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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spicing things up

This week was an example of our "typical" Oahu routine. Our new reality involves the following activities: mornings at the YMCA with me trying a random assortment of exercise programs and the kids at "play school"; the kids each take a weekly gymnastics class at a place called My Gym; daily afternoon naps; many visits to the beach for swimming and sand-related artwork; and, of course Tag makes time for turtle catching. This week's theme was tropical fruit salsa. I got on a kick mid-week and prepared a fresh mango salsa to serve with our grilled pork, and then made a kickin' pineapple salsa as an encore the next night. The farmers' market mangoes were enormous and the best I've ever tasted.  

Turtle trapping this week did not involve any of the desired variety, but Tag did manage to capture a very large snapping turtle-- the first that has ever been caught and recorded on the islands. That meant we had an unexpected trip to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu to drop it off for their, um... collection. So, RIP our snappy friend. It was great knowing you for a day.

On Friday night Tag and I dropped the kids off at My Gym for their monthly Parents' Night Out. That meant that Benji and Alice got to enjoy pizza and play time for three hours while Tag and I could relish in a quiet, leisurely, multi-course meal. I decided to go with all of the Yelp recommendations and made reservations at a Moroccan restaurant called Casablanca. The setting and seasonings reminded us a lot of Turkey, so we felt instantly happy. Plus there was the added bonus of sitting on the floor and eating with our hands. The place was BYOB, so we complimented the cuisine with a six-pack of Guinness (classy!). Following dinner we hit Kailua beach for a nighttime stroll under the stars-- the perfect place to think out loud about all kinds of things. No personal decisions can feel too big or important when facing the ocean and the nighttime sky.    

While the babysitting was great for all of us while it lasted, it totally threw off our bedtime rituals and the kids went to sleep super late. They still woke up at their normal time (crack of dawn), which made me and Tag sad/grumpy/mentally slow. The only way to fight off our tiredness was to make the morning special in some way that involved high-octane coffee. Once again we headed out-- this time with the whole crew-- and tried Cinnamon's breakfast spot. Chocolate milk for the little people and Kona coffee for the zombie parents. Review: five stars and eight thumbs up.

PS: Benji's gymnastics teachers asked all of the kids to answer two questions during circle time this week: (1) What is your name? (2) What is your favorite restaurant? ... There were of course a whole string of "McDonald's" and "Applebees." Until Benji, whose reply to the latter question was "my house." How sad (and funny) is that?  This morning I was bound and determined to order that child a stack of pancakes that would make a lasting impression. Hence our order at Cinnamon's-- their special red velvet pancakes with white chocolate syrup. This dish should also be known as "flattened birthday cake with runny frosting" that should never be appropriate at 8:00 am for those under the age of four.

Tag and Benji at Cinnamon's this morning. Notice the tall chocolate milk. Notice the full coffee. Notice the joy. 

That is a guava chiffon pancake in a barely perceptible disguise as a breakfast item. Alice ate the whipped cream, scooped up the syrup with her fingers, and then finally decided to have a few small bites of the pancake.
I swear we normally feed her hard boiled eggs and fruit in the morning. 

Tag discovered an awesome new playground with the kids this afternoon while I took a walk on the beach. This is photo documentation of Benji's first successful journey across monkey bars. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Strange food in paradise

A slice of Oahu's north shore. 

We decided to start the weekend off with an adventure around the north shore of Oahu. We did not consult a map or any travel guides before our departure. Instead, we packed our bathing suits, headed west on the coastal road and assumed we'd discover the right things at the right times. Oddly enough, I think we did. We could never have predicted what we'd find to eat, that's for sure.

Benjamin was intent on finding a swimming beach, which was a little hard considering we were traversing the famous big wave surfing areas. About an hour and a half into our journey we decided it was time to forage for some food because Alice had woken up from her nap. We'd already been passing a large array of roadside vendors. As connoisseurs and regular patrons of the Chico taco truck scene, Tag and I are fully committed to food vendors operating out of vehicles, tents or any other kind of impermanent structures. The more misspellings in the hand-painted menu, the better.

