May 28, 2012

Hau - snow (MI Part 1)

You might be surprised there is a Hawaiian word for snow. But, it does snow on the Big Island on Mauna Kea (White Mountain), so it does happen on the islands. Just not a lot. And the word can mean cool or iced, as well as frost or dew, so it gives the general idea of "colder."

The word hau also refers to a type of tree, so that is the more common usage we hear.

For part of our time in Michigan, we planned to take a trip "up north" with my parents. In March that meant it could be spring-like or winter weather, so we planned for both. And prayed for snow :) It couldn't have worked out any better for us, since the winter storm blew in right as we arrived at the cabin, so we didn't have trouble driving. After dinner it looked like this:

The next morning it was like this!

The kids were super excited to ride snowmobiles with Grandpa and Grandma for the first time. So we layered them up and headed out!

My old helmet fit Luke pretty well...
But it was hard work for RaeRae to keep her head up!
They both loved the snow! It was great for stomping...

writing messages...

and eating!

"Snow like shave ice!"
Old Man Winter

The hau was perfect for playing in for the weekend, but it's nice to know that we won't have to do any shoveling this winter!

May 20, 2012

Hala kahiki - Pineapple

Quick! Name a fruit people eat in Hawaii!

Maybe you picked one of these: mango, lilikoi (passionfruit), guava, papaya or lychee; but I'm sure most people would put pineapple at the top of the list. However, none of the fruits listed, including pineapple, are native to Hawaii!

Before we moved here, I imagined myself wandering outside and picking a fresh pineapple everyday. Then I read that one plant takes 2-3 YEARS to grow a fruit. Then you get one fruit a season. Sounded like too much work, so I abandoned my hala kahiki garden idea and bought them at the store.

Until a month ago, I noticed this growing on my neighbor's lanai:
Are you allowed to covet your neighbor's pineapple?
A friend told me how easy they were to grow, and after some confirmation on the internet, I set out to grow my own. Here are the 3 easy steps:

1. Buy a pineapple.

2. Cut the top off of the pineapple. Eat the rest :)

 3. Plant top in soil.

Voila! In 2-3 years come and visit and we might have one super fresh pineapple to try. If not, we'll drive you to the Dole Plantation and you can buy one there.

The best part about this whole thing is you can do it too! If you live where it gets frosty, bring your baby pineapple inside until the danger of frost is clear. For example, in Michigan that would be from Sept-May :) Just make sure you get a big enough pot, since it will get 5 feet across and is pretty pokey.

The hala kahiki hairstyle is popular with toddlers
Let me know if you plant one too!

May 12, 2012

Pali - Cliff

When you say "Pali" it can mean cliff, but it's also the name of a major roadway across the island as well as a popular lookout spot. The lookout is very significant historically, during King Kamehameha I's quest for unification of the islands, a battle ended here. I could rewrite the info, but why not read it here instead?

It is super windy at the lookout!

Towards Kaneohe

Towards Kailua

As you continue down the Pali Hwy towards the Windward side, it's best to be the passenger. This is Kyle's drive home from work everyday.

May 11, 2012

No shirt, no shoes, no worries!

You may already know, or rightly assume, that people wear flip-flops a lot  in Hawaii. You may not know they're called slippers. Well, actually it's pronounced slippahs, but we're not local enough for that. Most people wear nice sandals or shoes on a daily basis, but slippers are more common here than on the mainland. This is the easiest fashion trend for me to see and follow along, so I've been observing what occasions warrant shoes and when it's okay to go barefoot.

I need to be careful here, since I don't want you to be picturing people walking to work in board shorts and slippers. Or that everyone goes barefoot. My goal is to highlight that there are some places here where it is culturally acceptable to take off your shoes that would not happen on the mainland.

Homes. You usually leave your shoes outside of a house before entering. Sometimes this extends to younger kids in school - our kids take them off before going into the nursery at church. Even the furniture delivery guys wear slip off shoes so they can easily take them off while entering your home.

Indoor playplaces. First of all, there aren't that many since you're supposed to be outside! There's one at the mall and a few fast food joints and they have the same rules. All the signs tell you to remove your shoes or slippers but there's no mention of wearing socks. No signs telling us to wear socks or buy them for $1. Ha ha, not here!

Outdoor play places. It's hard to run fast in slippers, so you take them off. And it doesn't matter if it's grass, cement or the play structure, you are too busy playing to notice your feet. At first I didn't like the idea of playing at the playground barefoot, but it was only gross if some kid was eating and leaving food all over the playground for the other kids to step on. Now, I feel a bit safer that my kids can climb using their feet instead of big clunky shoes. Our kids adapted to this quickly and kick off their shoes the moment we get to the playground. And they now ask to drive to the playground barefoot  and "just carry me across the street."

Not so acceptable places. It's still not normal behavior to run around barefoot wherever, but I have seen a few people in McDonalds and the grocery store without shoes. And one lady and her kids in the mall bathroom. But, with a potty training child of my own, I can understand the mad dash to the bathroom from the play place. And if you're running into the store for one thing, why not carry your child in and do your shopping without digging through the car for the tiny shoes they kicked off on the way there? Pretty sure they'll just kick them off all over the store anyway.

It is a tricky subject with riding bikes. Growing up, I was taught you must wear tennis shoes while riding a bike or else your toes will get cut off. This was always accompanied by a sob story of someone who lost their toes. It was so ingrained in me that I thought that it actually happened to someone in my family. So along with helmets, we were going to require our own kids to wear tennis shoes while riding. However, I realized that watching other kids this was pretty unrealistic. As it is, our kids wear socks maybe once a week if we go for a hike. And on the odd days as preschoolers they are asserting their fashion identity by wearing socks with sandals. Or trying to slide around on the wood floors faster. So we're picking our battle and our kids might lose a toe, but they'll be wearing helmets.

