For those just popping in,
Getting bored of the Hawaii Travelogue yet? Well, I am getting close to done. Then it will be back to adorable pictures of the kids and the mundanities of my life. Is that a word? Mundanities?
Anyway, on with the luau!
This was the stage overlooking the sea. That's the M.C. up there.
We were sitting pretty much front row center, at his feet. If you ever go to the luau at the Royal Kona Resort, DO pay the extra five bucks to get VIP treatment. Its worth it. We ate first, too.
Also, at the bar with the long line? Tell them you are getting drinks for your party and get enough for each of you to have three. That way, you don't have to stand in that crazy line again.
Check this out. Can you say Hot Foot?
I have said from time to time, after eating Mexican food, that my mouth was on fire. But it wasn't really. Not like this:
And because I know there are men out there who don't want to see shot after shot of "Mr. Abs of Steel" (Hi, DAD!), let's bring on one of the ladies!
Dang, she's pretty!
These next folks don't look too bad, either, but maybe its just the good Photoshopping job that was done on the picture.
Although, don't go congratulating me on the great Photoshop job on all these photos. I have a new apprentice and he is doing a great job!
My son, Luka, has been mastering layers and color balancing this week and is really coming along nicely on his sharpening skills, too!
As long as I keep him plied with coffee, he should make it through my unshopped photo catalog by next week!
With our condo rental, we got buy-one/get-one-free tickets to a luau at the Royal Kona Resort. I was a little leary, even paying for one ticket (Noah was FREE!!) because the cost is really darn hefty and the reviews for the luau were really so-so. But then I started hunting for other luau's and they weren't much better. So we went with it.
And I was really pleased!
Maybe its because I wasn't expecting much, but the food was very tasty, and there was lots of good stuff. The MC was very Don Ho-ish (well, that didn't come our right!) and the dancers rocked. We had read on the review sites that it was well worth it to pay the extra 5 bucks for the VIP seating when you get there, we did, and we got to sit in the very front row (getting there early helped)!!
They had the authentic traditional pig roasting in the imu (underground oven). Apparently, that piggy had been cooking, buried and covered all day long.
We all gathered around to watch them uncover the thing. As layers of blankets, leaves and dirt were pulled off the carcass, the audience appeared dubious about dinner.
Then, they pulled the massive thing out, laying prostrate on a metal mesh board, and dumped it out onto a tray, carrying it off to the buffet like a couple ambulance drivers with a new patient on a gurney.
Poor Wilbur headed back to the outdoor carving area to be chopped up and added to some yummy stews and other Hawaiian delicacies.
I'm sorry, what's that?
All those pork-snout pics making you a little queasy? Uneasy?
How 'bout some cake?
That should tide you over until the Hula Girls and Fire Dancers arrive!
Okay, I had to take a little break in all the Hawaii photos so that I could give my mom her twins-fix. She has seen lots and lots of pics and video of Noah here lately, that she was jonesing for some toddler love. And I know that Mima wouldn't say no to some cute photos of twin antics.
So here goes.
We were playing in the little nylon "room" that their Aunt Terri got for them a year ago, popping up out of the roof like mad Jack-in-the-Boxes, and their hair was getting full of static electricity, it was standing straight up! Luka calls the nylon-folding room "Wass" which is his word for "house". It rhymes with... gosh, nothing.
Okay, it rhymes with the Spanish word, "mas" as in "uno mas, por favor!"
Check out Ethan's teeth! Can anyone say, "Orthodontia"? Donations for future work kindly accepted. He kind of looks like Ron in the Harry Potter movies here, don'tcha think?
But I am a bit cranky with Ethan lately. He has been throwing things on the floor just for fun: his plate when he is done eating, his cup when he is done drinking, whatever is on the kitchen counter that he can reach, all the spoons in the utensil drawer, all the papers on my desk, and yesterday (GRRRRRRR!!!) I heard something break when he was playing in the back courtyard and I went out there to make sure he was okay and he was standing among about 7 or 8 smashed terracotta pots with plants in them (or at least they had been in them!) that he had taken off a low table and thrown onto the cement one right after the other!