We pulled over at the next row of tents we passed and went straight for their offerings. Tag picked up an entire Okinawan Sweet Potato Haupia Pie, despite having no idea what that was. They had him at Pie. I decided we needed some plate lunches from the Pasteles stand. Similarly, I had no idea what pasteles were and what they were plated with. Even after eating one I still had no idea what it was and had to Google it on my iPhone to find out.

Here is what I learned... At the turn of the 20th century there was a collapse in the Puerto Rican sugar cane industry and a subsequent immigaration of Puerto Rican workers to support Hawaii's ramped up production. With this new ethnic group came the arrival of the pastel-- a dough-wrapped, fried meat package that seems to involve some veggies and a generous helping of grease. Hawaiians love it, and now the $6 pasteles plates are served with a side of spanish rice and macaroni salad (would you like a starch with your starch?).

After scoring these delicacies we tried to picnic in the park but got rained on almost as soon as we sat down. Thus, we moved to the back of Missy Kia and the kids loved the ambiance there even more. "We're eating in the trunk!" After our lunch adventure we made our next stop at the Turtle Bay resort area and swam at their sheltered beach for a while. I took a long walk along the shoreline, and met a special sunbather along the way (see photos below). Our trip back to Kailua brought us across Dole's pineapple plantation and on all three big highways (H-1, H-2, and H-3). Interestingly, the remnants of our pie didn't even melt in the warm car. Hmm.

When I opened the plate lunch I told Tag, "I don't know what this greasy turd is made of, but it tastes pretty good." He laughed, and then insisted that I use that as my caption for the photo. 

Why don't more people picnic in their cars? Good old fun!

Okay... here's the pie (yes, it's square). The bottom layer is crust; the middle layer is made with purple sweet potatoes; and the top layer is coconut. This all sounds weird, but we we all loved it. 

Benj catching some air at the beach.
Launching Alice.

Oh, Daddy, we love it when you throw us around.

The scene of my walk (the second time around when I remembered to bring a camera).

A snoozing monk seal sunbathing on the beach. 

The seal looks like a log, but every now and then it would twitch and roll a bit.
Lots and lots of Dole pineapples.

A is for Alice

Alice and her big blue eyes. She likes lolling in the ball pit during her new gymnastics class.  

"A" you're Adorable, "B" you're so Beautiful, and "C" you're a Cutie full of Charms! 

