We’ve had so many people comment on how we are living in paradise, or they are so jealous we get to live here for four months. Hawaii has this (deserved) reputation for beautiful beaches, palm trees, killer waves, and amazing food.
While Hawaii is definitely all that and more, day to day life is quite different than a vacation. I’m not trying to burst anyone’s bubble here, a Hawaii vacation should definitely be on your bucket list but before you change your postal address here’s a few things we’ve learned in the last month:
We are in the small town of Laie (lah-ē-ā) , which is about an hour from Honolulu. Laie is the home of Brigham Young University- Hawaii, and more widely known – the Polynesian Cultural Center. Total population is close to 6,000 and we can walk most places in 10-15 minutes.
“Spent the afternoon swimming and exploring at Waimea Valley and then topped off the adventure at Seven Brothers. So yummy! We will definitely be going back!” -@jesscurren
We love small towns (population of our hometown of Driggs is about 1700) as the general feel of the town is just slower paced and chill. Add to that the Hawaiian culture and we have simply been enjoying the people immensely. We have great neighbors and our small little faculty housing neighborhood has lots of kids that play outside every afternoon. We have never had a local community like this and are still adjusting to the idea that friends are always next door. We are pretty used to our little nuclear family so it takes a bit of effort to get outside that comfort zone and send the kids out to play with friends (strange, I know).
I expected to completely die in the heat and humidity, but it has been surprisingly not awful. The average temperature has only been about 85 degrees. Usually there is a breeze that helps keep the humidity at bay which is helpful.
Even with that, we are generally just sticky. Our townhouse only has small window a/c units in the upstairs bedrooms which we run at night for just a few hours before bed to cool things off. We rely a lot on floor fans downstairs, try to keep the lights turned off, and when things get too hot there’s always the beach. I haven’t taken a warm shower since we got here. Instead I usually play a game of how cold can I make the water before accidentally turning it off.
We have a little, two door “beach car” that we can drive around. Once again, no a/c and everything is manual so we crank down the two windows and make sure the girls have hair ties to keep windblown locks out of our eyes. Not that my hair is usually in anything but a ponytail anyway! The backseat is a little cramped, but luckily BYUH has a car share service we signed up for and can rent a car for a minimal amount when we need more storage space (grocery trips) or driving longer distances, etc.
We have a decent grocery store in Laie, and when items go on sale they are fairly competitive price-wise. Believe me when I say we’ve bought groceries all over the country so I know it varies, but these are probably some of the most expensive we’ve ever bought. Turns out Hawaii is pretty far from the bread basket. Costco, WalMart and Target are all an hour away, so we try to do a once a month run, or when we drive to Honolulu for anything else we’ll swing by on the way home.
Honestly, showing up in a place for 4 months with no food is a bit of an undertaking. Our grocery bill for September was ridiculous so I’m hoping now that we’ve stocked up on essentials the remainder will be less (it’d better or we are selling our plane tickets and paddling home!). I also feel that we just did this for the condo in Driggs a few months ago. I feel like I’m on rinse and repeat!
The temperature is too hot to bake frequently, so we are trying to keep things simple and easy while also eating healthy. We bought a small BBQ from Target to grill meat outside (apparently everyone just buys cheap ones as they rust very quickly). The struggle is real.
This has probably been the biggest adjustment. I’ve never been a beach person as I hate being cold. We tend to hit everything in the off season while Airstream traveling, so the weather is never ideal. Sam will jump in with the kids, but I’m more of a “I’ll just sit here on my towel and read a book” type of person. Hawaii, however, is awesome. The sun is hot, the water is warm and it feels SO good to get in! My kids have been surprised with how much I’m in the water and honestly I have too. I love snorkeling and the kids have gotten good mileage out of our boogie boards. We just started surfing lessons last week and Rachel is excited about more of that.
Still, there’s only so much sun, salt, and sand we can handle! Sounds ridiculous right? The sun is HOT and we’ve had a few painful sunburns. Salt is sticky and then we have to get home and rinse the sand out of everything. Fortunately our kids are older and can manage themselves for the most part.
“Our new snorkel masks make us look like aliens. I like it.” @currentlywandering. P.S. You can get them on Amazon here.
