Monday, September 26, 2011

PCC Ice Cream Run

When you go see the Breath of Life show at the Polynesian Cultural Center, they sell ice cream at intermission. The best part of that (besides the ice cream) is watching the guys bring it in.

They run down a flight of stairs with a heavy tray of ice cream.

For some reason, I could watch this over and over. You have to wonder if any of them ever trip and just tumble down those steps with all that ice cream.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cookie Map of Egypt

Katie is studying ancient Egyptian history right now and in the interest of making it more "hands-on" for her, we've joined a co-op at our church. We've been part of the co-op for a long time, but we've not done history with them until now.

I was in charge of this week's craft project so I had all the kids make maps of ancient Egypt out of cookie dough. Katie and I made one at home for practice, then we made one again at co-op so the pictures look different as I used some photographs from each session.

Each child started out with one full tube of sugar cookie dough. They pressed each one out into a 10x6 inch rectangle as if it were clay or play dough.

We used toothpicks to outline where we wanted land formations to be. Then we outlined the Mediterranean Sea with a blue gel.

And filled it in with blue icing.

We used Twizzlers to outline the Red Sea. Although the Red Sea isn't actually red, there is a seasonal algae there which is red in color. I thought the Twizzlers outline might help all the kids remember that that's the Red Sea as opposed to some other body of water.

After filling in the Red Sea with blue icing, we drew the Nile River with blue gel icing including the Nile Delta in lower Egypt. Then we discussed how the Nile River flooded every year and we used blue sprinkles to show the flooding of the Nile.

Of course when the Nile floods, it waters everything along the edges, so we then used green sprinkles to represent the crop growth after the floods.

Next, we used some gold sprinkles to represent the Western Desert and the Libyan Desert.

We used peanut butter flavored chips to represent pyramids. I didn't have any sprinkles which could have represented crops growing, so some of the kids just used stars because they are colorful like flowers. And really, wouldn't we all grow stars if we could?

(I don't know why that previous sentence decided to do it's own thing as far as color and linking go, but I can't get it to change and who am I to thwart the desires of the alphabet to be flamboyant?)

We used a Hershey's kiss for Mt Sinai. One of the kids came up with the idea of putting a teddy bear shaped sprinkle on top to represent Moses. One of the younger kids wanted to know if I had any sprinkles in the shape of the Ten Commandments. Then another child came up with the idea of parting the Red Sea with a finger. All the other kids followed suit. They are so creative!

The result is a massive amount of sugar.

The topography of Egypt will change when you bake it, but that makes it even more fun.

Then you can eat it and by the time you wake up from that sugar coma,
it will be time to study ancient China!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Just Something To Pass The Time

The kids learned this routine a couple of years ago.

Apparently it's still entertaining!

I wonder if, when they are my age, they will be sitting around saying, "Remember that thing we used to do with the cups? How did that go? Does anyone remember?"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Speech Class

I signed Emily up for a speech class. I didn't ask her if she wanted to do it. As her teacher and principal, I deemed it was requirement and signed her up. A large number of her friends are signed up for the same class so I knew she wouldn't just be walking into a room full of strangers. Emily doesn't like new experiences, so it's always best to have her go along with people she knows if you want her to try something.

So, she groused all the way to speech class about how she didn't want to do it. I reminded her that it's a requirement and that at least she would have friends in the class. She continued to grumble.

When we arrived, she bounced in to sit with her friends. I was only able to stay for a little while as I had to take my sister to the airport. I did stay long enough to hear the announcer say that the teens are required to sign up for at least two speeches but no more than five.

When Emily got home later in the day, she laughingly mentioned that she had signed up for five speeches before the end of the year.

"Wow," I said. "Maybe you should reconsider that. This is your first year and you don't want to get overwhelmed." We talked about the possibility of her dropping at least one of the speeches.

Later in the week, my sister called and asked how Emily liked her speech class after she had grumbled about it so much.

"Oh she really liked it!" I told her.

"I did not!" Emily snarled.

" signed up for five speeches! You were really excited about it when you got home!"

"I don't know what I was thinking! I do not like speech class! I never said I liked it!"

"Sorry, I thought you did," I told Emily. "She didn't like it after all," I told my sister.