My grandpa McGinn used to sing that song to me when I was little, and all of it applies to my sweet Alice, my favorite "A." Now that I've already listed out Benjamin's talents and characteristic habits, it is time to cover the traits and temptations of our terrific toddler (who happens to be talking to herself in her crib right now instead of sleeping)...
  1. In a Nutshell: Alice is funny and mischievous, and a total charmer. Sometimes she practices her sly and silly expressions, just so they are ready to go when needed. She is very big and strong for her age, and not afraid of throwing her weight around (the girl can tackle!). She absolutely worships Benjamin, following his every move even when it is ill advised. Case in point: she put gummy worms on her frozen yogurt tonight just because he did ("I want worm"). 
  2. Favorite Things to Say: "By self" (meaning "I must do this by myself, so don't mess with me because if you do I will yell BY SELF even louder"), "Memi" (meaning "Benji"), "I like that" (usually pronounced in a very loud voice so all people can be aware of her preferences), and "Baby Ah-ya" (meaning "Baby Alice," which is her proper name as far as she is concerned because she uses it whenever she is asked by someone)
  3. Wake Up Time: Somewhere between 5:45 and 6:15 am. It is a time of day when not even the sun wants to be up, but little Miss Alice is happy as a clam, strutting around the house looking for books to read and messes to make. She now departs her crib with a dismount, and sometimes makes a morning announcement. Yesterday she said, "Daddy, I have poop." Meaning get off your duff and change my diaper.   
  4. Favorite Things to Play: Alice loves to color and play with Play Doh. She's getting pretty talented with legos, but her approach is all about dumping them and then picking them up one by one and putting them back in the bulk yogurt container. That activity fits in with her love of cleaning things, especially scrubbing. We think she gets this interest in tidiness from her Aunt Beth. Alice really has a special place in her heart for Elmo, so she's a big fan of his movies and iPad apps. She can navigate a touch screen better than most adults. 
  5. Different than Benjamin: Alice tends to be more of an extrovert. She is never shy in groups of kids, and doesn't mind grabbing center stage. We went to Pajama Story Time one evening at the Kailua Library and Alice promptly scooted herself right at the feet of the librarians to see the books up close, eschewing the standard semicircle of the other kids there to listen. She yelled out "I like that book, Daddy!" many times when they read The Napping House and then totally hammed it up during the dance breaks. It was her uncontrollable enthusiasm taking over, and we were laughing too hard to stop it.
  6. Strange Habits: Alice likes to put on socks. If there is an available pair in sight, regardless of the owner, she will sit down and take the time to try them on. Alice also likes eating salad, and this seems kind of weird for a toddler. Bring on the lettuce, bring on the spinach... she is game. When you talk about doing some exercise or stretches Alice will start walking around on her hands and feet, with her head hanging upside down looking backwards. That is her take on getting fit. She is also a big fan of tissues. Blowing her own nose and throwing away the kleenex is lots of fun. 
  7. Sleeping Pose: She must sleep on her tummy with her tush propped in the air, her fingers twirling her hair, binky in mouth, and tucked under the knitted blanket from Grandma Engstrom.     
  8. Chubbiest Parts: Alice has all kinds of cheeks. Her copious facial cheeks are utterly kissable, while her bottom is perfectly round like two plums. Her thighs are pudgy with her baby fat (she still has a pinch and a roll there!) and I could squeeze them a hundred times a day. Other than that, she has been stretching out a lot lately-- going for the long rather than wide look. 
  9. Biggest Challenge: Alice is very strong willed, and can get insistent to the point of causing herself harm (suggested reading: previous post about visit to the ER with nursemaid's elbow). While seeing the sunrise on a tropical island sounds romantic, the vibe of that experience is shot when it is a daily gig. The early riser thing could go the way of the Hawaiian Honeycreeper, as far as I'm concerned. 
  10. Future Predictions: I expect Alice to be cracking me up for many years to come. She is confident and adaptable, and quite a performer. I think she'll do something that involves being social and setting others at ease. Based on her trek up Haleakala, Tag thinks she may be a mountaineer. Of course, no matter what she does she'll continue to be Adorable, Beautiful, and Charming, too... 
Alice showing off her "Alice in Hulaland" shirt. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Top Ten for Mr. Imagination

I've been thinking about making a blog post that captures some of the every day, every moment behaviors of the kids so I can have all of the little things recorded alongside all of the big day trips, beach adventures and family stories that have comprised my blog so far. Something along the lines of a Top Ten for each child that sums up their personality, silly quirks, favorite sayings, and most crazy-making habits.

Of course, I'm a sucker for making lists. So forcing myself to record my thoughts in this way is like forcing myself to try an OnoPop at the farmers' market-- no real challenge, it's just going to happen. I've been informally mulling these ideas over the past few weeks knowing that they'd someday come in handy for some blogging content. By the way, I had a salted watermelon cream popsicle from the OnoPop stand today and it was fab-u-lous.

Let's start with the oldest child, my darling Benjamin (who sometimes likes to call me Darling Mudder, especially when asking me for something). These are the things that help to define who he is right now:

