Retreat at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

  • 18th April 2013 |
  • Author: Kim
Sunset on Friday

Last weekend I got to go on a really wonderful retreat with the ladies of Living Stones church.  A weekend away at the lovely Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel — what a luxury!  I had never been to the hotel before, and I love exploring the hotels on the Big Island.  The first time I came on vacation to Hawaii I was amazed that lobbies and restaurants were open air!

Easter 2013

  • 11th April 2013 |
  • Author: Kim

We had a pretty fabulous Easter this year, even though it completely snuck up on me.  I don’t know how that happened… oh, wait.  Yeah.  We just moved to an island in the middle of the pacific. :-)

Thursday night after B went to sleep, I snuck out to Target to put together an Easter basket.  Although I am doing my best to keep her away from candy, I did get chocolate covered raisins and some M&M’s to put in eggs for her, along with some outer space rainbow goldfish crackers.  (Side note: chocolate covered raisins have now surpassed M&M’s on the scale of favorite treats.)

It was kind of a funny scene, actually, all us last-minute parents and grandparents prowling the picked-over shelves. There honestly wasn’t much left, but since I basically wanted to add to our meager toy collection, it was OK.  Here’s what I ended up with, complete with my Goodwill 99-cent basket:

Sand toys, art supplies, bubbles, and cupcake mix!

Matt actually put the candy eggs outside for an Easter egg hunt as soon as we heard her waking up. Any earlier, and we would have had little puddles of melted chocolate goo inside the eggs.  B chose her own Easter dress, and had to put it on the moment she got up.


I’ll admit it freaks me out a little bit because she looks like such a big, grown-up girl!  We went outside straight away for our egg hunt, and what did we find aside from candy inside our eggs?

There’s a gecko in that egg!

After our egg hunt and breakfast we went to church at Living Stones Kona, which was terrific as usual.  I sort of wanted to experience the sunrise service on the lawn, which I heard was pretty amazing this year, but there’s no way we were making it to a 6:30am service!  Besides, she wouldn’t have gotten to have her Sunday bounce in the bouncy house.

After church we had lunch at Bongo Ben’s to enjoy the water view…
I hope I never take these views for granted!
I love this, even with her cheesy smile!

Then, in the afternoon, we got to go to the big playground for a little birthday party with our new friends, who have 3 kids.  It’s a pretty amazing playground and all the kids had fun running and playing, eating delicious homemade cake and other yummy snacks, and blowing bubbles.

Look, a whale!

This is Kamakana playground at Higoshihara Park, which is just off the highway between Kona and Kealakekua, in Honalo.  It’s a really gorgeous playground — one of the biggest I’ve ever seen — and there are also ball fields and picnic pavilions.

The path to the playground
Epic tower/maze/slide castle!

We had a wonderful Easter and all went to bed that night happy and tired.  We are so grateful for this time in Hawaii and the new friends we’ve already made!

Living Life with the Windows Wide Open

  • 3rd April 2013 |
  • Author: Kim

Sounds like I’m trying to be philosophical, doesn’t it?

Living in Hawaii, it’s just reality.

Unless you’re paying an arm and a leg and your firstborn child to the electric company for air conditioning (electric rates are 5-7x more per kilowatt hour than the mainland), you are living life every day with your windows wide open.

Well-designed Hawaiian-style houses have windows all over, especially on the makai side (ocean facing) and mauka side (mountain facing) to take advantage of the breezes that happen at different times of the day.  They also have wide, wide eaves so that the occasional torrential downpours don’t leave the inside of your house wet through all those open windows.

That’s the sea breeze blowing the curtain in my living room

Living with your windows open all the time isn’t something you really think would make a difference in your life, but it does.