Okay, a couple of those were plastic, but ARGH!!!!
(taking deep cleansing breaths...)
(focusing on how cute he is in that last photo...)
(breathing... and... moving on!)
I know this last one of the pair of them is a bit out of focus, but its so rare to get the two of them in the same shot that I just went with it anyway.
Awwww, how cute is that? I asked Ethan to kiss Luka and he planted a big wet one on him, but that shot was even MORE out of focus.
Okay, Mom, will this hold you for a couple more Hawaii posts?
I know I haven't been telling you much about what is going on in our lives but its been kind of mundane anyway:
Noah's been going to school; having a few behavior issues. The twins are plugging along as usual, learning to share. I am trying to spiff up the living room decor a bit, and I will tell you all about those things later, but I want to finish working on my Hawaii photos.
I hope I am not becoming one of those people who forces folks to sit through their vacation slide show for 4 hours (or 2 weeks as it is now!).
While Daddy was at his Hawaiian doctor's conference, Noah and I went on a trip on a real submarine! The company is called Atlantis Submarines and they take a group out on a boat and head out to where the submarine is anchored in the ocean. This is no Disneyland-Submarine-on-a-Track ride! Its a real submarine that really dives and is driven by a pilot! You step over to the submarine from the boat, and climb down the hatch into the sub and head down under the water for a 45 minute ride. We eventually dived below 100 feet.
Since you lose color underwater, most of the photos are kind of bad, but I took video, too!
We really had a great time. We saw two sunken ships and lots of fish. The pilot explains a lot about what you are looking at and goes by each ship twice so both sides of the submarine get a good view. Its kind of pricey but our condo rental gave us a free kid's ticket with an adult fare.
For your viewing pleasure, I have uploaded some videos we took in Hawaii on the day we visited the Volcanos. The first was taken inside the Thurston Lava Tube. Don't know what a lava tube is? Noah will explain it all for you!
The second one was taken in Volcanoes National Park as well. This is an overlook into the Kilauea Caldera, and the Halemaumau Crater can be seen within it, spewing steam. This area is famous for the steam vents all around you where you stand. If you bend over and touch the earth, it's warm in some places.
Lastly, the view of the Halemaumau Crater from the Jagger Museum overlook, which 36 hours later, had small boulders raining down on it when the vent in the crater exploded.
Okay, kids, gather 'round for the next installment of "Our Belated Vacation Photos!" When las we left you, we were on our way around the Big Island, having seen the view from Waipio Valley Overlook and checked out Akaka Falls. Next we were headed to Volcanoes National Park.
This is the Halema‘uma‘u crater (Home of Pele) and you can see the steam coming up out of the new crack. You can read here about how Michael and I saw this cloud actually form into the head and hand of Pele, looking quite furious and ready to attack someone with a stick (the best picture I never took).
We were thrilled to find that the Thurston Lava Tube was open, as it was the thing on the Big Island that Noah wanted to do the most.
At 2:58 a.m. on Wednesday, March 19, 2008, scientists at the Hawaiian
Volcano Observatory recorded a small explosion in Halema`uma`u crater, the first
explosive event since 1924. Debris was scattered over a 75 acre area. A light
dusting of ash fell in a community several miles away in the district of
On April 9, another small explosion occurred, depositing dense blocks and
particles of fresh lava on the Halema`uma`u overlook area.
On April 16 at 3:57 a.m., another small explosion from the vent occurred
producing a dusting of pale-red ash west of the crater.
The new explosion pit continues to vigorously vent gas and ash, with the
plume alternating between brown (ash-rich) and white (ash-poor).
We subscribe to Consumer Reports and the very first article in the newest issue really grabbed me as it is about plastics and I have been increasingly worried (since having children) about the chemicals that leach into our food and beverages from plastic storage containers, baby bottles (I pumped and bottle-fed the twins because of feeding issues) and some of the plastic cups and bowls we have our kids use for meals and sippy cups.