  1. Best Short Description: Benji is Mr. Imagination, constantly coming up with scenarios and new uses for found objects. He is a steady stream of questions these days, which can be charming and exhausting at the same time. He tends to be very obedient for other people (teachers, other parents, etc.). He's eager to follow directions in group classes and comes off like a labrador puppy that is eager to please. He could color and dance away an hour, and then wrestle, climb and swim away the next two.  
  2. Favorite Toys: legos that become trucks; sticks; palm fronds; coconuts; pretend cameras and walkie-talkies. He often walks around the yard pointing/waving sticks and makes a sound like "waah waaah waaachoo," and we have no idea what that is all about. 
  3. Favorite Thing to Say: "Whoppens if?" (what happens if... and then fill in the blank with some obscure and/or unlikely event). 
  4. Food Preferences: Benji loves macaroni and cheese, ice cream (and all of its frozen relatives), and cookies of any persuasion. He hates onions, celery and fresh herbs. 
  5. What Makes Him Feel Special: He likes to talk and reminisce about when he was a baby. He also loves doing anything that Alice is not yet allowed to do. 
  6. What Makes Him Scared: Benjamin seems terrified of disappointing other people and gets very worried if he's told that he needs to apologize to someone outside of our immediate family. When he knocked some mangoes off of our neighbor's tree he was petrified and started crying when I told him he would need to say sorry to Norbert for ruining the unripe fruit. 
  7. Things He Likes to Talk About: Benji is fascinated with policemen, firemen, and superheroes. He is also very interested in rocket boots and flying aircraft. He spends a lot of his day thinking about these important people and things.  
  8. Most Lovable Characteristics: Benjamin is game for any adventure. He is not a complainer when we go for long walks, eat strange foods, or travel without anything to entertain him to pass the time. He is protective of Alice, and stays by her side when she needs him. Of all of his physical features, I think his cute little round tush is my favorite-- perfect filler for his spiderman underoos. 
  9. Ways Drives Us Crazy: The endless questions can be tiring, because sometimes you just can't keep making up answers. We're also doing a lot of refereeing these days. Benjamin has been fighting more with Alice now that she asserts her opinion and can ruin his projects with one stomp of her chubby legs. Bedtime has also become a bigger challenge... he can find all kinds of reasons to emerge from his bedroom between 8:30 and 10:00 pm. Tonight it's the suffering caused by mosquito bites. 
  10. If I Could Predict the Future: I would guess that Benji will be a big guy with a tough exterior, but shy and sensitive in his core. While he might play rugby, I would not at all be surprised if he was also a bookworm and tapped into his creative energies in some way. Regardless of the fashion preferences of his generation, I am sure he will be wearing rocket boots.    
Benji met his favorite book character, Arthur, at the Honolulu Book and Music Festival on Sunday.  We have been reading the whole Arthur Adventure series from the big shelf at the Kailua library.

Making Clifford's ears in preparation for the big meeting...

He later asked Tag... "why did Clifford have a zipper on his back, and walk on only two hands?" Perceptive little guy.
We told him the pavement was hot, so he needed to protect his front paws... and sometimes its so warm in Hawaii he needs to shed his fur. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Unexpected milestones

One of many pretty blooms at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden.

Today was a momentous day of "firsts" that I am very proud to report to all of you.

It all began yesterday afternoon when Benji, Tag and I were laying in bed together. We happened to be talking about Benjamin's binky. Most of you know that he has been a staunch supporter of frequent pacifier use since the age of 3 weeks. Over the past year we've really cut down on his addiction, limiting binky use to sleeping times and moments of extreme distress (over-tired, bored-in-car, losing side of sibling rivalry, bad boo-boo, etc.). You can imagine that extreme distress can happen quite often if you let it.

Anyway, yesterday I casually introduced the idea that some day Benji could leave out his pacifiers at night and they would be picked up by a fairy who would deliver them to a new baby, and she would leave some special present behind in exchange for the binky bounty (this method of bribery and deception was lovingly stolen from other parents we know).  I never thought he'd bite on this, but he asked many follow-up questions to learn more. As Tag and I elaborated on the scenario we added some colorful details. It was not just any fairy... it would be Tinkerbell. And, yes, he could request a fire truck and a squirt gun as part of the loot. He was so excited that he immediately grabbed his Benjamin rainbow license plate from Hawaii and put it by the window so Tink could find our house. We're pretty sure Benj has a thing for Tinkerbell, by the way.

We waited until night time to see if he'd really go for this scheme. By 8:00 pm we were convinced that Benji meant business, and I quickly left the house for some special errands. Let me just say this... Long's was like a fairy jackpot and this morning was like a mini Christmas. Benji woke up before 6:00 and asked right away if Tinkerbell came. All of his binkies had vanished, but in their place he scored a water-shooting porpoise and seal, some lego sets with pieces that make what we're calling a fire truck, a Japanese snack called yan yan, and a Wall-E coloring book-- all packaged in a glittery Tinkerbell bag that was the coup de grace from the drug store.  The binky-free transition today has been a breeze. What have we learned? Deception is not always a bad thing, especially when parenting an addicted toddler with a fairy crush.

