Pineapple and the beach 

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Today was the earliest Clarissa woke up on her own,  at 10:30. We headed to the Dole Plantation.  It was about a 45 minute drive and I can only listen to “Elsa music”  for so long.  But I had some great realizations during my drive. 

 I was thankful that we listened to advice from several friends and rented a car.  It made my life so much easier to just put Clarissa in her carseat and let waze direct us than to wait for a bus and try to navigate an island that I know very little about.  Also,  I think that by the end of the week,  I will have driven more in Hawaii than in the last two years in Korea.  I also think it’s special that we are staying in Waikiki.  My grandparents met in Hawaii and actually honeymooned in Waikiki so this place is part of my history.  Though I know it looked radically different in the 1940s! 

Then drive was pretty.  I didn’t take pictures obviously since I was the one driving.  We passed several military bases.  I didn’t realize that there were so many here.  At one point the sky was so dark,  I thought for sure it would storm but it didn’t. 

The parking lot was only half full. There is a massive gift shop the size of a department store.  There are ladies that tell you to choose a piece of paper to see if you win a pearl and give you a coupon.  Clarissa enjoyed picking the papers but I didn’t buy any jewelry. 

The Dole Plantation has three paid attractions.  The pineapple express is a 22 minute narrated train ride around the plantation.  You get to see where they harvest all of their crops and listen to some Hawaiian music along the way.  

Each pineapple plant is used to harvest three different pineapples over about 45 months.  

I did not realize that Dole had such a variety of foods.  They grow pineapple,  bananas,  cacoa,  coffee,  sugar cane, coconut,  and macadamia nuts on this plantation. 

After our train ride we walked down a path to get to the Botanical Garden there.  Along the way we paid for bird seed and fed the birds.  Clarissa was also very excited about a rooster and his “girlfriend.” I was interested in how far we were from other places.  It was almost the same distance to Seoul as it was to New York City.  We really are about halfway home this week. 

The Botanical Garden was beautiful.  It was paved so it was stroller friendly.  It wasn’t huge but Clarissa and I enjoyed it.  There is a mound on one side where you can see some harvesting machines and a mountain in the distance.  Clarissa had fun exploring.  It was hard to convince her to leave. 

They also claim to have the world’s largest Maze.  Clarissa wasn’t interested so we skipped it.  You can pay for each attraction individually or pay for a combination of the things you want to do.  You can do all three for less than $20.

We headed to the gift shop to try the pineapple whip. There was some sticker shock at first because the smallest one was $5.50 plus tax.  But it was a very large serving and we both enjoyed it.  They sold more substantial food as well. 

We walked through the gift shop for about 20 minutes because there was so much to see.  We ended up with two more souvenir pennies.  There was a kiosk where a man would tell you how to say your name in Hawaiian and what it meant.  He also sold leather bracelets that could be engraved with your name.  Clarissa got her English name in pink and I got mine in green. 

We had planned a palace and a museum as well this afternoon but traffic was bad and Clarissa was tired so we just came back to the hotel.  

The original plan was to have dinner with Tim’s work friends and it was already 4:00 so my goal was to avoid the pool.  We did some reading and coloring so it worked for about an hour.  Then I convinced her that the playground was an acceptable substitute. 

But then the sun started setting over the beach and it was beautiful so I needed to get closer to take pictures… Clarissa had a great time playing in the sand and the water.  She was so much messier than if I had just taken her to the pool.  

Some teenage girls walked by and they thought that Clarissa was adorable and offered to take our picture.  Then I had to convince Clarissa that it was time to go.  We did shower off on the way so it didn’t take as long to clean her up as I thought. I think she will request the beach over the pool tomorrow. 

Dinner with friends was rescheduled for Friday and we decided to eat at one of the hotel restaurants.  We ended up at Bibas for some Italian food.  I had my first adult beverage in a restaurant since Clarissa was born.  It was called a rainbow.  It was pretty and actually tasted good too. 

Mittens’s first visit with a Korean vet

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We adopted Mittens from the vet on post.  Someone found Mittens and her siblings on the roof of a building on Camp Henry.  

So far,  we have brought Mittens to the vet on post for all of her shots.  Once she went into heat in September,  we knew it was time to get her spayed. I called the vet on post but apparently the waiting list for surgery is so long that they would not even add her to the list until January.  So we decided to take her off post.  

Several people recommended Hyundai Animal Medical Care Center.  I called and was put on hold for the vet assistant that speaks English.  She told me that I could just walk one morning about 10:00 with Mittens any day except Thursday or Saturday.  I just had to make sure that I didn’t feed her after midnight the day before. 

We decided on Veterans Day since I could use the car.  Tim stayed home with Clarissa and Mittens and I set out for our adventure.  I didn’t have an exact address but I knew it was on the main road.  Instead of turning left to go to Camp Henry,  just keep straight and then make a u-turn. 

Two different people told me that there was no parking there but you can just park at the police station next door.  The parking lot was full so I had to venture down the one way streets and find a place to parallel park. The road was so narrow that I had to stop the car and fold my mirrors in.  I was quite impressed with myself for pulling it off without hitting or scratching anything. 

