What It’s Really Like Raising a 2-Year-Old Boy

By March 24, 2019 #BabyFox

Every time a friend of mine gives birth to her first child — and especially if it’s a boy — I hold my breath.

I remember those early weeks, the obsessing over every little thing, scouring Google like it was CliffNotes to parenthood. I remember the crazy every-three-hour feeding schedules, the pumping (oh, the pumping), the bottle warming, the endless laundry and dishwashing. I remember having to apply dabs of apply Vaseline to the area newly circumcised every time we changed his diaper, which was a lot. I remember the cute baby farts that became not-so-cute baby gas that became not-at-all-fun baby problems. I remember my nipples cracking, the pain from pumping every three hours, that initial latch that felt like knives stabbing my boobs. I remember thinking all of this would never end, ever.

Then he grew up.

He slept through the night. He started eating solid foods. He slowly crawled, then stood, then walked.

Looking back, it seems like it all happened so quickly. I mean, it’s only been about two years. And a lot has happened! But when we were immersed in it, it didn’t seem quick at all. In fact, there were times I never thought he would ever crawl or walk, ever stop wanting the bottle, ever climb into his own booster chair at the table and feed himself.

But now he’s running, jumping, dancing, playing in the ocean, hiking with us, even sweeping the leaves outside. (Yes, we’ve already put him to work.) It’s amazing!

But I’m going to be honest here: This has been really hard. Our lives are completely on hold. All of our choices — from the jobs we have to the place we live — revolve around this little guy. I used to travel at least six times a year, including international jaunts, and now I’m lucky I can sneak away to a Neighbor Island for work. I’d love to surf every morning, but that time slot is reserved for making breakfast, walking dogs and tidying up the house. And though it may seem like I have all this time at night — the kid goes down at 6 p.m. — I’m exhausted from a full day of working, cooking, cleaning, walking dogs and playing with a toddler who can’t stay in one place. I’m a zombie.

I’m in total survival mode right now. My life is a strange hodgepodge of my former existence. I sneak away to surf at least twice a week but with no time anymore for leisurely breakfasts before heading to work. I don’t have time (or energy) to workout, so I get my exercise in by walking three miles to the office most days. And my dogs are afterthoughts — just check my Instagram.

I recently checked my Google history and it was very revealing. No more looking for cheap flights to Iceland. My searches look more like this: How to potty train a toddler boy difficult; Monster truck books for kids; Is Albuterol safe for toddlers; Who is Blippi.

There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t feel like a failure in some way. The house is never clean, no matter how often I vacuum and mop. I feel like I can never catch up (forget getting ahead) of my work. I’m so uninspired in the kitchen, I only bake when I’m stressed and I rarely experiment with new recipes. (I can’t afford to waste ingredients!) I’m braindead by the time the evening rolls around and all I want to do is read a book, watch reality TV or sleep. Forget blogging, playing guitar, running or doing anything that requires any type of brain function.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t do this, like I’m going to wither away. I wonder if this is how my life will always be, stuck at home, too tired to do anything productive, barely getting by. I don’t know how other moms are running small businesses or writing books or traveling the world. A friend of mine is in Paris right now — with a toddler just a few months older than mine. And another has taken her kids to Japan and Disneyland more times than I’ve been myself — and her daughter is younger than Landon!

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. And I know other mothers who follow me on social media may think I — me, the one whining right now — have everything under control. Look, I take my son hiking, we go to the beach all the time, I just made five jars of pickled veggies the other day! What mother of a toddler boy has time for that?!

Yes, I do all of those things, but what you don’t see are the moments when I’m serving my son reheated chicken nuggets, a handful of dried cranberries, strawberry Go-Gurt and French fries from McDonald’s for dinner because I didn’t have time — or was just too lazy — to cook anything else. Or when I’m binging on Girl Scout cookies on the couch, thinking about going on a run but don’t. Or when I’m lying in bed, in the middle of the night, checking the baby monitor to see if my son is still alive and worrying if I applied to enough preschools. (At last count, it was 14.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is simply this: We’re all doing our best, and our best is never going to be what we want it to be. Even the most put-together moms have insecurities, feel like failures at times, wonder how they’re going to make it through the week.

And we do. I did. I survived those first two years, when so much change was happening. We went through toys and clothes and gadgets every few weeks. I can’t even remember how to use a bottle warmer or swaddle a baby. Oh, how badly I wanted Landon to walk — and now look at him.

Just be careful what you wish for.

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No-babies Perfect

By February 13, 2019 #BabyFox, Musings, The Daily Dish

Whenever someone told me, “You’re so lucky. Landon is such an easy baby,” in the back of my mind, I would wonder how long that would last.

