We pau. (We’re done.) It’s moving day. Everything is cleaned, packed, and put away.

We woke from a rather sleepless night to a rainy gloomy morning, appropriate for our less than exuberant moods. This journey mirrors the one we took a year and ten days ago. I spent the last few days packing the same clothes into the same suitcase, rolling up each piece just like I did on the living room floor back in Belleville last June. Another giant move.

We are soon to be on a plane and I am sure the same surreal feeling will be there heading away as there was upon our arrival. There’s just something about a one-way ticket that is a total mind bender. It’s an invitation for the unknown. Flying to Hawaii I remember being in total disbelief that we had no idea when we would again be flying over the Pacific Ocean back to the mainland. We were going to be living on an island indefinitely… woah.

Now it’s the opposite but still the same. Leaving one place for another, not knowing when we’ll ever return to sweet Hawaii. Oahu. Kailua. Olomana.  So many exciting opportunities are in store for us, but it’s hard to say goodbye. A big part of each of us is clinging to the island, unwilling to let go.

I was awed the first day I spent at the beach last June thinking about the fact that I’d be able to go there any time I wanted to. Because we lived here! Yesterday we spent our last day on Kailua Beach by our favorite Banyan tree. No longer will we be able to be at the beach in 10 minutes or less, saying goodbye to that beautiful blue water was sad.

All of our goodbyes have been sad; the people we’ve met, the beach, the banyan tree, Kailua town, our apartment, our jobs, Larry, Leiko, our favorite restaurants (Kalapawai Cafe), Tyler’s dive sites, his frog fish friends, my courtyard, the gorgeous weather, the breathtaking mountains, and last but not least Private Edwin who is being adopted by the new tenants.

Our excitement for the move has been temporarily abated and replaced by a mourning for our Hawaiian lifestyle. This year has gone by so fast it’s been a dream.

A year of our lives we have spent here on this island that is very much a home to us now.  One unique chapter in our lives that we will no doubt look back on longingly through a rosy glass.

This is the year we spent Learning to be Hawaiian.


Surf boarding and SUP boarding.

We’ve done them both again recently. If we’d had little extra money, time, and energy maybe we could have made these sports a regular thing, but they’re both a lot of fun as an occasional treat.

With our GoPro tagging along with us every time we go to the beach nowadays, we have some footage of our surfing in Waikiki. Tyler created this video with plenty of unflattering close-ups of me… it’s fun though. Unfortunately, our camera fogged and had some unfortunate water droplet interference (Tyler had a really good one and literally the one tiny drop of water is obscuring him the whole time!), and due to the fish-eye lens we look very far away when we’re actually surfing. But hey it’s PROOF we can actually surf a wee bit. Lots of attempts and a few successes are included.

Hang loose bruddah!

Two days ago (technically 3 since I’m now posting this after midnight) we went on our SUP boarding outing to Flat Island, one of the few small islands that we frequently see that we hadn’t yet set foot on. Living  up to it’s name it is a small, flat island. Rather nondescript, but like most of the small islets around it is a protected bird sanctuary. It was nice standing on the island and having a full view of Kailua Beach.


The water was super clear that day and, my oh my, it was absolutely gorgeous!

I tried  little flo-yo, or floating yoga, as well but after the  third position I fell off!

We do have a 10 minute video of our paddling, but much of it is rather boring and Tyler is on strike from movie editing the rest of the night, so no paddling movie to see here.

lanikai love.

We wanted to do some beach engagement photos on the beach where Tyler proposed. We turned to Craigslist and put out an ad to see if any aspiring photographers were interested in working with us. Sure enough we got a huge response. We ended up meeting Jenn on the beach and she took some beautiful pictures for us! To see what she’d edited for us so far, please go here!

And also, just because this is funny, the other day when we were visiting Lanikai we saw this lady walking her dog in a very unconventional way… the pooch looked incredibly uncomfortable, but it was wonderful to watch!


You guys, there are so many things I have wanted to write about in my blog but never have…

The way my ‘long hair’ isn’t long at all compared to many of the locals.

How Tyler is driven crazy by the way people park cars in their yards, even though that’s exactly how we park our car. In the yard.

The way our speech has been affected by the local dialect, and how Tyler now sounds Canadian for some reason, eh?

How we always felt like people categorized us as honeymooners at tourist spots even though for most of the time I didn’t even have a ring.

I wish I could have documented everything from the last year but it’s unavoidable that some things get left out. However in the next two days I hope to pump out quite a few more posts to cap off this blog. The past couple weeks have been PACKED with fun stuff.

This morning Tyler went out for his last dive living in Hawaii. Very bittersweet for him I am sure. He didn’t want to leave me alone on one of our last days here, but I am recuperating from a  sunburn and haven been needing some down time to write some posts.  It’s crunch time, hence the multiple posts per day!

Our apartment is pretty cleaned out, but we are lucky that the next tenants bought all our furniture and are keeping basically everything in our kitchen so we don’t have to fuss around getting rid of everything last minute and we get to use it all up until the end.

We sold our car 2 days ago and have been hoofing it around town since.

