Monday, November 21, 2011

Gifts from the sea

Where does the time go?! I didn't mean to let so much of it go by without a new post! We've been spending lots of time at our new favorite beach - the north end of beautiful Papohaku beach right near us. One day last week we drove in there exploring a dirt road that leads right to the cove. That makes it so much easier to get there rather than schleping our stuff and ourselves 20 minutes along the beach from the nearest public access. While we were checking it out we met a local guy who had just been snorkeling for shells and was leaving with a flipper full of gorgeous, whole shells of all shapes and colors. The next day we went back and Zara and John snorkeled for more than an hour. They were thrilled with the shells they found and with all the gorgeous fish they saw. We've been going back almost every day since! It's a beautiful place to hang out with friends, play in the clear water and find incredible shells!

That's Zara's head popping out of the water on the right.

Some of the incredible shells Zara's been finding. That one on the right is 4 inches long!

Bella and Thor in the back of the truck, ready to go to the beach.

When we're not at the beach, Thor loves finding little insects and geckos in the yard.

A TINY baby praying mantis.

Thor played with this little gecko for ages!

We opened a watermelon a few days ago that had no taste, so we took it down to our friend's place and fed it to their pigs! The kids had fun watching them snarf it down. One of these pigs is due to have babies very soon. We can't wait to see them!

Bella reading a story to her friend Eyeris!

Papaya and my new thrifted dishes!

Eating a yummy breakfast outside on the patio. We all have some serious morning eyes!

Virgil, the owner of this lovely house we're living in, arrived last week and we're really enjoying getting to know him. He already feels like part of the family! We had a little pizza party for him on the weekend and are having fun making plans for more projects around the property.

I'm feeling very grateful to be living in such a beautiful spot. Today as we were leaving the beach I turned around for another look and was just struck by the beauty of it. Almost every day one of us says "WOW! I'm so happy we're living here". Yesterday Thor said "I think I'll live here forever. I don't ever want to leave. Just for holidays back to Kelowna, then we can come back here"! We're loving life!

Friday, November 11, 2011

What I love about right now

Last week my beautiful cousin sent me a link to a very inspiring blog post about helping to instill gratitude in our kids by taking the time to see the wonder in all the little thing around us. If you have a few minutes, you can read the post here. You'll be glad you did! I've been thinking about this a lot lately. In our family each night before dinner, we join hands around the table and take time to share a couple of things that we're thankful for at the moment or about our day. I love hearing the kids express their thankfulness and am constantly amazed by the things they share. It's probably one my favorite times of the day and I have been feeling inspired to add more of those moments throughout the day. Yesterday I read Heather's blog and she shared some of the things that she is loving right now. It's been on my mind so much these days that today I'm going to share my list!

You know what I love about right now?

A counter full of fresh, tropical, LOCAL fruit.

Smoothies made with all that delicious fruit.

Watching my kids enjoy it!

One of the bonuses about the rainy season (besides everything turning green again!) is the rainbows. We see them daily, sometimes many times in the day. The sun comes up behind our house so the rainbows are right out in front over the ocean. Last night we saw the most amazing thing... a rainbow by the light of the full moon! John was outside and saw it, called us all out and we marvelled at the full arc of a nightime rainbow. It was so bright it some places that we could see every color.

A rainbow of colorful clothing hanging on the line.

Playing my ukulele. It feels so good to be making music and singing again!

Sea shells!
 I love collecting them on the beach and love looking at them on our kitchen counter.

Zara and I spent some time at the beach collecting shells on her birthday and we had a lovely conversation about gratitude. We talked about not looking for shells with the attitude of "What will I find to take home today?" but rather with a spirit of awe and gratitude for the beauty of Mother Nature. When we find a shell that calls out to us, we say a little prayer of thanks for such a beautiful gift. I find the beauty and the individual design of each shell absolutely awe-inspiring.

Veggies growing.
Yesterday the kids and I went outside and sat down beside this tray of snap peas and nibbled on the shoots, delighting in the freshness and the luxury of being able to eat them this way. We planted lots more in the garden that we'll let grow big enough to produce peas, but we'll just continue to graze on these ones!

So much to be grateful for!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A winter garden

When we were considering moving to Hawaii, one of the possibilities that seemed most exciting was being able to garden year round. So that was one of the first projects on the list once we got here. There is a big flat area out in front of the house on top of the septic field that looked like just the right spot for a garden.

 A great spot, but it needed a lot of work to get it to the point of being able to plant. The dirt here is heavy red clay, so John mixed in gypsum and compost and has been working like crazy out there!

The rainy season is just starting and so we've had some torrential down pours. Each time it rains these gorgeous, tilled rows are turned back into solid hard pan. John has rented a rotatiller on 3 different occasions to get the soil to a point were we can plant.

Checking out the seeds that have been planted in seed trays.

I took these photos a couple of days ago and since then these trays have completely exploded with green plant life! We cut some pea shoots yesterday to put in our salad. Our first harvest!

Getting ready to plant.

Planting sugar snap peas.

Since these photos were taken we've planted so many more seeds. We've planted everything we like to eat and we'll just see what grows well! It's very exciting to see the seeds sprouting and growing so quickly. I will post garden photos periodically so you can see the progress! I do need to embrace this heavy red dirt. It's so sticky and slippery. When I'm out watering the garden, within minutes my shoes are coated in a thick layer of mud as is everything else. And this dirt stains like crazy. So I haven't been super keen to get out there and dig in. We are getting some mulch down in between the rows so that will help. Once again, it's just very different!

