Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Plate of Dairy-Free Evilness

This was Emily's fault.

She was surfing the internet and found a recipe she wanted to try called Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie 'n Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar. Well, of course she's allergic to all dairy, so we had to make some adjustments. And I really, really, really didn't want to go to the store, so we had to use what was in the house.

But first, Emily wanted a nap, so Ben and Katie actually ended up making the recipe because they didn't want to wait.

First, they made chocolate chip cookie dough from scratch. "From scratch" in our house means grinding wheat into flour first, but we used store bought eggs instead of going outside and chasing down some chickens. We used the recipe off a bag of regular chocolate chips.........

......but we substituted dairy-free chocolate chips and vegan butter. This particular recipe didn't call for milk, but we would have substituted almond milk if it had.

We spread the cookie dough in the bottom of the pan, then put a layer of Oreos on top. You will be amazed, I know I was, to hear that Oreos are dairy-free. That white stuff in the middle, which looks like it's made of cream or milk or something from a cow, is really just Crisco and sugar. The original recipe called for double stuff Oreos, but all I had on hand were golden single stuffed Oreos. Emily's imminent suicide over finding out she could no longer eat dairy was prevented when she found out she could still have Oreos. So I like to keep them on hand.

Now, here is another shocker: Many Duncan Hines mixes are dairy-free also. If you looked in my pantry right now, you would find four boxes of Duncan Hines brownie mix and one Duncan Hines cake mix. When a sugar craving comes on us, we have to make something that Emily can eat also, or it would just be mean. So here is something else I had on hand.

So we mixed up that there brownie batter and poured it over the top of the Oreos.

Then we covered that bad boy with tin foil and baked it at 350 for 25 minutes.

It was evil.

Blame Emily.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kukaniloko Birthing Stones

Located in Central Oahu, not far from Dole Plantation, the Royal Birthing Stones are one of the most historically significat sites on the island. Ben declined to accompany us as he didn't want to go "out in the middle of nowhere to look at a bunch of rocks."

The stones are easy to find but there are only three parking places and you have to walk a short distance down a dirt road to get to the entrance.

There are two large boulders at the entrance. Only the high chiefs, the expectant mother, and the women who would be assisting in the birth were allowed past this point.

This was considered to be a very spiritually strong area. It is eerily quiet and the air feels oddly dense when you are there. It's easy to see why the native Hawaiians felt that there was something different about this spot of land.

This site was first used for the birth of Kapawa, the son of a high ranking chief, in or around the 12th century. It was used for the births of royal children for seven centuries.

The expectant mother would be brought out to the center stone to give birth while surrounded by forty-eight chiefs pounding drums. After the birth, she and the child, still connected by the umbilical cord, would be carried to a nearby sacred heiau where the cord would be ceremoniously severed.

Lucky gal.

(Although this sounds really primitive to us, I have to point out that in the time of Henry the VIII, high-ranking women were shut up in a dark room with no outside air allowed in and a smokey fire burning for a full month before they gave birth in the same hot, dark room. And Marie Antoinette gave birth "in public" with so many people crammed into the room that it was impossible to move and the body heat made the room so hot that poor Marie fainted.)

There are a number of leis and fruits left as spiritual offerings around the site by visitors. Don't eat them.

After our visit to the site, I was researching through the powers of Google to get all the historical information I could find. Along with all the info I've already shared, I found a number of oddball stories about the site:

