Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hold Baggage

Our hold baggage arrived today! (I would have pictures, but the batteries are dead in the camera.)

Hold baggage is all the stuff we sent ahead so that it would be here when we arrived. We sent ahead all our summer clothes, swimsuits, beach toys, pillows, blankets, cooking items, Christmas gifts, etc. In short, everything we would need when we arrived in Hawaii. It all left Kansas early enough to be delivered to us within days of our arrival.

Once we got here, they told us we couldn't have it.

They won't deliver that much stuff to the hotel. It's a fire hazard. Um.....so why did they tell us to send this stuff ahead?

Anyway, it's here now. We had a little mini-Christmas handing out the Christmas gifts we had sent ahead. Poor Emily had outgrown many of the clothes I had bought her. I didn't know she was about to shoot up two full inches when I bought all this stuff.

One of the things we sent ahead in our hold baggage was a bicycle. With only one vehicle, we thought the bicycle would be useful for Kerry to ride to work so I could have the car.

We were unaware that there would be a daily monsoon and riding a bike would be completely out of the question.

The last time I saw the bike was in Kansas. I wheeled it out to the men who were loading our hold baggage on to a truck and said, "This is the last thing to go!"

The first time I saw the bike today was when one of the movers sliced open a card board box, removed the two wheels, marched them into my living room and said, "Where do you want these?"

"Right back outside where you're going to put it together," I replied with a smile.

"I don't know how to put a bike together. I'm just a mover," he told me.

"Well, it was all in one piece when I turned it over to the movers in Kansas and one of the movers took it apart," I told him.

"Oh, I can take things apart," he told me. "That's easy. But I don't know how to put a bike together."

"Well, it's got to be put back together before you leave, and it won't be done by me," I replied laughing. (Note: always smile and laugh with your movers for as long as possible. Save the complete witchiness for when all else has failed. Being friendly works wonders.)

One of the other movers finally put the bike together.

Mission accomplished. No shots fired.

Those who do not move on a regular basis do not understand the thrill of getting your stuff back. Even the smallest things, like your favorite pillow, are a joy to behold when you have been sleeping on a hard hotel pillow for a month and then sleeping on a rolled up winter coat (with water proof nylon shell) for several days.

I almost cried when I pulled my pillow out of a box today. "Rosebud," I nearly sobbed, "Rosebud!"

Tonight I shall sleep on my own pillow, under my own comforter, on a mattress covered in plastic.

So close to perfect......................

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sleeping on Plastic


Sleeping on plastic covered mattresses is not very restful.

CRACKLE! CRUNCH! CRACKLE! CRUNCH!

Every time you roll over, or even shift your position.........

CRACKLE! CRUNCH! CRACKLE! CRUNCH!

Kerry said he kept dreaming that a giant moose was eating dry grass next to him.




The plastic actually did not bother me.

The air conditioner kept me up all night though.

It has been years since we've had a window unit A/C. The last time we had a window unit, I was pregnant with Emily. It was summer, and I could not get the bedroom cold enough at night. I remember shutting the bedroom door so none of the cool air would escape and turning the A/C on as high as it would go at as low a temperature as it could, and I still couldn't get cool. Kerry actually put an extra blanket on himself. And when that man needs even one blanket, much less two, you know it had to have been cold in that room. But I was roasting.

Luckily, pregnancy is not a concern these days. This A/C is keeping me cool enough. But it has an "energy saver" setting which makes it blow cool air for about five minutes, and then shut itself off for about five minutes. It roars to life every five minutes, snapping me awake, making me think there is a truck in the room. Then about the time I've adjusted to the noise level, it snaps off, leaving an equally deafening silence.


It's going to take me a while to adjust to this.


Any time I think about air conditioning, I remember my mother talking about the first time she ever felt "conditioned air". I can't imagine growing up without having A/C, but of course that was a time when no one had ever heard of it. She said there was a store in town that got an air conditioner and she and her friends liked to go shop in there just so they could feel the cool air. When they came out they talked about how weird and unnatural it felt.


I say, "Bring on the weird!"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Aloha House!

We moved into our new house today!

This is my new kitchen!

This is the long skinny room next to the kitchen that is too small for a table.
And the counter area is too low for stools.

The floorplan says it's a "pantry". Hmmmm. I don't know about that.

Don't pantries have shelves?

These are the built in shelves in my dining room and the fireplace in the living room.