Except for the extra work of keeping up the pedicure, I do enjoy the different "shoe culture" here because:

1. I've never liked shoe shopping
2. I associate bare feet with summer fun
3. Kids have cute feet
4. Walked home barefoot after taking off my crazy heels
5. Less sock laundry
6. No need to ask "Do I take my shoes off?"
7. Less dirt in my house!
8. One less thing to buy that the kids will outgrow
9. No more "Oh no! There's a hole in my sock!"
10. You can tell where the party is at since the slippers are all outside the door

May 7, 2012

Koa - Warrior

Moving to a new place is a great excuse to start over.

Since we were trying healthier habits and new adventures, I thought I would be inspired to workout more often if I had a race to train for. I heard about the Warrior Dash, it looked interesting... short run, some obstacles, some mud. However, I chickened out it was kind of expensive, so I decided not to.

Then it was the Living Social deal of the day. And I can't pass up a good deal!

Although I was excited about the race, I kind of forgot about it. Then, about a week beforehand, I started to take a look at the course and the rules. Then I looked at the obstacle list.
The mud.
The super high fences.
The fire.
And the 21 point checklist I had to initial so I couldn't sue them if I got injured.

Cargo net climb

Fear crept in. And I started to doubt this crazy idea.

It was then I realized I didn't register Kyle and it was too late to sign him up. Plus, the race was not where I thought it was, but actually on the exact opposite side of the island. And Kyle was working nights before and after race day.

So I would have to run by myself, and make my sleep deprived husband drive me and watch the kids.

I proposed this situation carefully to Kyle, hoping he'd tell me to forget the whole thing, and then I wouldn't have to embarrass myself by breaking my leg in front of thousands of people.

Instead, he was excited for me and encouraged me to have fun.

[Insert nervous fake excitement]

I couldn't stop looking at the pictures of the dreadful obstacles. I knew the 3.1 mile distance wouldn't be a problem. It was climbing over things that I was worried about. It started to dawn on me that people train for this, or at least they are able to muster more than a handful of bent-knee push-ups.

Mud pit with barbed wire leading to the finish

So my goal was simply to complete all the obstacles and run without walking. I didn't even think about a time.

On race day, I was in the last heat. And it rained all afternoon. So a normally muddy experience was quadrupled for my group of runners. Just getting through the staging area was difficult, since I hadn't tightened my shoes. Lots of spectators in their slippers were up to their ankles in mud. Stinky mud. Not only were there lots of sweaty warriors, but the farm itself added to the distinctive odor.

As I waited with my fellow warriors for the gun to go off, I looked around. There were people in ridiculous costumes: fairies, aliens, sexy matching coeds, and one guy in his tighty whities and a Superman cape. Then it hit me, I was supposed to have fun. I was not going to win. I was not going to go fast. But I would have fun.

It felt good to be running a race. It was even better with the added fun of trying to run through the mud that sucked you in, and stole shoes from unlucky victims. The mood was light as people sang crazy songs and told jokes. Then we hit the first obstacle, which required balancing on muddy beams. My mood lifted as I realized I might actually accomplish my goal.

Then I saw the larger-than-it-looks-even-in-your-nightmares wall. The lines to climb it were 10 people deep, so there was a lot of waiting and dreading. In my line, a woman really struggled to get over, but we cheered as she finally made it. Then another woman in front of me quit. So I was even more nervous when my turn came.

This wall is way taller than it looks!
But I climbed to the top with no problem! That is, until I slipped and couldn't get a grip with my old shoes on the muddy wall. I was hanging onto the top with one hand and the rope with the other, scraping my feet on the wall desperately trying to get a foothold to push up.

I asked for help and the tiny girl next to me tried, but couldn't do much and gave up. Then another guy scooted over from two ropes away and gave me a hand. Just enough to get to the top and I was golden. Then I heard clapping and cheering. Although I was embarrassed it might have been for me, I was warmed that my fellow warriors were encouraging me. But, I'm still pretty sure they were cheering for a different person that was about to slide down on her face.

After that, I knew I could handle anything this race threw at me. Sliding down a fireman's pole? Swimming through a dirty river? Fresh out of drinking water? Broken fingernail? No worries!

It wasn't an easy task, but it was fun. In the "I'm glad I tried that and survived" kind of fun. And I was amazed to see this tougher side of myself. And for my kids to see this side of me too. It was encouraging to hear their little voices cheering at the end!

Totally worth finding mud in my belly button two days later.

More pictures for your enjoyment!

Wading in the river helped wash away most of the mud.

Showing some brotherly love

That's me!

Who had the bright idea to pass out bananas at the finish?

Kids did not want to get near me

So so muddy!

May 3, 2012


Do you remember the good old days where you could give someone a seven digit phone number? And you could even assume the first three digits based on their hometown? Now, with cell phones and people moving in and out of area codes, now you just automatically give everyone all 10 digits. In Michigan, we had doctors and friends in 3 different counties, so there were an abundance of random area codes to deal with.

Well, not in Hawaii, since it's always 808!

So I'm thankful for one less thing to remember and a little bit of time savings. It's not a lot, but right now, when it seems everyday I add some number to my phone, it makes me feel like I found a shortcut. And it gives me more time for more important things... like telling you about it here :)

Plus, you feel a little bit more connected when you see "808" bumper stickers or tattoos and feel like you're in some exclusive club. Finally, we're in on the secret!

It's not really a secret, but it's so nice not to have to say it every time you give out your number!