Then Mittens and I walked to the vet clinic.  I had been warned that there was another vet clinic close by,  but the name was different so I knew that wasn’t the place. When we got to the vet clinic,  it was fairly large and clean.  We were greeted in Korean and English.  

The English speaker stayed and had me fill out some paperwork.  Then we went to a small office to discuss the surgery.  With the pre-op blood work,  anesthesia, spaying surgery,  and follow up medication cost 423,000 won ($370). 

They brought Mittens back for her blood work for a few minutes.  I stayed in the office. They brought Mittens to me while they waited for the results.  She was fine until the dogs in the big room started barking at each other.  Then she started getting antsy. They showed me a printout and the Korean doctor went through each item like blood sugar and liver function and said,  “no problem.”

A few minutes later they came back for Mittens.  The surgery itself took about 10 minutes.  Then the doctor came in and said that the surgery was over but she needed some wake up time.  It took about a half hour for her to start to wake up. They took me back to see her and then said I could take her home in about 30 minutes when she was done with her IV.  Most cats don’t eat for a few days,  so the IV will help give her some nourishment. It ended up being another hour. 

I was there for a total of about three hours.  The place was clean,  a pleasant temperature,  and the staff was friendly. Overall,  I was pleased with Mittens’s care. If you have an emergency or your pet needs surgery or an x ray,  I would recommend them. But for many things,  I think that the Camp Walker vet is cheaper. 

Clarissa says the funniest things

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This kid.

Clarissa is so smart. It is fun to see how her logic develops now that she can explain what she is thinking .

Every day she says things that crack me up.  I don’t want to forget any of it .  While there are “threenager”  moments of pure drama,  I am so glad to be this little girl’s mama.

Some of my favorite Clarissa conversations as of late:

If she doesn’t want to do something she cries or says she can’t do something.  If you ask her why she usually says “because . . . is not my favorite.”

She loves her tricycle.  She wants to bring it outside,  to bathtime,  to bed.  But she is very adamant that it is her “bicycle” and not a tricycle.

She will often ask “is . . .  in this life?” which basically means, “is this real?”  think dinosaurs and things on TV

Clarissa loves “school.”  I have a few things that I am working on at home with her and she calls it her “school books.” I have them in a special place.  But I also have a huge rubbermaid of teacher things that she calls “your school books.”  She can be very adamant that we do my school books as opposed to hers.  So I have had to put the things I want to do with her with my teacher things so she thinks they are “my school books.”

She also says “that’s a tastic idea!” or “that’s NOT a tastic idea”  (fantastic idea)

Clarissa has been able to count to ten for a while.  Now she kind of understands the concept of what the numbers mean,  so her favorite number is 10.  Instead of asking for one more minute or for one of something ,  she now requests demands 10! Ten Cheetos, ten shows, ten new toys . . .

When she counts, she says “one, two, free, I’m free, four, five, six, seben, eight, nine, ten!”

If she does something wrong and I ask her why she did something,  she will respond with “because I did.” She also wants something “because I do.”

She usually has something specific in mind when she asks a question .  For example ,  last week as we were preparing for a family walk she asked me about this sign on the elevator:

The conversation went something like this . 

Clarissa: what does that sign say? 

Me: don’t lean on the elevator 

Clarissa: no it doesn’t 

Me: read the sign in Korean 

Clarissa: no it says don’t smash your boobs! 

She is also pretty obsessed with going to California.  She will sit in her car seat and “fly”  to California.  She climbs on the bench outside and says “all aboard!” to ride the train to California.  All of the neighbor kids are excited about going to California too,  they just don’t know why.  (Dory is from the Jewel of Morro Bay,  California.  So if she goes to California,  she will get to see Dory and Nemo) 

Swan boats on Suseong Lake 

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The first time we went to Suseong Lake,  I saw the swan boats and thought they looked pretty cool.  But we were heading to dinner with friends so it wasn’t really an option.  

Clarissa and I met up with some friends at the lake in June so I planned to try them then.  I got Clarissa all excited about the swan boats.  But they weren’t operating on a Friday morning. I figured it was just a weekend thing. 

So when Clarissa and I were invited to Suseong Lake with friends this Monday morning,  I wasn’t thinking about the swan boats.  

We arrived to the lake to see our friends and I saw that the swan boats were out.  I thought that maybe Clarissa and I would have to do them after our friends went home. I didn’t say anything to Clarissa,  but she quickly noticed that they were there and asked to ride them.  

One of our friends wanted to do swan boats as well.  All 5 of us (2 adults and 3 small children)  were able to fit in our swan boat without a problem.  We honestly could have fit another toddler /preschooler if we wanted.  It cost 18,000 won for 30 minutes,  which I think is a reasonable price. I think you pay per boat, regardless of the number of people. They do have life jackets for small children through adults. 

We had a great time around the lake.  The kids each had a turn steering the boat,  which meant we did a lot of circles and stayed on a small section of the lake.  But they had so much fun.  

I did most of the pedaling,  as our friend was too tall.  The four year old could kind of pedal.  Clarissa was a little short and the two year old didn’t try. 

I would definitely recommend the swan boats as a family activity.  We may do it again in the spring once Clarissa grows a few inches.  Next time,  we may hit up the little amusement park as well.