Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Our First Virtual Aloha

Our first official post on our new blog! Hurray!

We have been dying to share pictures with you and are pleased to announce that the blog and our internet appear to be up and running. Isn't it crazy how being without dependable internet access can feel like being without one of your limbs? At least that's what it has felt like for us.

So here's some basic information to bring you all up to speed.

Our Location

After much searching (and fainting when faced with the price of rent) we decided to take the plunge and are renting a fantastic place on the North Shore of Oahu. The major bonus is that it is right on the water. Our lanai faces the ocean (makai view: top right) and our kitchen window faces the Waianae mountain range (mauka view: bottom right). Although we have yet to find furniture we can afford and/or are willing to live with, we have been blessed with a donated bed (no, I know what you're thinking, it's not trash-picked!), a tv, 4 chairs and a table to use inside and one precious chaise lounge on the lanai that Jeremy has graciously been letting me hog. :)

The apartment is a generous size for a one bedroom in Hawaii and features two full bathrooms(big bonus for you visitors), hardwoods, kitchen cabinets made from a fantastic local wood (koa wood), lots of closet space, and best of all, wall-to-wall windows in the living room and bedroom that open out onto the lanai and the sound of the waves. It is by far the best place we have ever had. Additional bonuses include beach access from downstairs, a small pool, hot tub and relaxing "Zen" courtyard. Can't wait to share it with all of you!

Regarding Waialua (our town), it is very quaint and our first experience living in a small town. Local amenities feature a general store, small restaurant featuring local food, an old sugar mill (now a soap factory) and a farmer's market every Saturday. Very cute. We are also only 4 minutes away from the famous historic town of Haleiwa which was the main catalyst of us choosing to live on the North Shore. Those of you who know how much we love Ann Arbor will not be surprised to hear that Haleiwa is an artsy town filled with cute boutiques, restaurants with character and layed-back people who just seem to love life in general. The North Shore is most renowned for its surfing and during the winter months it comes alive with professional surfers who flock to Oahu to take their chances with fate and fame on the swells that can reach up to 25-feet high. Although we don't look forward to the traffic that comes with the excitement, we are really looking forward to watching the triumphs and cataclysmic wipe-outs from the shore.

Fun Stuff So Far

A few adventures so far:

Boogie-boarding

Absolutely love it! Our dear friend and our gracious hostess for the 3 weeks we spent floundering around for a place to live, took us to a fantastic beach for boogie-boarding on the Windward (East) side of the island called Waimanalo Bay for Jeremy's birthday. It is exhilarating to watch the horizon for the next set of waves, paddle frantically in the hopes of "catching" the wave, and then if you're lucky, ride the wave in. Can't describe it but it is amazing. . .and addictive! I'm not going to lie. . .I check the surf watch in the morning newspaper. (Check out the new boogie boards on our lanai: left)

Beach Bumming

Aside from a lot of quality time spent on the beach in our backyard (pic to the right of the sand at sunset), we have also explored several beaches along the North Shore. Perhaps the most exciting so far has been Waimea Bay (which we visited when our friends Angela and Andrew came in for the day). Known for a famous rock that visitors and locals alike enjoy jumping off of into the waves below, I like Waimea Bay mostly for the powerful crash of the waves as they hit the shore and the rush of the water as it races back to the ocean with an equally powerful force. It's an adventure just getting into the water at this beach since it is neck high almost instantly and navigating through the shore waves can make for some fantastic spills and awkward recoveries. Many people just choose to lie on the shore break and let the waves wash them back and forth. I tried this too and was not surprised to hear an impressive "thwap" when I changed out of my swimsuit and
a dune of sand fell out of my bikini bottom.

Snorkeling

On the same day as our first boogie-boarding adventure, Peggy also took us to Hanauma Bay, famous for its snorkeling and picturesque setting. Although the bay was crowded, the coral made for excellent snorkeling and we had a great time exploring all of the various keyholes in hot pursuit of exotic fish. I highly recommend this experience to anyone looking for a quality snorkeling adventure but would advise you to go early and on a week day if possible.

An exciting discovery, however, has been that we have some wonderful snorkeling right in our own backyard. Although I didn't believe him at first, Jeremy was the first to see a sea turtle feeding off the coral in the water below our lanai and we have since discovered that this is one of their favorite spots. (Check out the pic I took of a sea turtle about 2 1/2 feet long popping up to say hello) Admittedly not the most adventurous snorkeler (still too scarred from memories of Jaws), I prefer to keep close to the shore and explore my favorite piece of purple coral that is frequented by many small but colorful fish. I am told, however, that there is a cove further out in the water where up ten sea turtles have been spotted sleeping and paddling around lazily. I am gradually working up the courage and Jeremy is hoping I will hurry up since we have been instructed to always "buddy snorkel". I will report back on our findings once Shark Week on the Discovery Channel stops playing.

School

There is just too much to tell on this subject and I don't want to bore those of you who are not teachers by talking too much shop so here is the general news.

My job so far has proved to be awesome. I am responsible for 4 classes of language arts and yes, one class of physical education. With one prep period 4 days a week, a daily 15-minute recess, and a school day that ends at 2:19, I am finding that I have much more time to prepare and give feedback to the students and as a result, feel like a better teacher.

The students are mostly Asian and/or Pacific Islander which has been extremely interesting given the cultural differences and the fact that I am for all practical purposes the minority in my own classroom and the school in general. Overall, my students have been respectful and willing to learn and even after just three weeks with 110 students, I feel that I have connected with them and am beginning to identify their needs and strengths.

Although I know Jeremy plans on writing more on his situation in a later post, the gist of it is that he is teaching a small group of students (4 for right now) with special emotional and academic needs. Not to be confused with a special education program, this program serves mostly students who are at risk of failing or dropping out and are dealing with issues such as drug abuse, homelessness and/or chaos at home. His day consists of teaching all four core academic subjects and a lot of one-on-one counseling. Just last week when a student didn't show up to school, Jeremy called and woke him up at home and instructed him to get on the bus. The student showed up a half hour later. The students are lucky to have Jeremy and I know that he is feeling the rewards of working so closely with a small group of students.

On a different note, feel like a laugh? Check out our pics on the school website. (Link below.)They lowered the pixels and it looks like I have one really long buck tooth protruding from my smile. Hehe.

http://www.kapoleims.k12.hi.us/information/personnel/2006-2007/default.htm#d

Well I think that's all I can type for now but we are thinking of you all and looking forward to having visitors to share all of this excitement with. . .


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