"As I turned back towards the stones I was suddenly hit with a rush of energy, like goosebumps only stronger, it rushed up my legs and filled the area of my abdomen, it was amazing and the energy stayed with me and I felt quite light and happy, almost spaced out. I meandered around the stones and touched a few, we sat on some but I did not feel any specific energy other than the tingling in the front of my legs and in my abdomen, it was as if I was grounded to the earth. I began to feel a very strong sense of peace and also security and connection like I have not felt before, it was pure magic and I enjoyed it immensely. There is no doubt in my mind or “being” that this was a very spiritual place indeed."
"we looked at the first set of stones the moved to the grove of trees and the cluster of rocks when something caught me eye… there was a man standing with a black hoodie or black hooded cape not moving facing the field behind a tree, I told my wife that something was wrong and we needed to leave soon… she took a few photos then the man turned to look at us, his eyes were crazy white looking out from under the hood he put his head down and turned back to face the field, then all at once he stepped out from behind the tree with his head down but eyes looking right at me and slowly moved in my direction with his arms held out to his side in a Christ type pose moving very slow… I told my wife we must go now and we turned and walked away. I did not want to seem like we were scared so I had my wife keep walking and I faked taking a photo in front of me with my phone but really was taking a photo over my shoulder to see where he was… he was gone!!!!"
"I started to step past the stones to enter the site and immediately a giant swarm of what I can only describe as gnats descended upon me. (I’ve seen these bugs swarming under tamarind trees and always assumed them to be gnats.) Anyway, I stepped back and was amazed to see a thick cloud of these insects swirling right in front of me next to one of the rocks. The swarm was about 8-10′ high and 6′ wide and not moving just hovering in place. I watched this for about 30 seconds and then, for some reason, I remembered that this is a sacred place and that I should take off my slippers. I took off my slippers and put them to the side in case someone came along and wanted to “borrow” them. I looked up and the cloud of bugs was gone. "
"Content that my experience here was over I began to leave when I heard a rustling in the tall grass surrounding the site. I looked at the area where I heard the sound coming from and then I saw a white hawaiian owl launch out from the tall grass which then flew no more than four feet above my head and dive bombed into the grass on the other side. This owl was massive and from the crouching position I had assumed to avoid it I felt my heart pounding. I thought to myself that this place is powerful. Then I heard the same rustling in the grass and the owl shot up a second time and flew in a half circle around the back of the site and right back into the same area it had just come from."
"As soon as we started up the path from the parking area, we both started feeling pressure in our solar plexus area. It intensified as we walked around the site. I started feeling extremely nauseous and was sure I would need to throw up – this was at the far side closest to Kole Kole Pass. My friend also felt nauseous, though hers dissolved much quicker than my own did."

I'm glad I didn't read any of those before we went, but now Ben wants to go because he would love to have a creepy experience. We did have our own odd little experience there, which I was fortunate enough to catch on video:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Glamour Bikes

Katie got a new bike.

The poor kid had just barely gotten the hang of riding a bike when we moved here three years ago. Most of our bikes were mangled in the move. Kerry was deployed and I was overwhelmed with the move and repairing/replacing the bikes was low on my priority list.

So now, three years after she learned to ride a bike, we got her a new bike and she has learned to ride it again.

The only problem's pink. While Katie used to be the queen of pink, she has now moved into that territory of pink being a "little girl" color. And she does not want to be in that category. However, the bike was a fabulous price, and we advised her that it was this bike or no bike, as all the others were easily double the price of this one.

Fortunately, Emily came to the rescue with her massive pile of duct tape.

The girls set to work.........

.......and glammed up that bike. It's still got a good bit of pink, but it isn't completely pink and now it's also got pizzaz.

Then, once inspiration had struck, they grabbed Emily's bike..............

.......and gave it a face lift as well.

This actually used to be Ben's bike, but he's ridden it exactly twice in the two years he's had it and Emily loves to ride so it was passed on to her.

Now, he definitely won't ever want to ride it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Update: Ben's Eye

Ben had a follow up appointment today to check his eye. Amazingly, he woke up pain free and with almost normal vision. The eye doctor confirmed that he is healing very quickly and should only need antibiotics in the eye for two more days.

He's enjoying all the horrified attention he is receiving.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Nail In The Eye

Today, as I was dropping Ben off at the bus stop to go to class, he had a little accident. He has this cross necklace that he never, ever takes off. A while back the cord broke and the only brown cord I could find that would fit through the catch was a stretchy elastic cord. So today, he was brushing the dog hair off his shirt when his ring caught on the cross. As he looked down to see what his ring was caught on, the cross came loose, snapped back on the stretchy elastic cord and hit him right in the eye.

"Ow!" he was laughing as he rubbed his eye and told me what had happened. His eye was watering profusely.

"Are you okay?" I asked. "Let me look."