You can read the article here but let me just give you the Cliff's Notes version.
There is a chemical found in many plastics but it is also found in the clear lining of your metal canned foods and soda cans, and is called BPA.
BPA, even in low doses, disrupts your estrogen hormones, and is believed to lead to such things as lowered sperm count, infertility, obesity, and may be a factor leading to schizophrenia. Recent studies have confirmed that bisphenol A exposure during development has carcinogenic effects and produce precursors of breast cancer, among other things. (This info was gleaned here.)
In short, the CR article talks about how there has always been arguments about whether BPA is a cause for concern or not. The EPA has said that 50mg per kilogram of body weight is safe, based on TWO studies it reviewed.
According to Consumer Reports, A 2006 review published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research showed that 119 government funded studies found harmful effects. It found only 11 studies that showed that there were no harmful effects. Each and every one of these studies was funded by the chemical industry! So very recently, an investigation has opened to see if BPA proponents have paid consulting groups to engineer science that reaches predetermined conclusions.
So, and listen up here... Consumer Reports recently went to the FDA and asked which two studies they used to decide how much BPA is safe for us to consume. You guessed it. Both were from among the 11 studies, funded by BPA proponents, saying the stuff is just fine.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR PANTRY AND CUPBOARDS FOR BPA PRODUCTS:
(This is straight from the Consumer Reports article)
Identify which containers might have the chemical. Polycarbonate is usually clear rather than cloudy, although it may be colored.
If the container carries a recycling code, it will be marked with the number 7 or the letters “PC,” or both. Number 7 bottles made with BPA-free polyethersulfone (PES) won’t have the PC marking.
Other BPA-free plastic alternatives include polyethylene, which may be marked with recycling codes 1 (PET) or 2 (HDPE), and polypropylene, 5 (PP).
For baby bottles, glass or BPA-free plastics such as polyethylene are the safest choices, as Consumer Reports has advised in the past.
For those who reuse water bottles frequently and want to avoid BPA, consider polyethylene, stainless steel, or aluminum with BPA-free liners.
I also read that baby formula packaging has been found with BPA lining (I am guessing the metal cans). I looked in a can of formula I still have around, and the inside appears to be silver cardboard. I read on a site that the cans of liquid formula is lined with it, just like the soda cans I always drink, and BPA is much worse in infants than in adults.
I looked around my kitchen cupboards and found, thankfully, that most of our plastics are made with BPA-free alternatives, (only a re-usable red water bottle, made in China, similar to the one in the photo on the Consumer Reports page). Maybe some of the American plastics companies are trying hard to switch over. I don't know.
I still want to cut down on my use of plastics and switch to ceramics and such (which are so much homier anyway!) because I don't really trust that we know much of anything about most of the chemicals used to make plastic. But its difficult. I have kids who still throw their plate on the kitchen floor after they have finished eating.
Until then, maybe I should throw out those especially old cans of food in my pantry that I swear I will use someday. And also, I am considering the switch from my beloved Pepsi (yes, I am an addict) in those yummy BPA-lined cans, to the BPA-free (I am guessing) 2 litre bottles.
What's in YOUR pantry?
After Akaka Falls, it was back in the car for the final hour to our main destination: the Kiluaea Caldera in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
In old Hawaii, you had broken a law the penalty was death. Perhaps you had entered into an area that was reserved for only the chiefs, or had eaten forbidden forbidden. Laws, or kapu, governed every aspect of Hawaiian society. The penalty for breaking these laws was certain death. Your only option for survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest puuhonua, or place of refuge.
As you enter, the great wall rises up before you marking the boundaries between the royal grounds and the sanctuary. Many ki'i (carved wooden images) surround the Hale o Keawe, housing the bones of the chiefs that infuse the area with their power or mana. If you reached this sacred place, you would be saved.