Because no one has a perfect kid. At some point, all kids, even the seemingly easy/calm/mellow ones, have their moments.

Well, Landon’s time has come.

Soon after he turned 2 a few months ago, my once-chill kid transformed into someone I didn’t know. He whined, he pouted, he started making demands. No, not leaving the playground, Mommy! No, no, no!

Don’t get me wrong: He’s still a pretty easy kid (from what I hear, anyway). He still happily puts himself to bed (before 6 p.m.) and entertains himself with crayons and excavators (not together). But he’s started to protests bath, which he used to love, and demands very specific things (like a certain T-shirt that’s almost always in the wash or backpack that he won’t end up using, anyway). My once voracious eater is now extremely picky; he suddenly started refusing fruits and eggs—his usual standbys—and won’t try anything new. Some days he’ll eat cheeseburgers or fish sticks; other days he’ll throw them on the ground. And he never used to shout before.

Who is this kid?

I know he’s at that age where he’s started to assert himself, test boundaries, be more independent. I get that he’s frustrated, too. I don’t always understand what he wants or needs, and he has trouble articulating that with words (hence the throwing). And while I expected this, I didn’t really know what this stage would be like. It’s not fun.

It’s so hard to be patient—not one of my virtues to begin with—when your kid is lying in the middle of a playground in protest of my suggestion to leave. I can’t reason with him, either. Saying, “Hey, it’s getting dark, it’s starting to rain, and the new season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is on in 15 minutes,” doesn’t quite work. And you can’t let him lie there forever. (Though I’ve thought about it.)

I know this is just a phase. I know this is an important transition for him. I know that, at some point, he’ll be a normal human who doesn’t need to throw his food at me to let me know he’d rather have a grilled cheese sandwich.

And I also know there will be worse phases—I’m not looking forward to puberty—and times when I’ll wonder why I ever wanted the Terrible Twos to end. (Try Terrible Teens. And that’s a decade!)

So what should a sleep-deprived, Google-addicted parent do?

This is what I’m doing: I’m writing everything he does down. So when he’s older, he can read it. And when he asks for a car, I’ll lie down on the kitchen floor in protest.

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#CatBakes: Super Easy Coffee Cake

By January 28, 2019 Food

I’m always looking for quick and easy breakfast dishes that can double as mid-day (or midnight) snacks.

That’s why this coffee cake recipe is so awesome. It’s quick to make, you’ll probably have most of the ingredients already, and it will satisfy your cravings for something sweet. (Trust me, I know cravings.)

You’ll especially love this cake if you’re like me and really, really love cinnamon. Because this packs a ton of cinnamon in every square. It’s like eating cinnamon toast but on a cake. And topped with melted butter. Right? You need this.

So here you go. And you’re welcome in advance!

Super Easy Coffee Cake


1 c. oil (I use vegetable oil.)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk (I’ve even used skim milk and it comes out great!)
1 c. sugar
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For the streusel topping:
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, eggs, vanilla and milk. In another bowl, blend sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then pour half the batter into a greased 9×13 pan. In a separate bowl, prepare the streusel topping by combining the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half of the streusel on top of the batter. Add the rest of the batter and then sprinkle the remaining streusel on top. Drizzel with the melted butter. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

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Go-at with the Flow

By January 26, 2019 #CatTravels, Musings
I learned a lot from this Nigerian Dwarf goat at Maui Goat Yoga.

A month ago I left a great job with a great team to do something I had never done before: be a boss.

I took a job at the editor of HAWAI‘I Magazine, a bi-monthly Honolulu-based travel publication, where I would have to manage a team, albeit a very small one. (Like, one person. But still.)

As it got closer to my taking over this role, I started getting nervous. I had managed college students, interns, freelancers and three dogs—but this was different. I would be responsible for budgets, personnel issues, invoices, schedules, vacation requests and possibly office supplies. My decisions, even the smallest ones, would affect more than just me. And that’s not something I’m used to.

As a freelance writer, which has been my main job for more than a decade, I’ve only had to manage one person: me. I kept track of my own schedule, I decided on assignments, I figured out what needed to get done and how to do it. Now that was all changing.

Or was it?

In my first month on the job, I realized managing a team is a lot like managing myself. I need to be aware of scheduling, workloads, spending—the same things I juggled as a freelancer. I viewed my job as a contract writer as a small business (which is actually is) and this job, as editor of a magazine, is no different.

And it helps that I have a great team.

I inherited an awesome associate editor, Kevin, and I hired a super talented art director, Kayla. And, in addition to our multitasking digital media manager, Tracy, and a slew of others, everyone has made my transition so easy—and actually fun. We laugh in our meetings, we go on field trips, and we all really enjoy each other. That’s been the best part.