The second week, I picked Emily up after speech class. I asked her, "Did you drop any of the speeches?"

"No," she growled from the back seat.

"Why not?"

She muttered something under her breath and then laughed.

"What?" I asked her.

She literally growled some words out, there was no way I could understand her.

"What?" I asked again.

"Because I like speech class!" she laughed. "I don't want to give up any of my speeches!"

That's what I thought! HA!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Queen Emma's Summer Palace

We recently visited Queen Emma's Summer Palace in Honolulu. If you are expecting a "palace", you will be disappointed. It's a nice house but not particularly palatial. If you think of it as Queen Emma's Summer Cottage, you'll enjoy it more because it will meet your expectations.

Queen Emma was the wife of King Kamehameha IV. Their only child, Prince Albert, died at age four, and King Kamehameha IV died a year later. It's a sad story.

The home was used by the royal family in the mid-1800's. Today it holds artifacts from that time period. Some of the furnishings and memorabilia actually belonged to Queen Emma.

Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside, so I didn't take any pictures. I did, however, find some images on the internet which I am copying here. Don't sue me, please. I did try to buy postcards in the gift shop, but they didn't have any.

This photo is of the parlor.
Queen Emma acquired this baby grand piano later in her life while traveling through Europe.

This was Queen Emma's bed which is made of koa wood. It stands next to Prince Albert's koa four poster crib which was made by master craftsman Wilhelm Fischer.

The three tiered sideboard was built in Berlin at the request of Prince Albert of England and given as a wedding gift to the Hawaiian royals. This is in the Edinburgh Room.

The cradle in this picture, also made by Wilhelm Fischer, was commissioned by the king and queen at the birth of Prince Albert and is regarded as a state treasure. It is hard to tell from this picture, but from the side it looked somewhat like a turtle shell.

At the bottom of the picture is a child's bathtub which was a gift of the Chinese emperor.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Byodo-In Temple

Over on the windward side of the island is a cemetery called The Valley of Temples. The cemetery is divided into Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, and Shinto areas. But the real draw, right at the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains, is the Byodo-In Temple.

This temple was built in 1968 to commemorate one hundred years of Japanese workers living in Hawaii. It is a replica of an 11th century Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan.

This temple has been featured in the television shows "Lost", "Magnum P.I." and "Hawaii 5-0", I believe. I've never seen any of those shows, so I can't swear to it, but I've heard it's so.

Here's an interesting fact: this temple was built entirely without the use of nails just like the temple it is modeled after.

Before you get to the temple is a large "peace bell". We could hear the sound of the bell every so often as it was rung by visitors. Fortunately it has a very soft tone, despite it's size. It wouldn't have been very peaceful to have a loud clanging GONG clamoring every few minutes. The sign by the bell says, "An offering and ringing of the bell brings happiness, the blessings of Buddha, and a long life to the ringer of the bell. It is customarily rung before one enters the temple to spread the eternal teachings of Buddha."

I thought the temple would be huge inside, with lots of rooms to explore. But it is actually just this one room with the statue of Buddha in it. There's actually very little room to even walk around the Buddha.

I'm taking the description of the Buddha statue directly from the web site:

The Buddha is thought to be the largest figure carved outside of Japan. Towering more than 9 feet, the immense figure is an original work of art carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui. When the carving was completed, it was covered with cloth and painted with three applications of gold lacquer. Gold leaf was later applied over the lacquer finish. Around the Buddha are 52 smaller sculptures depicting Boddhisattvas (enlightened beings) floating on clouds, dancing, and playing musical instruments. The hall and all the artistry it reflects are regarded as representing the essence of the culture of the Fujiwara aristocracy.

The Hall is popularly known as Hoo-do, or the Phoenix Hall, because a pair of the legendary birds of good omen and of Chinese origin is seen perched on both ends of the roof with their wings spread and ready to fly away. The hall containing two wings reflects stability as well as artistic beauty.

There was a huge black swan swimming around in the ponds. It reminded me of the time when we lived in Texas and a swan tried to eat our chihuahua.

Don't let that whole "majestic beauty" thing fool you.

Swans are mean.

There were several waterfalls and grottos as well as a meditation pavilion. Everything was very quiet and peaceful.

