Friday, February 24, 2012

The Grand Hyatt Luau

Last night we went to the Grand Hyatt Luau with the Walkup family!  It was great to see some familiar faces :)

When we arrived we were surprised to see that it was going to be held inside the hotel ballroom instead of outdoors.  They explained that there was a chance of rain and they would rather be safe than sorry.  As soon as we walked into the room we were handed a mai-tai...not a bad way to start the night!  A presenter came on stage and explained some background into Hawaiian culture and history.  Then it was time for dinner.  They had an awesome buffet set up with more food than you can imagine... fresh fruit, vegetables, lomi lomi salmon, poi, kalua pig, lau lau, steak, chicken, and more!  As we finished dinner we got to enjoy a dance performance.  There was a series of short dances performed in different styles including both types of hula, maori, and fire dancing as the finale!  We had a wonderful time, it definitely would give visitors a nice introduction into Hawaiian food, music, and dance.

- Emilie and Cory

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Room Schoolhouse?

I feel like I am working in a one room schoolhouse... even though there is technically more than one room.  I have another new student, a fourth grader (my only one).  This means that I now teach all of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at my school.  Not to mention that I have a first grader who I teach for half of the day and I co-teach science two days a week.  On those days we have grades k-5 in the same class! 

Needless to say, I could have never imagined that I  would have ended up in this type of teaching situation.  I'm having to learn some things as I go, but I know I came into this position prepared to be a good teacher.  In some ways it is nice to have multi-age students in the same class.  I can pair them up for "buddy reading" where an older student reads to a younger student, and then the younger student reads to the older student.  They work very well together and are surprisingly patient.  The biggest thing I fear is not being able to teach each grade/subject to the best of my ability.  I know how to teach a lesson, but how do I teach 4 lessons in one period?  I'm doing it... but it is not easy.  My students work in stations, which is really the only way I can run my classroom effectively.  They must be able to work independently at the stations that they are not with me because I have to be completely focused on the precious time I have with the group that is in front of me.  Considering this circumstances and the fact that my classroom is extremely tiny and cramped, my students are doing wonderfully.  However, if any readers out there have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them!


Salt Beds

Today I got to learn something new at school!  A student brought another Kumu a large zip-lock bag of salt that he had collected himself from a salt bed on Niihau. From what I understand, people dig "salt beds" near shore where the waves will hit.  When the water level is low and the water evaporates from the beds, salt is able to be gathered.  There is so much that they can dig it out with a shovel!  According to Hawaiian culture, they choose not to sell it since it came from the land.  Instead, they only trade with it.  There are also salt beds on Kauai at a beach with a very fitting name, Salt Pond.  Below is a link to a website that talks about the salt beds on Kauai.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trip to Michigan

Someone asked me the funniest thing recently, "don't you miss dressing up for winter?"

Haha! Nope, I do not miss this part of Michigan at all.  Despite all of my warm clothes I used to wear, I was never warm enough.  We have been missing home though.  We are planning to come back from June 25ish to July 16th.  We have not gotten our plane tickets yet, but we will soon.  It will be great to see everyone!!  I'm especially excited to stay at my friend Staci's new bed and breakfast.  It is for scrapbookers and looks absolutely wonderful.  I will finally get to do our wedding scrapbook!

For any scrapbookers, or crafty people of any kind, you should check out her website!

 I also can't wait to go shopping.  There are not many choices out here.  The only decent place to buy regular clothes is Macy's.  There are lots of shops with swim wear, cover ups, aloha shirts, but not many with just regular clothes.  Thankfully my mom, Natalie, Becky, and Cory's mom have sent me some things this year!

Most of all, we are really looking forward to seeing all of our friends and family.

- Emilie

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hula Practice

This past week I had an especially nice time at hula practice.  We learned a dance to really awesome song (that I sadly don't know the name of).  The dance movements were not too slow or too fast, so it was really fun to learn.  I'm finally catching on a little!  I can see how enjoyable hula must be to people who are good at it :)  At practice I found out that one of the girls in our class is from none other than Ypsilanti!  I could not believe it.  She graduated from Grand Valley but lived in Ypsilanti for three years - when I was also living there!  It feels like a small world sometimes.


