Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dolphins and Whales

Andrew, Natalie, and Becky have been here all week visiting us!  On Monday, we went on a boat tour with Holo Holo Charters. We think that the boat tour is one of the best things to do out here.  You get to spend a half-day out on the ocean and see some amazing views of the coast and lots of sea life.  Plus, they  feed you breakfast and lunch.  We got especially lucky as  far as seeing sea life on this trip.  There were tons of spinner dolphins!  They are so much fun to watch.  They literally jump out of the air and spin.  They travel in groups so we got to see a lot of them.  We also saw several whales.  They were extremely  close to the boat.  It was incredible!  It is crazy to see an animal that big coming out of the water.  Unfortunately, none of us had our cameras on us at the moment, but pictures probably wouldn't have done it justice anyways.

We did get a good video of the dolphins.  Click on the link below! :)
 Spinner Dolphins

Do you see the dolphin that is in mid-air?!  It was so cool!

 The Na Pali Coast


- Emilie

KANAKA Christmas Program 2012

Last Friday was our school Christmas program!   It was held at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center which is just minutes away from the school.  The kids have spent time over the past month learning new hula dances and practicing singing Christmas carols in Hawaiian to get ready for the program.  We also spent two afternoons at the neighborhood center to practice what it would be like performing there instead of at school.  It was a treat for everybody to go there because it is right on the ocean which makes it so enjoyable.  Plus, they have a great playground which our students loved getting a chance to play on.

 This is the neighborhood center.

 This isn't the best picture, but we had a lot of great Christmas decorations and a stage set up.  Teachers stand behind the students as they perform as a sign of our support of them.

Every student received a Christmas gift at the end of the program.

 All of the girls wore white muumuu's to the program.  The students also had lei's that had been spray painted gold.  They were very pretty.

 The hula teacher made about a dozen of these beautiful wreaths to use as decorations.  We got to take this one home at the end of the night.  It is so pretty!  I always wanted a wreath for my door too!

The most special part of the night was receiving these beautiful earrings from the family of one of my students.  They are hand-made from the famous Niihau shells.  I am  so appreciative that I got such a special gift because I know how much work goes into making them.  First, they have to find each shell (which must be hard since the shells are so tiny).  Then they have to carefully clean out the sand and poke holes in them (I have been told that this is hard to do without breaking them).  Next of course they need to be strung and  made into the earrings.  It is hard to describe what a special gift this was.

If you are interested in a more detailed description of how the jewerly is made, or for more information about Niihau, the link below is to a great site.

- Emilie

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Kauai Coffee Open House

On Saturday, Kauai Coffee had a holiday open house.  We always love going there for the free coffee samples and the little self-guided walking tour through the coffee field.  This weekend they were offering free shipping to the mainland so they had a lot of customers!  They also had a visit from Santa, games, and a small petting zoo.  One of the games was to guess how many tablespoons of coffee would fit into a gigantic mug.  We won! They gave us a gift card and I picked out the hoodie that I'm wearing in the picture.

- Emilie

Sunday, December 2, 2012


It is hard to believe that it is already December.  In two weeks it will be Christmas break and Natalie, Andrew, and Becky will be here!  It has been a little colder here lately (low 70s and high 60s) in the morning.  The whales are starting to come back now too.  If we go on another boat tour over break I hope we see some!

At school the students are getting ready for the Christmas program and parade.  My class is going to make salt-dough ornaments for the kids to take home for their families.  The school garden has grown quite well and we are going to be eating some of the vegetables that we planted in the fall at some point this week.  One of my students asked me if I am Hawaiian because she said I have Hawaiian looking feet.  How funny :)

The hula teacher gave me this pretty basket as a Christmas gift.  He is very talented at making things from the plants and flowers here.  Next week we will start making leis for the Christmas program.

Over the weekend we went to an art fair in Kapa'a.  They have one on the first Saturday of every month.  There were lots of little crafty things for sale, artwork, jewelry, live music and food.  The atmosphere there is a lot like down town Ann Arbor.  We some some little girls doing fire spinning, they were really good!

- Emilie

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  Even though it was 80 degrees, it actually felt like Thanksgiving this year.  We watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade and then Cory watched the Lions.  We had a great meal despite the fact that we do not have an oven and have exactly one small pot,  one small pan, and thankfully a crock pot.  We had turkey meatloaf, creamed corn casserole, mashed potatoes and some other small side dishes.  After that we watched Christmas movies.  It feels so great to have this extra long weekend.  A lot of my students have been getting sick, hopefully everyone will recover by the time we go back to school on Monday.

- Emilie


A few weeks ago we got to go zip-lining!  One of our friends works at a ziplining place in Koloa and had extra spots on her tour.  We were really excited because this was something that we always wanted to try.  There were 8 different lines to go on over a 3 hour period.  The first one was very short so we could get used to it.  After that they got more exciting. We could go upside down and backward if we wanted to.  Of course, Cory did that right away!  I was expecting to get the stomaching dropping feeling you have when you go on a roller coaster, but we didn't.  We had a lot of fun!

