November 9, 2011

Wikiwiki - Fast

Wiki means fast. So wikiwiki means more faster super fast. Now you can thank Hawai‘i every time you visit Wikipedia, since otherwise it wouldn't have such a cool name.

You may have heard of "Hawaiian time." Like other islands and nations, time is not of the essence here. People and family take greater importance, so if you're in the middle of hanging out with a friend, it's okay to be late to something else. In Spain they had a saying that "only the trains arrive on time." I'm pretty sure even the trains would arrive late in Hawai‘i. (There are plans to build a commuter rail line, but that hot topic is for another day.)

So far, I've arrived after the starting time for a few events, only to find that I'm comfortably on time. Finally, a place where "Tracie time" is acceptable!

Image courtesy of
Speed isn't even really possible on the roadways. O‘ahu is relatively small (less than 600 square miles), so there are only three freeways. Their names are not hard to remember: H1, H2, and H3. Funny since they are part of the interstate system, but they don't quite connect to any other states.

Plus, the fastest speed limit I've seen 60 - exactly wikiwiki. But, if you can't be truly "late", there's no need to be driving crazy fast. Which is good for gas mileage. One of the things people cautioning us about the high cost of living here was the cost of gas. Considering we can't go fast, and it's not too far to go anywhere, then the cost isn't as big deal. And we still have Costco!

One last thing about driving. Since we shipped our car, it still has the Michigan license plate. Which automatically shows we are recently from the mainland. Tourists in their rental cars can hide safely behind their Hawai‘i plates. I wonder if people drive differently around us, knowing we are new here?

It does make the license plate game more challenging, since you can't keep your out-of-state plates for very long. If we're hanging out, running late going somewhere, and I run the opposite direction, and shout "South Carolina!" - now you know why. And then you will be on the lookout.

October 24, 2011

Pala‘ai - Pumpkin

When you think of fall, you think of pumpkins, changing leaves and cool nights. Well, believe it or not, we have all of those here - ok, except the leaves. And it might not be really "cool" by Michigander standards, but it's still cooling off. But there are pumpkins!

There are two pumpkin farms on the island, so we picked (ha!) Aloun Farms and headed out to the country on the Leeward (east of us) side. We were bummed to see a huge line of cars waiting to get in, but the crowds weren't really that bad.
It seemed a world away from the city, but it was less than 20 miles from our apartment. You can see the city skyline in the distance, with Diamond Head off to the right.
 You have to have a vampire-toothed jack o'lantern mascot, right? At least it wasn't supposed to be scary - it even showed the shaka!
Of course you need a Rainbow Warrior zucchini cutout too

RaeRae, I think that pumpkin is too big!
That's better!

Pretty sure the hayride was the highlight

The wagons took us around the farm so we could see the crops, and if we wanted, get off and pick sweet corn or pumpkins
They also have apple bananas! Covered in plastic bags to keep the critters out
Although not quite cider and donuts, we enjoyed some garlic chicken and tempura vegetables from the food stands, and bought a few mini gourds to take home. Before we left, we hit the carnival rides - Luke on the spinning cars
giant swing

 We close our fun day with a few shots from Luke's turn at the camera. There were about 50 more of the pumpkins in the field, but here are our favorites :)

October 19, 2011

HiSAM - Hawai‘i State Art Museum

As our time living downtown is limited, we really need to explore the surroundings more than just the neighborhood playground! So today, we set off for the art museum. As you may imagine, Hawai‘i is not known for it's many indoor activities. However, Honolulu has a lot of great places, if you know where to look! (Or have friends who give you great ideas!)

HiSAM is not big. You can see each and every piece on display in a few hours, so it's nice that it is free. Apparently the food at the cafe is outstanding, but that was not the goal for the day. We headed to the kids' area. At first there was a school group, so we checked out the actual exhibits while we waited for the big kids to clear out. The kids enjoyed looking at things, and Luke and I had some pretty thoughtful conversations about the artwork. But we were super excited to be in the part where you can TOUCH stuff!

The space is small, so I was pretty surprised at all the activities that kept the little ones busy for over an hour, and had me dragging them out the door.

Luke is at the perfect age and height to explore the space on his own. Here he is trying out the "texture" boxes, felt board, crazy stacking boxes, and these awesome magnet shapes. They were great for building houses and airplanes!

Rebecca needed a little bit more observation and guidance so things were not destroyed, but she still seemed to have fun. She enjoyed the connecting plastic fish, magnetic shapes, and the color window.

Here are some of the projects we created. Can you tell which are mine? I think I had more fun than the kids!

Somehow Luke always finds a way to make "gum shooters." No really, it's "gum," not gun. With the apparent goal of making you sticky so you can't move. He also likes "honey shooters."

After a long, hard day of taking things apart creativity, RaeRae pretends to nap.

Great to find a place to play on rainy days!