With all of this going on I know you are shocked to hear that today included another unexpected milestone. We went on a day trip to visit the 400+ acre Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, thinking that we'd take the walking tour to look at some tropical plants and visit their lake. The real goal was to scope the place for turtle habitat, because some of Tag's contacts suggested this location as a trapping site. It turns out that the walking tour was not a good fit for little children, but we learned of a substitute activity that would be an even better fit for our needs.  The Botanical Garden lets you do catch-and-release fishing at the lake, and supplies kids with bamboo rods and some bait (otherwise known as cheerios).  And, well... you guessed it... Benji caught his first fish (actually, his first three fish)! Tag also got permission to place traps around the edges of the lake, so the whole family scored some wins.
Benji's first fishing outing. There were about 25 fish bopping around within view, which helped minimize the waiting game.

The beast that fell for a cheerio on a hook.
We managed the bag of bait. I had to keep Alice from helping herself to stale cheerios. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Soul searching

Note: This news is about a half a day old, because Google's Blogger system was down for repairs last night. I wrote the post and then had no way to share it, which made me sad for all five of my regular readers who use this blog as a lifeline to the aloha spirit. In all seriousness, I'm very excited because my blog statistics inform me that I've actually had almost 1,000 pageviews. That makes me feel loved, and very interesting. So without further delay... onto my latest post:

Our whole house shuts down between 1:00 and 3:00 pm for napping and quiet time. There is really no way to avoid the restfulness because there is usually a sleeping person in every room (two bedrooms, plus a living room attached to the kitchen). I will really miss this post-lunch routine when we’re all back in the real world. On days when both kids fall asleep and stay that way, it is a great time to read, write and/or follow major league baseball games (if you’re so inclined).  It would also be a great time to do some soul searching, but let’s be honest… introspection takes way more energy than reading and I can’t say I’ve worked up to it yet. This post finds a whole other kinda soul… but more on that later.

After the family siesta we decided to head out to the walking path along the marsh that borders Kailua to scope out some turtle trapping sites. Tag has been spending his time here so far working on some writing, making a presentation at Hawaii Pacific University, catching up with grad students back in Chico, and meeting with local experts on Oahu. It was time to get outside and start envisioning where to initiate the field work. We imagined all kinds of turtle hiding spots while walking along, and determined that Tag will need to borrow Gregg’s kayak to set and revisit the traps each day. Gregg owns our house and has lots of good outdoor gear, too. We like this.

The adventure did not end with the marsh, because our next stop was the Thursday night Kailua Farmers’ Market. Bingo. There was so much culinary awesomeness in one location my Mazzei Food Radar (MFR) went into hyper-drive.  I quickly noted our coordinates, mentally calculated the remaining number of Thursdays in our trip, and gave myself a sense of bliss and serenity by knowing that I will have a chance to try all of the offerings over time as long as we come to the market each week. Due to the reliability of the MFR (tested and refined over generations), I promise you that we will. 

My first stop was the farm stand that had a line snaking through the stall to get to the two registers. No kidding. I love a produce destination that draws a crowd, and not one to be dissuaded by the hubbub I grabbed a basket and joined the queue. Twenty-five dollars later I had scored cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes, corn, papayas, Thai basil, Chinese parsley (cilantro), spinach, romaine, kale and zucchini.  This is a total bargain in Hawaii, and that was just the beginning.

Our next priority was dinner. We whetted our appetites with sushi sliders—ahi tuna served on top of eggplant and kale tempura. For the main course Tag opted for the surprisingly authentic burrito stand (of course). After walking by all of the vendors a couple of times, I just had to go for the Soul food. Crazy choice in Hawaii, I know, but the panko-crusted fried chicken had my name on it. Add the cornbread, black-eyed peas and cilantro-laced coleslaw and I was sold. Full-on yumminess. I made Tag promise he will eat there next week, because I need someone else to share in the taste bud joy. Meanwhile, I’ll be hitting the Raw Food bar for some funky, soul-less vegan creation that is the yin to the yang of the dinner I ate this week.    