We know, for instance, when all the neighbors get their yard work done.
We know when the teenager(?) across the street practices on his new drum set.
We know when anyone within 3-4 blocks has a get-together. 
We know when something upsets the cows.*
We know when a child a few doors down isn’t happy.
We hear conversations and goodbyes as our neighbor’s guests leave.
We hear loud mufflers, ambulances, car stereos from the main road.
We hear conversations as neighborhood folks take their morning walks past our house.
You get the picture.  We simply hear everything through those open windows.  They hear us, too.  I’m sure they heard Bekah’s complete meltdown a few nights ago, before bed.  Yikes.
It’s odd and humbling to know that what’s “behind closed doors” is just really behind some walls with open windows. :-)
* Last night I was pulled, grudgingly, out of sleep around 4am by the cows I didn’t know existed.  I don’t know where they are, exactly, only that they must be close.  Matt says they are only a few “blocks” away, down past the end of our cul-de-sac.  All I know is something upset those cows in the middle of the night and they were talking about it.  Loud enough to wake me up.
Thankfully, the child sleeps through just about anything.  Even the turkeys that stroll down our driveway, right under her windows… have you ever been close to a male turkey when it really gobbles?  They are loud.  I like them anyway.  They eat bugs.  We gobble back at them and they put on a show with those amazing feathers.  And the mama turkeys and their little chicks are pretty cute too.

Kuki’o Beach, Big Island of Hawaii

  • 1st April 2013 |
  • Author: Kim
On a rainy Saturday morning, we went north hoping to outrun the weather and have a little beach time. We had a little beach time, for sure, but not the kind we were hoping for!  Windy and more than a bit chilly, we did a short walk up Kuki’o Beach, explored a bit, and then went straight back to the car!

The path to Kuki’o Beach

We were actually trying to find the beach at Kikaua Point, which is protected and has a great swimming area for little ones.  But we found out later we went one turn too far, and drove in at Hualalai (part of the Four Seasons).  It was fun to drive through this really exclusive resort area, though. Rumor has it some pretty famous people have homes here.

Looking down the beach

There’s not a beach in Hawaii I don’t like.  This midwest girl considers herself blessed to be living here!  Any day I get to walk on a beach is a great day!  That said, this isn’t a swimming beach.  It’s very rocky and the water is rough.  But scenery, including the amazing lava rocks of the Kona coast?  Fabulous.

Coral and lava rocks on the sand

We got to see a turtle, too!

Just a little guy!

The clouds and the wind were actually pretty amazing to see.  Matt waded out onto the rocks to take pictures, and B and played in the sand and looked at coral, until she got tired of the wind.


We met two other people hoping the weather would be a little better north of Kona… they enjoyed the views as well.  It was sure dark over the mountains:

Kuki’o Beach would be a nice place to lay and get some sun if you are interested in getting away from the crowds.  As with all the beaches located in resorts, there is a small parking lot, and only a certain number of cars can park.  Since this isn’t a great swimming beach, I don’t expect the lot is ever really full!  
Cloudy day at Kuki’o Beach

So we said goodbye to the beach and headed back to the car, stopping to see some fish in the ponds on the way back.  Not the beach morning we were hoping for, but pretty anyway.

It’d be pretty awesome to live here!

Guess What?

  • 29th January 2013 |
  • Author: Kim

Hi, it’s Matt.  I’m the lucky guy married to Kim.  This will be my first post here on this blog.  I’ve been toying with some ideas for posts, but I never got around to them.  But then Kim gave me the opportunity to do this one, and I knew it was time!

So, big things are happening in our lives.  Rather than beat around the bush, I’ll just give it to you straight: we are moving to Hawaii for the next year!

Our favorite: Mauna Kea beach

What’s this, you ask?  First time the guy posts, and he’s posting crazy?  Now bear with me, and I’ll try to give you the best explanation I can.  Honest :-)

Back in Fall 2011, we had an incredible opportunity to live in Hawaii for 3 months.  My job lets me work from anywhere with a decent internet connection (ironies of ironies, I had better internet connectivity in Hawaii), and we were kind of in a tough place and struggling to get traction.  So we took a chance and relocated to beautiful Keauhou, Hawaii for 3 months.  I got up early and worked my usual West Coast time slot, and then we spent the rest of the day as a family exploring the wonder that is the Kona area of the Big Island.  While there, we attended a phenomenal church: Living Stones in Kona.  It was a fantastic church full of wonderful people, and the pastor there was especially great for taking to time to chat with me about all my questions and listening to me ramble on about our background and what had brought us to Kona.

