Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Morning

Yes, I know Christmas was days ago. I'm tired.

Katie was happy with her new blankie.

Ben was happy with his new poster.

Emily was happy with her Tammy Faye Bakker makeover kit.

The kids even hugged one another in their joy at having gifts bestowed upon them en masse.

Well, at least Katie hugged everyone and if they hugged back it looked like they were all very kind to one another anyway.

Now I think I will meander down to the PX and pick up some Valentine candy before it's all gone.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Emily's New Do

I'm going to post photos of Christmas morning, but if you are used to what my family looks like, you might get a shock if I don't show you these pictures first.

Emily was "sick" of dealing with her long, beautiful, thick, brunette-with-natural-red-highlights-hair that I would kill to have.

So she wanted a short cut. I told her, I thought she should go with "short-ER" and then keep getting it cut shorter each time she went back if she liked it. I told her it would be a major shock to get it cut really short all at once.

I also told her it's a proven fact that most women cry within three days of a major haircut and she should be prepared. It's an emotional upheaval. Like losing an arm. Although hair will grow back and an arm won't.

And I told her the crying usually doesn't seem like it's because of the hair, it's because of something like stubbing your toe, or frustration with math, but it will be exacerbated by the major hair cut.

And I told her if she didn't like it, it would grow. And then she would hate her long hair and get it cut. And then she would hate her short hair and let it grow. And then she would hate her long hair again.

It's what we do.

And this was the "short-ER" version she went with. Amazingly, we both really liked it. I would never have thought anyone could go from having so much hair to having so little hair and not be completely freaked out, but it looks really cute!

And it's been three days, and she hasn't cried once.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Penguins In Hawaii

Who would have thought??

Before we moved here, I knew a family who had been stationed here for three years and I remember them telling me that there was a penguin exhibit at one of the hotels. In all the time we've been here, I have never heard of the penguin exhibit. I finally googled it this week and discovered it is at the Hilton Hawaiian Village which we have walked all around a dozen times, but never went inside because, you know, we have a house, and we don't go wandering into the hotels willy-nilly. However, after this experience, I might need to go check more of them out!

There is a gorgeous waterfall out front which cascades over a really cool rock formation. Once we were inside, I was astounded to see that there are many shops set up to look like you are wandering through the streets of a charming little village. That's probably why they call it Hilton Hawaiian Village. Duh. I don't know why I didn't wonder about the name before but let me tell you - I'm going back to take pictures and write all about it later. The pool area alone deserves a sonnet. And there's a Christmas ornament I'm itching to go back and get my hands on but the guys didn't want to let me go in any of the shops for fear they'd never make it to the penguin exhibit. I've got to sneak over there before they put away all their Christmas merchandise. Don't tell Kerry, he might try to stop me from spending more money.

The penguin exhibit is small, but a lot of fun to look at. There are turtles and koi in the exhibit. The penguins mostly just seemed to want to stand around and look at each other, but one fellow decided to go for a swim much to the delight of the crowd. I lived in Alaska for three years too, and only saw penguins in the zoo and actually I think they might have been puffins. Know why? 'Cause penguins only live in the southern hemisphere. That's your homeschool lesson for the day.

You're welcome.

They also have live flamingos at the Hilton. I thought they were fake. They were standing perfectly still and looked remarkably like lawn ornaments. Then one decided to meander around a bit and I realized they were real. They actually do stand on one leg just like the plastic ones.

On a side note, when I moved into an apartment after college, I found a pink flamingo bathroom set. The shower curtain had flamingos all over it there was a flamingo shaped rug, flamingo shaped soap dish and even a flamingo shaped toilet brush. You would have to take the flamingo by the neck to scrub out the toilet. I thought it was hilarious but my roommate said no.

I'm not bitter.

Sandy Claus

While we were in Waikiki, we stopped by the Sheraton Waikiki to see the Christmas sand sculptures they have on display in the lobby. For these magnificent creations, the hotel had to haul in twenty tons of sand! Sculptors Thomas Koet and Jill Harris created three seven-foot tall scenes depicting Santa and Mrs. Claus vacationing in Hawaii. And really, where would sand sculptures be more appropriate than the beach?

Here are the Clauses packing their bags to leave for a well deserved island vacation.

Upon their arrival in Hawaii, they are presented with traditional Hawaiian leis.

Then Mr. and Mrs. Claus relax on the beach and enjoy the warm weather - quite a change from the North Pole! And who could blame Mrs. Claus for enjoying a margarita; what happens at the beach stays at the beach!

These sculptures will be up through early January if you'd like to see them! Next year, I'm going to go down while they are being created. I think it would be fun to watch the process!

Gingerbread Village

I wanted to show the kids a few special displays which are only around at Christmas so I ruined their day broadened their minds by taking them downtown to view some high-brow culture.

At the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Waikiki there is an amazing gingerbread village.

It was designed and created by executive chef Raif Bauer.

To make this elaborate edible creation required 100 pounds of dark chocolate.....

......30 pounds of white chocolate.....

......60 sheets of gingerbread......

.....and 200 tons of icing.

The Kawaiha'o Mission Church recreated in gingerbread.

The Moana Surfrider Hotel replica.

A circus with a working roller coaster and rides.

The replica of the Iolani Palace, which has 88 columns around it, took over six weeks to build. Even the windows on it are made of sugar and completely edible.

The entire village took around 600 hours to build, including 96 hours of set-up time.

Now that's commitment to creating something extraordinary.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Gift Every Wife Needs

They are sold out of these until after Christmas, so if you want one to give to the newlyweds in your life, you'll have to wait until the new year. Then stock up.

