Monday, June 8, 2009

Last Day of School in Hawaii

Who would have guessed that I would have gotten rave reviews by 5th graders for my Tuna Noodle Hotdish? Yep, that's right. Joseph signed me up for napkins and his favorite meal. (He's picked it for his birthday dinner for the last 4-5 years.)

Emily and Phillip both agreed that they each wanted grape salad which is grapes in a home made fruit dip. Thankfully my friend Jen is visiting for 10 days and was more than happy to help with cutting up 2 giant Costco sized containers of grapes. E&P also got to participate in the prep.

School started at 8:05 and the Award Ceremony went from 8:30 - 9:45. Potluck for the rest of the day - early release at 11:30. There were so many students receiving certificates for their achievements and contributions this year. It was a joy to see so much talent recognized. The biggest part was the graduation of the 5th graders. (It is hard to believe Joseph will be in 6th grade this Fall!)

All the students were called by name, received a lei by their Kindergarten Buddie and then handshake with their teacher (Mrs. Takara) and the principal (Ms. Lum.) At the end, confetti was thrown on them and the 4th graders shouted a cheer about not forgetting all they learned and take with them their Koko Head pride. Joseph couldn't stop beaming from ear to ear!

Unfortunately my IT guy isn't here otherwise I'd post some wonderful pictures. Dave left on Sat. to start his next project in... St. Paul! :) NO traveling for a bit! He will be back on the 17th for our last Hawaiian adventure. We will spend 4 days on Maui before we leave on the 24th. That is when our next adventure begins. After meeting our van in L.A. we will make our way across the "Mainland" arriving in MN July 1st-ish. As part of this leg of our return we will spend some time in Las Vegas as it is considered the "9th island." (Seriously, Hallmark sells "Have a great vacation in Las Vegas" cards!) Wish us luck as we make our way back home.

We have been slowly processing this past year with laughter and tears as this wonderful place will aways be a part of our spirits.

Already missing Hawaii but looking forward to being again with our nearest and dearest in MN.


Friday, April 17, 2009


No other single word describes what is going through both Cheryl's and my mind right now - "bittersweet". Well, maybe "blessed". I finally learned yesterday (Thursday) that the client is canceling the Oracle Retail project which brought us out here. That means one thing - we're coming home!

Here are some details: I'll likely wrap up work with the client this coming week. They left it open ended - if I can find work for them (non-Oracle related), I can do it. However, anything I find will likely not be a great investment for them or me. Our lease goes until June 30th. Plus, our renters have a lease until June as well. So, we'll stay out here until then. I'll either not work :) or work for a different client remotely. The client is still paying for my living expense out here (and letting me have access to their car) until we leave. They just won't pay for my services (assuming I do not find much work to do). I'll still get paid, since I am an employee (i.e. a grunt) of Logic.

There are so many pros and cons of leaving; so many pros and cons of going back to Mpls. I can't even possibly start to go through them. If it came to us having to make a decision about what we would do, we were going to head home at the end of June. We are all feeling like this is the right move for us. Cheryl and I love many things about Hawaii - no question about it. The kids do too. But, when I told them that we are for sure coming home, both the boys pumped their fists (and did so much more vigorously than when I told them the Vikings made the play-offs!).

In the meantime, we have one more friend coming to stay with us - Cheryl's friend Jen Doffing - early in June. There are a few things we'd like to do before we leave - get Phillip a surfing lessons, go scuba diving, bike the "Bike to the Sun" route on Maui, various hikes on Oahu... Of course, a main focus of mine is the half ironman triathlon May 30th - I still have plenty of training to do before that. We'll have to pack up all our stuff (though we just sent two bags home with a friend who was out to visit last week - thanks Randy!) and do a considerable amount of cleaning to fulfill our lease ending.

Our heads are spinning right now with all that is in front of us. We've had a great time out here and are very sad to leave. Once all the dust settles, we'll absolutely cherish the time, experiences and friends that shaped our year in Hawaii. We're glad to be coming home mid-summer... I'm already pricing out one-way tickets to anywhere warm for next November.

75 days and counting...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Grandpa and Granny come to visit!

Well we thought we would have had more visitors by this point in our adventure. Uncle Paul and Aunt Judy Williams came in early Oct. and then in Feb. my parents came for a 15 day visit. Fortunately they were tolerant of our inexperience in hosting out-of-town company and my frazzled "new 1st grade teacher" state of mind. We had a lovely time and got to do some of our favorite things again as well as experience new Hawaiian attractions. Our first stop was by Sandy Beach and Blow Hole Lookout where we saw multiple whales as the progressed on the migration with new calves. (We usually don't see whales as much as we did that day - Great way to start the Hawaiian vacation!)

