I am so glad you can be a part of our Hawaiian adventure.
Enjoy! --Kristine

Friday, July 29, 2011


[ah loh' hah] - Love, greetings, goodbye, pity, compassion, mercy, affection, farewell ; spirit of love, affection, kindness. As in: Aloha wau iĆ¢ `oe (I love you); Aloha `oe (Farewell to you).

I love that the word aloha sums up all of the things I need to say in three perfect syllables. First, farewell to Hawaii and our connections here. Secondly, hello again to our California home. Lastly, having time away from life's typical stresses and distractions has been a potent reminder about what really matters. It turns out that my learnings on this front can be distilled down to "love, affection and kindness."

We decided to spend this week doing our typical activities, rather that attempting to cram a bunch of new adventures into our last days of leisure. That means we ditched our lingering plans to go to the children's discovery center and to take the kids for a horse ride at the ranch. Instead last weekend we took a trip with Brenda and her children to Bellows Beach on the Air Force Base (about 20 minutes away from where we live). You need a military-associated person to take you there and the guards take the checkpoint security seriously. 

With constraints on the number of people who have access plus the inherent tidiness of military caretakers, Bellows Beach is one of the most pristine places we've visited in Hawaii. Big waves made for some great boogie boarding. The kids joined a gang of others digging huge holes in the sand. All of this meant we were blissfully wiped out by lunch time and thrilled to pass the grilled chicken stand just after we left the base. You gotta stop for enormous bar-b-ques on the side of the road, especially when all of the locals are doing it.

Bellows Beach = perfection
Even the bathrooms were tidy.

Keira, Kelsey, Brenda, Alice, Tag, Benji and some shark bait in a hot pink rash guard 

Besides the departure preparations this week we're trying to make sure we swim in the ocean every day. It seems like the best use of dwindling time. We're also starting to say our goodbyes. Gregg's family left for the mainland yesterday, so we made plenty of time for some final play sessions in the yard. Alice and Benji had their last trip with me to the YMCA this morning and all of their caregivers were sad to see them go. Tomorrow morning is their final gymnastics class, and they will go to "Parent's Night Out" in the evening so Tag and I can have one last date night. I'm looking forward to three romantic hours at Haleiwa Joe's in Kaneohe. Saturday morning we'll hang out with Brenda and her family at the beach. Then we have some babysitting help lined up for Saturday afternoon during the critical "get shit crammed in bags" hours. I'm envisioning having a sunrise swim on Sunday before we leave for the airport. I'll need to say a heartfelt goodbye to the lanikai (heavenly sea). 

Goodbye! I'll miss you terribly!
You have really cool toys and I appreciate you letting me steal them on occasion.

I love you.
You make me want to be a six year old girl.
Don't leave me here with just Alice for entertainment.

So at this point I suppose it is time to sign off from the Hula Press. Mahalo for being a part of my Hawaii experience. Without your love and support for my personal blogging experiment I never would have remembered to bring my camera for most of the previously covered content. While sabbatical journalism is a rigorous pursuit, I suggest you all try your hand at it sooner rather than later. It will change your life. 


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Things I miss

Me and Tyler show off our matching "Live Simply" tee shirts.
Considering that I wear mine all the time (Thanks, Kelly!)... I must be taking the message to heart.

We are just starting to do some tasks to prepare for our departure so the fact that we're leaving in a matter of days is feeling more real. The car has been sold and the paperwork was signed and mailed in last week. We realized at the last minute that we had misplaced the title, but due to some miracle of DMV efficiency a new copy was mailed to us from Kauai County within a couple of days.  Tag's turtle traps have been packed away and his research samples have been sent home.

We're finishing off the last remnants of food in our house and eating more than our fair share of animal crackers, walnuts, poultry products, and peanut butter. Please remind me to never buy organic animal crackers in bulk again. Their little happy faces are starting to irritate me-- it is a complete zoo overpopulation scenario in the container and animals are losing their parts. Just horrible.

I'm imagining that we'll continue to find sand in our clothes, bags, and shoes for months to come. Our double stroller has remnants of the beach in every pocket, and the screws have rusted from the salt water spray. These emigrating sand grains will be our souvenirs of beach living. We never bought a big memento from this adventure, but we do have lots of pictures and stories to share. I also have the deepest tan I've had in years (all in the name of fixing my Vitamin D deficiency).

