Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Thank God for Youtube

In and of itself, Christmas Day was similar to our other days in Hawaii, except for the presents and inherent laziness. The kids basked in their new stuff, and we had a very nice day. We only brought a few DVD’s for the kids, and when it came time to watch something Christmas-y, the cupboard was bare.

So, “Charlie Brown Christmas” and “The Grinch,” available for free viewing on Youtube saved the day.

The days since Christmas have been filled with more settling in, a picnic up at Puu Ualukaa State Park, listening to the Flyers play online, and trying to catch up on news from NJ and emails and what not. We spent Friday getting the keys to our house, spending some time there and meeting our new neighbors. I think we are going to like living there. On one side, there’s a young couple who has to boys, ages 4 and 2. On the other side is a young couple. No kids, but the guy is a huge football fan, and in fact was about to head to the airport to fly to the Sugar Bowl to support UH. I have tentative plans to watch the game at a local beverage-centered establishment, as the wife has given me clearance to take the afternoon off from work to enjoy the game with the locals. I’m still a Buckeyes fan at heart, but it’s hard to not get caught up in Warriors fever.

I actually recalled recently that when I was a kid, I remember watching the UH Rainbow Classic basketball tournament as a kid on Channel 29, as we didn’t get cable until I was in high school. Hadn’t thought of that in years.

We are settling in very nicely finally, with a routine actually emerging. We’ve kinda moved into an afternoon “quiet time” as opposed to “naptime.” We will get back to naptime, but they’ve done well the last few days where they’ve had quiet time, and I’ve told them, you can play, or you can nap, but it’s going to be in here. And they’ve responded pretty well to that, and I actually got a short nap myself today, and man did that make a difference. The baby had a little ear infection, and the extra downtime has been helpful for her too. Today for example, we went to our third church in three weeks (yes, still searching) and then got some lunch on the way to drop the wife off at work. We then had our quiet time, and then went to the zoo for a few hours. Dinner and movie later and everyone’s asleep.

So, all in all, it’s been a good few days. Can’t wait to get into our house though. Not sure if I mentioned it previously, and I’m too lazy right now to reread everything, but American Airlines did respond to my rant with a voucher towards a trip and a heartfelt apology. Sometimes I suppose it’s good to share…

So, Happy New Year…Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Well, the pace really is a lot slower here...

Mele Kalikimaka. The holiday’s are in full swing, and while we are still getting used to the time here, it’s is very clearly the Christmas season here in Hawaii. Most of the locals that we interact with are very ready with a “Merry Christmas” or a “Happy Holidays,” more so in fact than I remember receiving back in Jersey.

We signed the paperwork for the new house following our inspection of the house on Friday. It was FAR better than we expected and everyone was simply ecstatic. The kids ran around the house and picked their rooms without incident, and then spent the remainder of time telling our realtor, the inspector, and everyone else, “Hey! This is my room.” In Hawaii, there has to be a 7 day period of time between signing the paperwork and receiving the keys. So-we signed the stuff, but don’t get keys until next Friday. Talk about a tease. Our stuff is not here yet anyway, but once we get the keys, I think we will make regular visits there, even just to play. It really felt real once we were in our house, and it was really exciting.

The wife’s new job is going well. She is quite a hit at the new facility and as expected.

I will freely admit that being stay at home dad is more difficult than I anticipated, but I think a lot of that has to do with me having to change my way of looking at how my days with them go. When I was working full time, I was in charge of the kids two days a week. Back in Jersey, if I wasn’t working on a Saturday, I had my Mom helping out, and they day was spent usually either doing something together, or as “Grammy time” while I took care of other work around the house or otherwise. Sundays were Church and the Eagles, or perhaps a trip to Pumpkinland, or some other activity. We had our routines, and they worked. We’re starting from scratch now here in Hawaii, but the good news is, Daddy’s starting to figure it out.

My mistake has been that I’ve tried to make every day with them an event-some kind of big deal every day, and not only did I forget that the kids don’t need and aren’t used to that, I forgot that it’s as important to chill out and relax to them as it is to the rest of us. I’ve been overdoing it, and it’s made things more challenging. But, I’ve figured that out today, and we spent a nice afternoon after church, lunch and a visit to Gymboree, having some quiet time and “playing pretend” where we all got the chance to go surfing on both Mars and Jupiter. We worked our “Rad moves” and each of the twins created their own signature surfing moves. We then went for a “pajama walk” in the newly arrived Triple Stroller, and for the first time in a while, really felt normal. The first shipment of our stuff, including the stroller and some key missed toys arrived this week, and the kids have taken to them and been happier as a result.

All in all, the lesson I’ve learned is to have fun with them, but not to overdo it all-they are still young and don’t need to be hyper-programmed at this age. I’ve been trying too hard. So, stay tuned as I’m certain I’ll have some other grand, yet somehow not altogether dramatic parental realization as early as tomorrow.

