cleaning the house…yay…I mean crap… I mean he could have spent that hour learning how to code, coding is so important it will give him an advantage when he grows up…but knowing how to clean is a life skill he’ll have to do every day…unless he is a rich engineer and then he can just hire a house cleaner…he needs to learn how to clean.

This. This is my brain. Like all the time. I’m equal parts catholic guilt and equal parts vomiting rainbows of optimism.

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I look at my oldest and I wonder, “is this kid so great because I taught him how to read when he was four years old?” Is he so ambitious because I’m so ambitious? Is that a good thing? What if it’s a bad thing?

I know I’m doing some things wrong and I know I’m doing some things right and what is wrong and right is not totally clearly defined. Some of the things I feel like I’m failing miserable just means that they need to figure it out on their own, and they do, and they’re better for it. Some of the things I feel like I’m nailing it is turning out to hinder them. For example, Christian read two entire chapter books on Sunday. Sure he’s a fast reader but he basically has trained the kids to not interrupt him every three seconds. Me on the other hand I can’t use the bathroom without having at least one kid trying to talk to me outside the door. Yesterday Christian and I were having a conversation with a contractor and each of the kids needed my attention no less than three times each, Eliza was over ten. I counted. Not once did they go to Christian. Not because Christian is a bad parent, but because he knows how to tune them out. They know that about him and they know I’m the complete opposite, I never tune them out.

Ahhhh parenting. Good thing our kids will turn out to be who they are in spite of and because of us.

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In a couple of weeks Maria will be 6 years old. I know it’s cliche but I feel like she’s growing up really fast. I recently watched some videos that my friend Juliana took of her from when we lived in Itacare, Brazil. Maria was Eliza’s age when we moved back to the States. Maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic for baby Maria, but the feeling that I have is that she has just gone about her business growing up and turning into this fascinating little being, and it happened and is happening so fast.

Enzo has a reputation for being smart and Maria not so much. But truthfully Maria is brilliant! She is witty, and observant and just knows what’s up. She has an opinion about everything. She has an amazing vocabulary. She is very very clever.

She figured out that Santa was made up when she saw my chatbook that had a picture of her dad assembling her Christmas present (oops!). She told me about the picture and said “I never believed anyway, but let’s not say anything because Enzo still believes.”

Recently her reading skills have skyrocketed. I asked her why that was and she said “now that I’m learning Hawaiian I need more space in my brain, so I need to get reading out of the way.”

Maria is practical.

Yesterday she took her money to school for the bookfair. She came back and said “I didn’t get any books at the bookfair, I know they’re cheaper on Amazon. BUT, I did buy 5 sharpened pencils. I found the kid in my class with the best pencil sharpener and paid him to sharpen my pencils. I’m glad I took my money to school today.”

Maria wants an American Girl doll for her birthday. When I asked her if she REALLY wanted that and if she thought she would play with it and told her that spending $100 on a doll would significantly reduce her birthday budget she said, “no, what I really want is a puppy but since you won’t get me a puppy I figured if would ask for the most expensive toy then you might consider just getting me a puppy.”

Oh dear!

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She wants to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints when she grows up but ONLY if she exclusively teaches animals, no humans.

On that note she doesn’t want to get married or have children, she plans on having lots of cats. She does however, encourage Enzo to have lots of kids because she wants to live close to his family when she grows up.

She is good at organizing but not great at cleaning. She likes to write but doesn’t like to draw. Her favorite color is the rainbow. She can count to 20 in Hawaiian, English, Portuguese, and has requested that I teach her how to speak Spanish.

You could hug her all day and she would still be fine with more. She is very verbally demonstrative. She loves one on one time.

She loves playing with older kids but practices her leadership skills on younger ones.

She wants her hair to be long. She only wears skirts or dresses. She loves climbing on trees and going barefoot.

When she grows up she wants to be a scientist that studies animals. She enjoys non-fiction books. Biographies are her favorite. We talk a lot about race, gender, and inequality and she gets it.

I asked her “Maria how do you say ______ in Hawaiian?” and she said “You need to stop saying Hawaiian it’s haVAi. If you keep saying Hawaiian it’s offensive.”

