Friday, November 18, 2016

Welcome to my house

If you're new, you may want to check out what we began with first. 

Hear a knock on the door and the night begins
Cause we done this before so you come on in
Make yourself at my home, tell me where you been


Here we are again. That point after PCSing where I virtually invite you in to my home. It's kinda creepy really. But I tell myself that if you were me and I were you, I'd want to come creep on your digs too. And I think it's especially curious this time around because Hawaii is so, er, um, special. Since we're not aiming for a mention in Better Homes and Gardens or a feature on HGTV, I promise to tell you how it really is. The non-glossy glance at living in paradise.

So go ahead, cue Flo Rida and come on in.


This is the front of our house and, as you can see, the bulk of our front yard consists of a cement driveway. It's a little odd, and frankly not the most welcoming first impression, but it's perfect for small children just learning to ride bike or skateboard. In which case, it's not so perfect for parked cars. So we generally park at least one vehicle on the street. The vinyl decals on the front door are a recent addition by our landlords. And while it's not my personal style, I like it so much more than the old curtains that were originally there.

The windows to the left of the rocking chairs are over my kitchen sink. They're perfect for keeping an eye on the kids while working in the kitchen, or for people watching while washing dishes. Because we get a lot of foot traffic on our street. Our neighborhood's wide, flat streets and destination-less location make it a hotspot for walkers, joggers, and bikers. Maybe someday I'll become one of them.

Our landlords made quite a few improvements this summer before and during our move-in process. Some we appreciate, like the front door. Some we're less than enthusiastic about, like the rock gravel in the flower beds.



They also had all the foliage removed from the side of the house. I understand the need for low maintenance when it comes to owning a rental. But, ugh. We lost our natural privacy shield for the bedrooms and the rocks are a magnet for small children wanting to make a mess. Not to mention they're ugly.

But all stones aside, we really love our yard. It's on the larger side for a house in town, and the automatic sprinkler system keeps it thick and green. We see a lot of soccer, football, and t-ball games go down out here! We also have yard space on either side of the house which we tend to forget about. For instance, this completely enclosed area where we hide our trash cans. Can someone say "chickens?" If so, please tell my husband, because he still needs some convincing.


To the left of our driveway is a real gem--a two-car garage. Garages are another rarity on this side of the island, although most houses do have a carport. I would say that we don't even use ours for cars but hey, would you look at that! May I introduce to you the latest addition to our family--"Daddy's White Jeep" (to quote Joci.)


We've been shopping around for a cheap third vehicle to have on hand for (a) when guests come because we can't fit everyone in our minivan and (b) to help alleviate some of the mountain-commute strain to Jon's Explorer, which is the one we're planning to bring back with us to the mainland. And let's be honest, we also wanted something fun to cruise in around the island!


I know it looks pretty classy from a distance but don't be misled--it is loud and rusty and deteriorating and hasn't had windows/a cover over the back seat in years (so you can just imagine what that looks like.) I say this all from a safe distance because I actually have not been able to ride in it yet. We've had it for a month now and I'm anxiously awaiting our upcoming visit with Nonnie and Poppie so that someone can keep an eye on the kiddos while I learn how to drive stick.

And I know I've mentioned this before, but hidden behind our treasure of a garage, where we keep so much more than a car, is the real hidden gem of this house: our storage room.


This is what sealed the deal for us on this house. It's where we keep all our camping and travel gear, Christmas decorations, and Jon's tools. I have no idea what people without storage do, because we would have to leave all this stuff behind. And no Christmas decorations for four years is just sad.

On to the more visually-appealing aspect of our tour, the living room. As you enter in the front door, you immediately step into the living room. Or into the couch, I should say. Literally.



In some ways, it's nice because it visually separates the entry from the rest of the room. But honestly, it's because of the walls. Here's something else special about Hawaiian houses--they have a lot of windows. This is great, since we rely solely on the breeze to keep us cool. And I love all the natural light. But it makes wall decor quite a challenge. We basically have boxes and boxes of wall stuff that didn't make the cut in this house. Add to that the fact that our outside walls are cement block, and we've had quite a predicament. This is why the TV is hanging where it is (an inside wall) and nothing is hanging over the loveseat (an outside wall.) [Since this photo was taken we did manage to drill into the cement wall over the couch and that is now where the painting of Coast Guard Eagle hangs.]


Notice anything different? Those would be new couches! We decided to spring for it and got a good deal on this set. Here's hoping they can outlast four kids and the island climate!


Right off the living room is the dining room and kitchen.


I'm pleased to say we were able to fit in both the farm table and the hutch. I am not pleased to say that my darling metal chairs are already starting to rust.


I was able to figure out a way to make use of that random opening to the left of the window (I think there used to be another window there??) I bought some macrame plant hangers from Target and filled the bottom portion with a vase. It works well and keeps my kids from using it as a shortcut. But I've noticed it's become quite the attraction for smaller children when they come to visit!


There are a few windows in our house that don't have curtains because they don't have brackets. At first I was all gung-ho about getting them fitted up. But now that we've lived here, and I realize we never, EVER shut the curtains--I have to wonder, what's the point?