 All geared up and ready to go!

 Emilie zip-lining.
 Here comes Cory!

 Having fun!

Nice views.

Below are links to some funny videos that we took while we were out.

- Emilie

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Each year my school has a pumpkin-carving contest on Halloween.  The kids had so much fun! My class found some ideas online earlier in the week and decided on a hamburger pumpkin.  It turned out really good.  I brought in some real lettuce and the McDonalds fries holder to go with it.  One of my students brought in an onion from home to put on the "burger".  As you can imagine, there was a lot of excitement in the room with the pumpkin carving happening.  Cory and I combined classes for the day and rotated the kids through learning stations, each of us having a station for pumpkin carving.  It was a good way to give everyone a turn carving the pumpkin and continue to have  productive learning activities going on. 

This is our finished pumpkin.  We won first place!

This is the pumpkin that Cory's class carved.  Not bad for kindergarten and first grade!

- Emilie

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tsunami Warning

On Saturday night Cory and I were going to a Halloween party in Lihue.  First, we stopped at a store and while we were there, something about a Tsunami came on the TV.  Cory thought it was old, so we ignored it (they often play old footage of a major hurricane that hit Kauai 20 years ago).  We got in the car and an alert came on the radio, so we changed the station.  The alert came on the new radio station that we turned to, so we finally decided to listen to it.  We discovered that there was an earthquake near Canada and "a tsunami has been generated and the first wave is predicted to hit Hawaii at 10:28 p.m."

Before long, sirens were going off, evacuation centers were opening, and roads were closed to everyone except those evacuating.  We were at our friend's house that is quite a ways inland and blocked by mountains, so we didn't have to evacuate.  We kept checking the news for more information, but I guess tsunami's are unpredictable and we were supposed to prepare for the worst.  Apparently, in Honolulu so many people were evacuating and the traffic was so bad that some people left their cars to start walking toward the mountains.  Turns out, it was a false alarm.  The earthquake only generated a 6 inch wave! Yes, six inches, not six foot (not that a 6 foot wave would have been a big deal either)!  I think Maui got a 5 foot wave.  The regular waves out here are bigger than the "tsunami waves" were.  Hopefully we will never experience a dangerous tsunami though!

- Emilie

Monday, October 22, 2012

Painting Class

I've been going to an oil-painting class every Sunday for the past few weeks.  I have always enjoyed making artwork and going to these classes has really helped me understand how to get started.  Here is my first painting!  I am excited to do more :)

- Emilie

Princess Ka'iulani Festival

It has been awhile since I have had time to write!  We have been extra busy these past few weeks.  This past weekend we went to the Princess Ka'iulani Festival in Hanapepe. One of the high school students at my school was portraying the princess for the day.

Princess Ka'iulani was the last princess of Hawaii.  The festival was obviously about remembering her, but there was also an emphasis on Niihau.  My school set up a "Niihau Village".  In the center was a stage where our school performed the hula.  Several other groups performed as well.  In another section there was Niihau style pancakes which are only made with flour and water.  Instead of syrup they put sweetened condensed milk on top.  There was also someone there telling stories about the boat ride from Niihau to Kauai.  My favorite area was where they were demonstrating how the famous Niihau shell jewelry is made.  It is very delicate work!

 This is what a Niihau Shell Necklace looks like.  In the center of this necklace  is a sunrise shell, one of my favorite kind of shells!  They are really popular here. 

During the festival there was a children's talent show.  One of the kids that Cory coaches was there and convinced him to spot her on a back-tuck during her performance.  One of my students told the story of the three little pigs for her talent, it was pretty cute.

There was also a "parade" - but really it was only the kids at the festival getting dressed up in costumes and walking down the street.  The people who organized the festival provided costumes for the kids which was pretty nice. I still can't get over how funny it is to see kids in Halloween costumes in 80 degree weather :)

- Emilie

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cory's New Job

Cory starts a new part-time job tomorrow!  He was hired as an "emergency" teacher at the school that I work at.  In a sense, it is kind of like a long-term sub job. He will be teaching Kindergarten and 1st grade two days a week.  We are pretty excited because Cory has been thinking about returning to school to become a teacher.  This will be a great opportunity for him to see how he likes it.  Luckily, he has substitute teaching and coaching experience -- not to mention I will be next door!  I think he is going to be a great teacher.  