There is some great hiking on the island with plenty of jungle greenery and waterfalls. I feel like as soon as we get started though we are dripping with sweat. We are soon praying for a breeze and have decided it is best to hike with a small microfiber towel to wipe off ever few minutes just to keep it out of our eyes! I think because of that our energy drains quicker and we definitely don’t rack up the mileage quite as fast as we used to. I also get the feeling that a lot of the hikes with great views are along the steeper ridges with drop-offs that are not exactly kid-friendly. I’m hoping as the weather cools down slightly in the next couple of months we can do a few more of the easier hikes on my list.
I don’t necessarily feel like we need to hike to ALL the waterfalls, or swim at ALL the beaches. We took a trip to Kauai with my parents (more on that later) where we rode in a helicopter, went ziplining, kayaked a river and did some epic snorkeling. We’ve hiked to waterfalls, swam with sea turtles, and had surfing lessons. Check, check, check and check.
“Dude… Mr. Turtle is my father.
Had ourselves a pretty epic beach day this afternoon. The turtles hang out surfing in the water and occasionally climb up on shore to warm up and digest. There are volunteers who rope off the area and keep watch as we are encouraged to give them at least 10 feet of space. Probably one of the coolest things we’ve seen so far on the island!” -@currentlywandering
I feel like in a month we’ve done a pretty good job of experiencing Hawaii. Part of me is ready to move on to the next adventure and worries that the next 3 months will be a little more like a trudge than a frolic in the waves.
Life in General
Because we are stationary, we’ve added in some activities we’ve missed. Sam is pretty busy with teaching his BYUH class, his regular work, managing math for the kids, and some 3D pen/programming projects (check out his cool Paw Patrol nightlight for Cara). Rachel has a weekly youth activity now that’s she’s twelve, and Andrew has regular cub scout meetings. I’ve picked up a small customer service job, and am back working with the girls for the 365MileChallenge for 2018.
“This right here is one of the reasons we are supposed to be in Hawaii. Sam and I had the opportunity to accompany Rachel on her first trip to the temple. As a 12 year old she is able to perform baptism and confirmations on behalf of deceased ancestors and is something she’s been looking forward to for quite some time! With our house just steps from the temple she’s hoping to go weekly and we are so excited for her!” – @jesscurren
The kids are doing more online schoolwork this semester. Since we have reliable, constant internet we decided it was time for mom to have a break. We are using Time 4 Learning for science & social studies plus some grammar and writing for Cara although I don’t love it. She’s currently reading Harry Potter and well, that’s a little above 2nd grade. I need to get in and adjust her assignments to something a little more difficult.
Rachel graduated from Beast Academy (it only goes through 5th grade) to Pre-Algebra on Khan Academy and we liked it so much Andrew is reviewing 4th grade in addition to 5th Grade Beast Academy and Cara is doing 2nd grade math as well. We still have our WriteShop Jr. books, Spelling, and we simplified grammar to just Daily Grams review pages instead of starting a new year (the book is SO much smaller!). Rachel has also started learning French, and Andrew is doing Spanish through Rosetta Stone and they are loving it. Kind of makes me want to brush up on my high school German.
We pushed back our regular grammar, Story of the World, literature studies and vocabulary books until January. We figure we’ll hit a few subjects hard this fall, and then take a break on those and catch up on everything else when we get back to the mainland.
“Apparently this is how we do school now. 😂” -@jesscurren
Far from hating the schedule, we are embracing it and making the most of what’s available. We feel like maybe we can make some headway with projects that have been stacking up for years. Its nice to just sit and home at nights and watch SuperGirl with the kids, and not be out exploring everyday. We get regular beach time, but are definitely more laid back than we have been in years. I feel a little lazy, but after three and half years of constant on the go, we’ll take the relief. I think be the time we get back in the Airstream we’ll be more than ready to hit it hard!
Could We Live Here?
That’s the million dollar question and one we ask in almost every place we visit. I vacillate between total blissful love and counting down the days back to the mainland. Sometimes even in the same day.
It comes down to a frame of mind. I think we could set our minds to live anywhere we needed to. We’d adjust, make it work, and be happy.
Of all the places, however, we could plant for four months, have Sam try his hand at teaching a college course, and experience a different culture, Hawaii is definitely near the top.