Church Pot-Luck

Last weekend we went to a pot-luck at Poipu beach with people from the church we have been going to.  They wanted to do something special because there is a team of people from Indiana who are visiting for a week to volunteer. We currently meet inside of a school gym, but they are working on a building.  The team is working on the electrical stuff.  During the pot-luck a small group of hula dancers from the church performed. They drew a large audience from the people out on the beach!  They danced beautifully. We had a great time.  While I was there I couldn't help thinking about how lonely we felt when we first got here.  People are always getting together at the beach under the pavilions and we never knew anybody.  It felt really nice to be on the other side, and be one of the people who were a part of a group.  That might sound silly, but it is nice that we finally know people.  It is a strange feeling to not know anybody. We never would have thought that we would meet so many people here on Kauai, that are from Michigan!

- Emilie

Mahaulepu Beach

Last Saturday we spent the day at Mahaulepu Beach with a retired couple from church.  Believe it or not, they are from Michigan! They moved to Hawaii in August.  They invited us to join them for the day because we had never been to this particular beach and they told us that it is best to have four-wheel drive to get down the road that leads up to it (they have a Jeep).  I think that a two-wheel drive could make it, but it was definitely a bumpy ride!  I don't know if we would want to put our PT through that or not.

It didn't take us long to realize that we had found a  hidden gem of Kauai.  The water was the most brilliant blue, pictures don't do it justice. We went on a really nice walk from the beach up to nearby cliffs which overlooked the swimming area.  There were some really cool rock formations made from a combination of lava and the ocean wearing away at the rock for so many years.  It was easy to spot whales from where we were too.

 I love this picture!  This is what I meant when I said you can see how the ocean has worn away the cliff over the years.  Look at the water!  It was SO incredibly clear!

 On our journey we found some cool little caves... of course Cory couldn't resist climbing in! :)
 Again, isn't the water just awesome!  On our entire hike there was no sign of "civilization" ... no roads, houses or cars.  It was so peaceful.

 Here is a cool little cave we found.

 Look how the cliff just appears to have broken off.

After we had finished our walk we were ready to get in the water!  Since this beach was pretty empty, Cory thought it was about time to try spear fishing.  Since the water was so clear we knew he would easily be able to spot the fish.  He said that the spear was easier to use and aim than he had thought it would be. Although he did not catch anything this time I'm sure he will next time!  There were not as many big fish as we see at Poipu Beach and he didn't want to bother with a little one.  It was a good place for him to practice though!

All in all, we had a wonderful day.  Of course, a day at the beach is always relaxing and this one was especially nice because it was so beautiful there!  If you visit Kauai I would make a point to try to visit this beach!

- Emilie

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I have been feeling a lot of pressure at work lately.  One of the reasons is the Hawaii State Assessment that my class is required to take.  The state allows the students to take it up to three times to try to obtain a passing score.  One of the difficulties with this test is the fact that it is very unauthentic.  I don't think it accurately reports what the students are capable of.  Another challenge is that it is on the computer.  It can be hard for students to read a passage that is on a computer screen instead of front of them on paper.  On paper, they can easily use their finger to follow along a line of text (as they do in class).  They would be able to highlight, circle, and underline things that are important.  On the computer screen they cannot do these things.  I personally don't like to read lengthy articles on the computer myself.  In college, if I had something long to read, I would print it out so I could have it right in front of me.  So that is frustrating. 