3 months.  In Hawaii.  You might be asking yourself: was it really as good as people think it might be? In a word: yes.

Sunset while eating dinner at Bongo Ben’s

Oh sure, after you are there for 6 weeks, you start to see all the things that aren’t quite so perfect.  But who are we kidding?  It was Hawaii, bro!  It was fantastic!  Oh sure, you couldn’t get a cart at the Costco on Saturday, let alone park, and being there during Iron Man was … well, an experience to be sure.  I’ll tell you about the athlete getting his drug tests in the restaurant at the table next to me some time (read: they did not tip that poor waitress enough for that).  And your eyes would pop out if you bought a gallon of milk—you thought gas was expensive!

So yes, no place is perfect.  But getting to head out to the beach with the family after hard day at work or getting up early on Saturday, snagging McD’s for breakfast, and scoring a slot at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort for the day … that, my friends, covers a multitude of annoyances and shocking differences.  No place is perfect, but any imperfections Hawaii had were more than made up for by the sheer awesomeness of the place.

Snorkeling at Kahalu’u

And then there was Living Stones Church.  Kim has mentioned in other posts about the awesome church we got to attend in Boston.  Since then, we have really been looking for a church home.  We even moved back for a short time in 2007 to be a part of it again.  We have been a part of some wonderful church homes since Beacon, but we had kind of resigned ourselves to Beacon being a unique experience.

Driving by on our first Hawaii trip in 2006, it appealed to us even then!

And then there was Living Stones Church.  It was the first time we felt that same amazing “something” that we had at Beacon.  We looked forward to every Sunday.  And every Sunday, we had another meeting with God.  Not all of them were happy-happy meetings either.  Our first Sunday there, Bill Barley ended with two simple questions, a challenge to be honest and really answer them from your heart:

  1. Do you believe that God is good?
  2. Do you believe that God is in control?
It was pretty shocking to find my answer to those questions were not an unequivocal “yes”.  It was the beginning of a lot of amazing work for our hearts and souls.  It didn’t hurt that we could contemplate the latest sermon and what it meant for us on a beach that afternoon after some snorkeling and building sand castles with our daughter ;-)
Kona, Hawaii was magical, but we owe an incredible debt of gratitude to Living Stones.  The people there loved us unconditionally, and in the short 3 months we were there, it felt awful to leave.  It felt like we were leaving home, but we had a home in Port Angeles to go back to!  It was so confusing.
We came back to Port Angeles, but Kona and Living Stones never quite left our hearts.  And so over the whole of 2012, the question would rise in my heart, or Kim’s, and maybe we would get brave enough to ask the other: “Should we have tried to stay? Should we go back?”
After a lot of soul searching, prayer, seeking counsel, and endless back-and-forth discussions, we have finally reached the place where we can say, without a doubt, “Yes, we should be in Kona.”

Bekah says “Aloha!”

We aren’t sure what the future holds.  We are currently taking some great advice and embarking on an experiment: we are committing to one year in Hawaii.  We may then commit to another year, or we may not.  We’ll see!  But once we have stayed there two years, then we will have the “is this for good” conversation.
It’s great to have a plan, but honestly, it’s just details at this point.  We want to go to Hawaii—badly.  We feel called there, and we don’t know if that’s a short term thing or a long term thing or a very long term thing.  But we can trust God for those details.  Right now, we know where we need to be, we have another fantastic opportunity of job and time of life that let’s us do it, and we are just going to follow God with trust in our hearts.
It’s an adventure: exciting one moment, terrifying in another moment, and both in the next.  But we can’t wait to get started.

Family picture 12:12 on 12/12/12, Kahalu’u Beach

And for the friends who are wondering: yes, there will be an air mattress with your name on it.  Can’t wait to see you drop in.  I’ll keep a pot of Kona coffee ready for your visit :-D


My Little Gymnast

  • 19th September 2012 |
  • Author: Kim

A couple of weeks ago, B started gymnastics at Klahhane Gymnastics in Port Angeles.  They are so wonderful!  I knew it would be a great fit for her, because she’s so active.  During our time in Hawaii, one of her favorite things was to go to a program called Tumble Bears — the local gymnastics gym had an open play time once per week and set up the gym for little ones.  (Shout out to Kona Aerials for their amazing open-air gym and great programs!)

my little gymnast

I enrolled her in the parent-and-me program, even though she’s 3 and could be a part of the class without parents.  She’s never done any kind of structured classes where it’s not free play, and as part of being a little gymnast she has to learn to listen to her coach and not run off. :-)  So we’re working on that and when she’s ready, she can move up.

