Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nic's Visit to the Sandwich Isles

So my lil' bro Nic came out to visit us- well, actually he was going to try and find a job and a place and move here for a few months before school started in January- but unfortunately had to go home after three weeks of unsuccessful searching.

In any case, we tried to make his time here enjoyable and even extracted some babysitting from him while he was here- thanks Nic.

First beach we hit up was Hickam AF Base beach-- simply because it's easy to get to and easy to take the kids to.

Roman and his manly buzz cut.

Watching airplanes take off. Another perk of the beach- we're RIGHT next to the runway and the kids LOVE that.

Next big thing- the KBay Air Show. Tons of people, tons of cool airplanes, both parked and flying around and plenty of vendors selling yummy food. We met my friend Heather there and we all walked around, checking stuff out. I'll do another post for that with a few more pics.

Nic caught this shot-- I can't take credit. Super cool, eh? Actually, while we're on the subject I think he took a lot of these pics, but they were all combined with mine.


We spent a day up on the North Shore, and of course hit up Matsumoto's Grocery for some shave ice. You can't come to Hawai'i and not.

Roman was good at sharing.

Next stop, Laniakae Beach, home of the international honu (Hawaiian for turtle) preserve or something like that. About 26-28 sea turtles live in this little bay and periodically come up on the beach to warm up and dry out, staying anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days.

You can also snorkel in the water and while you can't touch the turtles on the beach, if they come up to you in the water, you don't have to retreat-- go ahead and make a new friend! Btw, I love how in this picture it becomes impossible to tell the difference between the ocean and the sky...

The girls were all up and down the beach checking things out, looking for hermit crabs and climbing on the rocks. They loved it.

Roman pretty much stuck to playing in the sand-- as usual.

Also checked out the temple in La'ie. Gorgeous, of course, and this is the view going down the steps.

And since Nic's visit overlapped a bit with Sean's, some cool pics and fun things were in that post.
It was a bummer to see him go. It would have been awesome if he'd been able to find a job here, I felt like I didn't show him enough of Hawai'i while he was here because I thought he'd have more time to explore it himself! Oh well. You'll be out here again if I know you like I think I do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Thousand Words

A typical photo series at our house.

Any questions?

I Don't Know Either

Aug 2nd: Avril's First Day of School

I've been trying to organize my photos and ran across these and realized I never posted Avril's first day of school!

Sorry hon!

I suppose it's appropriate in some ways that I'm writing this blog today, my first ever Parent-Teacher Conference for the first quarter.

Anyway, it's a little atypical because Avril's first day of school was not her first day of kindergarten. Allow me to introduce you to my first grader!

Since Avril's birthday is the beginning of August, I had opted to start her in kindergarten this year so she would be the oldest in her class instead of the youngest. But then we moved to Hawai'i where the cutoff is December. So when I attempted to enroll her in kindergarten, the vice principal informed me she would be in 1st grade. Naturally I was concerned since that's a whole year of school she just missed. On the other hand, she's had two years of preschool. And she's really smart. And she will fit in better with her peers since first grade will include kids up to 4 months younger than her, while in kindergarten she would be four months older than the oldest kid in there. In addition, the vp's questions about Avril's academic prowess (can she write her name? count to 20? print her alphabet?) reassured me that if that's all they covered in kindergarten she would be just fine in first grade.

Anyway, we decided that since Hawai'i schools are reputed to be behind mainland schools, we might as well go with it and put her in first grade and see how she did.

Doesn't she look excited? This is the mural by the cafetorium (yes, I finally figured it out: cafeteria+auditorium=cafetorium). Isn't it adorable?

She was really nervous for school. So of course I did the natural thing and took her shopping for cute new clothes, the classic Brand New Outfit for her First Day of School.

It actually really helped.

Sitting at her new desk with her fresh school supplies and soon-to-be friends.

Xandri and Roman were very interested and jealous of all the cool new things their big sister get to check out and play with and learn.

And how did Avril's mom do?

You know, I never thought I'd be a mom who'd cry on the first day of school.

And then I started thinking I might be a mom who cried on the first day of school.

Those of you who know me... what do you think?

Meanwhile, Avril's report card has gone from not reading at all (K.0 level reading) to passing kindergarten (K.3 level reading) since the first of the year. That's some serious progress. I've been blown away by how quickly she's picked everything up. The other kids had learned a LOT more in kindergarten than the vp had led me to believe. She tutors every Tues and Thurs after school to work on reading and writing. She's proficient if not excelling in math, proficient and progressing well in science and proficient in social studies. Her PE teacher loves her. She gets along well with all the students, performs well in class and communicates well. I get comments from perfect strangers when I go to her school about what a great kid she is, how obedient and well-behaved she is. I'm so proud of her and how much she's progressed in so many ways. She loves school, her teacher and her friends and answers my daily question in the same way every time,

"How was school today, Avril?"