Everyday she prays for her grandma in Brazil. Whenever I’m on the phone or skype with a friend or family member she also wants to talk to them. She is very outgoing, but she likes to remind me that sometimes she feels shy.

She is fun and funny. She is loving and kind. She likes to share and give presents.

She was one of my greatest gifts. When she was born she transformed me from a woman who felt overwhelmed with just one child to the mother I wanted to be.

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  • Katie Aldrich - Love that girl. Love your words.ReplyCancel

    • damarispalmer@gmail.com - Thanks Katie. I love your girls too, they have such great personalities.ReplyCancel

8-19 (1 of 1)

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 12.17.07 PMI’m not trying to sound melodramatic but Mariko and I have had this conversation a million-billion times. Christian and I have had this conversation even more. If you and I have ever had a conversation I’ve probably talked about the things that are hard for me about living in Hawaii.

Bust out your tiny violins because here I go again on why I am not in love with living in Hawaii.

  • I miss my community. We had an amazing community in California. I miss those friends every day. These are people I feel comfortable with. I like who I am with people that I identify with, people that have been a part of my life for the past 8 years, that loves my kids, that have seen my kids being born and grow up.
  • Things that energize me are hard and or impossible to access here. I would trade an afternoon at the beach for a cool concert any day of the week. I like good restaurants, museums, cultural events, manicured playgrounds, big libraries.
  • Nothing is close or easy. Costco is an hour away. Target is an hour away. A good hospital is an hour away. A good restaurant, a cool museum, a decent movie theater, a bigger library are all far away.
  • My career. I work as a program manager for a tech company. I love my job and am so fortunate to be able to work remote but being far away from silicon valley makes it harder for me to grow in my career. Thinking about that bums me out.
  • Where my peeps at? If I were a stay-at-home mom who surfed or hiked I would fit right in. Having a full-time job, caring very little for outdoorsy sports or exercise period, makes me an oddity here.

These and a few other things make living in paradise not so awesome for me.

8-19 (1 of 1)-4It has taken me a year to come to terms that it’s o.k to live in Hawaii and not love it. That it’s o.k for me to be here and to have it be hard. That no one is going to fix it for me and that I’m not going to be able to fix it because Hawaii is not broken, it’s just different than what I really care for. And more importantly for me to accept that I’m not broken. That there’s nothing wrong with me. That it’s o.k for me to crave more or different than what I have at my disposal, to be o.k with the fact that going to the beach every day doesn’t satisfy what I want out of my life.

You can love living somewhere and still dislike certain things about it. I don’t love living here but I like some things about it.

  • Cousins. My kids get to see their cousins often, it’s so great for them.
  • I really like our house and running a vacation rental. I remember seeing our house online before we moved here and I told Christian “THIS is exactly what I want.” I love the open kitchen and living room. I love my bedroom and awesome bathroom. I LOVE the amazing light. Doing the vacation rental is very rewarding. I get to meet people from all over the world and they’re on vacation so generally in a good mood.
  • I like our ward a lot. It’s a pretty big ward but I already feel like I’ve met almost everyone. My ward is full of really nice people.
  • My kids’ school. I’ve talked about this before but I really do like my kids’ school. The three of them are in different schools and so far everyone is happy where they are at.
  • Hawaiian Language Immersion Program. I guess this is more of a subcategory of the one above but I am in love with this program. Maria is thriving and I love that a lot of the kids in her program go to our ward and are in our community.
  • My neighborhood. I like my neighborhood a lot. I like that no one is in our business but at the same time the people I want to be close are close. Enzo’s friends can walk over. Maria can walk to school with her friends. And my friend can come over during my lunch break and bring a delicious meal.

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I hope to be a better person because I live in Hawaii. I hope that one day I will love Hawaii, that I will find myself here. That I will be here and not long for somewhere else but here and satisfied with being here for myself, not for my husband and kids but for myself. Until that happens I’ll hold on to my conviction that there is value in doing hard things.