I just noticed that the stroller was in the back of this picture and had to include it

I will miss Hawaii. In fact, I'm already working under the assumption that we'll visit annually because there is so much left to do. At the same time there are many reasons why I am looking forward to our return to Chico. Tag and I have been talking about why it will be good to be home, and both feel like it is the right time to change scenes and begin the next act. What's on our list? Well, I'm most excited about:

  • Sleeping in my own bed! I love my mattress almost as much as I love my family. I love my pillows, sheets, blankets, nightstand, window shades, and even my alarm clock. It will be the first of many happy reunions to come, since we'll arrive at our home around 11pm on Sunday.
  • Seeing Addy! The cat is one of my oldest, most lethargic friends in California. He will be glad to get the generous treat provisions from the kids, and I will be glad to be alternately ignored and pestered by him during his endless cycle of feline mood swings. 
  • Catching up with California friends! I miss you. I want to hear about your summer adventures. I want to hug your kids and see how they've changed. You are the main reason why we'll choose to leave for the airport early enough to make our flight. 
  • Cheap groceries! Holy cow it is insanely expensive to eat on this island. I swear the melons fly here first class, with their legs up on a footrest, streaming live TV and Internet and drinking fine wine. They arrive at Safeway and are put on the shelves next to rubies and platinum.  
  • Peak season at the Farmers' Market! I am so excited to eat heirloom tomatoes, fresh off the vine. I miss my favorite artisan bread and local almond butter, and I'm finding it hard to live without sweet, fully ripe berries.  
  • Returning to work! Crazy, I know. But I love my co-workers and I am a sucker for having some new challenges. Plus, I'm broke. It's time to see the numbers go the other way in my savings account. 
  • Picking up our new family member! We're getting a dog when we get home. We're really excited about our addition and have been brainstorming Hawaii-inspired names. 
  • Sissy! My sister and her partner, Sarah, are making a cross country road trip to see us at the end of August. I can't wait for the kids to see their aunties! Plus, they are donating their old Subaru to our household when they depart by plane. It's great timing because driving the Outback all the way to Hawaii would have been way too much to ask. 
  • Fully-stocked kitchen! I have worked hard at assembling a kitchen filled with all of the best everyday tools (garlic crusher, lemon juicer, egg slicer, espresso maker, etc.) and random implements (crepe maker, tart pans in assorted sizes, egg poacher, etc.). I miss cooking with all my awesome gear. I also really miss my dishwasher. I think I'll say that twice because I feel pretty strongly about it. I miss you, dishwasher.
  • The Prius! She sips her fuel so sparingly. Gas here is always at or above $4/gallon. Need I say more? Plus, I miss her navigation system because she always tells me where to go with a calm voice and adjusts the route when I miss a turn. My readers know about my directional incompetence. Need I say more? 
  • Bidwell Park! I will never tire of visiting my local park and noticing the seasons changing based on the appearance of the leaves. And seasons, yes, they are good too sometimes.
  • My trees! Tag and I planted several baby trees when we moved to East 7th Street and I get inordinately excited about tracking their growth year over year. I know they had a wet spring and so they should have all kinds of new branches for me to talk to, um... I mean look at.
  • Sierra Nevada Brewery! Three cheers for good hometown beer! Darling Reader, let's get one together when I see you.
We are so lucky to have a cool place and cool people to return to... See all of you Northern California peeps soon!

Morning climb this week

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Back from our three-hour tour

Coconut Island

It turns out that the University of Hawaii owns an island for their marine research faculty, and it is the same one that was shown during the opening of the TV show Gilligan's Island. Back in the first half of the 20th century Coconut Island was a lush vacation site for an oil tycoon and his famous friends from politics and show business (perhaps the two social circles had as much in common back then as they do now). It is believed that Jackie Kennedy sought refuge there while mourning the loss of her husband. Now the island is home to some of the most amazing marine scientists, and you have to be on an official tour or be personally invited to see the place.

Earlier this week we were the guests of honor at a dinner party with the families of some of the UH faculty from the marine lab. Our host, Rob Toonen, went to UC Davis with us and scored his Hawaii position straight out of grad school. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening. The pupus (appetizers) were an assortment of local poke (pronounced "poke-eh": it is raw fish, mainly ahi tuna, in a variety of sauces). The kids explored a tree house in Rob's yard, and amused themselves with all of the toys in the playroom. The adults had a relaxing meal together, drank beer and tequila, and talked a lot about turtles, research expeditions, and parenthood (there are more similarities between those topics than you may initially guess). At the end of the night it was decided by the group that our clan could not possibly leave Oahu without a trip to Coconut Island. We agreed.

We made the visit this Friday. Benji was a big fan of the boat shuttle, and Tag and I enjoyed imagining what it must be like to have this ride as part of your daily commute. Also, it seems like we'd all be more productive if our workplaces had a bar-b-que platform overlooking a lagoon swimming area. And a beach. And some coral reefs to look at from observation paths. Besides these nice perks, the island has many areas designated for running experiments in fresh ocean water-- including some dolphin and shark enclosures. The docks have a number of research vessels, and there is a dorm for visiting faculty. The large Marine Corps base is just across the bay, so you also have some impressive fly-overs.