*blissful sigh* "Perfect!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Sean-Filled Weekend: The Rest of the Time

Ok, so I'm cheating a little and putting pics of my kiddos in this post. Because even though the weekend was Sean-filled, they didn't stop being cute.

Xandri- post beach. She was cold and kinda tired and so naturally....

Waimea Beach was naturally the next necessary beach to hit.

Roman got right to work in the sand.

There were waves to play in and a rock to jump off of. I confess I was really worried about the girls playing in the water this time. It was quite placid for Waimea and this time of year, but the shorebreak was still pretty decent, and they weren't used to the waves breaking so close and so powerfully. So, naturally they ran out to the water with gleeful, reckless abandon.

This pic makes me giggle ever time I see it...

I love these shots for three reasons:

1) I told you so. I knew those waves would be crazy. But just wait, we got an even better shot later.

2) They're just plain cool-looking. I believe Derek snagged both of them--- what great timing!

3) My children are still alive.

Ok, so now to the Sean part of the post. Because even though the waves were big for the munchkins, they weren't having quite the same effect on the slightly larger Sean. He and Derek naturally adapted to this, however, and created a very characteristic game of hurling themselves over the waves and into the ocean as hard as they could. At least I think that was the gist of it. I'm not entirely sure. But they were both shrieking (well, Derek was shrieking and Sean was laughing at the shrieking. You know.) and filling their heads with sand and salt water. Nic joined in on the fun for a bit as well.

Anyway, after we were all funned out, we decided to cap off the Waimea fun with some rock jumping. Sean and Derek led the way, as usual...

peer-pressured Nic into leaping as well,

and I of course couldn't resist and jumped twice myself as well.

Now this is where it gets "funner". I was swimming back in after jump #2 when the girls saw me and got excited to come greet me. They didn't realize that right here and right now the waves that were coming were even bigger and crazier. So Avril swims out to me and manages to get to me fairly unscathed. Then I notice all the sand in her hair so I drag her, somewhat unwillingly, back out to rinse her hair. Well, unfortunately for all of us, Xandri, being the little opportunistic monkey that she is, decided to follow us out.

She didn't quite make it past the shore break before the next wave was breaking and as I went to "save" her and Avril, we were all knocked down by the wave, the water churning all around us, turning up the sand and girls all over the place...

As the water began to recede, I desperately tried to get my footing and grab onto both girls before it pulled them back in as well.


No, I barely made it out with Xandri and in the Ocean vs. Mom: Tug O' War Over Avril, I lost. But I snagged her back once Xandri was in Derek's arms and helped her up the beach. And then guess what.

I took her back out to rinse her hair out again.

Yeah, I'm that mean. Even Avril couldn't believe I was that mean.

To make up for it, though, and also because Sean wanted to go (hmmm... when I say it like that it sounds like Sean was the only one who did. But believe you me, we ALL wanted to go) to Ted's Bakery for some dinner and pie. (And when I write "pie" like that... you don't grasp the deep longing and desire in my voice that you would should you hear me utter the word.) Chocolate haupia, peach bavarian cream, pumpkin haupia....... excuse me for a minute.....

(elevator music playing)

Ok, now where was I?

Oh, yes, after Ted's Bakery, Sean introduced us to a secret little cove that not many people know about.

To get to it, we had to walk through the faery grove...

And here it is! Thank you, Sean, for introducing us to this gem. We'll be making this a regular haunt I think.

Gorgeous, serene and empty. Absolutely perfect. If Sean hadn't needed to get back to the airport I think we would have lingered and maybe played in the water.

Back through the faery grove....

And off to the airport. It was great to have you, Sean. Come back out and see us again soon... there's far too much of Hawai'i to revisit and enjoy in just three measly days!

A Sean-Filled Weekend: Stairway to Heaven (Haiku Stairs)

So of course the first item of business on Sean's visit here was college game day. That doesn't get any pictures. I'll sum it up by saying it consisted largely of a lot of screaming, high five-ing and fist bumping.

After they milked that for what it was worth, they spent the evening visiting Sean's old haunts- Pounders Beach, La'ie Point, Pizza Bob's in Hale'iwa. They brought me home some mouth-watering white chicken artichoke pizza as well.

Bright and early next morning at 5:30am, before the guard got there, we set out for Stairway to Heaven. We quietly snuck into where we thought the trail head would be and walked up a drive.

Enjoyed the sunrise from the drive... while it wasn't the same as it might have been had we been on the stairway, just look at that golden sunlight...