In the meantime, Daddy enjoys his role!  He’s out there doing handstands and somersaults with her and comes home tired from HIS workout!

circle time and the parachute

It’s kind of funny to see B do all these things she already does on the playground so well.  The coach was surprised at B’s “advanced” level of hanging and putting her feet up to the bar. :-)

practicing the “ta-da!” after hanging on the bar

Here’s another thing B already does: the balance beam.  Balance beams she “practices” on are curbs and those little cement barriers at the end of parking spaces.

practicing before her turn on the real balance beam

Trying out the balance beam with Daddy and Coach Lena

More big fun: the trampoline!  We have a little jogging trampoline that she plays on at home, and she’s been to playdates with huge trampolines and LOVES them.  So this long one was a blast!

Practicing bounce and FREEZE!

Someone in Bremerton makes the cute leotards they have for sale at Klahhane (they also have some gently used leotards as well).  I couldn’t be happier with our experience there so far.  B is having a blast and the coaches are wonderful!

It’s a great way to start our Saturday mornings!

Tot School Tuesday – Mardi Gras

  • 28th February 2012 |
  • Author: Kim

We had a busy week last week, with lots of playdates and activities away from home – always a blessing with my active little one.  We did do a little bit of tot school, and since I had been at the dollar store the week before and found some Mardi Gras goodies, we had some fun with those on Tuesday.

Our letter for the week was L.  Here’s our L for Lizard coloring page from

She always picks the black marker first!

She’s never been really into coloring, so our coloring pages are usually 5-minute activities.  But she’s starting to pay attention to the shape of what she’s coloring and not simply scribble to see the color!
On Tuesday we had a treasure hunt for Mardi Gras coins in a tub of beans (she loves finding “treasures”):

Treasures, Mommy!

We named colors and counted the coins.  I hid them in the beans two or three times, she loves digging in there!  Then she discovered that flipping the beans all over the room with the coins was fun, too! :-)

I also pulled out her lacing beads this week and to my surprise she can suddenly do this all on her own, and is actually interested in doing it (We have been playing with these for months, but they’ve never been a favorite).  We laced beads onto the strings (I always lace on the end and put the string through again to make a stopper) and pulled them around like trains.
Then we tried putting the beads on chopsticks…
And then tried putting the beads down the car ramps (very fun)…
I’m happy I tried yet again with these – they’ll be in our regular rotation!
In the afternoon when Daddy was finishing with his work day we did our Mardi Gras scavenger hunt.  I had found a package of those bead necklaces and during her nap, pondered what to do with them.  I ended up writing little rhyming clues on post-it notes and “hiding” the necklaces all over the house.  It was a good listening activity for her too, since she had to listen to the whole clue to find out where to go next.  She caught on quickly and eagerly handed us the next clue when she found each necklace.
Mad rhyming skillz
In the high chair cup holder
In Daddy’s office, in her favorite drawer
In the bathroom… read the next clue, Daddy!
All in all, the scavenger hunt was the biggest hit of the week.  I’ll have to look for more opportunities to do this, and maybe work on the clues a little longer so she has to think a bit about them.  I did them in about 10 minutes before she woke up from her nap – but I was still pretty proud that I managed to make them all rhyme!
Be sure to visit 1+1+1=1 for more Tot School ideas and to visit lots of other blogs that take part!

I am really enjoying winter this year.  This isn’t my normal state of mind.

I live in the pacific northwest, and while I love the evergreens and the mountains and the oceans, the winters are long, and grey, and full of almost-freezing rain.  You know when it rains and it’s just about 34 degrees, and you really wish it was snow instead, because rain just makes your dirt and gravel driveway into a festival of mud?  We get a lot of that.