"No, I'm fine, it just hurt. There's my bus!" He headed off toward the bus as I drove off. I could see him still rubbing his eye.

Four hours later I got a phone call from him. "Mom, can you bring some eye drops when you pick me up? My eye is killing me! My Spanish teacher dismissed class fifteen minutes early because she said she just couldn't look at me any more. I tried to see the school nurse, but she wasn't in her office."

"But you said you were fine! You were laughing!"

"I'm a GUY mom! I'm not going to sit around whining about something hurting. I thought it would stop after a few minutes, but my eye is watering and my nose keeps running and everything is blurry."

Urgent Care Center, here we come.

I picked him up and we headed straight to the UCC. Amazingly, they took us back almost immediately. Ben had a great time talking about what he would do if he lost his eye and had to get a glass eye. "If someone ran into me from behind I could pop it out and act like they hit me hard enough to knock my eye out. At Halloween I could take it out and chase everybody with it!"

That's Ben, always looking at the bright side.

It actually didn't look too bad. His eye wasn't very red although it was watering a good bit. When they tested his vision though, he could see perfectly with his right eye (he read the bottom line of the eye chart) but with his left eye he could only read the third line and even then he missed some of the letters. His vision tested at 20/60.

The doctor came in and examined him thoroughly. I was fully expecting him to tell me that Ben had a light scratch in the corner of his eye. Instead, he drew a picture of an eye and drew two lines across the iris and pupil. "He has two lacerations across the cornea; a long one and a short one." Fortunately they should heal fairly quickly although it may take a few weeks for his vision to return to normal. For now, he has to stay in the dark and not move his eyes around a lot. And I have to squirt ointment in his eye every so often.

The doctor then put something in Ben's eye, turned off the lights, and pulled out a black light. The liquid he had put in Ben's eye glowed brightly. The doctor called in a nurse so that she could see the lacerations in Ben's eye under the black light.

"Oh cool," she said. "It's making the inside of his nose glow too!"

The Need For Speed!

We've discovered something new here on the island.....


There's a Podium Raceway over in Kapolei. On a very small island, with rather short roads, there are not many places where you can drive over 35 mph. It's actually exhilarating to get to the highway and go 55. We'll probably freak out when we get to the mainland and get on one of the stretches of highway where people drive 70 mph.

We definitely aren't going anywhere near that fast here, but because you are low to the ground, it feels like the Indie 500.

Katie is rather intimidated by the speed. She hunches down like a turtle and drives slower than the rest of us. I will be grateful for this when she is sixteen, I know. We all yell encouraging statements as we pass her. "You're doing great, Katie!" "You can go faster, Katie!" "Eat my dust, Katie!"

She has reason to be a tad nervous. The first time we went, she drove headfirst into a wall and got stuck. She couldn't remember how to back up, so they had to cut power to all of our cars while someone ran out on the track and pried her free.

This last time we went, I was trying to pass her, we bumped into each other, she spun sideways, drove headfirst into a wall and got stuck. She did remember how to back up, but still couldn't get free, so they had to cut power to all of our cars while someone ran on the track and pried her free. It's a learning experience.

Like a field trip.

I pretty much just pressed the gas pedal to the floor and only eased up on it when going around a sharp curve. I bumped into a few walls (and a Katie). The flag guy kept holding up a sign that said, "USE BRAKES". So I started using them. It's difficult to get used to using a left foot brake, when that is totally opposite of how a car works. My feet don't seem to work in tandem any more. However, I did discover that when going around a sharp curve, rather than letting up on the gas pedal (it's probably called a battery pedal, but que sera sera) I could step on the brake and do and awesome fishtail that didn't cut into my time.

They post your race times at the end, so you can see who won. It was me. Ben said, "How did you do that? I didn't think you were faster than me! It's because you knock the competition into the walls! Take out the little kid, MOM!"

Like I said, it's a learning experience.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

When Sherry Met Ben

Since this is Ben's senior year in high school, I have been going back through old baby photos and videos trying to find the best ones of him. We are finding so many things that we had forgotten about over the years. This particular video really tickled me when I saw it.