The hunt for a new Church continues. Stay tuned. The Islands are aflutter with Sugar Bowl fever, as the T-shirts and flags for the University of Hawaii’s big BCS game versus Georgia. My favorite shirt that I’ve seen uses the BCS (bowl championship series) initials, but it read Because Colt Stayed, in reference to Colt Brennan, their high powered quarterback, who stayed for his senior year when he likely would have been drafted pretty high in the NFL draft. Sports are pretty popular here, and loyalty is clearly a virtue that the Hawaiian community values a great deal. So, it’s not been hard to get caught up in the Warrior fever. Check local listings for game time where you are.

So, this has rambled on enough. Happy Holidays to all. Believe it or not, I do miss the snow.

It was 80 and breezy today, with light intermittent showers. Please come visit.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I miss my DVR, but other than that....

Well, we are now members of the Gymboree nation. The twins have a play class on Thursday afternoon, and the baby and I have a music class at the same time, so Thursdays are now covered. The Ewa Beach Library has story time on Wednesdays; the Honolulu Library has Activities on Saturdays…

We have decided to church shop a little. I liked the Cathedral for me, but I think I’d like to make sure that there is not something more enriching for the kids. They got so used to the amazing ministry of the church in Moorestown, that I am not sure the Cathedral has quite what I want for them on Sundays. Stay tuned.

The Honolulu Zoo, which we were given a membership to for Christmas is really great, and we have already been twice. It’s a real great gift, as it’s a place I can take them myself. There’s a great kids area which is a bit more contained, and has a cool area of Koi fish where the kids can crawl through a tunnel and stand in the middle of the tank. There is also a really nice play area where the kids can play dress-up ‘zookeeper’ and what not, and they have had much fun there.

Our house is almost ready, and we drove by today and saw the first landscaping of our front lawn. Looks nice, and we will be working on the back as soon as the ink is dry.

I’ve missed things at school, and have been very much disappointed by the suddenly slow coverage of things at PG. Although I’ve left, I’m still pretty curious about how they are doing.

The time change had take some getting used to. I’ve found myself finding a pal online at what amounts to 4am to them, but am glad to find them. I’ve missed friends and family, as expected.

I managed to cue up a Flyers game online last night and although they lost, (no excuse for that-they were up 2….ugh) it was really fun to put the game on…the boy had to put on his Hockey Jersey in honor…

So, we are making it day by day, and the kids are great. The rest of us are exhausted, but as tired as I was, we took them to the beach this evening, and the kids were so cranked up and excited to put on their “sun suits” and look for the “perfect wave to surf” and yes, I am directly quoting. They’ve seen the Backyardigans “Surfs Up” episode…I’ve told them that they need to know how to swim before they can surf, and I’ve been working on teaching them…so, the perfect wave cannot be far behind.

So, tomorrow, we go back to Gymboree, where we have met some nice people thus far. After that, who knows? The wife is off Friday and Saturday, which has never happened before. It’s a whole new adventure….Stay tuned to this channel……..

Sunday, December 16, 2007

One week and 29 Rainbows in...

Greetings again from Honolulu. Things here have been busy, hectic, fun, exhausting and 42 other adjectives I can’t think of right now. Everyone is adjusting, and having not yet been here a week, there are adjustments yet to come. Overall, all are well, though the rigors of being a stay-at-home dad have certainly become more apparent than they were when we were back in Jersey. Caring for them there, when we were settled and comfortable and had family around was much easier then things have been here thus far, though it’s only been a week.

It is remarkably beautiful here, and even though we are in the rainy season, the temperature has been very pleasant. I’ve noticed that sightlines are very open here. What I mean is that in Jersey, if I stood on our street, even if I moved 5 blocks in any direction, I could maybe have sight for a few blocks before it became obstructed. Here, I could be standing at the Safeway (the Hawaiian Supermarket of choice) and turn left and see Diamond Head peak, several miles away. There are no real obstructed sightlines, and that makes for a very different day to day feel of things.

We’ve been to the Honolulu Zoo, and the Waikiki Aquarium, went to church at the Cathedral this morning (the twins did well at Sunday School), we’ve been to the North Shore, and visited the Dole Pineapple plantation (that train ride was precarious with three tired kids, but the Pineapple Whip was amazing) and have been to see our new house in construction in Ewa a few times, went to a Farmer’s Market there and several branches of the State Library, including the excellent branch here in Honolulu, where we enjoyed a Holiday Puppet Show on Saturday.

It was nice that the wife had Saturday off, and her regular days off will be Friday and Saturday. Since we’ve been married, and even before when we were in school, we never had a ton of off time together on a regular basis.

As pleasant as Honolulu is, I am very much looking forward to our home being done and moving the family into the new house. When I was younger, visiting cities was new and exciting, and I remember fondly going to NYC as a younger person and taking pride in knowing my way around, and still love Philly. But I never saw myself as a city-person. I like a house around me with some land around it. A few days in a hotel are one thing, but I don’t much care for city life. The noise alone is too much most of the time, and we seem to be on the route to the hospital with the number of sirens we here. We are here now during the rainier and more dynamic weather season; the wind here on the 17th floor is ridiculous. There were some moments in the middle of the night where I thought there was a hurricane, but it was just the wind on the less then stellar windows in our apartment.