The fart absorbing blanket.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What Ben Said

MOM! We have GOT to rent some Looney Toons for Katie! She doesn't know who Elmer Fudd is and she called Bugs Bunny "That Bunny Thingy"!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Paying It Forward

Today was a RAINY day. The skies literally opened up and poured down on us in massive quantities.

For ten minutes.

Then it stopped.

Then it started again.

Repeat. All. Day. Long.

I don't know why it kept coming down in torrents and then stopping. All my errands today were done in fits and starts as I waited for the rain to stop so I could get in or out of each store. When the girls and I went to the PX there was a lull in the storm. We were walking up to the building as the Salvation Army lady was setting up. She is there every day. She is an elderly lady and she uses a walker with wheels on it to get around. I see her every time I'm there, ringing her bell next to the red bucket hanging there for donations.

This time, she was trying to get the red bucket and the metal tee-pee it hangs from out of the doors while using her walker. I could see she was having trouble with it and then the automatic doors decided to automatically close on her.

The girls and I ran up and got the doors off her, and we helped her set up the donation bucket, a shopping cart, and a chair in her usual spot. Then, happy at having done our good deed for the day, we went into Starbucks and got a coffee for me, and smoothies for Katie and Emily.

We were sitting there enjoying our drinks and chatting when the skies opened up again and the ceiling over our heads was roaring with the sound of the rain pouring on it. All the sudden, I remembered the lady we had helped was sitting outside in the rain. Granted, she was under an awning, but that rain had to be hitting her still.

The girls and I jumped up and ran outside and helped her quickly move all her stuff into the safety of the building. We got her settled into a nice dry spot and went back to our drinks.

We were still sitting there chatting a few minutes later when another woman appeared out of the blue, hugged me and Emily and said, "You ladies are awesome!" Then she handed us a $10 Starbucks gift card and scooted off before I even got a good look at her.

It was really nice to have a good deed rewarded. I think the girls may be stalking people from now on to see if they can help in case there's someone nearby who may hand them a gift card though!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day

Today is the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

There was a grand opening ceremony of the new $56 million Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and museum.

There were a number of survivors on hand to commemorate the occasion. I didn't want to be snapping pictures of them, it seemed rude. We did meet and speak with Survivor Edward F. Borucki, age 90 who was on the USS Helena when it was hit. Thirty-three of his ship mates died in the attack.

The museum is truely haunting.

There are so many amazing artifacts and photographs inside.

It all feels very solemn and sacred. So many lives were lost that day.

People's personal stories of that day are on included along with the displays, giving everything a more personal feel. It's a very emotion filled museum.

The attack on Pearl Harbor is not just something you read about in a history book once you've been there. It's real now in a way it never was before.

Knowing these were the artifacts of a devastating attack which cost so many lives can really affect you. Katie had to leave the building which has the scenes of the actual attack and aftermath. It was too intense for her.

Although we did not go out to the Arizona Memorial today, we have been out to it before. This is a model found in the museum which shows the scale of the Arizona, compared to the memorial which stands over it.

Truly a day that lives in infamy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Soldiers Coming Home

Okay, so I'm a sucker for videos of marriage proposals, people announcing they are pregnant, and soldiers coming home. I can sit on YouTube and watch these videos and just cry, cry, cry.

It's good for my dry eye.

Imagine my excitement then, to be watching a compilation video of soldiers surprising their families and see Kerry, Rigger and Ringo right smack dab in the middle of it!

I'm so tickled! This video means a lot to me and I'm thrilled for so many other people to get to see it!

Two Years In Hawaii

Two years ago today, we arrived in Hawaii....

This is what we looked like then..........

This is what we look like now.

This is Katie then........

This is Katie now.

Hawaii- Day 1013
This is Ben then......(and Kerry too!)

This is Ben now - it's hard to get a picture of him alone.

This is Emily then...............

This is Emily now.

All three kids on our first hike in Hawaii.........

All three kids now.

This is me and Kerry then......

This is me and Kerry now.

I know it looks as if we've hardly aged at all! It must be that fresh island air!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter Festival

We went to a "Winter Festival" today. Winter here means jeans instead of shorts and sometimes with close-toed shoes instead of flip flops.

Katie got to pet a "reindeer"
And they had made a giant pile of shaved ice for all the kids to play in. This was the biggest excitement of the day for many of the children - they had never seen "snow" before!

Sumida Watercress Farm

This week, we went on a field trip to Sumida Watercress Farm in Aiea.

Ben was not happy about going with us. He grumbled the entire way there about me waking him up early to "watch things grow".

Sumida Watercress Farm grows 75% of all the watercress produced in Hawaii. It has been run by the Sumida Family for three generations. One of the most interesting things about this farm is that the Pearlridge Mall was built around it because the Sumidas did not want to sell the land.

It's very cool to look at this little farm and then see the city buildings all around it.

One wall has the tails of marlins they have caught, each of which weighed over 600 pounds! One was even from an 800 pound fish!

Mr. Sumida brought out a giant bowl of crawfish which live in the water. He showed the kids how to pick one up and where to hold it so it couldn't pinch them. Katie picked one up and it promptly twisted itself into a backflip and pinched her finger.

We got to walk out through the farm, and Mr. Sumida showed us how they gather the watercress. There is no dirt on the farm. All the watercress grows on water alone. It takes eight weeks for the watercress to reach maturity and then they grow more by just throwing pieces of the plant back into the water.

He showed us how the workers use a very sharp sickle to cut off the roots. He chopped a large bundle of watercress in half with one quick swipe.

"I want one!" Ben said immediately.

I found a very informative video about the farm on YouTube.