And that was never more evident than a couple of weeks ago when the editorial team, including photographer David Croxford, spent two full days on Maui to work on stories about the island. (When I say, “full,” I mean 16-hour days, always together.) We wandered around small towns, got excited over a coffee shop in Wailuku, spent way too much time driving and too little time in our luxe rooms at the Hotel Wailea, ate too much, talked too much and definitely drank too much coconut water.

The HAWAIʻI Magazine editorial team at Mākena Beach on Maui.
The basement of a record shop we found in Wailuku, Maui.
When on Maui, you drink coconut water.

But it was the morning we spent at Maui Goat Yoga in Kula, an adorable farm on the slopes of Haleakalā that offers yoga classes with its fleet of Nigerian Dwarf goats, that everything started to click. (Read more about our experience here.)

While yoga itself is meditative and, at least for me, really centers my mind, the addition of the goats changed the experience—in a good way. Yes, the goats were disruptive, nibbling on your shirt or deciding to take over your entire mat for a nap. But they were so joyous and present. They didn’t care about anything, even pooping during shavasana. They were happy to be with us, happy to be on this farm (who wouldn’t?), happy to jump on our backs for a few Cheerios and animal crackers. There’s a lot we can learn from these goats.

I know I did. I learned to let go, to be in the moment, to enjoy all the things I’m able to do in this job—travel, write, eat, share stories, meet interesting people—and with people who love what they do, too.

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed about deadlines or projects or my expense report, I just remember these goats and their attitude about life: Every day is a new day—and there are always people willing to give you free treats.

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The Good, The Bad, The Ballistic Missile Alert of 2018

By December 31, 2018 Musings

I remember discussing 2017 with my co-workers. It was unanimous: That was a really bad year. I couldn’t tell you why—it’s amazing how even the most awful memories can fade away with time and tequila—but I remember hoping for a better year in 2018.

And did we get it?

Good question.

All I do know is it’s been a very strange year. It started with the false ballistic missile alert and ended with me, right now, in bed with the stomach flu after recovering from pneumonia. The good thing is everything in between wasn’t worse.

We’ve survived Category 4 hurricanes heading to the Islands, freak flooding on Oʻahu and Kaua‘i, and an erupting volcano on the Big Island. But it hasn’t been all bad. Wailana Coffee Shop and Ryan’s Grill may have closed, but dozens of other restaurants opened. Several friends gave birth this year, others announced pregnancies, others got dogs (which is similar). Some got married, some got divorced (not always a bad thing), some are still happily single. Friends have changed jobs, moved away, came home. “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Thor: Ragnarok” got me excited about movies again. “Riverdale” is weirder than ever. I read a lot of books. And then there was Bruno Mars.

For me, though, it’s been a year of change and evolution. We decided to not try for #Babyfox No. 2. I left my job as food editor at HONOLULU Magazine to head the team at HAWAI‘I, a local travel pub. And I started teaching again — which left me both sleep-deprived and inspired. (I adored my students.)

But the real lesson this year is the one I seem to still be learning.

I got a message through Instagram from my pal at work, someone who knows me way too well. I shared with her — and everyone else on the group chat — that my New Year’s Eve plans had changed. “I have the stomach flu,” I wrote. “Anyone wanna hang out?”

Her response, devoid of sarcasm or snark: “Maybe you should make a resolution to take care of your health in 2019.”

This has been a long year of that. It started with some kind of ocular event in February that had one ER doctor thinking it was a seizure. And in between I’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, cancer scares and migraines. And then, in late October, I started coughing. Bronchitis. Then pneumonia. Then, now, stomach flu. All the while I’ve been caring for Landon, who’s been sick, too. I feel like I can’t catch a break with my health, that I haven’t had time to recover, to enjoy a stretch of good health. I can’t even remember not coughing. And since I’ve been so busy taking care of my family and working, at times, two jobs, I haven’t had a chance to do anything about my health. The only times I’ve been able to see the doctor is at the emergency room, when it’s gotten so bad I can’t function. And that’s when I hear it, the voice in my head emerging from the mouth of an ER doctor or nurse: “Why did you wait so long?”

It’s frustrating to start 2019 like this, sick, in bed, unable to do much more than lift the remote control to change the channel on the TV. But it’s also a good reminder of what I don’t want to do in the coming year: If all I want to do is take care of others, I can’t very well do that if I’m not healthy myself. So maybe I’ll heed the words of my Millennial friend and start focusing on my health. Because, let’s face it, no one else will.

You never know when another false ballistic missile alert may happen and I need to be ready for it.

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