On our way up, a group of rather disgruntled looking hikers were heading out. Thinking that it was strange that they were leaving and even stranger that they didn't say anything to us (you know, like "The guard's there, he won't let you pass."), we went on our way. Noticing lights on a running car up ahead, we did the only thing that made sense-- we dove into the ditch and hid in the bushes.

After waiting a moment, the truck slowly drove our way, and as we held our collective breath, passed us by. Relieved, we quietly climbed out of our hiding place and continued up the drive.

The road forked up where the truck had been parked and the fenced off fork had a path leading off right before the fence. We decided it looked unlikely and took the other fork. Unfortunately, it led us further away from the stairway till it dead-ended at some strange-looking compound. Discouraged, we turned back the way we had come. We noticed a few trails branching off, but decided they probably wouldn't lead us to the stairway.

We went back to the fork and decided to try the "unlikely" trail.


Well, of a sort. Yes, it led to the trailhead. Yes, there was a huge fence with barbed-wire running across the top. And yes, the guard was there and heard our not-so-silent approach.

So when he came to investigate our noisiness, Derek tried the "hey, we're lost can we hop the fence and you can show us how to get out?" routine. Yeah, that didn't work. He told us to turn around and go back the way we came.

Now, we could have done that. But since Derek was annoyed at being thwarted, what did he decide was the next best thing? Of course, why not go ahead and irritate the guard further? Provoke him until he threatens to call the cops if you try to get in again?

Naturally, Sean found that irritating (as did I, but I go with the flow a little more) and they bickered like an old married couple as we turned back.

We tried another trail, and another, each leading us to a bamboo hell, full of dead, cracking bamboo. When Derek would lose interest and be ready to quit, Sean was there spear-heading the next try. And when Sean got discouraged, Derek was ready to push again. On our third or fourth try, after crossing paths with some other eager hikers, we opted to try one last trail. Oddly enough, it actually worked. We found the fence. It was near the guard, but not so near as to be noticed. And it had been bent up so one could Down Dog into Up Dog under it. It couldn't have been more perfect.

Well, maybe if it had a little less sh** rubbed all over it.

Yes, someone or something had decided to climb up and take a dump on a clamp on the fence. Maybe they weren't that ambitious. Maybe they just picked up the feces and rubbed it all over. In any case, we all squeezed under the sh** fence as delicately as possible. We were committed.

For the next 45 minutes or so, we hiked, climbed, and clung to young trees as we scrambled over the next ridge or two in search of this so-called "stairway". At long last and after a few close calls, the stairway finally came into view.

We climbed over to it and amazingly enough, there was a little ladder up to it. We didn't actually use it, just the "trail" that led up to it. Someone insisted it was a trail we'd been following that whole time. I still think it was rain run off.

Finally, though, after many, many set backs and adventures, we were on the actual stairway. We actually could look down and see the guard pacing angrily at the trail head. Fortunately there were plenty of hikers on their way down the stairway to slow down the guard should he want to think about pursuing us. I quickly put out of my head the nervous thoughts of what would happen when we got back down after the hike and tried to remind myself that Derek was the only one the guard had seen and all us haoles probably look the same anyway.

So onward and upward.

Time for a water break. Sean and Sheen looking oh-so-casually out at the view.

This is the view from the first landing. I don't think I mentioned there are 3,922 stairs on this hike. Yeah.

So casual. This one goes out to Devin.

After the next landing, we came to this bunker. In it was a giant winch used years ago to haul a cable car up and down the mountain. Of course the graffiti made it a fantastic photo opp, so we snapped a few.

Contemplating the hike.

Derek breakin it down on the winch.

Any guesses on what this room was for?

And finally... shortly after the bunker, we made it to the top of the harrowing ridge hike. I kid you not, people, I am so grateful for those rails because I believe my death (or mere maiming) would have been long and painful otherwise.

H-3 from the back of the building

The View From the Top

Amazing. Gorgeous hike, though slightly terrifying at times. The trip down naturally went a lot faster. And the bottom?

Sean went down a little bit ahead of the rest of us. Feigning great fatigue and thirst, he begged some water of the guard. Naturally concerned, the guard quickly and eagerly obliged. Derek had switched shirts (Jason had an extra) and was a little less recognizable in a subtle white marathoner shirt instead of a bright orange Donkey Kong tee. We all trailed back in and picked up on Sean's story of getting the wrong GPS coordinates and getting lost and miraculously finding the stairway anyway. And yeah, there were still a few people behind us. And great, thanks for showing us the way back out!

Beautifully played Sean.

I would have been fine turning around and heading home or going to the beach or trying another hike. But I'm so glad those two nerds are so persistent that they found the trail and we did the stairway. Good times.