But this year, we have gotten more than our share of sunny days.  Just enough, it seems, so that I look out at the mists and rain and general murkiness and declare it beautiful.

I’m blessed to live where I do!  Here is the view from my kitchen window:


Winter is also a wonderful time to craft and create.  Which also helps to entertain a toddler who would much rather be out on the playground.  She’s very happy with her salt dough dolphin family, made with Grandma a couple of weeks ago:

{happy, with her mommy dolphin}

It took me a couple of weeks to get up the courage to try this recipe for homemade (cooked) playdough.  In retrospect, it’s funny to me, because I put off something that was an instant hit and it wasn’t difficult at all.  Sometimes things just strike me as hard before I even try them, and I put them off.  It could have to do with the friends who gave me the recipe… they said, “Oh, it will get weird, and you’ll think it’s not working, but keep going, it turns out in the end!”  To me, I guess that translated as “Oh no!  It’s hard!”

Store-bought playdough is too tough for B to manipulate easily, so she never liked playing with it.  But this playdough is terrific – soft, easily moldable and smushable!  And it takes all of 10 minutes to make. 
soupy goop to start with

cooks up to a nice dough

lovely, easy playdough!  {funny I was nervous!}
Did I mention this little monkey would rather be at the playground?  Well, when you can’t go, you can bring the playground right to your very own house.  I mean, it’s really her duty to make sure the new furniture is trampoline worthy, isn’t it?
What were we thinking, getting new furniture with a toddler?  Ah, well.  It looks really nice when she goes to bed and I put it all back together!

Make sure and visit Like Mother, Like Daughter to see more {pretty, happy, funny, real} and visit lots of other lovely blogs that take part!

Tot School Tuesday – My Valentine

  • 22nd February 2012 |
  • Author: Kim

One of the things I wanted to do when we got back from Hawaii was plan indoor activities for little B.  Winters are pretty long and grey here, and although we do have playgroups to go to (when she doesn’t have yet another cold, like she does now…), there are still plenty of hours in the day to fill.

So, I try to plan a couple of at-home activities for our weekdays.  Lots of them are educational – but the whole point is to just have fun and fill our days so that my active girl isn’t bored to tears.  If I could install a trampoline and playground in the living room, life would be bliss for her.  I had a recent visitor speculate about putting a slide from the loft into the living room – ha!  The kiddo would love that, for sure.  I’ve been seeing pictures on Pinterest lately of people who installed spiral staircases that have slides built on to the outsides.  Too cool.

Tangent:  I really believe there ought to be more fun in daily life for grownups.  I mean, there are amusement parks and things like that, but they are expensive and crowded.  

As I looked around on the internet for learning activities for toddlers at home, I discovered, of course, that I’m not the first one with this idea.  In fact, there are a lovely group of moms who plan activities for their little ones – most of them are homeschoolers as well, so they have all kinds of ideas.  I found a great resource at 1+1+1=1 – I spent hours there.  (I can’t wait ’til Bekah is a little older and we can to Tot Books!!  So FUN!!)

It was also great to find so, so many free printable activities.  My hands-down favorite site for printables (and alphabet-themed activity ideas) is Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Another favorite blog is Counting Coconuts, with awesome Montessori-style activities and printables.

So, we have started tot school.  It’s one big experiment, and over the month and a half I’ve started doing things I’ve learned a lot about what B likes and what she doesn’t.  She’s all about sensory: touch, feel, and take things apart to their smallest pieces.  She loves “fixing” toys with Daddy, using a screwdriver (usually this is putting in batteries).

She’s not so much for coloring, although markers are more of a hit than crayons.  Painting is fun every few days, but mostly because she puts the watercolors in the water and watches the patterns that happen – to her, this is far and away more interesting than actually painting on paper, though we do some of that, too.

So here is a bit of what we did last week for Tot School.  It was Valentine’s Day, so we worked on the letter V and I tried to pick out our morning reading books around the Valentine’s Day theme, or about love.  The favorites were The Story of Valentine’s Day and I Love You Because You’re You.

On Monday and Tuesday we played with our new sparkly jewel magnets, which I made from flat disc magnets and acrylic jewels (happily the same size).  I found them both at WalMart.  Five minutes with a glue gun and voila!

