November 20, 2015

Kapu - Forbidden

 When planning an international trip with a baby with food allergies, here's my simple plan:
Step 1. Send lots of emails.
Step 2. Make a packing list with a long list of medications.
Step 3. Start stockpiling carrots.
Happy camper on the 2am flight to Fiji

Our family had the awesome opportunity to travel to Fiji and meet up with friends from Michigan and Australia! We had two wonderful weeks catching up and having new adventures. There were a lot of logistics in planning the trip - coordinating all our arrivals, two different resorts, two catamaran rides, and a seaplane! Add to the mix researching common Fijian foods, customs requirements and emailing resort staff to make sure our son with allergies would have food - it was quite an undertaking!
The staff loved "bacon boy"!

 Side note - Background on Calvin's allergies:
4 months old: Constant rash leads us to get blood tests that reveal allergies to milk, eggs and peanuts.
12 mo: New tests show additional allergies to fish, wheat, sesame and soy.
13 mo: Big test of 30+ things show allergies to EVERYTHING!

Now he is on a limited diet of pork, turkey, grapes and carrots. Although it seems restrictive, he loves the foods he can eat. And he really loves not being itchy.

To add in nutrients, he also drinks a supplemental formula that rivals Frappuccinos in price. But not in flavor. At first, he rejected it outright. Instead of serving it cold as suggested, we tried it warm in a bottle and he gobbles it up!

Enjoying his special order grapes-to-go
Back to our trip to Fiji
In order to make his limited diet work for two weeks, there was a lot of research and tons of emails to customs and our resorts. Although we had about 5 pounds of grapes confiscated at the airport, we had no other issues. Both resorts were very accommodating in ordering grapes from the main island so every day he had his very own special order grape and ham plate.

Our friends were really accommodating as well - in fact, I was the one who accidentally ordered the peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

Overall, our journey with his allergies has made us very thankful. He doesn't know what foods he's "missing out" on and is generally pretty happy - even if he's itchy. Food allergies are much more common so people are more understanding. Amazon and specialty stores make it easy to find foods to accommodate his needs.

As of today, he has the green light to start adding back in new foods! Looking forward to adding some variety to his diet.

If you need me, I'll be shopping for carrots.

Language notes:
Word: Kapu
Meaning: Forbidden, sacred or holy
Language: Hawaiian
Usage: Fairly common, especially "keep out" signs

May 20, 2015


It's not a secret, but sure feels like one. This tiny stretch of beach has great views of the mountains, soft sand and picture perfect palm trees. Yet, even on a Sunday, was barely inhabited.

Thanks to my awesome husband, I had a fabulous afternoon by myself! I thoroughly enjoyed the sun, waves and peaceful views. It was lovely to eat a snack and read a magazine, just listening to the sound of gentle surf. Perhaps a little better not having to share my snack or help other little people eat theirs. As an added treat, there were paragliders coasting along in the sky!

Since words can't adequately describe it, I'll let the pictures brag for themselves.

We've been here almost four years, and there are still new places to explore! Where shall I go next?

Punalu‘u Notes:
Located off Kamehameha Hwy, halfway between the North Shore and Kaneohe. There's a public beach access just past Keneke's. Continuing further down the highway is Punalu‘u Beach Park.

March 25, 2015

HĀpai - Pregnant

No, I'm not pregnant! But, there are at least five new babies we know of and ten more on the way! So, this post is pretty timely - for them at least. Although I do feel like I was pregnant forever...

I've had the best excuse for not writing. Our nine pound baby boy was born in August! We're so thankful for this huge blessing! He's a wonderful addition to our family, but it definitely puts blogging on the back burner, at least for a while.

One notable difference about being pregnant here is not wearing lei in a circle, so instead it is cut in half and hangs down in front. This comes from fear of the cord wrapping around baby's neck, and some women won't even wear necklaces while hāpai.