Boat ride with our tour guide, "Uncle Brian"

Checking out the baby hammerheads.
Do they know how weird they look?

When we got home last night we had a shared feast with our neighbors, Gregg and Julie and their kids, because we're all becoming aware of how soon we'll need to say good-bye. We had home-made guacamole and pineapple salsa, good background music, and Gregg lit a plethora of tiki torches and candles to officially set the scene for the dinner party. Tag grilled chicken and steak to perfection. Once the kids finished eating they all went inside to watch the Barbie Surf Movie. Gregg assures us this movie will change your life with its positive messages. All I know is that it changed mine for 90 minutes while I had an uninterrupted dinner with my husband and good friends, sitting under the stars, enjoying the cool ocean breezes of the evening, and with a perfect glass of Zinfandel from Sonoma County. Thanks, Barbie.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pearl Harbor

We spent Sunday morning visiting Pearl Harbor and touring the Battleship Missouri. It is hard to imagine the degree of shock and devastation associated with the two-hour attack on December 7, 1941, especially when contrasted with the serene island surroundings that existed then and are the present reality. The site is on an active military base (our friend Brenda's husband is an officer stationed there). Thus all of the separate tours are escorted to their sites via bus or boat, and there are strict limitations on what you can carry with you. There is so much to see at the National Monument that you could easily spend a lot of time here, especially if military history is your thing.

I discovered that touring a site like this with a very inquisitive three year old presents some unique challenges. While I have no desire to shield my children from reality as they grow up, I felt that explaining something like a world war with any sense of truth and gravity was beyond my capacities and desires at this point. For now, I have chosen to allow Benjamin to maintain the belief that soldiers use ships and airplanes to play games, have contests and challenge the spheres of human ingenuity. We can wait a few years before exposing him to the remaining parts of the truth.

The tour of the Battleship Missouri was pretty amazing. The battleship was the formal site of Japanese surrender to bring an end to World War II, and was most recently in service during Operation Desert Storm. Once on board the ship it is like an open house-- you can look all around the four top levels on your own or with a tour group. Alice and Benji preferred the self-guided option so we could go at our own fast pace and avoid all opportunities for listening to people spew facts and history. We went the route of "experiential learning"-- getting a sense of the battleship by climbing every ladder, testing seats, and touching every button, bunk, phone, knob, hose and restroom fixture in the place. Now that Benji considers battleships to be like enormous floating playgrounds he is pretty set on joining the Navy. It may have been the uniforms and sailor hats that sealed the deal.

Boarding the Missouri

View of the USS Arizona Memorial from the bow of the Battleship Missouri

Exploring all parts of the ship. Our motto: leave no porthole untouched. 

One of many ladders!

Alice goes limp in protest when Daddy tells her she must be carried down the ladders

Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Darling Alice turned two yesterday. I can't believe how much she has changed since we've been here. She is taller, blonder, and way more chatty. Plus she can hold her own in the ocean. I'm amazed by all of these changes and feel so blessed that I've been able to witness them moment by moment over the past four months.

All this week we had been making preparations for Alice's birthday party which happened earlier today. First and foremost, we needed to finish the pinata. I stuffed it with toys and candy while the kids napped yesterday. We also made chocolate cupcakes (per the request of the birthday girl, under the firm direction of her older brother). Tag and the kids scouted out a good location in the nearby beach park to host our "snack picnic" party.

The finished product

In the midst of the party preparations we were busy with a whole other project as well. Now that we are down to just two more weeks on Oahu we need to sell Missy Kia the minivan. Tag took her for a washing and vacuuming yesterday so we could take pictures and post an ad on Craigslist late last night. This morning while Tag and the kids were reserving our picnic spot at the park and I was at home frantically assembling fruit kabobs for the party... my phone was ringing like crazy with interested buyers. Who knew our minivan would be such a hot commodity? I know we've made it look good, but had no idea the entire island was paying attention.

The ad photo that launched a thousand inquiries

At around 9:30 a.m. I drove all of the party food and supplies over to the park, met up with the rest of the fam and we set up for the festivities. Our guests showed up shortly after 10:00 and the kids started climbing trees and eating snacks.

Birthday girl tossing some disc

Jungle gym

Twenty minutes into our party one of the potential Kia buyers stopped by the park to see the van while they were in town. The family scoped it out for five minutes... and it was sold! The husband is a fire fighter based in Kailua and is even going to give our kids a station tour. Now that is some aloha in a vehicle sale. One of our party guests then offered to loan us a car for the remaining time we have here. I think I am doing a major cashing in on my positive karma, because the good vibes are unreal.