This is the view from the end of the dining room toward the living room. That turquoise chest was an impulse purchase at an antique store back in Maryland, and we never had a spot for it. Now it holds toys. That closet is where we put everything that we'd normally put in a coat closet, except for coats. And that hall to the left leads to the bedrooms.

If you pivot from the dining room, you're now looking at the kitchen. It's nice, because it's actually upgraded. Although I think it's about 14 years old at this point. But I gotta tell you, it looks much nicer in photos. There was a mold problem before we moved in (there was one after we moved in too), and you can still smell it when you open some of the cabinets. And although the counters are granite, they seem to have this sticky film on them... and several places with gouges?? But on the plus side, we have LOADS of counter space.



Anyone else see something odd in this picture? I'll tell ya, it drives me bonkers every.single.day. (Take a close look at the cabinets under the sink.)


There's that stove that doesn't have an exhaust fan! I don't know how to explain it, but just know that Hawaii is quirky. And the climate here is quite unforgiving, particularly to that trend-that-needs-to-end called "stainless steel." Everything stainless steel (and I use that term loosely) that we own looks terrible. Looks, dare I say it, STAINED. We're talking water marks, corrosion, rust--ya know, STAINS. Our fridge is only a few months old and it's already covered in rust spots. Sadness.

Speaking of the fridge, we went through four within our first month here. So the first one had a water filter and ice dispenser, which apparently went wrong, and leaked water all over our floor and under the tiles and all up into the trim and cupboard panels. It was doing this before we moved in, but since the house was empty for a few months, no one noticed until after we were actually living in it and wondering why water was creeping out from under the tiles. And then we pulled the fridge out and found a garden of mold growing up the cabinets, which then deteriorated the trim at the bottom. Lovely.

Our landlords replaced the fridge and we got a new one the same day the moving truck arrived (yay, madness.) But it was damaged coming off the truck. And within 2 days (and 2 gallons of spoiled milk) we realized it actually wasn't cooling properly. So while waiting for a replacement, they loaned us their old one--fridge #3. Finally, fridge #4 arrived, and while it's currently functioning properly, it does not have a water line (aka no automatic ice or filtered water.) I've mentioned this before but I'll just reiterate, we kinda like our ice here in Hawaii. And we kinda don't like our tap water. And when mama doesn't like the water, she drinks less. And when mama doesn't drink enough water, everyone suffers.

So we tried out a few filters and pitchers and basically, nothing was keeping up with the H2O needs of our family of six. So we finally sprung for a water cooler from Costco and 5 gallon water bottles that we refill at the local hippy grocery store. Which means we now know fun facts, like our family drinks 15 gallons of water a week. And since it only costs $2.50 to fill up one bottle, it's really not such a bad deal. There's just the whole inconvenience of filing up giant water bottles every week. But I will say--best tasting water I've ever had. And it's cold. Or hot if you'd like. Which is also handy for oatmeal and tea. And now I think I've devoted enough time to discussing water here on the island.

That basket is for recycling. You can tell this picture is staged because it's almost always overflowing.
To the right of our fancy water dispenser (which is stainless steel, such a bummer), I'm sure you spotted that brick floor. That would be a rotting piece of wood between the two rooms because--fridge leak. But you all know I had my heart set on those brick floors since the moment I glanced them in a few small photos sent to the mainland. While they're not everything I thought they'd be, they are quite charming.




They're also handy for clinging on to dirt and hiding shattered glass. They're also a beast to vacuum and on the rare occasion that I attempt it, all the rattling makes the right wheel of my vacuum fall off. I digress.

We're not quite sure what to call this room--den, office, library... We ended up moving the non-broken couch into here and that's generally where you can find me in the evening--parked under the most high-powered ceiling fan reading my Kindle or watching a show on my laptop.


Our original plan was to only have a desk for Jon but it didn't take long to realize I need a workspace. Not so much to actually work there, but at least a place to park all that school and MOPS paperwork that needs to be gotten to at some point. So we ended up purchasing a desk just for me. I rarely sit there during the day though because I'm a mom. Or because this room is just too bright! It's hard to see the laptop screen.



Funny story. The video tour we saw of this place before we rented it had you entering from the laundry room. We didn't even know this door existed before we moved in. But I'm very glad for it. First off, it's a nice way to get a breeze going through the house (which is why I keep the main garage door open most of the time) and second, because it means I can close off the laundry "entry" and make it just a "room."


What laundry room, you say?


This one!


Actually, the door-open looks is how it is 98% of the time. In other words, whenever people are not coming over or I'm not taking photos. And since this is a bare all post, here's a peek inside my laundry room. A lot of houses here just have a washer and dryer out on the lanai or carport. So I think this room is pretty special. *all the heart eyes*


You know what else is pretty special? That utility sink. We had one in our Maryland house and I was all like "I don't know how I ever lived without this!" (This was also while potty-training and cloth-diapering.) Again, we had no idea this house had one until we moved in. The things that make me giddy ...