Another advantage is not needing to buy different seasons of maternity clothes! And actually utilizing not one, but two maternity swim suits! Did you see pro surfer Bethany Hamilton surfing pregnant? She's amazing! Don't worry, in case you're wondering - my photo was totally staged.

Other than that, you get the same crazy questions and advice people love to share with pregnant ladies. Everyone seems friendlier and more helpful than normal when you're pregnant, and that is magnified in already full-of-aloha-Hawai'i. 

Language Notes
Word: hāpai
Language: Hawaiian
Break down: hā=life, pai=increase
Definition: pregnant
Frequency: very common

November 20, 2014

Puka - Hole

The tiny hole in the Ko‘olau mountains visible from my church parking lot has always intrigued me. So, when a dear friend was checking items off her bucket list before her move to the mainland, I jumped at the chance to do the hike up to the puka. It's a relatively short climb, but very exposed and right along the cliff edge. Not terribly difficult, but enough effort and skill required to really enjoy the view from the top. And a great way to send her off in style!

Bamboo forest at the start of the trail

View towards Kailua and the Pali tunnels

Great views of Honolulu as well!

Mistakenly, we went on the back side and had to climb up this steep face!

This marks the end - you should be standing on top of the puka!

Great view of the Windward side!
Watch out for the wind!
Clear enough to see Chinaman's Hat!

Pali Puka Trail notes: 
Park: Pali lookout parking lot.
Trailhead: Looking at the ocean, go left and follow the rock wall to the trail opening. Head through the bamboo and the trail will start to turn right, heading up the mountain. Follow the edge until you get to the puka. The trail gets much more difficult after that, so be prepared if you want to go further!

Language Notes:
Word: puka
Language: Hawaiian
Translation: hole
Frequency: very common
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August 27, 2013

Limu - Nori - Seaweed (Poke part 5)

"I don't like seaweed!" is the response my son will give if you ask what he doesn't like about Hawaii. If  you recall, we struggled with fear of the ocean for a while, and in addition to big waves and jellyfish, he was afraid of seaweed wrapping around his legs and holding him underwater.

Limu (LEE-moo) is the generic Hawaiian word for algae and other "plants" that live underwater. Seaweed is a common name for algae, which means it's not a weed or even a plant. Since I'm not a biologist, if you want more information on seaweed, check my favorite source. What does seaweed have to do with poke? It's another flavor option - ‘ahi limu poke!

Now, don't just run in the ocean and grab random limu to mix in with your poke - it might be too spicy! This summer we had a bunch of cases of stinging limu where people had bad allergic reactions after swimming in the ocean infested with a certain type of seaweed. Of course we didn't tell our boy that his fears of seaweed were justified!

If you are looking for limu for your poke, check your Asian specialty market for ogo, which is a specific type of seaweed used commonly in poke. If you really want it fresh from the ocean, first read about edible limu. And then try this tasty looking recipe!

After all my son's dislike of seaweed in the ocean, it was quite funny at Costco when he pointed at a huge package saying "I love that stuff!"

Kirkland Signature Roasted Seasoned Seaweed, 10/0.60 oz

We spent a long time trying to convince him that the dried seaweed he liked to eat also came from the sea. But he had a point that if it's going to wrap around your legs, trap you and then make you itchy for days afterward, I don't care how much I love a food, I don't want to see it in the ocean.

In case you were wondering, nori is the Japanese word for seaweed (red algae), so the dried sheet you see in the picture might be familiar if you like sushi. It is fairly common to see people eating nori out of little bags as a snack, and one of my son's friends apparently got him hooked. Not so much so that we risked buying a Costco-sized package of it though!

Nori is not used in poke, but it is one of the ingredients in furikake, another very common and very delicious seasoning for fish and rice. I just wanted to include it here because it also means seaweed.

This is my final installment on poke, although there is much more to learn! I hope these lessons improved your poke ordering skills and save you the trouble of asking the fish counter guy about each individual word like we did!

Are there other helpful poke variations I missed? Let me know in the comments!