The V is for Valentine picture (from Confessions of a Homeschooler) is actually made to use with Do-A-Dot markers.  I think they’re fun, but Bekah isn’t at all interested in them.  However, putting magnets in the little circles?  That’s a bit more interesting.

sparkly jewel magnets

We also did some coloring.  And we discovered that Crayola washable markers come right off the plastic tray with handy dandy baby wipes.  For some reason, coloring on the tray was big fun.

done with the paper, move on to the tray

Every day, I set up this little princess mailbox (found by B at WalMart, it was $3 and had princess valentines for schoolgirls to give to their friends) and left a little surprise inside.  Opening it is fun in itself, because it lights up.  It was fun to watch her exclaim over the little treasures she found there.  Some (chocolate kisses) were squeal-worthy; some (homemade heart valentine from Mommy) just OK. Ha.

Valentine fun!
We heart chocolate around here.
We had fun with this little counting game (again, from Confessions of a Homeschooler).  It amazes me that when I give Bekah something new, like conversation hearts candy, she knows it’s candy.  Instantly.  Is that some kind of super kid radar?  I mean, they could have just been little plastic things, for all she knew!  How does she know?

I had to take this away eventually, because the candy eating was much more interesting.  We played it with pennies later.

Counting with candy hearts

She did great putting the hearts in the right place!

The hearts are yummy, Mommy!

All in all, a good week.  The coloring and other little worksheet activities were short – B is much more into the sensory stuff so I’ve been trying to find activities that are more hands on.  It’s more challenging for me, because I am the bookish, loving to read, thinks-worksheets-are-fun kind of mom, and my daughter is all active, not much sitting still.

So, some things I try last all of 5 minutes, and sometimes, we’ve plowed through my whole week’s worth of activities by Tuesday afternoon.  Slowly, I’m discovering what gives her joy and what she finds fascinating.

Be sure to visit the 1+1+1=1 blog to see lots of other fun tot school ideas from moms with toddlers of all ages!


Have I introduced you to my favorite blog?  No?

Dear friend, meet Like Mother, Like Daughter.  A lovely collaborative blog between a mother and her four daughters… all about real life, faith, and the importance of family.  And oh, so very encouraging.

You know how some blogs, even though they are wonderful, make you feel as though you just really don’t have it together?  That you aren’t… enough?  You know those blogs I’m talking about.  A mom with two young kids who has remodeled her entire house, painted all the artwork, sewn clothes for the children, also takes amazing photographs and cooks like a gourmet chef.

She grows a huge garden and cans her own veggies, bakes bread, and makes her own homemade cleaning solutions.  In her downtime she runs a blog and has a craft business, sells things on Etsy and just published her first book.

Meanwhile, you haven’t had a shower today, and just served up some fabu frozen pizza.

Know what I mean?

Like Mother, Like Daughter is the antithesis of that paragraph up there.  Auntie Leila will lovingly and encouragingly prod you along the path of motherhood, challenging you to branch out into cooking more at home and keeping up with the laundry, all the while teaching you how with simple common sense and good humor.  She will remind you of what’s really important, what has endured for generations, and gently guide you away from all the rush and confusion of modern life.  She will help equip you for this task of building a family of faith and a happy home.

Just go over there and read.  It will make you happy.

Every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter is {pretty, happy, funny, real} which is just to capture some small moments of every day life.  I’m hoping I can do this pretty often, although I won’t be silly enough to say every week.  So here is this week’s {phfr}.

This is a miniature rose plant Bekah and I found at Alberson’s.  So pretty!


Not an exciting picture, but taking small steps to make my cooking healthier makes me happy.  This is organic, ancient grain wheat called Einkorn.  All our modern wheat is genetically modified, and extra chromosomes have made wheat less nourishing and much more problematic.


My crazy girlie, modeling her crazy nap hair and yes, underwear.  Hilarious.
Life with little ones – even one litte one – is tiring.  Sometimes this is where we end up (love the legs crossed):
I hope you are able to take a few minutes to enjoy the simple, everyday things this week!
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