Playing is so exhausting. 

This is where Alice wanted to finish her nap. Now that you've seen the couch, you've also seen about 40% of our living room. Cozy living in Kailua!

Scoping out the marsh for trapping sights. We want us some ugly turtles! 

Another rock caught mid-flight.
This means one of two things: I am an adept photographer, OR my kids throw a lot of rocks. Hmm. 

Daddy's girl hitching a ride.

Sushi sliders at the farmers' market. Alice asks with irritation, "Why the wait?"

Tropical flowers. Love the colors!

I am dainty while eating loaded nachos. See? 

One final note: There is no reason for me to ever know if 1,000 pageviews is really pathetic, because I know nothing about blog stats and it is better that way. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hits and Misses

HIT: Our trip to the Honolulu Zoo yesterday. There were not any crowds and the weather was perfect for visiting-- overcast without any rain, so we never got hot while walking around.  We bought a family membership so we can go back regularly. It's only 20 minutes away and in addition to the animals, the playground there is lovely. We had the pleasure of witnessing the gibbons making their calls while doing some crazy acrobatics. The sounds were out of this world-- rich, deep tones and beats that echoed like music across the park. All four of us were mesmerized, while the rest of the visitors migrated in our direction to see what could possibly be making those wild noises.

MISS: Backing into the palm tree in our driveway and breaking Missy Kia's tail light. Flush. That was the sound of $100 dollars going down the toilet known as the "random and inexplicably expensive auto parts" supplier on the internet.

HIT: Joining the local YMCA to get fit and sing like the Village People on a regular basis. We signed up so the kids could resume swimming lessons and I can take advantage of workouts with free day care. Benji and Alice are totally jazzed about their play room and the prospect of playmates, and I'm excited to try some new exercise options. I showed up for my first yoga class a couple of days ago, and after laying out my mat discovered it was "power yoga"... for 90 minutes. Yikes. Needless to say, I am sore in the oddest places right now. I followed that up with my first Zumba class this morning. I was shaking it on Mama's Day, let me tell you.

MISS: Keiki Hula. Our other adventure at the family gym was not so positive. We tried to bring the kids to "Keiki Hula," which we pictured to be a toddler-filled room full of cute music, hip and arm motions, and parental amusement. Not so. When the teacher arrived she brusquely ordered Benjamin "off the floor! off the floor!" because he was not five years old and not a girl. We knew he was younger than the rest and not wearing the same hula practice skirt, but naively thought this would not be an issue. Tag took to calling the teacher "Aunty on a Mission," because we soon observed that she is a one woman hula commando striving to save the vanishing island arts with a handful of young girls in the Kailua YMCA.

HIT: Mother's Day dinner at Zippy's, a small chain of Hawaiian diners. This place has always intrigued us because it was listed on the "Z" page of Benjamin's Hawaiian alphabet book that we bought on his first trip to Kauai at 9 months. Tag ate their signature loco moco dish with chili, in addition to the standard rice, burger patty and fried eggs. We took a picture, but I'll spare you because frankly it was not a photogenic meal. Alice and Benji were thrilled with the packs of crayons and draw-on placemat, chocolate milk with straws, noodles for dinner, and the jello/pudding desserts that came with the meal. What is not to like about that nutritious and delicious experience?  

Can we join you? Our parents are driving us crazy with their rules. 

Turtle: Hi, my name is Rusty.
Benjamin: I'm Benji, and this is baby Alice.
Turtle: I like being quiet, calm and peaceful.
Benjamin: We don't.

Imitating the monkeys.

Good place to play! I love the benches in the shade of the tropical trees.

Showing some love in our yard.

Another day, another palm frond. And... our cottage in the background. 

Living the life at Zippy's.

PS-- Childrens' wardrobe kindly provided by Alex Marshall Studios.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The haps from Hulaland

The crater where Maui came from. 

A shop in Paia, Maui. We bought two shirts.  