Except for one little boy who kept screaming "Fish! Fish! Mama! Look at the FISH!"

This area around the temples looked like shrines or graves, but I haven't been able to find much information on it. Many of them had offerings of food and flowers. One even had cans of soda and beer!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Running Like A Hamster

Sometimes, you think you know every inch of an island, and then you stumble across something you haven't seen before.

For us, the concept of getting inside a clear plastic bubble and running like a hamster (except on water) was a novel idea.

First you get inside a deflated plastic bubble. Then a girl blows up your bubble with a leaf blower.

Then you walk inside your bubble up a ramp, and into a wading pool.....

.....where you immediately fall down.

Then everyone laughs at you while you try to figure out how to stand, walk, and run again.

It was like watching my kids be toddlers all over again.

Ben said his legs hurt the next day like he'd done thousands of squats. Trying to walk on water is more difficult than you'd think! Gives the glutes a good workout!

Ben was the only one who managed to stay standing. He was also able to run a bit. But then the girls figured out that if they flung themselves bodily in the floor of the bubble, they could create a wave which would immediately knock him down and that put and end to that.

We laughed and laughed. You'd think it would only be fun if you are inside the bubble, but let me tell you, it is a riot to watch.

I like this photo because it's looks like Emily is being pulled into some sort of vortex.

It must have been fun, because that is a look of pure glee, right there.

And while normally, a picture is worth a thousand words, in this case, only a video will do.....

Friday, September 16, 2011

Snorkeling at Sharks Cove

My sister Sherry came to visit recently and we took her snorkeling at Shark's Cove on the North Shore.

That makes us sound brave, doesn't it? Snorkeling with sharks.

Fortunately there weren't any sharks. I would have come screaming out of that water if there were. Even though they say if you don't bother the sharks, they won't bother you, I'm not taking any chances. I've seen "Jaws", I know what I know.

Sharks Cove is made up of two very different areas. There is a very open area where lots of scuba divers head out into the ocean and the brave snorkelers go. Conceivably, there could be some sharks over there. See how it opens up into the ocean? Looks like a big candy jar to sharks.

Full of candy with a soft, chewy center.

Just kidding.


The other portion of Shark's Cove is rocky as all get out. You definitely want to wear reef walkers, or you'll be staggering around all those rocks as you try to wade out to a good snorkeling spot. Those rocks hurt, and there is no getting around them.

As you get a little further out, you'll find areas close to the wall where the water is well over your head and the fish are swimming by the gazillions. I've snorkeled in a lot of places, but I don't think I've ever seen as many fish as I did the day we went to Shark's Cove. It really was incredible. You can just float face down and watch the fish until someone jumps in and hauls you out because they think you've perished. It's very relaxing.

Like most places near the ocean, you do have to use caution. I found this video on YouTube (it's not mine). I can't tell for sure if it's Shark's Cove, but it looks like it is to me.

Be safe. Don't turn your back on the ocean.

But go snorkeling here. You won't regret it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dolphin Swim

Emily was able to go on a Dolphin Encounter for her birthday two years ago and Katie had asked to be able to do it for her birthday ever since. Since we all really wanted to do it, we decided to just make it a full family event and take all five of us on the dolphin swim.

For this activity we chose Dolphin Quest at the Kahala Hotel and Resort. We had a great time there with Emily's swim and wanted to have the same wonderful experience!

We got to watch the trainers feed the dolphins and give them a quick checkup.

The dolphins looked like they were have a blast just playing with each other before we even got in the water.

The trainers were wonderful. They told us about each dolphin and how each of them has a different personality. We learned about the feeding and care of dolphins as well (so I can count this as an educational field trip, right?).

We were able to have a lot of contact time with the dolphins. We were able to pet them, hug them, and kiss them. We raced one (he took it easy on us) and also participated in a splashing war (he won).

The trainer showed us the signals to use to get them to do tricks and we got to see some great flips and twirls!

This was a fabulous family adventure and definitely something I can check off my bucket list!

Just Dance

Katie got a cool new game for her birthday called "Just Dance". You have to follow the moves on the screen in time to the music. My hammy family is having a great time with this one!

This was one of the first attempts.