Despite the “Aloha Spirit,” there is an anonymous (my sources tell me it is an older, single woman) tenant in the building that logged a “noise complaint” on us on our second day here for “Kids walking around at 6 am.” I had particularly strong words with building officials and the company that placed us here, as the kids, while they are adjusting of course, especially that day, have handled things pretty well overall. I gave my number to the building person that came to the apartment to discuss it with me, and asked him to give it to the person who complained, and that I would be happy to hear their concerns. Needless to say, no call came. Everyone has third-party muscles, I suppose. Cowardly, I say. There are some interesting wrinkles to this story, but you’ll have to talk to me about them…they are not exactly blog-erific.

That said, I am already feeling myself come down from the pace of our lives in Jersey. I am finding that as the days pass, I think a lot about what time it is “back home” and what’s going on there. Of course we all miss friends and family, and this new adventure has only just started.

My Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys today. That surely can’t be a bad start to things here. All told, things are good. The twins were invited to play sheep in the Nativity pageant at church today…I hope the church knows what they are doing….

The computer seems to be working better now. Stay tuned.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Still here

We've had loads of problems with our laptop, so I'm currently in the library with only minutes left on our session. We are doing well, and I'll have more details once windowns gets done its yearlong overdue update that's taking days with the slow connection in the apartment.

Give me a call anytime, but we are free on the weekends...unless you're verizon when its all the time...


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Eagles (fans) have landed

Aloha from Honolulu.

Before I discuss our settling in process, I must take a moment to share a semi-rant regarding American Airlines.

Typically, I have been pretty happy with their service, but although the kids did great overall on the trip, (each of the girls had a few tantrum periods-the Boyo rolled with things a little easier) the second leg of the trip, Dallas to Honolulu, left a bit to be desired. With our connections being so closely timed together, we did not get to eat or drink or purchase anything at the airport. It’s an 8 hour flight that covered both lunch and dinner times. They served no food to coach class, and did beverage service only twice. Now, they said they had sandwiches, and other snacks available for purchase, yet somehow; all they had when they got to our section was chips, cookies, and 1 Three Musketeers bar. Not quite enough to satisfy a family of five. Fortunately, there was a nice woman sitting near us that purchased a gigantic club sandwich which she couldn’t finish, so she shared with us. I know that airlines are cutting back, but this was ridiculous. If you are going to charge people for food, the least you can do is have enough for your customers on an 8 hour flight. It would not have been so irritating, if moments after the flight attendants got done telling us that they had nothing for us, they all retired to the back of the plane, about 3 rows behind us, to enjoy their own First class meals. Overall, everyone came through in good form.

We arrived yesterday and are settling into things here in our temporary housing. It’s a two bedroom apartment, so the twins are sharing a room, and the baby is in a crib in our room. The space was nowhere near ready for kids though, and we spent several hours moving things out of the twin’s room, and keeping the baby from eating the drain cleaner. Everyone slept in some amounts last night. I got takeout for the wife and I near the apartment, and was heralded by a slightly inebriated young man who did his best to convince me and everyone else in the restaurant that he was the next Mixed-martial arts star to come along, and that he lived for fighting, but had no training whatsoever. I don’t believe he’s a local.

As a side note, I’ve never seen so many Holiday lights in my life in one small area. Palm Trees lit up with blinking lights is a surreal yet fun image, almost as fun as the gigantic Santa atop the Ala Moana Shopping Center sporting a flowered Lai.

Today we visited the new house, which is still under construction. It was very cool to see the Neighborhood coming together. We all went to visit the local beach and park as well, before visiting Safeway Food Market for our first shopping experience on Oahu. Things were a bit pricier, but with the wife’s talent at sniffing out bargains, we managed to do just fine, and in fact saved $75 on our total bill. Made lunch, had a failed attempt at a nap, puttered about, and after a few near-meltdown moments to, from and during dinner at Tony Roma’s, made it home in time to enjoy an episode of the “Backyardigans” and managed to get all kids in bed by 6:30 PM local time. If they can manage to sleep through the night and get up when they normally did back east, then we will be really on track to getting them on a regular schedule. Here’s hoping.

Everyone is a bit off balance, but the absolute beauty of this place continues to be astounding. The mountains, the landscaping, the ocean, all of it is really overwhelming at times. It reminds me of that scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy arrives in Oz, and the film turns to the magic of Technicolor, and the stark difference really hits you visually. It not that I didn’t love Jersey, and that I won’t miss it…but this place really is filmed with the magic of Technicolor, and is definitely presented in HD: high Definition.

Aloha for now.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Inagural Post

This is my inagural post. The Family and I depart for Oahu on Monday, 12-10-07. It's a huge change for us, and we are looking forward to it, while still sad to leave our home and family in NJ.

I hope to use this space to chronicle our family's journey in Hawaii, and keep all our friends and family in tune with what we are up to.

I'm new to this process, but hope very much to make this a space that can be of use both creatively and as a means of communication.

Aloha means both hello and, Aloha...stay tuned.