So much has happened since my last post it is hard to know where to start. Thus, I'll begin at the top of Maui and work my way down, then hop across the ocean to a new island, take a quick stop through another ER, and then land us safely in our new home on Oahu. Buckle up.

For starters, our last string of days on Maui were pure fun. We spent time at the beach, swapped babysitting with the Kahns so Tag and I could have a night out, celebrated Davis' fourth birthday, and spent a whole day exploring the volcano that birthed east Maui. The national park reaches above 10,000 feet in elevation, and offers sweeping views of all sides of the island. To say it is spectacular is a major understatement.

Benjamin and Davis became "citizen scientists" by visiting some ranger stations and doing specific activities, scoring very important looking badges to wear on their shirts. Always imaginative, Benji let this achievement go to his head just a little bit. He walked around the lookout station covering the button, telling me and Tag that he didn't want to scare the other visitors... "they might think I am going to call in the police and firemen." Because somehow he now has a direct line.

Does this pic look cloudy to you? It should! We were driving through the cloud layer and stopped so the kids could reach out and touch the sky for a while. 

Junior scientists learning about the climate. 

For my botanist fans (read: Nicole): a rare silversword at the top of the volcano

Must test wind speed to get badge. Check. 

Ready for hiking the peak of Haleakala. 

My recollection of Alice's endless commentary while hiking this whole trail "by self."  It went like this: Big rock, Daddy. Don't trip, Daddy. Climbing by self. (deep breath) Big rock, Daddy. Ooooh (looking at view). Don't trip, Daddy. 


Two blogging mamas, hanging out in heaven.

Family photo.

No wonder it was hard to breath.

Don't mess with the Badge. 
It was tough to leave Maui for many reasons. We had such a lovely time hanging out with Karin, Peter, Davis and Carter. The island is a delight and we didn't even get a chance to see the west side of it, so there are plenty of reasons to find our way back in the future. Plus, it was nearly impossible to once again make all of our belongings fit within three suitcases and five carry-ons, and to actually move around with that load plus our two car seats and a stroller. Yikes. I wore pants, two tee shirts and my fleece to the airport to save space, and that's just not right.

Our airport trip was also made more challenging by sweet baby Alice, who managed to twist her arm an hour before we drove to the terminal. She was crying a lot, and unwilling to move her arm from a single position. This was caused by one of her "going limp while holding a parent's hand" incidents. These incidents usually occur when Alice does not agree with said parent, and decides to demonstrate her feelings by flopping her whole body on the floor. Quite effective, unless you blow out your own arm. We decided to give her tylenol and soldier on through the 30-minute flight.

Upon our arrival at our new place on Oahu, we split parenting duties. I took Benji for pizza at the place around the corner from our house, and Tag took Alice to the local ER because she continued to fuss and point at her elbow. It turns out Alice had dislocated her radius (a problem called nursemaid's elbow). The doctor fixed it with a big tug and a twist, and Alice immediately returned to her happy self. Meanwhile, Benj and I added Bob's Pizzeria to our "things that are yummy" list.

Today was all about settling in. We live in a small, skinny house that makes us feel like we're on a train (each room is adjacent to the next, and connected by unique passageways). One whole side of the house is sliding glass doors, opening to our private yard. We share the larger property with the owners, who have two little girls and many pets including a rabbit in the yard. They are already turning out to be great neighbors (the people, and their bunny, too).

After going to the post office, the Salvation Army thrift store, Walmart, and Costco, we were wiped out. It was a long day of buying useful things. We missed the kids' naps and were all overtired at the start of the day, so we were just holding it together by the end. After dinner we finally decided to walk across the street to the Kailua beach park to see where we live. Forget about bulk laundry detergent and think about your local amenities for a few minutes. It was the perfect antidote. We watched more than a dozen kite surfers doing their dance between water and sky. They were catching 20 - 30 feet of air and making it look easy. We came home feeling refreshed, and then the kids fell fast asleep after their bedtime stories.

When Alice arrived and saw the kites she pointed and said "moon," and then saw more and more "moons" and was so mesmerized she became silent for  the next ten minutes. 

Watching in amazement.
We're going to like it here. I can tell already.