Sunday, April 15, 2012

Meeting in the Middle: Hawaii

Aloha!  When talks of moving to China started in earnest, we discussed the possibility of "meeting in the middle" with family for a reunion.  We felt like the "middle" happened to be in Hawaii (sorry Alaska)!  The week before Easter my mother and Jamie's parents met our family in Honolulu for some sun, fun, sand and grandchildren.  The girls and I also happened to meet Jamie in Honolulu...again, I found myself flying with the girls alone (a 9 hour flight this time) to meet Jamie in our vacation destination.  He had spent the previous week in the US at the home office and having dinner with all of my friends (and his friends too)!

I want it publicly known that my children were amazing travelers!  I don't remember if I've mentioned this before, but for long flights I print out preschool & kindergarten theme-based activity packets from a homeschool website and put them in plastic folders for them.  They get so excited now to see what packet they are going to get next!  I never pulled out the iPad, LBean didn't use her Leapster, and they didn't watch any movies (we were on a Chinese airline).  They entertained themselves, slept, and worked on their packets.

We flew through the night and arrived early in the morning.  Jamie came the night before and we were able to meet him at our hotel room.  LBean was excited and ready to go, so after Jamie made a quick trip to the medical prompt care clinic (he was treated for strep), they headed to the beach.   EBean quickly dressed for the beach too, but like me, succumbed to the jet-lag and we napped most of the morning.

EBean napping in her swimsuit.  Thankfully no one
got a picture of me napping!
My mom and Jamie's parents arrived later that evening.  By that time, the girls and Jamie had already fallen fast asleep, so I went out with the grandparents for dinner and we all turned in early.  The next day we walked two blocks to the Honolulu Zoo.  The zoo was the perfect size for our girls and we enjoyed walking around in the shade and looking at the animals.

Renting a double stroller was the best decision of the day!
I voted for a Dippin' Dots break, the girls agreed.
DiDi and LBean.
Me and my girls!
Jamie took some really great pictures of the plants
and animals at the zoo.  The hibiscus is the
state flower of Hawaii.
I think we have another budding photographer.
There was a petting zoo too, but LBean elected to
just take the animals pictures instead.

The next day we took the Honolulu City & Pearl Harbor tour.  Our driver took us through Honolulu's Chinatown (as big as a few city blocks).  He asked if anyone in the tour group had a Chinatown in their home cities.  Jamie and I enthusiastically raised our hands!  We stopped at the Honolulu Courthouse and looked at the King Kamehameha statue and used the nice courthouse bathrooms.  LBean & EBean reported back that the courthouse had sitter potties.  LBean and I liked the two story mailbox that had a mail chute from the second floor that dropped the mail into the mailbox on the first floor.

Grandma Callie & EBean by the
King Kamehameha statue.
King Kamehameha
We drove through the Punchbowl cemetery, which is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  The cemetery is built inside of a volcanic crater and offers a beautiful view of the valley below.  I don't remember the specifics, but I believe that our driver mentioned that there are 5 National Memorial Cemeteries outside of the continental United States, including Puerto Rico, the Punchbowl, Alaska, the Philippines (you can read about our visit here: The Philippines), and one other.

Our next stop was Pearl Harbor to visit the USS Arizona Memorial.  In grade school I was able to participate in a program called "Kid University" at Western Illinois University.  One of the "classes" I chose was all about Hawaii.  Our teacher was a really great teacher and she told us a story about how one Sunday morning in early December she and her father went out for an early morning drive and stopped high on a hill to take in the view.  As they were parked on the hill they saw the Japanese fly in for their attack on Pearl Harbor.  It still gives chills when I think about it.

That anchor is huge!

On the boat and approaching the USS Arizona Memorial.

A portion of the ship above the water.

Still leaking oil after all these years.
There were smiles there too.
Leaving the memorial.

After visiting the Arizona memorial, we spent some time touring a submarine, the USS Bowfish, which is docked near the Pearl Harbor memorial.  The girls enjoyed crawling through the submarine.  After lunch we visited the U.S.S. Missouri (Truman's home state) where the Japanese signed their surrender at the end of World War II.

This one is for Grandpa Weiser.
Our family hearts Apple products.

After a few days on Waikiki beach, we headed north to a resort on the beach.  We had arranged for each of the girls to receive a new sand bucket filled with goodies.  The next morning we walked next door to the Disney Aulani resort for a character breakfast with Mickey and a few of his pals.  Now that we've had character breakfasts at three different Disney resorts, I have to say that this was the best breakfast by far.  It was very relaxed, not over-crowded and very interactive.  "Auntie" entertained all of the diners with Hawaiian songs, taught the children how to make music with coconuts, and led a parade around the restaurant.

LBean making some music with coconuts.
GrandLarry enjoying his morning coffee.

A view of the beach at our hotel.
On Saturday morning our resort provided free lei making.  The girls chose to make bracelets and the rest of us made necklaces.

Grandma Callie pointing out the rays,
starfish and sharks in the water at our resort.

One of my Hawaiian princesses.

On Saturday night we walked next door for a Hawaiian luau.  I took the girls out in a boat.  The guy that was helping to paddle was not expecting me to say that we were visiting from China.  He said he kew a little Chinese and asked me to say something.  Under pressure, the only thing I could think of to say was "Wo ai xing baca", which means "I love Starbucks"!

LBean getting a tattoo.
A different kind of lei bracelet.

We rented a van on Sunday and took a little drive around the island.  We stopped at the Dole Plantation  before driving up to the North Shore.  Because we had the van all day, we made two trips to Target and Jamie and I had a movie date-night.

LBean reading the map for us.
EBean marking off her card in the pineapple maze.
Itty-bitty pineapples.
Riding the Pineapple Express

I think one of the highlights for me happened on the last full day we were at the resort.  We spent the morning in a more secluded lagoon near the resort and two sea turtles came into the lagoon.  The turtles might have come up on the sand if I didn't keep shrieking "look, look there are sea turtles" and scaring them away.  I'm from the midwest, so anything sea-related is very exciting for me!

We flew China Eastern air, so we were
allowed 2 checked bags per person.  It wasn't
quite as much as Christmas, but very close!
Two jet-lagged girls.
We had a wonderful trip.  Some of the reviews I had read online didn't speak very highly of Waikiki Beach and Honolulu because it is a big city, traffic is bad and it is filled with typical American shopping.  But, I've decided that it is all about perspective because that is something that Jamie and I were really looking forward too.  One Hawaiian resident told me that there are about 1.3 million people in total on all of the islands combined.  We have around 10 million in Suzhou, so Honolulu felt like driving through Peoria.  As expats it was nice to have many American stores within walking distance.  We also really enjoyed the food and we didn't have a bad meal.  When I'm back in the States I find myself craving beef, cheese, cold black ice-tea and most of all...salads.  I'm happy to say that I ate and drank all of those things.  However, I could not enjoy my iced tea from McDonald's as it was mango flavored and it has become evident that I am allergic to mango and what a strange thing to be allergic to!

Jamie and I also enjoyed running into Target to buy Easter candy, shoes & swimming suits for the girls, and presents for LBean's birthday.  We also had fun sneaking off to see the first Hunger Games movie on a Sunday night.  I have a strong suspicion that the movie will not make it to China.

Now, it's time to start thinking about where to meet the grandparents next!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like another great vacation. I just keep thinking what an amazing experience this is for your family! Great idea about the packets for the plane ride too