They have....painted it....red....for some reason.



This is our "covered patio" (that's what it says on the floorplan).

Well....it covers the A/C unit.

A partial shipment of goods also arrived today. We had some stuff in temporary storage for the last year and we requested specific items out of there be sent to us. They sent my china hutch.........but not the shelves or anything that goes in the china hutch.

They were supposed to ship the trampoline, but didn't. They were not supposed to ship the bowflex, the futon, or the lawnmower, but did.

It is all sitting in my house now.



They sent the frame of our outdoor table, but not the top of it. There is no place to set your plate or glass.


Here's a tip: follow the delivery men around.
When you tell them, "Put the futon in the narrow room next to the kitchen",
this can be heard as, "Put the futon in the middle bedroom on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen."



Piglet arrived safe and sound much to Katie's delight.

This is "Aloha furniture". Basically it is loaner furniture that they put in your house until your real furniture arrives. It's all very industrial and plastic coated.

Watch the furniture delivery men. They will wait until your back is turned, and then they will ask your spouse to sign the paper work because they know that he will not notice that they did not deliver a washer and dryer and then they will skeedaddle away quickly.


They do not answer the phone once they have left.

This is our temporary dining room furniture with plastic covered chairs.

They must have heard about Katie's eating habits.


This is mine and Kerry's room with our Aloha furniture.
They do not let you remove the plastic.
I think we need to go buy sheets.


This is Ben's shower which, hilariously, does not have a door or even a shower curtain rod.

Even more hilariously, there is no door between the shower and the laundry room,

so anyone who walks in there had better not be shy.

On either side of Ben's shower are Ben's two rooms. Ben gets two bedrooms, because they are so tiny. They used to be "maid quarters".
Apparently, maids didn't need space. Or closets.

His aloha furniture fits in one room, but his real furniture will not. We will have to put his bed in one room and his dresser in the other.
I don't know where we will put the dogs.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

THE BLACKOUT

So----we were sitting in our hotel room on Friday evening when suddenly the power went out.

Now normally in our home, I have one certain spot where all the flashlights live. When the power goes out, I know where I can find a flashlight. I also keep candles in most of the rooms, and I keep matches in certain easily accessible spots all around the house.

But not in a hotel room.

I must confess, it never crossed my mind to pack flashlights or candles in our suitcases.

So there we were: Katie and Emily had been watching the movie "Tinkerbell"; Ben and Kerry were playing a game on the computer; I was reading a book. All activities unsuited to complete darkness and no electricity.

We thought it might be just our hotel (we had no TV or radio to check the news) so we decided to run to the PX and buy flashlights. On the way to the PX however, we noticed there was no light in any building we passed and all the street lights and stoplights were also off. It was cloudy, so there was no moon or stars either.

It was seriously dark, I'm telling you.

Realizing that, clearly, the entire post was powerless, we decided to run into town to purchase a light source.

On the way to the nearest Wal-mart, we finally found a radio station that was broadcasting news instead of music. Turns out, the blackout included the entire island, not just us.

People were calling the radio station in a steady stream asking what was going on. The announcer was telling all of them (and us), "There was an electrical storm that has knocked out the power, we are hoping to have more news soon." Then he would hang up and move on to the next person.

Some people were calling in to report that the city they were in had no power. Some people were up high in mountainous areas and had good views of several cities. They would report that there were no lights in any of the cities they could see. Someone called in to remind people that while the stop lights weren't working all intersections should be treated as 4-way stops. Most people we saw were already doing that, but some were behaving like idiots and just driving right through. Then a man called in from the 911 center to tell people to stop calling the 911 center unless they had an actual emergency. He said so many people were calling to say their power was out that they people who were in car wrecks weren't able to get through.

Of course some of the biggest news was that the Obamas are vacationing on the island right now. One man actually had the gall to call in to the radio station and say that this was embarrassing and made Hawaii look bad, to have the power go out while the president elect was on the island. I'm pleased to say the radio announcer hung up on him.

We finally made it back to the hotel room and existed on the light from our cell phones, the ipod, and the camera.

We ate some snacks............

........while we watched Ben dance.

Then he and Katie had a dance-off.

video

The camera flash makes it look like we had a lot of light, but this is what it really looked like when Katie was dancing with the light up Christmas necklace on.

Emily doesn't do dance offs.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Morning

Before the kids woke up.