The other thing that has put pressure on me is this big conference that my class is going to.  It is called the Ku'i Ka Lono Indigenous Education Conference.  The principal chose my class to represent the school this year.  It is a pretty big deal because we have to travel to Oahu to be a part of this.  We will be staying there for three days!  My class is required to give a presentation in Hawaiian and in English.  They will be presenting non-fiction books that they are currently writing.  They are working in groups, and each member is working on their own chapter, or section.  Once they have perfected their piece in English, it needs to be translated into Hawaiian.  They are also making pictures to go with the pages.  At  the conference they will not only be presenting their books, but describing the writing process as well!  They are given an entire hour!  According to one of my co-workers, she has never seen any presentations from elementary students at the conference before.  I really hope that we will be fully prepared and that it will be a meaningful and exciting learning experience.

Below is the description of the conference from their website.

Native designed and controlled public charter schools will share their educational practices and accomplishments among themselves and with other Indigenous educators, parents and other interested stakeholders.  By sharing strategies for success, such as “EA-Education with Aloha”, this conference hopes to help all native communities create quality culturally-driven schools and programs that empower native students to walk successfully in two worlds and assure that No Child Is Left Behind.  Thursday will focus on student, teacher and community presentations with an evening of cultural performances.  Friday will focus on public charter school visits and service learning projects.

Here is the website to the conference...


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thank You!

I recently received an exciting donation of the "Little House on the Prairie" books for my class! It was a random act of kindness that is sincerely appreciated. If you are reading this, please resend your address so I can properly thank you! -Emilie

Monday, February 6, 2012

Moving to Kauai

Moving to Kauai

We have been getting a few emails from people asking questions about moving to Kauai, and if we like it. Of course we like it, there is nothing not to like! We do miss friends and family, but all in all it has been a great experience. 

The thought of moving to Kauai can go from exciting and joyful, to overwhelming and stressful in an instant. Stay calm and focused, moving to Kauai, one of the most beautiful places in the word may be a huge decision, but in the end it will all be worth it. If you are relocating for a job, or moving to just get away, there are a few requirements and arrangements that need to be considered prior to your launch into the Pacific Ocean.

Living Expenses

It is always assumed that moving to Hawaii means higher expenses and cost of living. If this is truly a concern for you, just know that if you are willing to make concessions you will find that the cost of living is not much more here then what your used to at home, especially if you have lived in a big city. Renting is going to be more expensive if you don’t look for deals. Expect to pay around $1000/month plus utilities unless you keep an expert eye on craigslist. Your best bet is to buy a home on Kauai. If you can afford the down payment, you will end up paying the same, or less than a rent payment. Invest in your future, and buy a home! With the Kauai real estate about the turn the corner, it is a great time to buy if you can afford it.

Save money on food by shopping at places like Wal-Mart and Costco. Buy what’s on sale. Almost all food is imported, so shop wisely and eat out less often. Food is over all more expensive, but if you are a savvy shopper, and buy sale items, you will only see a marginal increase in your bill.


When deciding on a place to live on Kauai, you will want to ask yourself a few basic questions:

    1. Do you want to live walking distance from the ocean? Or a 5-15 minute drive? 
    2. Do you want to life close to a main town with all your amenities? 
    3. Is your location restricted by a job?These are all things to keep in mind, Here a list of popular Kauai towns that may be of interest to you.

Kauai Real Estate
Search Kauai Real Estate by Town

Important Personal Documents

When you begin packing for your move to Hawaii, you need to be sure that all of your personal documents are placed in a easy to find spot in your carry-on. Make sure you have passports, birth certificates, ID’s, social security cards, medical records, etc. Never put these items anywhere but your carry-on. The loss of luggage is a real problem, and an area of concern especially if you are switching airlines during your flight.

Your old Junk

When moving to Hawaii you should keep in mind that many places here are fully furnished. This does not mean just your couch and bedroom furniture, you can also easily find a temporary place to live that will have everything including cookware, plates, bowls, silverware, towels, etc. If you are planning to buy a home before your arrival, make sure to tell your Kauai Real Estate Agent  that you want to include all furnishings with your offer. State specifically what you want, and you can get it! So, pack light and bring only what you truly need.
You will need to decide what needs to ship, and what needs to be sold or disposed of.  High ticket items can be difficult to part with, but moving half way around the world means a starting over to a certain degree. Don’t let this stress you out. The last thing you need is to be concerned about your JUNK!  Furniture and other bulky items should go to friends and family, or sold. Often, the cost of shipping these larger items is higher than their replacement value. The smaller items you may want to ship, or pay the extra luggage fee at the airport. $30 may sound like a lot for an extra bag on the plane, but if your items are under 50lbs, you will some money on shipping costs.