Today, you may visit Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, and still fell the spirit of peace and forgiveness that continues to surround and bless this special place.
All right, Kiddies! Time for some Hawaii memories!
I finally got the camera out of moving/packing hell, got the big computer up and running, transferred the photos into Lightroom and the movies off the camera.
I have to say that after all the hype (Hi, Cindy!), I am rather disappointed with my Hawaii photos. I need to look at them more closely but so many of them seem to be slightly out of focus. Not sure if I had the settings tweaked, or if the often-grey sky had something to do with it, or if I banged my camera, or what, but none of them are all that awesome. (And cloudy skies often give you the nicest pictures!)
I actually took a few with our point and shoot, and some of those look loads better than most of my new sweet-baby lens' shots. I haven't had the chance to work any of them (spent the last six days of Noah's vacation going through, purging and organizing only TWO boxes of bathroom junk. Hopefully, when he is back in school (TOMORROW!!) it will all go more swimmingly.
So, for now, I leave you with this first video from our trip to the Big Island: our condo rental at the ResortQuest: Kona by the Sea.
Oh, and just so ya know... the yucky vomit monster came and went in 24 hours, thank goodness, only biting two of us, and life is finally settling into a normal-everyday-frantic-craziness. YAY!
I just had to say it, didn’t I?
We’ve got the gas leak fixed, the fridge was repaired free by the guy who sold it to us, even though it was past the 30 days guarantee, the new washer and dryer are working like a dream, Internet is running, cable in every needed room…
But I had to title that post “At Least We Still Have Our Health”, didn’t I? I even saw Karma, herself, in my mind’s eye, trying to hide a wry little smile, and I thought of changing the title so as not to tempt her, or her sister, Fate. But it was a good, title, no?
You know where this is going, don’t you?
Last night, Noah coughed a couple times and then started crying for “MAMA!!!”. He had vomited while lying on his back and it was down both sides of his face, into his hair, his pillow, etc. Then, he sat up, and did it some more on his blankets.
Sorry for the graphic nature, but as a Mama, you get used to talking about bodily fluids.
We cleaned him up, changed the sheets, changed his clothes, and tucked him back into bed. A half hour later, he did it again. And again… six times in total. And between those fun episodes, he just called to whimper about not being able to sleep, or his blanket is wrong, or his hair smells bad.
Between 11pm, when it started, and 6am, when he wanted to get up and watch TV on the couch, he called us at LEAST once every 45 minutes. So, all three of us pulled all-nighters. Michael went off to work this morning leaving me with the three kids, but was home soon after because now he has come down with “it” as well.
Even though Noah tends to nap nearer to 3pm, its now just past noon, and all four of my family members are in bed, asleep. I supposed I should get some unpacking done, but my current “unpack and purge” project is all over my bedroom floor in not-so-neat piles, but Michael is sleeping in there.
Maybe I should take this time to just watch a movie. I should, because I think its only going to get harder from here, and I should probably take any break I can get my hands on.
I was going to say something about how I, at least, am lucky to not… something or other… but I can feel Madam Karma peeking out from behind the office door.
So, ‘nuff said.
This is how it works:
You move in, you call the utility companies, you stop utilities in the old place, start them up in the new place, fill out the change of address form at the post office, and you are done, right?? RIGHT??
Not this time.
How the Karmic Utility/Appliance Bus Ran Over Us:
Cable/Internet/Phone: They shut us down at the old house 2 weeks before we moved, and we had to fight to get it all turned back on.
Cable/Internet/Phone: They took away our old number and gave us a new one, but we were able to get the old one back after lots of haggling.