After the kids woke up.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O Christmas Tree


We have a house! The housing office called us yesterday, and we went by to see our new house. They told us we could move in immediately! Wasn't that nice of them? They were making sure that we were in a real house by Christmas!

A house with no furniture!

No beds!

No phone, Internet, or cable hooked up yet!

Aren't they thoughtful!!!!

We declined their generous offer and told them we will move in Monday. In the mean time, we will be spending Christmas in our hotel.

With cable, Internet, phones, and maid service.

So, we decided to gussy up our little home with a small tree.

Charlie Brown springs to mind.


We got some cute miniature ornaments at the store.

And had ourselves a tree decorating party.

"I never did think it was such a bad little tree," said Linus.

*********************************************************

Oh.....and we spent Christmas Eve at the beach. :-)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hawaii's State Fish

This is the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. That is Hawaiian for "triggerfish with a pig-like short snout". It has small blue teeth, two spines, and makes grunting noises.

I'm not making this up.

The humuhumunukunukuapua'a's life has been filled with intrigue. It was named the state fish in 1984 but only for five years. There was some question about the polling and voting methods (sound familiar, Minnesota?) Perhaps the humu had friends on the inside who were determining voter intent as opposed to actual voter ballot.

Most people did not realize the crown was to be worn for only five years. When the reign was over everyone continued to put the humu on tee-shirts and tourist trinkets mainly for the fun of listening to people try to pronounce it.

BUT.....in 2006 it came to light that the humu was no longer the official state fish. There were those who lobbied for the Oopu to be handed the throne and scepter because it is found only in Hawaii and actually tastes good, unlike the unpalatable humu.

However, the humu's unpleasant taste actually worked in its favor. You can't have people eating the state fish. It's unpatriotic.

So the humuhumunukunukuapua'a was re-named the official state fish permanantly.

The humuhumu knows none of this and does not care.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Caroling in Hawaii

We went Christmas caroling tonight with a local church that we have found. We've been to this church two times now, and this morning they announced that they would be caroling tonight so we decided to join them. I don't know that I've ever been caroling before.

Quite possibly I did, but I don't remember it. I am not a singer and always considered it a form of torture so I may have blocked out the memories.

We sang lots of traditional carols, but we also sang "Mele Kalikimaka" (which is "Merry Christmas" in Hawaiian). It's probably a tradition to sing it here, but it was the first time I had heard it. It was my favorite song of the night!

We had to use flashlights to see the words. Because it was so dark, there were a couple of unfortunate mishaps. One woman fell and skinned her knee pretty badly. And as we were walking into the parking lot of another building, none of us realized there was a giant mechanical arm which blocks cars without a pass from coming through. Apparently a car had recently come through and the arm stayed up long enough for many of us to walk past without noticing it. Then it came down with a mighty "thwack" on the head of one gentleman in our group. He got quite a nasty cut from it.

Katie, always the shy retiring type, got hold of some bells and added some jingle to the procedings.

Afterwards, we went back to the church for dessert and a "Hawaiian snowball fight".


Since the kids of Hawaii don't have snow to throw at each other, the church lets them ball up paper and pelt each other with it every year at Christmas. You've never heard such screaming. My kids enjoyed it immensely. They all made friends tonight and it looks like we've found ourselves a church home!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hidden Dangers of Hawaii

There are many things to be wary of in Hawaii. We've been warned. All is not paradise.

Don't dress like you have money. Don't turn your back on your drink. You could be drugged and mugged.

Be mindful of the ocean. Even the most tranquil waters can have an undertow that can whisk you out to sea.

Keep vinegar with you when you go to the beach to treat jellyfish stings. Jellyfish are most prevalent for the first ten days after a full moon.

Stay out of murky water. Sharks love murky water because they are basically cowards who like to sneak up on their prey.

But the most hideous, the most loathsome Hawaiian menace - no one even warned us about.........



.................Hawaiian shaved ice.

This horrible menace masquerades as an innocent child's treat.

It's under the guise of a friendly little snow cone that it catches your child's eye.

But this green monster is not your friend.

The fact that it is the size of your child's head should be your first cause for alarm.

But here is the most important thing, the warning that no one gave to me.......


Do NOT wear white.

USS Bowfin

Yesterday, we went to visit the USS Bowfin, a Naval submarine which is now a historic landmark located next to the USS Arizona.