- Emilie

Na Pali and Niihau Boat Tour

Over fall break we went on Holo Holo Charters "Na Pali and Niihau" tour!  First we went up the Na Pali coast, and then across to Niihau.  Since Niihau is privately owned, we were not able to set foot on the island.  It was nice to see it up close though, especially after only seeing it as a hazy blur for the past year!  We stopped at a crater called Lehua to go snorkeling.  Lehua is basically an uninhabited huge rock and a bird sanctuary.  We saw a monk seal sleeping on the rocky shore.  The snorkeling was definitely the best I have every done!  The water was incredibly blue and clear.  There were really cool rock formations under the surface which was fun to look at.  The water was pretty deep, which is actually how I prefer to snorkel.  Of courses, there were plenty of interesting colorful fish to look at too.  After snorkeling we had some delicious sandwiches on the boat and headed back.  We had a great time!

 Lehua Keyhole



For more information about Lehua:

- Emilie

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Camping at Lydgate

Last weekend we went on a two-day camping trip at Lydgate park.  If you look on the map, it is near Wailua.  We have discovered that Lydgate is very convenient for us because it is far enough from Hanapepe to feel like we are going on a trip but the park is close to the grocery store (which is actually quite helpful). 

After work on Friday we were able to leave right away and just pick up food on the way.  It was really nice being able to stay for two days, it felt a lot longer.  I love being able to wake up and already be at the beach with everything I need.  We spent the entire day on Saturday just relaxing.

 We enjoyed watching the sunrise!

 This was the view from our tent!  I love sleeping to the sound of the ocean.

 We recently got a new tent.  It is HUGE!  I think the dimensions are 16x11.  I don't think we would use it on a one night trip, but it is great for multiple nights.  We figured we could also use it when people come to visit us, if they want to go camping.
- Emilie

Fall Break

Believe it or not, today was the end of our first quarter of the school year!  It went by really fast.  I have the next two days to complete report cards and attend a professional development day, and then we have a week off for fall break.  The best part is that my friend Staci is coming to visit!  We are planning to go camping at Polihale and on the North Shore. 

I decided that I like the school year schedule here better than in Michigan.  We start at the very end of July but school is out in the middle of May.  It is so nice to have a break in the fall.  The stretch from September till the tiny Thanksgiving break always seemed too long.

The past two weeks have been pretty busy at school though.  We went on a field trip last week for a song contest between the four Hawaiian schools on the island.  Their was quite a bit of dialogue between each group's performance, and since it was all in Hawaiian I was not always exactly sure what was going on.  Luckily my friend/co-worker filled me in afterward.

The next day, my 4th and 5th graders went on a field trip to a science fair with the middle school students and  high school science teacher. 

Today, our whole school went bowling!  It was nice to do something extra fun the day before break.  It was my first time in a bowling alley since Cory and I bowled at Ypsi-Arbor bowl about two years ago!  I definitely did not impress my students with my bowling skills, haha. 

 - Emilie

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Learning Hawaiian

I have slowly but surely been learning little bits of the Hawaiian language.  I don't know very much (believe me), but I am proud to say that I can finally say the Lord's Prayer in Hawaiian (without too many mistakes).  It took me long enough, considering we say it three times each morning as a whole school.  If you have ever listened to someone speak a language that you don't know, you will understand how it sounds like they are talking really fast.  It can be hard to hear the separation of words.  I definitely still get mixed up at times during the prayer, but I can follow along if I listen closely and when I don't stumble over words. 

I also tell my students good morning in Hawaiian and a few other common phrases.  In order to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom they have to ask me in Hawaiian.  I'm becoming a little more comfortable trying out new words that I learn with my class.  It feels strange saying things in a different language, even though it is only a few words and phrases here and there.  I can't formulate sentences but I can recognize some words.  I'm writing checks in Hawaiian now, it is allowed here since Hawaiian is a legal language.  My friend taught me how to write the numbers.

Here are some words for you!

Aloha Kakahiaka - Good Morning
E kala mai - Excuse me

Mahalo - Thank you

Pehea 'oe? - How are you?

Maika'i - Good

'A'ole - No

'Ae - Yes
- Emilie

Monday, September 10, 2012

Exploring Hanapepe

We discovered that there is a levee along the Hanapepe River that people use as a walking path. It is just a little ways from our apartment and offers great views of the surrounding cliffs and of the river.  I think that it would be a good place to go running.  There is also a suspension bridge that goes across the river and straight into town.  You may notice that the land appears to be a little dry, that is because Hanapepe is on the west side of the island where it is not as tropical.

This is the first thing I saw when I turned the corner onto the path.

This is what the path looks like in the other direction facing towards where we live.

 The suspension bridge.

 Nice view of the cliff and the river.  Do you see the houses on top of the cliff?

- Emilie

Vertical Rainbow

Last week on the way to school I saw a really pretty rainbow.  It looked like it was vertical instead of arched.  I looked it up online and I found out that rainbows can appear to be vertical at sunrise and sunset because of the angle of the sun.  The pictures don't do it justice!  It was gorgeous!  Plus, the view of Niihau was unusually clear that morning as well.  Sometimes I can't even see it, but on that day it looked like it had moved closer to Kauai over night.