Cable/Internet/Phone: They took 3 hours to set it all up in the new house, and then there was still no internet in the, um, OFFICE! So another guy had to come again the next day, for another 3 hours. He was nice… he moved over the cable outlet so that it would go BEHIND the entertainment center just because I said it bugged me. And he tacked down my actual electric power cable to run along the baseboard just because I told him my toddlers like to pull on it. NOT the cable, just the power cable. Nice, eh? Another 3 hours. After he left, we found our TV channels were now all fuzzy, though, sigh…
Let’s talk appliances:
The Dishwasher: Worked fine for the last tenant. For us, it ran through the whole cleaning cycle in less than a minute. Which would be great if the dishes came out clean at the end. A repairman came out.
The Washing Machine: Part of a brand new set, the front-loader of Michael’s dreams. On the first run it began leaking suds out the bottom of the front door.
The Clothes Dryer: After a full night of drying, the clothes were still wet. Had to drag the monster washer out into the hall to get at the back of the dryer. Then, the clothes would dry, but my, oh my, what a nasty smell of natural gas. 24 hours of a motorized vent in the room (smart!) and keeping the door shut until Michael could come drag that baby out into the hall again. After hearing reports of a church exploding back east because of a gas leak, I began alternately closing up the room, and releasing all the pent up gas to the house when the kids were playing outside or sleeping upstairs.
Then, I made the mistake of telling a friend that the fridge is the only thing working. Madame Karma was listening. Or was it Mr. Murphy of Murphy’s Law?
The Fridge: We had just bought a high-end but dented and scratched refrigerator for hundreds off because of the cosmetic damage. It had a 30 day money-back-guarantee from the guy who sold it to us from his 2-car-garage full of dented and scratched appliances. On the 29th day, the motor started getting a little loud, buy, hey, we were moving and nothing was working. At least the fridge was working! On the 31st day the LED readout of the thermostat on the front push-button panel (yeah, I said it was high-end), started blinking. Then the numbers started rising.
It is currently 60 degrees inside my fridge, has been most of the day, and we haven’t even begun to call anyone to repair it.
This weekend, we are hoping to get the office set up, computer and all. Send us your good electrical/cable/wireless energy and prayers.
Nowhere to go but up.
Wait, that didn’t come out quite right.
What I meant to say was that my readers are begging for me to start getting back into the swing of blogging again after my foray to paradise and my trip through moving-hell. Now that I am somewhere I can call home again, maybe I should.
On Tuesday, I took the twins in to a clinic for a speech evaluation, to see if they really were behind schedule with their language. In recent months, I have run into three kids who were almost exactly the same age as the twins and were speaking in sentences, as well as clearly having a much higher level of comprehension of what their parents were saying than my boys do.
We went into a little playroom with them and the woman played with them, asked them to do a couple things, showed them pictures, asking them to point at things, asking them what things are called, and then she tallied up their scores.
As expected, Ethan scored higher than Luka. They are both on the bell-curve of what is considered normal. They are way down at the bottom end of it, but still on it. When it comes to speaking, Luka is off the chart, but only slightly, but his comprehension score averaged him back up onto the very edge of the curve, so both are considered “normal”. No therapy is recommended.
She did give me some tips on how to help them along some more. Mostly stuff I am already doing, but good reminders.
Luka has clearly become more interested in being understood in the last three weeks and has finally started attempting to say words he didn't already know. He mostly won’t use a word unless he has mastered it, so he doesn’t babble at all. He has just started pointing at some things and attempting to name them, although not often.
Ethan is becoming extremely chatty but you can only follow a couple words of it. And its all in the highest-pitched voice you can imagine.
In other news, I think we are actually getting our main (big!) computer set up tomorrow. So, maybe PHOTOS will come soon after! I am still working on the laptop, which has been another reason for unpacking instead of hanging out in the office, writing blog posts.
It’s so dang hard to type on a laptop with fingernails!! THEN, I will be able to download all those photos from Hawaii into my Lightroom program and see what I have (gosh, I hope it’s worth the wait!!) I hope the internets are working well enough for us to get it all up and running this weekend.
We have had a crazy amount of trouble with our appliances and our utilities since we moved in. It’s like the freakin’ twilight zone around here with everything that is working incorrectly!
But that is for another post. More soon.