At first it was a little unsettling for my dad with all the condo windows open in mid-Feb. but once he got used to the warm trade-winds breeze it was obvious we weren't letting all the heat out. :)

Their visit cont. with driving to more of our favorite look outs to soak up some warm sun and view the beauty of the lush mountains and turquoise and blues of the ocean. For Pres. weekend, Emily and Phillip and I flew with my parents for a Big Island adventure. Fri. night I went night diving with Manta Rays. OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! 12 ft wing span swooping inches from my head to scoop as many little plankton that were attracted to our diver hand lights. Grandpa and Granny and E& P hung out with friends of my parents who vacation 2 months out of the year on the Big Island. Sat. was a day of driving and sightseeing to Hilo. Beautiful falls and cattle ranch land. And boy was it windy!!! No vog from the volcano though, fortunately! We attended the Hilo farmers market which was interesting and big. Sun. was our Volcanoes National Park day. Way cool! If we get the chance to go back we will 1. bring jackets (4000 ft above sea level is cool even in Hawaii!) and 2. spend a couple days to hike and explore.
We played for a bit on the black sands beach which yes is crushed lava rock but smooth just like regular sand, only black. Kinda weird. My favorite place on the way back was "The Place of Refuge" which was some amazing pre-missionary history that was fascinating. Our last day we went snorkeling at a great location. It was my mom's first experience and she loved it! The kids and I saw a bunch of things we had never seen before. One of Emily's favorites was the red Pencil Slate sea urchins. Phillip about scared the poop out of a sea turtle when he saw it he screamed through his snorkel. Phillip LOVES sea turtles. No matter where we go he wants to buy a stuffed animal sea turtle. This was the first time he saw a sea turtle out in the ocean swimming next to him. Pretty cool!

My parents visit ended with a tour of Pearl Harbor, Dole Pineapple Plantation, the North Shore, and Polynesian Cultural Center. They did get to rest in there for a few days!

It was a wonderful time together and fun to show them a bit about this adventure we've been on.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another "new year" begins

Last I wrote, it was the Chinese New Year. Today is the firstday of another year in my life. Since having kids I am usually thinking about what we are going to do for their birthdays. (All April birthdays.) This year was no exception. But I didn't miss the boat. We still celebrated. My original thought was to go to the farm that we have been spending some time at. ( make sure to "click to cont.") The very day I was looking on the internet for a volunteer opportunity, Louella called to see if we would like to drive up there to "talk story" and have dinner with other people who made container gardens. I said yes immediatly even though it meant driving in rush hour traffic through town to get there! It is worth every min. of every drive to be in that sacred place! I then thought for my actual birthday (Sat. 3/7) that we could go hiking as a family. It doesn't happen as often as we thought it would. Unfortunatly the soil needed a soaking and it rained all day. So a lazy day which included a nap was plan B.

I will back up a bit...back to MLK jr. Day and Obama's call to service for our country. Dave found a volunteer opportunity through the Kokua Foundation. Kokua in Hawaiian means "to help." in a giving of your self kind of way. The listed Hoa 'Aina O Makaha as a site. They mentioned working in gardens and other odd farm projects. There were other more urban options that were closer but the farm intreged us. So off we went to sift compost, start a teacher's garden and weed. (The farm is next to an elementary school and runs organic farming/hawaiian culture classes and field trips.)

We all had a blast! Each time we are invited we gladly return as it is peaceful and filled with the aloha spirit!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kung Hee Fat Choy

Happy Chinese New Year! (some videos of the parade)

Unfortunately we missed the parade last Sat. but at school we all (minus Dave) Learned a little extra about this celebration. Emily was excited to tell me about the dragon dances. Jospeh and Phillip thought the tradition of lai see is a great idea.

Lai see is a red envelope that children receive as a gift and it has money in it. One student brought me a Chinese New year gift bag. It had Chinese candy, mini- poster of Happy New Year written in Chinese, an Ox "Christmas ornament" for good luck and a lai see with a Hawaiian quarter in it. Too sweet!

Happy New Year...again!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Experiencing the tradition of a Hawai'ian Lei

Our Christmas card included pictures of our family wearing leis. Emily and I had coordinating flower leis, Dave and the boys had Kokui nut and Maile leaf leis. Leis can be bought anywhere from China town, the airport, and lei stands in Waikiki or along the road to the North Shore. We bought ours at Costco. :) Emily has worn both shell leis and tinsel leis for her hula performances. Since then Phillip and I have both received them as touching gestures of Aloha. My first day of teaching 1st grade, one student brought me a woven lei tied with kokui nuts. Beautiful vibrant red. This past Thurs. was a special day when the Cobra award was presented to students who have been behaving with the "4 R's" Respect, Responsible, Resourceful, and Resilient. 2 children from each class are honored. Phillip was one from his class. Dave and I both forgot about the tradition of presenting a lei but a classmate of Phillip's gave him a lei with a Jamba Juice gift card attached. Then when I returned to class with my students and one of the award winners from my class gave me one of his leis. (Not his flower lei, the M&M lei - so "sweet"!) This link tells a little more about the history of the Hawaiian lei tradition.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Something is in the Air

OK, this may fall into the category of "things that only interest me", but...

There are many different kinds of flying things in Hawaii that were very uncommon in MN - or anywhere else I've been. Not tropical birds, or UFO's. But, lots of helicopters and military planes.

Every day I see helicopters flying around. Usually they are the standard kind - I assume they are sight seeing 'copters. Since we live close to Koko Head, many fly over Diamond Head and come out to our area. But, I also see some military helicopters - the kind with two "propellers" (is that the right term?). There is no mistaking the deep bass of a military helicopter. Ever since I saw the movie Red Dawn as a kid, I've been fearful of these helicopters. At the Hawaii Bowl football game, four of these helicopters flew very low over the stadium. Since we were high up in the stadium, it seemed as if we could have reached up and touched them. Very cool!

I also see a few military fighter jets taking off. Again, the sound of these planes is unmistakable. Sometimes I hear them, but cannot spot them in the sky - which makes me look like a huge dork - stopped dead in my tracks, staring at the sky, mouth agape. I'm surprised people passing by do not ask if I need any help.