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Wordless Wednesday–Aulani Disney Resort (Honolulu, Hawaii)

We chose to stay at Aulani, the Disney Resort and Spa while on Oahu, rather than on Waikiki Beach. It was one of the best–if not THE–top resort we’ve ever stayed at. The service was top notch, the rooms were up to date and full of fantastic touches. There was a highchair and pack n play in the closet. We chose a one bedroom villa (effectively a one bedroom suite), which came with a master bedroom, a pull out sofa that could sleep two, and a single bed that folded down from the tv stand (when folded up, you’d have no idea it was there), as well as a kitchen and dining table that comfortably fit all six people in our family. The spa was great, the children’s club (Aunty’s Beach House) was great fun as were the family activities. Plus Disney characters and Disney magic. It isn’t cheap, but you’ll soon find that no accommodation in Hawaii is.

 

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Elanor with her welcome lei

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The family meeting Donald (he is always the character who greets at the door of Makihiki)

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A hug from Chip

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Meeting Goofy and Stitch

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Rhi making her own lei

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Ellie wearing the lei she made

IMG_8954We finally met Mickey and Minnie on our last night

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Rhiannon getting her first pedicure (not pictured, Ellie also getting one)

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Elanor getting her nails painted.

IMG_9047Me with my girls post their spa day. (Hence why E is trying to show you her nails and Rhi is being Rhi)

Next Wednesday I’ll share pictures taken by Elanor, and the week after from my underwater camera.

Progress

I’m certain you guys are as tired of reading my health updates as I am of writing them. But I was in the hospital, so let’s do a quick update. Last year when I had the same series of injections (back, piriformis) I had some of the worst reaction pain I’ve ever felt. I was in and out of the hospital for two weeks, which is why I cleared my calendar from Jan 18 through CNY.

2016 is the year of low bars, and in that tradition, it wasn’t hard for this series of injections to be worse than last year’s. I was only in the hospital for four days, and on bedrest for a week after. I was up and about in time to see several of my friends compete in the Story Slam Singapore Grand Slam (next months’ story slam’s info can be found here). I’m still on limited activity for the next three weeks, but here’s to cautious optimism.

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In the meantime, we are looking forward to CNY and River Hong Bao this coming weekend and I actually have permission to be up and about to celebrate with my family.

I’ve been a bit out of touch, and as I’m on limited rest, I don’t know how many new topics I’ll have. What would you guys like me to talk about? Any new/potential expat questions?

Wordless Wednesday—Hawaii, Island of Maui part 2

All my best photos are from Maui and I couldn’t narrow the pictures down to a reasonable number, so I decided do two sets (last week and this). Maui was the highlight of the trip for me, especially the time I spent out on the water/in the water. I don’t feel the need to go back to Honolulu or the Big Island, but I could happily return to Maui.

Also, all of my whale watch photos are from three different trips (one just photographers, one snorkeling trip and one family whale watch) I took with Pacific Whale Foundation. I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in doing a whale watch in Maui to go with them. Be sure to check out next week’s photos for a pod of spinner dolphins and another humpback whale.

We were in Hawaii just before the start of whale season, so I don’t have any photos with whales breaching the way I would if I were there today. Whale season is mid December to mid May, fyi.

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Rhi on the Whale Watch

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Spinner Dolphin, releasing air from his blowhole

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Spinner Dolphin, the released air from his blowhole has sprayed, taken just seconds after the photo above.

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This was a pod of fifty or more spinner dolphins. They came right up to our boat and hung out with us for quite a while.

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Here’s a spinner dolphin leaping out of the water. They jump in a spinning motion, hence, spinner dolphins.

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We found a pregnant female (the first whales to arrive in Maui are the immature males–such as in last week’s photos) and the pregnant females about to calve. IMG_8686

They knew she was female because only female whales have a ball shaped protrusion on their tail.

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She hung out at the surface for a long time and was quite vocal. No one has ever documented the humpback whale giving birth, but the marine biologists on board thought she might be in labor. Unfortunately we did not see a birth.

Wordless Wednesday–Hawaii, Island of Maui (part 1)

All my best photos are from Maui and I couldn’t narrow the pictures down to a reasonable number, so I’ll do two sets (this week and next week). Maui was the highlight of the trip for me, especially the time I spent out on the water/in the water. I don’t feel the need to go back to Honolulu or the Big Island, but I could happily return to Maui.

Also, all of my whale watch photos are from three different trips (one just photographers, one snorkeling trip and one family whale watch) I took with Pacific Whale Foundation. I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in doing a whale watch in Maui to go with them. Be sure to check out next week’s photos for a pod of spinner dolphins and another humpback whale.

We were in Hawaii just before the start of whale season, so I don’t have any photos with whales breaching the way I would if I were there today. Whale season is mid December to mid May, fyi.