Even Kerry joins in when it's more like karate than dancing!

The show stopper.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

And Now She's Eleven

Well, she's gone and done it.

Katie turned eleven.

I thought eleven scoops of ice cream would be plenty, but no. Apparently thirty scoops is the going thing for birthday parties. They also served a giant goblet of hot fudge that everyone was able to drizzle over their scoops. We also had a "chocolate decadence" birthday cake. I was quite happy to fill up all her birthday guests with sugar.

None of them were coming home with us afterward.

Katie got a mask from my sister. She had really wanted this mask and was so excited to get it, she wore it for the rest of her party.

Even as she received more and more bling, the mask was still the central focus.

I think I need to keep her away from Las Vegas.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Funnel Cloud

We were heading back home from Honolulu today when Katie said, "Look at that cloud, it almost looks like a tornado!"

I looked, and my heart skipped a beat. It did look very tornado-like. And it was close.

In the quick glances I could take while still trying to actually drive, I could see it was really an unusual cloud formation rather than a tornado. But I was concerned that maybe it was forming into a tornado and so I was feeling a little unnerved by it and just wanted to get home.

Katie got the camera and tried to get a picture of it, but it was set to "video" instead of "photo" so we got a quick video of it as we were driving home.

Luckily, it didn't turn into anything worse but it did make the news. If it had touched the ground, it would have become a tornado.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

PCC Luau

We had some family members visit us recently and we took them to all of the fun places on the island.  The one thing I haven't done before though, was the Polynesian Cultural Center Luau.  

We've been to PCC many times, I've blogged about it before and we've been to the HA Breath of Life show several times and loved it just as much each time we go.

But we'd never eaten at the luau before so we decided to try it.

First of all we were late, we were waiting to ride in the canoe and it was a longer wait than we expected, so we were one of the last groups to be seated.  They led us to a table in the rear, but the view was still very good.  The tables are tiered so you aren't trying to see over people's heads.  Rather than bring you plates of food as they do at the Hale Koa luau, there are four buffet tables set up.  The servers dismiss the tables to go to the buffet line so there isn't a huge log jam of people waiting to get to the food.  Because we were one of the rear tables, we were also one of the last to be dismissed to the buffet.  

I noticed some dancers come out on the stage, but we were heading to the buffet line so, I didn't get to see them.

Once we reached the food, I noticed the salad was all gone.  A server came by and announced, "There is more salad on the next buffet line.  Feel free to head to the next buffet table to get your salad."  So we continued on through the line.  The food was standard luau - pig, fish, chicken, poi, lomi-lomi salmon, poke, fresh fruit, etc.  As we continued through the line, we were told, "There is more pineapple on the next buffet, you can get more over there.  There are more rolls on the next buffet, feel free to fill your plates over there."  I believe there were four items missing off of our buffet that we had to get off of the next buffet.  

As we sat back down at our table, I registered that several acts of dancers had been performing on the stage.  I think I saw a group of male dancers, a group of female dancers, some children dancing, and some kids with poi balls.  As we were filling our plates, eating, asking for refills, and talking, I honestly missed most of the entertainment.  

We noticed they were shutting down the buffet line almost as soon as we were through it, so we asked the waiter if we were not able to get a second serving.  He advised us that one of the buffet lines would be kept open while the others were cleaned off.  

All in all, I didn't love this luau.  I also didn't hate it.  The food was very tasty, and the service was great.  I just wasn't a fan of going through the buffet line (although I'm sure it is more efficient for the servers to not be tied up delivering people's plates to them) and having to go to a separate line to be able to finish filling our plates was a mild inconvenience, not a major annoyance.  I also missed most of the dancing because it was going on during the buffet line.  What I saw of the dancing was just nice, it wasn't dramatic like what you see earlier in the day during the canoe pageant.  

However, if you are in Hawaii, a day at PCC is absolutely not to be missed, and you MUST see the Breath of Life show (I'm not kidding) and if you want a luau, it's right there and you need to eat.  I just didn't feel that the experience was as fabulous as it could have been.

The best part (for me) were the smoothies served in a hollowed out pineapple.  That was awesome (although we ordered the non-alcoholic Pina Colada flavor and Katie thought it was gross).