  • Sienna - You are such a good example to me of being open about your needs and desires. Kaity and I talk about this all the time. We know that moving back to Hawaii would fill so many needs: closer to family, easy access to outdoor exercise, good weather. But we also know it would mean having to give up a lot of other things that we’ve become accustomed to on the mainland. On another note, a lot of Utahans LOVE utah. They think it is the best place on earth. I really like a lot of things about utah and I can make a list of all the practical reasons why it is good to live here but I am not in love with this place. I feel like I am constantly trying to convince myself to be at home here and waiting to fall in love. But I love a lot of things about it so we make it work and it’s a compromise for the sake of our marriage since Tony and I do not have the same ideas about where the perfect home would be.ReplyCancel

    • damarispalmer@gmail.com - I think you and I are on the same boat. Living here is a compromise for our marriage, just like living in South Hadley and in South San Francisco were all compromises/sacrifices that Christian was willing to make for our sake. I’m sorry Utah is hard for you.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Robertson - I think more people relate to this than you may realize. I found myself thinking these same thoughts a while back and quite frankly still do from time to time. I don’t fit the Hawaii mold. I don’t surf, annoy all that daring, outdoorsy, or adventurous. I do love a hike or the beach or camping from time to time but it’s never been an everyday absolute for me. And I felt like I was wrong and everyone else is right, but what you articulate so well is that acknowledging all this is ok. I’ve lived here for well over a decade now and I have found my sweet spot. I accept my place in it and try to create my own happiness daily. In this humid weather it doesn’t always work, but I try. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • damarispalmer@gmail.com - Thanks Steph, I admire your disposition and good attitude. We’ve talked about this before, about having friends but not one cohesive group and how hard that can be. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Steph - Annoy is supposed to be am not 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Fugazza - D-I moved to Hawaii almost a year ago myself, and it has been quite the adjustment. Living far away from Wal-Mart (and I HATE going to Wal-Mart) with little kids is extremely frustrating:). However, I grew up moving around the world every five years or so, and there’s one thing that I constantly felt after settling into a new place. Maybe it’s the gypsy blood in me, but I never felt ‘settled’. There was always something that was missing from every place. Distance from convenience, lackluster views, annoying neighbors, terrible restaurants, high prices, too hot/too cold, too dry/too humid. Great friends/mediocre friends. But the hard truth of it is, there is not a single place on this earth that has it all. And, the saying, “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” still rings true. I lived in Utah for over a decade and prayed for a change. When Hawaii became an option, I thought, great! It will be perfect there for us! But sometimes I find myself feeling dissatisfied again. I miss the cool fall weather where the maple tree leaves change, and I’m not sweating while I eat hot soup and hot bread. I guess the secret to a well balanced and satisfied life is enjoying the moment, being grateful for the time we have where we are, and making the best of the situation that we’re in. I thought I wasn’t going to miss Utah much when I left there, but I do. I have some regrets as to not doing things and seeing things while I lived there. I feel that way about everywhere I lived. So, though I don’t know how long we’ll be here in the 808, my goal is to at least live here without regrets. Because the ride may be short. Or I might die here. But, after eight location changes, I darn well should have learned by now to live life as if it is, not as I hope it will be. Oh, and we all need to do more Girl Nights. Amen.ReplyCancel

    • damarispalmer@gmail.com - That’s a lot of moves! You probably saw so many cool places. Of course there are many issues with California and things I didn’t like but I felt at home there, I enjoyed living there even with it’s problems. That’s the difference between living there and living here for me.ReplyCancel

  • Hal Bright - Damaris, Christina and I feel the same way about Phoenix. We miss all the things that we lived about Connecticut and would move back in a heartbeat. But, family, our jobs, and further friends are here. We are nowhere near as close to our neighbors here, nor is Boaton or NYC on our doorstep. It’s hard but we look for little things that we live about where we are planted for this season.ReplyCancel

    • damarispalmer@gmail.com - You guys are doing it right! I have always loved your attitude and I so enjoy following your family on social media.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie AGAIN Robertson - Me again. Lol. I guess I could just wait to tell you this at lunch, but Emily P and I were talking about how much we loved your post and she asked me where my dream place to live would be and here’s what I said: I honestly don’t know. Hawaii checks a lot of boxes for me when I’m free to drive to town (concerts, dining, exhibits, cool eat the street and art nights), north shore (waiamea farmers market, beaches, interesting cultural food, treats, natural hippie yoga stuff), Kaneohe (family stuff), military areas (mainland type events, races, stores, food)– but I live in da country with four small children who require A LOT and my husband works all day so I guess it’s more about accepting the lack of personal freedom in a sweaty environment where I am nagging someone to do something all day so those things are out of reach and then I feel a little trapped or stranded sometimes. I don’t think I’ve ever articulated it like that before. But there it is.ReplyCancel