This is when my sister Sherry arrived to see Ben for the first time. He was twelve days old. Our parents were with us at the airport to pick her up. What tickles me so much is that she and I both center all our attention on Ben. We don't look at each other, we don't hug, we just have intense focus on the newest member of our family. Such is the power of a baby.

When I showed this video to Ben, I told him, "Look how we were so completely focused on you!"

"Yeah, what's up with that?" he responded. "Why did you stop?"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shakespeare at the Library

Emily asked me to take her to the library to get some of Shakespeare's works today. I keep telling her it's not normal to like poetry or Shakespeare, but what can I do? The girl is just weird that way. If she were in public school, she'd probably get the crap kicked out of her every day if she weren't so pretty.

Anyway, I wasn't sure if Shakespeare was kept on some special shelf reserved for nerds or if it would be in regular fiction, so Emily and I headed straight to the information desk and asked one of the volunteers.

"Um.....Shakespeare?" she asked me looking around the library as if hoping to spot it. "How do you spell that?" she finally asked as she decided to type it in on the computer.

I spelled it for her and she said, "Shakespeare.......that's like, who wrote it, right?"

Emily and I froze with pleasant expressions on our faces. I knew if we made eye contact with each other we would burst out laughing. "Yes," I replied, managing to keep my face straight. "That's who wrote it."

"Well, I don't see anything by him in fiction," she told me. "Maybe there's some in non-fiction?"

"I don't think he wrote any non-fiction," I told her. She eventually told us to wander around the fiction area and look under 'S'. We tried that for a bit and then eventually asked someone else who was able to direct us to the shelf in the Young Adult section where Shakespeare resides. Because teens love Shakespeare, you know.

To mine and Emily's credit, neither of us said a word about the library volunteer while we were still at the library. Neither of us even looked at each other the entire time we were there. But once we got out to the car, we finally made eye contact.

And we laughed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hiking Diamond Head - Or Not

Kerry took two weeks off during December. We planned to have a staycation and do some of the things we haven't yet on the island. One of our top choices was to hike Diamond Head. It's one of the "musts" when you visit the island. We've been here three years and haven't done it yet. So we got up early one morning, full of plans to head down and scale that bad boy.

But we somehow wound up at the Hale Koa breakfast buffet instead.

Ah well. Que sera sera.

Hale Koa with Katie

A year ago, I took Emily to Waikiki and we had a "girls only" weekend where we discussed the facts of life and the birds and the bees and all that.

Well, ever since, Katie has been champing at the bit to have her weekend with me. She's a couple of years younger than Emily was so I didn't quite get into the nitty gritty details the way I did with Emily, but we will cover all that in another year or so. I had planned to do this in January or February after the holidays, but at the beginning of December, the Hale Koa offered 50% off their rooms for kama'aina (people who live on the island) so I jumped at the chance to have a quick vacation in the middle of Christmas.

We hadn't been to the Hale Koa during Christmas before. It was fun to see all the decorations.

We forgot to make our gingerbread houses this year, but at least we got to see the big fancy ones!

The closest thing we get to snowmen.

We walked over to the Sheraton to see their sand sculpture. Last year they had three, but this year there was only the one. Darn economy.

We also went to the magic show at the Hale Koa and
Katie got a balloon animal shaped like an Angry Bird.

One of the things Katie wanted to do the most was to go on the Atlantis submarine ride.

When it came up out of the water, a rainbow was right above it,
like it was our own little pot of gold.

The other end of the rainbow was in Honolulu!

This was my third time on the submarine but it was Katie's first.

It's still really cool to see the sunken ships.
Like viewing the Titanic.

The other times that I've been on this ride, the submarine was packed full of people. You sit back to back with another row of people and if something is swimming past the windows on the other side, you don't get to see it. Too bad for you. On this particular trip however, there were only about ten of us and as critters were spotted on each side of the vessel, everyone would just climb over to the windows on the opposite side and look out of those portholes.

The other times I've been on this submarine, we've seen a good number of fish, but on this trip, we saw an amazing amount of fish. I really couldn't believe it. We saw a school of about twenty huge puffer fish. We saw turtles swimming instead of just laying around and we even saw a couple of sharks swim by! It was even better than I expected and a great ride for Katie!