Transporting Vehicles to Hawaii

If you have a newer vehicle, you are probably going to want to ship if over. Although it is going to cost you about $1000 from the west coast, you will not have to worry about buying a car when you get to Kauai.  Before you schedule your shipment, you will need to get your documents in order.  If your car is not paid off, you are likely to need a letter from your creditor acknowledging that they know the vehicle is being shipped. Be sure to follow all of the shipping company’s requirements. Most require that your gas tank be half empty, and no personal items be left in the car.

Moving to Hawaii with Pets

If your pets are lucky enough to get a plane ticket, and are moving with you to Hawaii, you need to be aware of the strict state law requiring a brief quarantine of your animal. When bringing your pet to the state, you will need to have your pet’s rabies-shot records, and any other documentation you have to minimize the time your pet will be in quarantine. Your pet must have had two shots during his or her lifetime and the recent shot cannot be less than 90 days before arriving on Kauai. Original or certified copies of these records are required. Your pet may also need to be mirco-chipped, but check the Department of Agriculture's website for up to date information on importing a pet into the state of Hawaii.

Cory and Emilie

Friday, February 3, 2012

Whales Breaching

We have been noticing that during the week, it is very difficult to motivate ourselves to do much of anything (aside from hula and gymnastics).  So last night (Thursday), instead of going home, I met Cory at his office in Koloa.  His office is only a five minute drive from Poipu Beach.  We figured that as long as we are here we might as well sit on the beach after work instead of on the couch.  We picked up some sushi from the grocery store and had dinner next to the water. As we were eating we saw several whales breach!  It was awesome!  The splash they make when the come back down into the water is enormous.  It made us wonder if whales tend to breach at a certain time of the day, because we have never seen it happen earlier in the afternoon, only in the evening.  Or maybe it is just luck that we saw it, I don't know.  We also saw a monk seal that was napping on the beach.  It seems like there has been one there almost each time we have been to the beach lately.  They are always so cute looking.  After dinner we walked around some of the hotel grounds in the area.  At night, there are tiki torches everywhere and the palm trees are wrapped with lights.  The only thing that could have made the night better was if it were a Friday :)

- Emilie

Coffee Fields

On our way home this evening we decided to make a detour to check out the place that my parents are going to be staying at on their visit.  They are coming in March!  They found a bed and breakfast that is only a few minute drive from where we live!  We are so excited that they are coming to see us, it will feel good to show them first-hand what everything is like here.  It is awful to be missing people all the time.  The bed and breakfast looks really nice, it has an ocean view and a view of the mountains.  I really think that Kalaheo has some of the nicest views on the island.  It is a very peaceful little town.

On our way back we decided to do a little exploring.  Somehow we found a little dead-end street with a parking lot and small soccer field.  We saw several people coming out of a narrow trail next to the field.  Of course, we wanted to see where the trail led to.  We were hoping it would lead us to some kind of secret beach, because there is not an accessible beach in Kalaheo (that we know about).

 Quickly we realized that the little trail had taken us into the coffee fields that belong to Kauai Coffee.  It felt like they were never-ending.  The ocean didn't look like it was too far away, so we began walking toward it.

We walked, and walked, and walked.

We had probably walked about a mile and a half in when we reached the ocean. We were on top of a cliff which dropped off sharply down to the water.  There was no way to get down.  However, we still enjoyed the view!

On the way back it began to get dark.  I was a little nervous that a wild boar was going to run out at us.  We have heard stories about them being quite aggressive.  We saw their tracks and heard one in the fields.  Luckily we did not see one and we made it back before we lost all of the sunlight.

- Emilie