    • damarispalmer@gmail.com - Also it’s F* Hawaii! People don’t ask “do you like living in Hawaii?” They ask with giddy enthusiasm “OMG you live in Hawaii, do you LOVE it SOOOO much?” which in turn makes me question “Is there something wrong with me? Everyone seems to think Hawaii is the shiznit.” I guess for me if you asked me that question on where my dream place is to live I wouldn’t hestitate. It’s Santa Cruz. It has the ocean and mountains for my outdoorsy family, but also manicures playground for this mama that likes to take her kids to manicured playgrounds. It has good eats, cool cultural things, and is 45 minutes away from silicon valley and only an hour and a half away from San Francisco, or an hour and half away from Big Sur. I have my dream place, I’ve lived in it and it was so great. I’m glad I get to go back often.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Aldrich - Ok, so is it hard for you to come back here? I have only been back to Atlanta once since we left and it was hard. I avoid it because it makes me sad because I want to stay there and never leave again. But then I miss it all the more. Totally get what you are saying about having lived somewhere that felt like home, and missing that feeling. And I love how you acknowledge that there’s nothing wrong with Hawaii and there’s also nothing wrong with you.ReplyCancel

    • damarispalmer@gmail.com - It is hard but also seriously so good for my soul, it feels easy and familiar. I was talking to my friend and she mentioned that it’s deceptive because I don’t have my family with me so I have more free time. True, but I LONG for my family when I’m in Santa Cruz. I want to take my kids to the familiar places I enjoyed taking them too, walking around Pacifica, going to the boardwalk, walking through the redwoods. I am really hoping that we can spend next summer their and pull and Adair, and just make Santa Cruz our summer stomping ground. Wanna house swap (wink, wink).ReplyCancel

  • Sarah A - From what you’re saying, it feels like you might be more of a Kailua person. Farmer’s markets, restaurants, whole foods, target, etc. There are parts of the mainland I miss, the arts and museum scene definitely included, and I’m not a hiker or surfer either. . .but I love the ocean and the people, so I’m happy here. That being said, it is a trade-off: culture vs cultured.ReplyCancel

  • Kristen - Oh, Da. This is a lot of what I feel. I don’t fit the surfer/hiker mom mold, and feel a bit out of place here- though, it’s been that way since I moved here in HS. When I was in HS all my friends were semi pro surfers and didn’t want to teach a beginner- they were busy getting sponsors. (I would mention it was way not cool to be haole where I lived either.) When I married William I knew I would stay here, and that was ok with me. I have been in the islands since I was 12 or 13 and I do love it here. Though the holidays (no seasons- different family traditions- no traditional Thanksgiving…WHAT?! <– Don't EVER do that to a foodie, right?) are really, really hard for me.
    It's what I chose when I married that amazing guy, and I don't regret it, I just have to fight harder to have the traditions from my side wrangled in there.
    Pretty much all of my friends, and those I relate to (save a few, like you) live in UT or CA. I miss them, especially with this baby, because they were around when I was having my other 5 and now they are gone. Mom isn't here either, so this pregnancy is a little more lonely. It's also hard because we chose to homeschool. I feel like maybe I could be more active, be more social if I sent them to school, and had some time for myself. I seriously contemplated sending them to school this year, but it wasn't right this time around. I have to fight to get time for myself. I have one standing date with a friend once a month. We go to Ono Yo. That's my social life outside of homeschool stuff. And while it's small, I'm holding on to it with all I've got! It is hard. Homeschooling, living so far from my family, far from conveniences, etc. But I know there is value in what we are doing. You are an amazing mom, and such a hard worker, with the best smile on your face, always. It will be worth it. Life is a compromise, right? We should do a standing date. Then we'd make sure we get to see each other! Love you lots and lots. And lots.ReplyCancel

    • damarispalmer@gmail.com - Thank you so much for sharing all of this. In my head you are superwomen, thanks for humanizing yourself it makes me feel better about my situation. Standing date for sure. I’ll text you. xoxoReplyCancel