The Bowfin went on nine patrols during WWII and is credited with threading her way through enemy mine fields in Tsushima Straight and using her torpedos to sink the 1,898-ton transport Shinyo Maru and the 887-ton freighter Akiura Maru.

Yes, I said mine fields. When you are inside the Bowfin realizing that 80 men had to live and work together inside there, it seems very small. But when you are looking at the outside of it, realizing that someone was trying to guide it through floating mines, it seems impossibly huge!

These pseudo rockets are there to greet you as you arrive. I'm not really sure what they are for. I could make a joke about the Navy painting it's name on something that screams "Size Matters!" But that would be inappropriate, I'm sure.


Kerry read this. I took a picture of it and will read it later, probably.

A park ranger swiped my camera from us and ordered us to go stand where she could take a group shot.

I liked her.


Close up!

Those little things hanging around everyone's necks are for the audio tour. As you walk through the submarine you see signs with a red number or a blue number on them. If you are an adult, you type in the red number on your personal audio device and listen to a recording about what the area was used for. If you are a kid you type in the blue number and apparently listen to the same thing in a more kid friendly version. I'm not sure what theirs was like as they all passionately declined to use it despite repeated assurances on mine and Kerry's part that it was really interesting. Through many years of homeschooling, the kids have learned to be wary of anything that's supposed to be fun but sounds suspiciously like they might learn something.



The first thing we had to do was walk down this very narrow ledge to get to the other end of the sub. This made me nervous. I wasn't afraid that I would fall in.
Oh no.
I was worried about Katie. She has yet to master the art of walking in a straight line. She has a habit of dancing her way through life, flinging arms and legs out in various, unexpected directions as she goes.

While this often causes her to trip and fall (although not usually down the side of a submarine into the ocean) it often causes those around her to suddenly trip and fall also and has led to many a heated battle in our family about who has to walk in front of whom.

Katie and Emily enjoyed sitting in the gunner's seats and looking through the binocular thingies.


Ben really got into manning the guns. That kid leads a rich fantasy life.


I don't know where he gets it.

Seriously.

I'm not sure why I took this picture.

Kerry's a good father. He holds Katie up so she can see through the thingy. Notice he has on his head phones. He is learning something. That was his own choice. I did not make him.

At some point Kerry was leaning over the side of the sub and saying, "Look! Look!" There was a fish nibbling gunk off the side of the sub. "Take a picture! Take a picture!" he and the kids yelled at me.
"I don't know, I don't think that's really going to show up," I said dubiously.

"Take a picture!" they commanded.
So I took the picture.

The doors in the sub are really tiny. I had to duck my head low and step up high to get through them. I can't imagine how grown men did it quickly without giving themselves concussions on a regular basis.


On the right is the bathroom, on the left is the shower. I wondered, on a ship full of men, if they even bothered to shut the door. The space was so tiny, it seemed like it would be difficult to be in there with the door shut. You know how men are. Surely they didn't care.


This is in the crew's quarters. It's one big room with triple bunk beds all over it. When one sailor got off duty, he went and woke up his replacement. The replacement climbed out of bed and the sailor climbed into it. That way they didn't need a bed for every person on the sub.

This is the junior officer's quarters which is supposed to be better than the bunk room because it has a desk and a sink. It still has the three bunk beds, but clearly not enough space for three people to stand up in there at the same time. I think I would have ditched that desk somewhere.

USS Arizona

Today we went to the USS Arizona Memorial. It is the number one tourist spot on the island of Oahu.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, over half the deaths that occurred that day happened with the destruction of the Arizona.


This is a painting of Pearl Harbor as it would have looked the day before the Japanese attacked.


After watching a film about the attacks, we took a little boat out to the actual memorial.


This memorial is built over the wreckage of the sunken USS Arizona.
Many of the men who died that day are still inside of it.



This is one of the gun turrets which still shows above the water.

Even after 66 years, about a quart of oil a day leaks out of the hull.


These are the names of the 1,177 men who died on the USS Arizona that day.

There are 23 sets of brothers and also a father and son on this list.



Many of the survivors of that day have made arrangements to have their ashes placed in the ship after they die.

The kids don't really understand the magnitude of this monument. As far as they are concerned, the story might as well start with "once upon a time". It is far beyond the scope of what they can fathom happening.

The anchor from the Arizona.