The 2003 Christmas Kazette

      There is an oft quoted phrase here: ‘Lucky you live Hawaii’. (That's right, there's no ‘in’ in that sentence.) The longer we live here, the more that phrase becomes meaningful. For instance, there was the first time we went to “Mass on the Beach” and it was just that... but more. A Catholic Mass infused with Hawaiian traditions, prayers, song and symbols... not to mention the murmur of the surf in the background while sitting in the shade of a palm tree on a straw mat. There was also my Jazzercise class; the sun sets during our class time and one evening we were treated to a rainbow out one side of the building and a glorious ‘there aren't that many colors in the spectrum’ sunset on the other side! It's truly wonderful to be able to live here and experience all Hawaii has to offer for longer than a vacation! One of the blessings of Navy life is seeing and doing new things.

Jazzercise Tea at Moana Surfrider
The lovely view from our table at the Moana Surfrider Hotel,
where we were served "High Tea"

         This year we certainly got to try MANY new things. We started out the year with a trip to Hawaii (“The Big Island”) in January. This trip was SO AWESOME! We loved staying in Volcanoes National Park, where we experienced hot lava up close and personal! We also explored most of the
rest of the park, but didn’t do any of the longer hikes. Our cabin was wonderful - it was practically bigger than the house we are currently living in, and in many ways it was nicer. I loved having a fireplace again, as well as temperatures that made a fire pleasant to be in front of! I can't say enough nice things about this trip. *IF* we revisit any of the islands, this one will be high on our list.

Kaz and Erika at Big Island volcano
Erika and Kaz overlooking Kilauea Crater

         Our next big event was the “Great Aloha Run”; an 8+ mile race from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium. For many people it is a serious running race, but we were back with the pack of people who walked the entire race. We borrowed a jogging stroller, so Erika rode for most of it, but we all made
it in under 3 hours! While we had to get up around 4 am (ugh!) to participate, it was worth it and we’re already registered for the 2004 race. Whoo hoo!

Our 1st Great Aloha Run
http://www.greataloharun.com/

         Doug spent all year taking small trips. By small I mean generally less than a week. Some were out to sea on various submarines, and some were to different parts of the Mainland. He usually goes with a shopping list for Target, and brings home some Olive Garden salad dressing too. Unlike last year, Erika and I didn’t get to join him for any of his Mainland trips. We did, however, get to take Erika on her first tour of a commissioned submarine! She did really well going up and down the ladders, and listening to our tour guide. She even asked a few good questions!

Capt Pete's boat

         Erika turned 5 in May, and ‘graduated’ from her preschool shortly thereafter. The public schools here in Hawaii end in early June and start up again the first week in August, so Erika didn't have a big long summer vacation staring her in the face between preschool and Kindergarten. This was a good thing, as Erika was very happy and excited about going to Kindergarten.

Preschool graduation

         During that short time, we managed to take a trip to another Hawaiian island, Maui. Friends of mine from my hometown were making the trip there, and we went over to see them! We had lots of fun with them and their 2 kids, checking out the Aquarium and riding the Sugar Cane Train and having a fun dinner together in Lahaina. After we parted ways, our family had fun checking out Haleakala National Park, the I’ao Needle and doing “The Road to Hana”. I've heard that Maui has some of the most beautiful beaches on earth, but you cant prove that by us. We went non-stop every day we were there and never took the time to relax on the beach! That doesn't mean we stayed away from the water, though. Oh, my! We had an AMAZING voyage aboard one of the Americas Cup yachts. 5 was the youngest age they allowed on board, so we just squeaked Erika on. She LOVED it! Doug got to help hoist the mainsail, and I got wet wet wet! I was a bit scared at times while the boat heeled over to one side, but overall it was a great experience.

Haleakala sign picture
Click here for more information about Haleakala N.P.

         At the end of July, Erika Doug and I all went to Kindergarten Orientation. By mid-August we were all oriented and Erika was going to school full time. (7:50 to 2:05, except Wednesdays when they get out at 1:15.) Those afternoons roll around too quickly for me, but its nice to get to meet Doug for lunch about once or twice a week.... ALONE!

firehouse field trip
Erika on a field trip to the Firehouse.

         During Erika's fall break she and I got to travel to South Carolina to see my parents. They moved to their house down there shortly before we came to Hawaii, so it had been nearly 2 years since wed last seen them, and Id only seen pictures of their new house. Erika and I enjoyed my parent's beautiful house and yard and exploring the Myrtle Beach area! There was so much to see and do we still have plenty left for our next visit. We even saw a bit of Charleston, since we flew in and out of there to save some money. We had a great time, and my sister and her friend came down to see us too. Erika enjoyed ‘tishing’ with her Grampa in “Silly Lake” - so called because all Erika caught was TUURTLES! (hence the t instead of f for fishing, ha ha).

cut outsKaz and her mom
Fun with Grampa!                          Kaz and her mom.