This weekend, while John was rotatilling the garden for the 3rd time (there was just no other way to break up the soil enough to plant), the rest of us went to the beach with some of our friends that live just down the road, right on Papohaku beach. Their names are Liana and Tim and they caretake a gorgeous property. Liana's cousin from Oahu was in town with her family so we joined them for some shell searching and a swim. Liana has chickens, pigs, a dog and a lamb (who thinks she's a dog). Ilio the dog, and Lucy the lamb joined us on the beach walk!

Lucy got a few funny looks! It's not everyday you see a lamb on the beach!

This beach is gorgeous. It's the one that's closest to us and we walk down here regularly to look for shells and watch the waves, but we've never swam here. This day we walked all the way to the north end of the beach where it's more protected from the wind and waves and it was a little slice of heaven! The water was so clear and beautiful.

Zara and JC pretending to be dolphins! This beach is 3 miles long... the longest white sand beach in Hawaii.

Thor getting rocked by a wave.

He came up smiling and didn't even get his hair wet!

After our walk we went back to Liana's for pasta and fresh pesto. She made the pesto the usual way but added lime... yum! It was delicious and the lime made it a beautiful bright green. I will definitely be adding lime next time I make it!

Every day this place feels more like home. We're spending lots of time with our new friends, seeing familiar faces almost everywhere we go and getting more familiar with our surroundings. Yesterday when Bella woke up, as she was lying in bed she said "I could almost cry, I'm so happy that we're in Hawaii. Look, I have some water running out of my eyes. That's because I'm so happy." It was very cute! We have our ups and downs most of the time we are really happy here. Aloha!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Life on the island

We've been here three weeks now and are settling into a rhythm in our new setting. Sunday afternoon finds us at Coffee's of Hawaii - a small coffee plantation with a coffee shop and a big covered deck area where a Sunday afternoon family concert is held each week. A lovely group of local folks play their beautiful Hawaiian instruments, some of them dance hula, and lots of people in the audience play along on their own ukulele's. It's good, clean fun and always entertaining. In just three weeks we already know many of the regulars and many of them know us by name. It feels like we're part of the family already.

The audience... you can see many folks playing their ukes.

DJ and Aunty Julia dancing the hula. I've just started learning to hula dance with DJ and a group of amazing women!

All the ukulele players in the crowd go up and play a song with the band. Soon I'll be up there with them...this past week I started taking ukulele lessons twice a week.

The kids drawing with a new friend who was visiting for the week. It's a great place to meet people and lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Zara and Bella were really excited about Halloween this year and weren't going to let it go by without celebrating somehow! Thor was excited before hand, but when it came right down to it, he wasn't so keen, so we left him home with John while the girls and I went into town for a costume party on the lawn in front of the library.

Ready to go... Bella was a purple fairy and Zara was a Spanish Dancer. This photo doesn't show her HIGH heels that she tromped around in all week practicing for the day, or the big red flower in her hair.

Bella with our new friends at the library. YAY! We have new friends! A lovely young family from Portland, Oregon who have been here for almost 1 1/2 years. This is Melodie with her 3 sweet kids. They live just 2 miles down the road from us and are homeschooling their oldest too. We look forward to lots of time and adventures together!

Bella and Eyeris (dressed up here as a Rainbow Goddess) are becoming fast friends! The kids all enjoyed watching the costume contest and taking in the festivities. There were some very creative costumes! The people here love to celebrate Halloween. Well, I think they are always happy for a reason to get together and celebrate, but Halloween is BIG here! After the costume festivities we headed up into one of the neighborhoods above the town and did some trick-or-treating. The houses were decorated and everyone was out celebrating. They set up little candy stations in their driveway and lots of potlucks and barbeques were going on. It was a big, neighborhood party! We just went up and down one street then called it good and headed for home. On the way home we saw 5 deer, an owl and lots of toads on the road!

There are all sorts of critters here that we're trying to get used to and just accept as part of living in a tropical climate. Some are creepier than others! Thankfully, none are poisonous or lethal.

This gorgeous praying mantis was hanging out in one of our lime trees on the front patio. John found it while pruning the tree. Otherwise we probably would never have known it was there. Look how it blends in!

This scorpion was in our kitchen sink on the bottom of a sponge. I picked up the sponge to wipe something off and felt it move! Luckily I dropped it before it could sting me. Apparently they have a fairly mild sting.

And this big centipede is the one that scares us the most! It has a very strong sting... like a wasp but it leaves 2 little bite marks were it gets you. We have to watch for these when walking outside at night as that's when they come out. On Sunday night we had our new friends over for a pizza party and we didn't shut our big sliding doors until after dark. The next morning we found 3 of these centipedes in the house. They must have wondered in while the doors were open. We will definitely be more aware of closing the doors before dark from now on!

I've been thinking, as we've been settling in, that there is a trade off or a cost to everything we do or every choice we make. We have chosen to live on this tropical island for the winter where the air is warm, we have amazing fresh tropical fruit at our fingertips, lovely beaches to explore, windows open year round, a garden year round.... lots of lovely things about it. The trade off is a wind that never stops blowing red dust around, more isolation than we're used to, gecko poo all over the house, other creepy crawlies that skulk around in the night, limited provisions available on the island.... there are always trade offs. I guess it's a matter of accepting that and focusing on the positive. There are so many amazing things about living here that the negative things about it are not such a big deal. It takes time to get used to a new culture and just a different way of life, but we're getting there!