October 16, 2011

Hale Part I - Grill

Hale usually means house. But it can be different types of structures and in our apartment building, when you sign up for a grill, you're signing up for a hale. Located on top of the parking structure, it's just a short elevator ride away to a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of living in town.
There are covered grilling areas, each with its own sink and table to eat at.
All of these grilling areas are "floating" on the koi pond. The koi are HUGE, but this picture makes them look tiny.
Although it is beautiful and peaceful, we usually grill the food and then bring it back upstairs to eat. Especially now that it gets dark at 6:30... water + preschoolers + no railings = anxiety.
We look forward to enjoying more meals down here with the kids as they get a bit older, especially when Uncle Chris comes home.

October 10, 2011

Anole Lizard

You hear about lots of bugs and other creatures that invade your home here. Giant cockroaches, biting centipedes, and cane spiders are common foes that come up in conversation. And freak me out! In addition to those creepy things, there are a lot of lizards here, but I find them cute and completely harmless. The kids are always excited and try to poke them when we find them out and about. However, we were pretty surprised to find one in our apartment the other day!
Here he is, enjoying the view:

Lizard home invasion stories are common... but we live on the 37th floor! So, this guy thought he found a huge, awesome tree and was horribly mistaken. Or maybe a neighbor lost their pet. Either way, I got the nerve up to scoop him into an empty jam jar so we could take him outside.

Luke had the big job of carrying the jar, and thankfully it made it all the way to the park without breaking. I cannot say that the jar made it without being shaken. Three-year-old boys are incapable of holding still, and putting a jar with a real live lizard in it makes it impossible not to shake. Needless to say, the lizard didn't waste any time getting out of his temporary housing situation.

 Sweet freedom!

Luke kept asking if it was a lizard or a gecko. I didn't know, but a dude at the park said it was an Anole lizard. I can only hope that our encounters with creatures stay this cute and uneventful!

Sidenote: As I look stuff on the internet to verify what random dudes at the park tell me, I put the link here so you can see my sources. Of course you are not forced to read the information, but I highly recommend the cockroach article's narrative, and less scientific style, ex: "color: dark brown and disgusting." They also have one on the cane spider, but no one wants to see more pictures of those things... or do you? Plus, you can say reading this blog is making you smarter!

October 1, 2011

Lei - Necklace

Leis are one of those things we really wondered if locals use at all, or if they were just for giving to people when you pick them up at the airport. Turns out you see them a lot for special occasions and events, such as graduations and birthdays. Or when you are a VIP at a huge gala in your honor when you win an important award. But you don't wear them everyday, unless you win awards everyday...

Now, picture lei making. Are you thinking of cute girls on woven mats by the beach, delicately stringing flowers onto necklaces while ukulele plays in the background? Are you imagining them in an outfit like this:
Well, surely that happens sometimes. And when you takes classes on lei making at a resort, it happens more. However, Chinatown happens to be full of flower shops, and most of them sell lei that they make themselves. Your average lei maker tends to look more like this:
You can go to other places on O‘ahu to buy lei, of course, but here there are a ton to choose from and the prices are very reasonable. And you might even get to see them make one! Just look for this street and you'll be all set.
And it's not just the lei, they sell the most beautiful flowers too! Like the fragrant red ginger,
birds of paradise,
and delicate orchids.
The flowers are just one of many interesting smells you can find in my neighborhood. Later, you can learn more about the Maunakea Marketplace!

Another definition of lei is a beloved person (especially a child). This coming from the beloved being hoisted on one's shoulders with their legs hanging down like a lei. Kind of makes piggy-back rides seem even more special! Since Luke normally hides from the camera, I had to honor his request to be included as I kept snapping pictures of the neighborhood, so I needed to tie the keiki in somehow!
And of course, click through if you'd like to learn more about lei!

September 27, 2011

Tūtū kāne - Grandpa

One of the hardest parts of this move is being so far away from family. However, we were so thankful to have Kyle's dad come visit for three weeks. He was great company and we enjoyed catching up with him and playing games. The kids just adored Grandpa and all the extra time and attention he lavished on them. It was also a real treat to have help getting things done around the house as well as someone to keep an eye on the kids so we could go out as a couple. The time went by way too fast, and we were sad to see him return to the Mainland.

Here are a few of our favorite tūtū kāne moments from his trip:

Mahalo for the visit! We had a wonderful time and hope you come back soon!

September 23, 2011

Ānuenue - Rainbow

Although it's official title is the "Aloha State," I'm pretty sure a few people voted for "Rainbow State." They are everywhere! If you Google "Hawaii rainbows" you get some pretty beautiful pictures (and one dude in a speedo) and they happen all the time! Not only does every license plate sport a friendly ānuenue, but the University of Hawai‘i has the Rainbow Warriors as their mascot. Maybe not exactly striking fear into the hearts of their competition. Oh no, rainbows!

I personally like the ānuenue everywhere, since it's kind of calming. Drivers seem more friendly here, generally letting you cut in front with a friendly wave, instead of starting some road-rage battle. Maybe it's the aloha, or just the weather, but how can you get mad at the person in front of you when you see this?