         We came home from that trip and enjoyed the rest of October, culminating in my favorite holiday, Halloween! We went to a Halloween Party on Base (and saw another costume like Erika's!). Erika was sick on Halloween and so only enjoyed a short trick or treat trip, in her Captain Feathersword costume. Hess a pirate from a kids’ show called “The Wiggles”. Erika carved her first jack-o-lantern, with a bit of help from us. Doug and I carved, too, and I painted some coconuts to look like pumpkins as well. Fun was had by all!

Erika's first pumpkin carving
Erika's 1st jack-o-lantern

         We attended a couple of Fall festivals; one was at Erika's school - her Fall Fest was fun for the whole family, with 25 cent games for the kids, lots of yummy food for all, and since it was near Halloween, those that wanted to come in costume were welcome to do so. It was a colorful day!

         The other festival we attended was in November; “Harbor Days” was held in and around Aloha Tower and featured, among other things, tours of numerous boats, booths with info on all things Honolulu Harbor, activities, crafts and prizes for the kids, a ‘spouting’ fireboat and a re-enactment of The Boston Tea Party! We toured the boat pictured at the right, "Falls of Clyde" which has a fascinating history and is the only four-masted, full-rigged ship left in the world. The Falls Of Clyde was built in 1878 and is a national historic landmark. 

         We wound up our Fall activities with a somewhat quieter-than-usual Thanksgiving with only one guest. Doug's dinner was EXCELLENT as usual, and Jim brought 3 WONDERFUL pies that topped off dinner nicely.

Honolulu/Boston Tea Party
Before the "Tea Party" at the Hawaii Maritime Center
Aloha Tower birds
Erika clowns around with a few birds at Aloha Tower during Harbor Days.
Here's an article about this year's Harbor Days festival.

         Its not yet December as I write this (though it will be tomorrow) and I think I can look back at the past year with contentment. Doug continues to enjoy his job at COMSUBPAC, where he is intimately involved in the comings and goings of many submarines in the Pacific Fleet. I don’t know much more about his job, and having been a submariner’s wife for over 15 years now, I know not to ask! Even Erika knows that some parts of Daddy’s job are a secret. "To help keep America safe." She learned this the hard way, when she had to cancel her trip to Doug's office for "Take your Daughter to Work Day". 
           In addition to swimming and taking part in an on-Base workout called “Fish”, Doug has been active with a soccer team of mostly military guys, called ‘Undertow’. This was their first year as a team, and they play in a very competitive league. They basically play year round, in two ‘seasons’. Doug is very much enjoying playing in the goal again after many years off the soccer field.

at the Bishop Museum
Doug at the Bishop Museum

         I have spent the year happily involved in a group called COMPASS. This is a group of Navy wives that run a class each month to help other Navy wives to “thrive, not just survive!” I attended the class as a student shortly after arriving on island, and this past January I went through the training to become one of the mentors. I wish this class had been around when I was a new military wife, but I found as a student I still had lots to learn (especially concerning local things!) and I continue to learn new things each month - as most teachers will tell you, they learn just as much as their students do! (There are COMPASS classes on many other Navy Bases now. Cool!)
        I also have volunteered time for Erika's preschool and now Kindergarten. She seems to enjoy having me around, so I intend to enjoy that for as long as I can! I even got to ‘sneak’ lunch with her one day when I was helping out at the school. I went to snag something off her plate that she wasn’t eating and was informed, “Mommy, we are NOT allowed to share or trade any of our lunch.” I am a minor celebrity at the school because of the strange hats I usually wear when I’m there. “Hey, you have a BAT on your head!”
I also, as mentioned above, attend a Jazzercise class once a week. The teacher is great, and people from the class get together about once every other month to do other things like High Tea, or explore a museum. Fun! I  also got a bit of "Kaz time" when I went to visit my childhood friend, Todd, in Los Angeles. Doug and Erika stayed home, and I had a great time seeing LA for my very first time.

Sub Ball 2003 picture
Kaz and Doug before the
Submarine Birthday Ball 2003

         Erika, as you can probably tell, is also doing well. She loves to sing and dance, loves to go to school, and is interested in playing and watching sports. Her kindergarten teacher is AWESOME and Erika is even excited about the 2 crossing guards we encounter on our way to and from school. Erika
had a good time this year watching the UH women’s volleyball team games, and even stood for nearly an hour after their last game, getting autographs from the lei-laden girls. She has enjoyed all our trips this year, scouring the emergency cards on each plane, and informing anyone who would listen at the
various airports as to our destination and plans on each trip. “Hi, my name is Erika and me and my mommy and daddy are going to ________ and we are going to do _________.  Do you want to play with me?” This was offered to both grown-ups and children alike. We just laugh at her when she tells
us, “Sometimes I’m shy.”