As you can see, we use this room for so much more than laundry. It is also a closet for "all those small kitchen appliances I use once a year but can't bear to get rid of." If you can see past the smattering of rust on the dryer, you may notice the smoke alarm. We had to take it down, and put it within easy reach, because humidity sets it off. Humidity. Hawaii. Need I say more.

I must say, this room is not a happy place. And I'm not just saying that because the cement floor is flaking off and the lighting is super creepy. Let's just say, laundry has been quite a heartbreaker for me since moving to the island. I don't know if it's my sub-par units, the different water, or the fact that we're all sweating a little more than usual--but our clothes are just not coming clean. It's really quite defeating. But you can't have it all. And whenever I pull a shirt out of the drawer that still smells like the hamper, I just tell myself, "Girl, you may be failing at clean clothes here, but your homemade bread has a killer rise." Amen.

Stay tuned for Part II next week!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The appetite of our living

I was thinking today--I've experienced 32 autumns. Twenty-one in Pennsylvania, one in England, four in Virginia, and six in Maryland. It is now my 33rd October and I'll be spending this fall (and the next four) here in Hawaii. And friends, THIS is not autumn.






I haven't really had to deal with homesickness with this move. I mean, my husband, kids, and stuff are all around me. This IS home. But I'm without a doubt dealing with seasonal-sickness. What I would do for just a few hours huddled by a fire, cozy in jeans and a cardigan, sipping on a steaming cup of chai, listening to the kids romping in piles of crunchy leaves, and breathing in the cool, crisp air.

There's this one spot on the school playground ...

... that I like to go when I want to pretend it's fall.
And that's okay. Because I've got 32 bona fide autumns under my belt--32 years of autumnal memories to look back on and pull out when I'm feeling a wave of seasonal-sickness--if I have to fast fall for the next four (or six or eight or however many more) years we'll be residing this much closer to the equator, I think that's gonna be all right.





It's good to have passions and "big strong feelings" (as I'd tell my kids.) And it's just as good to go without the things we love for a little while, if only to appreciate them more when we return. And as the quote from Jim Elliot that's been bouncing around in my head all week goes: "Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living."




I think it's safe to say we've been LIVING here in our new home state.

View from the Pali Lookout.

Our house is in front and to the right of that that mountain in the middle.


Yes, I'm longing for fall in one of the 13 original colonies. But today I'm living here in Hawaii. And that means lots of adventures of the green and blue variety. With a few pink and gold sunsets thrown in for good measure.

Had to stop washing dishes for a few second to snap this view from our front door.
Dusk at Sharks Cove, North Shore.


As for the appetite of our living, we're slowly working our way through a 4-year Hawaii Bucket List. That included a trip to Dole Plantation and things like the Pineapple Maze (not worth it) ...



And cool, fresh Dole Whip (worth it!)










We also spent a day at the Bishop Museum. And I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful it felt to be in a building that (a) wasn't made of cement block and (b) was built prior to the mid-century. Because sometimes I miss things like wood floors and paned windows almost as much as crunchy leaves and jeans.






But lest you think our life here is all golden like sunsets and Dole Whip. Here's Julia with a reality check.


Because sometimes your big brother plants himself right where you wanted to sit and it's just.too.much.

Ah yes, when we're not perfecting our tan by the World's Most Beautiful Beach or hiking up yet another ancient volcano, we do normal people things. Like workouts with Daddy in the garage.



Or play soccer.





Don't ask me what our team record was. I just know it wasn't good. But look at how much fun we had!


Some days the clouds are so low you can almost reach them!
We also went ahead and became a Cub Scout family. At first, I was considerably opposed. Especially when Jon started traveling a lot this fall and I ended up dragging four kids to all these pack and den meetings. But every time the boys put on these uniforms, I cave just a little. No shame in my game--I'm a Cub Scout mom simply for the cuteness factor!


And while the boys are busy with school, soccer, and scouts, the girls and I are exploring some new ways to keep busy during the week. In addition to a new homeschool preschool co-op we just joined, we try to hit up all the library story hours.



MOPS started up in September and did I mention I'm one of the coordinators? It's fun, keeps me on my toes, and gives the girls lots of new friends for playdates and tea parties!



We gotta keep the family females busy because our baby is 3 now and if the 2s are "terrible" then the 3s are "trouble." And that's exactly what this girl gets herself into every time I turn around.


But it's not entirely her fault. In some instances, she clearly didn't act alone ...


And finally, you wanna know one really great thing about fall in Hawaii? No Daylight Savings Time. That's right! Nobody messing with my offsprings' already tenuous rising hours. And we're now only five hours behind the east coast instead of six. Which is also nice in some ways. Like, I can't even tell you how wonderful it feels to know that Election Day will already be half over by the time I wake up on Tuesday. Yaaaaaasssss!

Okay, I better stop now. But first, just one last picture of Hawaii at dusk (taken from a moving vehicle on our way home from a very normal trip to Costco.) Because this place truly is beautiful. And I refuse to let my longing slay the appetite of my living!


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