My friend from work told me that different kinds of rainbows have different names in Hawaiian.  This one is called kahili.  The general word for rainbow is anuenue.  Certain rainbows also have special meanings. 

- Emilie

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our New Place

We are all moved in to our new place, and we love it!  It was a lot of work because both of us have been sick, and moving all our stuff was exhausting. We are thankful that we had a three-day weekend to rest a little.  Our new place is very quiet and pleasant.  We can't hear the ocean, but we can feel the breeze. We can walk to a nice swimming beach, a gym get into shape, restaurants to get out of shape, and a wide variety of small art galleries.   We realized that we have accumulated quite a bit of stuff since moving to Kauai.  When we came here originally we only had two carry-on suitcases and two checked bags.  But how can you live by the ocean without beach chairs, snorkel equipment, a boogie board, etc?

 The view from our front porch.  

 I love the flowers!

 Our kitchen.

 Our folding camping table is currently our kitchen table as well.  

 Attention Visitors: You will be sleeping here.  It folds out.

 We haven't had one of these in a year!  It will be nice not having to watch movies on our computer.

We are thinking about getting a surf board.  Several of the people who are visiting this year want to go surfing.  Instead of them paying to rent a board we are thinking they could contribute that amount toward us buying one.  They only cost about $100 at Costco.  I don't have a huge desire to learn to surf, but it would be fun. I recently met someone at a garage sale who told Cory and I that, "You two must be surfers, I can just tell."  That made me laugh.  Usually when we meet people they ask us where we are visiting from.  It gets a little annoying after awhile, but we can't blame them because there are so many visitors that it is a fair question.

Today I found out that a local  artist is offering is offering five free painting classes in October.  I'm really excited!  I'm definitely going to go to them.  I love free things and I love art/crafty things. A little while back I bought a few art supplies and tried a few things, but I'm excited to go to a class.  There are plenty of beautiful things around me for inspiration.

- Emilie and Cory

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Moving to Hanapepe

On Wednesday we will be moving further west to Hanapepe!  I'm looking forward to the move because I will be closer to work and my bus ride should only be around 20 minutes.  This means I can wake up later and get home earlier!  We are going to be living in a cute apartment above a granola store. 

Every Friday night in Hanapepe there is an art fair, which we will be literally seconds away from.  We are also going to be closer to the beach!  Only 1 mile away from a great place to go swimming called Salt Pond.

We will post more pictures later in the week once we have moved in.  

A lot of people have asked us what the rent prices are like here in Kauai.  Well, they are nothing like Ypsilanti, MI. There are very few apartment complexes.  Most rentals are additions that people have added on to their homes or sectioned off.  Some home owners have a separate studio behind their house for rent.  There are not very many options.

Most 1 bedroom apartments/studios are about $1,000 a month, but once in awhile a better deal will open up -- but won't be available for long!   Electricity prices are extremely high, so finding a place that includes utilities is kind of important.  Many people here hang their clothes on a clothesline to dry.  We know people who don't even own a dryer.  Luckily, our new place has both.
Hanapepe was the setting that Disney based the movie "Lilo and Stitch" off of!  We will have to watch the movie and look for the granola store :)

- Emilie

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lucky Day

Yesterday was our lucky day!  We went to the grand opening of the Kauai Island Brewery in Eleele.  They were giving away door prizes every hour and had a few bands playing, it was packed! Everyone who came got a raffle ticket.  A huge group of people left and gave us all of their tickets.  We ended up winning a t-shirt, a gift certificate for ice-cream, and a sunset boat tour for two people, we are so  excited!!  We are going to save the boat tour for when visitors come.  So for the people who are coming to see us, let us know if this is something that you would like to do.  It is with Holo Holo Charters.

- Emilie

School Garden

I can't believe that we are already 3 weeks into the school year.  It is going great so far.  My class and the K-1 class started a school garden.  We planted carrots, lettuce, and grape tomatoes.  A lot of schools in Hawaii have gardens and our principal wanted us to start one last year but it was too late in the year.  There is a group of teachers from all over the island who meet up periodically to collaborate about their school garden projects.  My coworker and I went to one, and they gave us all of the seeds we needed.  We also got seeds for sunflowers.  We plan to have the kids plant them outside of the windows to our classroom so we can enjoy them during the school day.

We planted our garden in pallets like this one (this is not ours, nothing is growing yet).  We like how it keeps the plant in neat rows.  Plus, the soil in Kekaha is not very good, so we filled ours with potting soil.

We also got a planter similar to this one.  It is made out of a big plastic barrel that was cut in half.  Ours is elevated with a wooden frame which is at nice height for the kids.  Since it is off the ground it will be more protected from the chickens (which are everywhere).

- Emilie