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My sandy child

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Ravi taking the girls into the surf

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Whale watch specifically for photographers

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We found a young male hanging out at the surface. Here’s a flipper waving hello.

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Humpbacks are so called because of this–the humped back when they are getting ready to dive. Same whale as above.IMG_8123

Random person cliff diving at the Sheraton Maui

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Look just behind the watermark to see the cliff diver. This is one of the people who cliff dive as part of a nightly ceremony at the Sheraton Maui

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Elanor with one of the of the crew on our snorkeling boat

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Two bottlenose dolphins

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A brown booby. Yes, I remembered because of the name. I’m not always mature.

Back in the hospital

**This was written in advance. Comment approval and reply will be delayed***

piriformis

Due to the joys of the American medical system, my herniated disc compressed the sciatic nerve for around five months to the point where it was so irritated I couldn’t walk unassisted until I finally got back surgery in late 2006. Ever since then, though, the nerve is easily irritated. I have had searing pain through my butt and hip on and off. This was actually piriformis syndrome, but was misdiagnosed as bursitis. It would be treated with ultrasound therapy and NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and would subside.

However, in 2013 after I tore a second disc in my back, I began to make a commitment to physical fitness. In four and a half months I went from zero fitness to one and a half hours at the gym five days a week. I had a trainer, I was up to take classes, my core was strong and taking over the work for my damaged back.

Then the searing pain returned along with sciatic pain. My doctor used an ultrasound to image the area and said that what was actually inflamed was my piriformis. As the piriformis sits next to the sciatic nerve, inflammation results in a compressed nerve and the accompanying sciatic nerve pain.  We did an injection with an anti-inflammatory steroid. I returned to physical therapy, I took it down a notch at the gym, lowering the resistance of my cardio machines and avoided any cardio with impact (such as the treadmill). Things were okay until I was cleared to take it up a notch. I ended up back in pain and with another injection.  Then I tore my knee, which resulted in rehab and no gym time.

Again, I was cleared for the gym and again I found that regular training at the level that resulted in a strong core (which means no back pain) and other health benefits triggered the piriformis syndrome.

Last March, I received a botox injection in the piriformis–the idea being that you paralyze the muscle to prevent inflammation and compression of the nerve.

Did it work? Well, we don’t know–about a month later I became critically ill and that recovery took over everything.

What we do know is that once again, I was cleared for the gym and once again I had pain. I received an other steroid injection in the muscle right before we left for Hawaii, and it was only effective for 10 days.

Today I entered the hospital for a repeat of the botox injection to see if it works. If it doesn’t, I need to contemplate surgery or treatments that make the sciatic nerve much less sensitive–but both carry risks.

In short, I have a literal pain in my ass that I can’t get rid of.

Send get well soon vibes, and enjoy the photos from Maui that I’ve scheduled for this coming Wednesday. I’m trying to return to regular posting, but a delay means that I am in pain and not out of the hospital or on pain meds that make it difficult to focus enough to write.  Last year I was in and out of the hospital for two weeks post injection (you’re putting a bunch of fluid into a tiny space and irritating both the muscle and the nerve until it is fully absorbed and they calm).

Comments are closed because while I love you, I don’t want your medical advice.

Sassy Mama Singapore

Although Expat Bostonians has been quietly languishing, I have done a lot of writing over at Sassy Mama Singapore this year. Here are the articles I’ve written in the second half of the year.

This was my fifth piece in the series of articles I’ve written about primary school in Singapore from the perspective of a Expat (PR) teacher and parent.

Expat View–Reflections After a Full Year in Local Primary School After P1 was over and done with, I had to ask myself, “Was it worth it?”

 

The girls and tech series became my passion project and reflects more than a month of work and countless emails sent across the globe

Girls and Technology Why are girls underrepresented in technology and what can we do about it? I spoke to nineteen women on three continents for this story between the ages of 17 and retirement to get their input on this piece.

Tech Classes in Singapore  Where can you little one learn to code or play with robots?

Best Tech Gifts for Girls (and Boys) Although I specifically looked at the toys marketed to/meant to appeal to girls, any child would enjoy these toys to get them interested in STEM

A review of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea

Tokyo Disney Resort (Disneyland and DisneySea) My tips and tricks for taking the family to Tokyo Disney.

I’m working on a piece about Hawaii with kids for Sassy Mama. I’m heading into the hospital for the next week or two, so look for it in mid to late February.

Wordless Wednesday Hawaii (Big Island)

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Photographer Elanor

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A lightpost decorated for Christmas

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Rhi, the shave ice

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Sunset from my in-law’s balcony

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Volcano National Park , overlooking Kilauea during the day

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Walking through Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube)

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Impatient Rhiannon

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Kilauea (same as above) nighttime view

This is a better time of day to see the smoke colored by the lava in the still-active volcano

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