So, back to the party... The kids played for a while and then insisted it was time to crush my artwork, um, I mean... pinata. Tag had scoped the perfect whacking location and implements. There was lots of excitement because the breaking and treat release was gradual, so the kids had to be vigilant and they were. The enclosed sea life toys were a big hit (hey Engstroms, hey Mom-- did you catch that one? I lovingly insert puns for your amusement). Next, Alice enjoyed her "puptake" and the happy birthday song. At around noon a rain shower came along and created a neat way to quickly shut down festivities and move us to nap time.

Indigo takes a whack and the vultures look on

Alice is given the big stick to up the ante

Party scene in Kailua Beach Park

Alice came home and polished off the remaining deviled eggs. She wore her new Snow White nightgown and fell asleep while Tag was reading her books. Thankfully Benji was out like a light, too, so Tag and I could clear the fruit kabob-making wreckage from the kitchen. In the future I might pass on making artistic melon, pineapple and berry creations while fielding inbound calls on a used car. But, hey... it worked!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kaena Point SP

On Sunday we took our trip to Kaena Point State Park. We did not wake up knowing this would be our plan for the day, but just made it in the moment at around 8:00 am. We threw the double stroller in the back of the minivan, packed some snacks, and jetted out the door. Kaena Point is on the far west side of the island, and we were enticed by the prospect of seeing monk seal pups and baby albatrosses.

When we arrived we discovered that the park has no formal welcome kiosk and few signs of maintenance. Instead the entryway was a sporting ground for 4x4 vehicles—and dust and revving engines replaced the sounds of the ocean. As far as I am concerned any activity that involves chewing up the nature you are going to experience is a far cry from an outdoor sport. Nonetheless, we loaded the kids into the stroller and went for it. The “road” was so rough we moved almost as quickly as the pickup trucks and left the vast majority of the vehicles behind once we got about a mile into the trip. Our friends had warned us that it would be hot there at this time of year and they were right.

Our all-terrain vehicle

As we slugged along Tag and I had no idea there was other slugging happening at the same time. We made the tactical error of letting the kids hold the camelback water backpack in their laps at the beginning of our journey. Attracted by the novelty of the bite valve on the spout they managed to nearly wipe out our entire day’s worth of water as they rode along in their chariot.  We joked that Alice’s huggies stayed the most hydrated of all of us.  

As you can tell there were parts of the trip that were not ideal. We underestimated the length of the hike by not estimating at all, so we packed snacks and no lunch.  Based on the water scenario you can already guess who got first dibs on those. Tag and I did manage to each have a banana and a mandarin, but the rest went to our giggling rickshaw passengers who yelled for “snacks!” quite regularly. We also got a flat tire on the stroller that needed to be fixed in the moment.  

Well-prepared husband replacing tube with skill and speed. Check.
Small boy inflating mouth with bike pump. Check.

Despite the challenges, we really enjoyed ourselves. The kids thought the ride over the rough terrain was a blast, and once we were beyond the truck zone they did a fair amount of hiking. Plus, the ultimate destination was worth the parental dessication. While we missed out on the albatross, we did see a couple of monk seals sunbathing on the edge of the world. It turns out that the last mile of the hike to the point is so protected (due to the nesting and pupping habitat) that you need to enter a double-gated fence designed to keep feral dogs and other predators away.  From these pristine sand dunes you can see both sides of the island, and a wide, open ocean all around.

Alice likes to pack the stroller with her rock treasures. Tag and I need to secretly dump her discoveries along the way.

Resting in the grass after some trail running

The last section of the trail

Resting monk seal. One of just 100 left on the main Hawaiian islands. 

Keiki in the cage.
We left them plenty of food and water and went out to a nice lunch filled with adult conversation.

We got back to the car around 2:00, and made a bee-line for the surf town, Haleiwa. Tag and I took the kids to the famous Matsumotos for shave ice, let them skip their naps with a huge sugar rush, and hit the road for home. With just a nine-dollar investment we became the best parents ever.  And, damn, did that sweet ice taste good!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gone Fishing

We headed to the Waikiki Aquarium today for a little weekend adventure. The coral and giant clams in the exhibits were highlights for me. Benji was most impressed with the sharks and hermit crabs, and Alice seemed to enjoy all of the colorful reef fish. The kids also appreciated the grassy field for racing around and snack breaks (needed during an aquarium visit more often than you might guess).

Benji: Is that a humuhumunukunukuapuaa, the state fish of Hawaii?
Alice: Yeses, ititit isis.

Giant glowing clams that made me want to have a bivalve pet

Behold! The Hawaiian apple banana!

Ready, set, go!

During the trip home we stopped at the lookout on the Pali Highway that we drive past on the way to Honolulu. We've always blown right by this turnoff, but figured the time has come for us to document the scenery we are probably starting to take for granted. BTW, the word pali means "cliff" in Hawaiian.

We've sent this one to Ford Modeling Agency

View towards Kaneohe, the bay next door 

Cliffs surrounding Kailua