fun at sea

The Erika Extra

                  Just as in previous years, here's a little bit extra about Erika; those not into the kid scene need read no further!
                   Erika had another good year; she's growing and eating well, still enjoys most fruits and vegetables, but is much less adventurous with other kinds of food. She still LOVES black olives and hates fruit punch, peanut butter, and soda. Other than that she's fairly typical, liking cheeseburgers, hot dogs and of course mac n cheese! She's 42 pounds and 42 inches and has only visited the doctor for check-ups, flu shots and other minor things this year. We had quite a time with her, though, when she FREAKED OUT about having her blood pressure taken. The cuff was not even on her when she started her protest and things only got worse from there. Ultimately, that day, she didn't have her blood pressure taken. We wound up practicing at home for about 2 weeks straight until she got over her sphygmomanometer-phobia. I even got her a little toy doctor's kit so she could get comfortable with all the instruments you normally see during a doctor's visit. She of course LOVES to give everyone else a checkup!
                   Erika had plenty of special events this year. We saw the "Wiggles, Live" show, where she even got to shake Murray's hand! We also went to Hawaii Theater for Youth productions of Dr Suess's "Green Eggs and Ham and Gertrude McFuzz" and "Christmas Talk Story." Erika became enamored with one one of the actors, named Bulldog, and we went to "Christmas Talk Story" because she loved him so much in the Dr Suess plays! Both shows were great. We also went to about half the UH women's volleyball games. They had a winning season and it's very exciting to be in a large stadium with enthusiastic fans (and television broadcasters!) It was very interesting to watch some of their away games, where most of the games were played in a 'regular' gymnasium, some barely as big as the one at my high school! It was wonderful to share with Erika some strong female role models. I was dismayed when she told me, earlier this year, that she couldn't be a 'digger' (bulldozer operator, a long standing goal of hers) because all the ones she saw were men!
                   Erika made the transition from preschool to Kindergarten just fine. Ironically, she had to learn to take a nap, as her school had naptime every afternoon for the first quarter, since most preschool aged kids DO nap in the afternoon. They have now phased it out, and she doesn't seem to miss it. There is a big emphasis on reading in her school, and Erika is doing a great job at that! Her homework sometimes consists of us reading to her, or vice versa, and sometimes consists of things like workbook pages which work on letter, shape, order, number, pattern and other skills. Erika reacted to her classmates criticism of her coloring by learning how to color INSIDE the lines fairly quickly. It's not her preferred method, but she'll stay in the lines when she feels like it.
                    We had a lot of fun continuing to explore the island, and even revisit some favorite spots. We all enjoy going to the Bishop Museum, which hosts some traveling exhibits (like the "Robot" exhibit that we also viewed when we lived in Nebraska!) and has long term exhibits too, covering Hawaiian history as well as other topics. Erika likes to go to the planetarium shows. We unfortunately had cloudy skies here for the August meteor showers, and the ones in November weren't spectacular enough to warrant waking her, especially on school nights! Perhaps if we had gone to a dark corner of the island it would have been different. Oh, well, there's always next year! And in the meantime we can use our annual memberships to Sea Life Park and the Honolulu Zoo. We haven't gotten to the aquarium yet, though we do visit the 'fish tube' downtown in one of the shopping centers.
                    We continue to eat out often - Erika has NO IDEA how lucky she is in that department. Some of her favorite restaurants are Chili's, Cheeseburger in Paradise, and of course, Chuck E Cheese's. We do hit McDonald's once in awhile, but we go to Subway more often, and Erika is often reminded that Chuck E Cheese and McDonald's are 'special' and not for everyday visits. That doesn't stop her from asking to go there, but she's certainly not sad when we go to Chili's instead.  Our rule at home is 'try once piece of everything on your plate' and we are trying to get her to do this with her school lunches as well. So far, no luck. We may switch to bringing lunch from home. Of the 20 kids in Erika's class, apparently only 2 kids regularly bring lunch from home. Oh, to be 'different'. !!!
                     Erika did great on all three plane trips we made this year. She is becoming much more patient (everything is relative, patient in 5 year old terms, that is!) and took an interest in the other travelers, the airline personnel... she even got to tour the cockpit and talk to the pilot and co-pilot when we were grounded by weather in Charleston. She was very happy when we decided she was a 'big girl' and didn't take her car seat onto the plane anymore. She did, however, refuse to get in the rental car with my sister when Erika realized there was no car seat in it! Poor Kristine had to hike all the way across the airport parking lot to get Erika back to my father and then go get the car again.
                      Erika is similarly one-track minded when it comes to checking books out of the library. She has spent all year getting out Halloween books! Although Halloween *IS* my favorite holiday, I swear I am not directly responsible for this. She enjoys all types of books at home, at school and at various storytimes, but she is adamant about the books she checks out. We occasionally slip others in just on principle.  I don't know how many Halloween books there are at school, but so far she hasn't picked any to bring home for her reading homework.
                      Erika *has* developed the disturbing habit of sleepwalking. She mainly just wanders into our room, but one night I caught her going out the front door! Thank goodness I was awake and heard her! She never remembers her wanderings the next morning.
                      Erika is a kind and enthusiastic girl, always wanting to help. When she saw us getting ready to send Christmas cards, she decided she wanted to send some of her own. Watch out, world, another family member is starting to communicate with others! That's all for now!

Ho, ho, ho! Hugs and Aloha from all of us!
Happy Holidays!