Moving day is so close and we are just all over the place about it. Words have just been failing me (which doesn’t bode well for my blog posts). Overall though, we feel like the timing is good and we’ve been satisfied with our year.

More to come…


Olomana, apparently meaning ‘divided hill’,  is the name of the mountain that has loomed over our neighborhood this past year. It is indeed split into three peaks.

Olo has multiple meanings, one of which is hill.

Mana, however, is a very special word in Hawaiian described by Wikipedia as ‘a form of a spiritual energy and also healing power which can exist in places, objects and persons.’  Most commonly it is translated to power or spirit, and I have heard that certain ancient sites have ‘much mana.’

When looking up the meaning of Mana it took me a long time to find anything that referenced that it could also mean divided, but eventually I did come across this definition.

Although, I successfully confirmed  the name’s common meaning, the Mana in Olomana will always take on the first definition in my mind. First, from our typical view we only see the first and largest peak, the second two hiding behind it toward the Koolaus. So from our vantage it doesn’t look divided at all.   Second, it has a very powerful link to our time here in Hawaii. I have spent so much time in the past year looking at this mountain that is so easily visible from much of the windward side (although no longer from our kitchen window) and it is also the namesake of our neighborhood. It has become very special to me and has… I don’t know… a special mana. :)

All this time, it has been around watching us live our lives, yet we had not yet hiked it. It is said to be one of the best hikes on the island, yet not for those with a fear of heights or the extremely clumsy. You may remember this was on our bucket list, and now we can say it is checked off!

We finally got the motivation last Saturday to go for it. The hike follows the ridge-line on the right hand side of the mountain (see top picture) and climbs to the first and tallest peak, 1,600 ft in elevation after 1.5 mile hike. Then it goes on to the more dangerous second and third peaks, and for brave and experienced climbers can continue down the other side from there.  We knew from the beginning that we would be stopping at the first peak, after all the view can’t get any better than the top right?

{Sorry, no zombies allowed}

The hike started out easy enough, going through some forest beginning the climb up to the ridge-line. Then we came to, honestly my favorite part of the hike, a stand of ironwood pine trees which I always noticed from afar. Here the tradewinds were whipping through the pines making a constant whirring noise and the trail was covered in a thick bed of needles. This was also the beginning of the ridge, to the ground started dropping away on either side of us.

{Approaching the ironwoods}

It began to get steep and there was a section where there were many ropes provided for assistance, but on the way up we trusted our own hands and feet instead.

Toward the top the path became narrower and the drop-offs steeper, and then the climb up got much more technical. Rock climbing is a must to get to the top. It was nerve-racking for sure, but we made it to the summit and the view was an astounding reward.

{Just keep climbing}

We could see east to Rabbit Island, the stunning formation of the Koolaus, the Pali overlook, Kaneohe bay, all the way out to Chinaman’s Hat, Kailua, the Mokes… everything! We even looked  down on our neighborhood and picked out our house!

{The 2nd and 3rd peaks}

While we were at the top we saw two helicopters go by. The cool thing about it… we were practically even with them. One was still a little higher and one was a little lower. I waved!

Our work wasn’t over though and we still had to get DOWN! The pictures don’t do the terrain justice and we don’t have pictures of some of the more harrowing parts because… really? be glad that we weren’t pulling out the camera at those moments!

Right when we were starting our descent we coincidentally ran into our landlord’s daughter. Her and her friends had hiked all the way to the third peak and were just getting back. We don’t run into people as much as we’d expect living in such a small town, but being at the top of a mountain at the same time was pretty exciting.

{Thumbs up to Alana after climbing down that part}

All of the reviews I read before taking the hike talked about the way up, but few mentioned the journey down. It’s funny because on the way up we avoided using the ropes, like I mentioned, but on the way down I think we used every single one of them! It was steep and a gooood use of leg muscles.

{Long way down on either side}

The pine stand was a refreshing stop and the banyan tree at the beginning of the trail was a welcome sight, my thighs were really feeling it by then.

I’m glad we ventured to the top of Olomana as our last hike on Oahu… always save the best for last, yeah?

{At the Top}

the food issue.

Ah! Only 4 days left in Hawaii! Eeek! We have been SO busy lately squeezing in some last minute fun and packing up our apartment. Today we sell our car (fingers crossed everything goes smoothly) and will be relying on our feet to take us around our last few days. Hopefully I will get a bunch of posts up of our latest shenanigans in the next few days.

But first I have this post on food. I haven’t  talked a whole lot about the Hawaiian foods here so I felt obligated to do a whole post on it.

At first I was disappointed by the lack of Hawaiian foods here. I thought pineapple would always be on the menu but reality is it’s actually there about as often as on the mainland… just on Hawaiian burgers and pizzas.  I’m not sure what else I was expecting but I was just thinking there’d be MORE. Instead of having a unique cuisine Hawaii seemed like a melting pot of foods from other cultures. But as we’ve lived here longer there are some foods that I will now say are very Hawaiian. Some still  have origins in other parts of the world but the Hawaiians have really made them their own.

I have decided to take a taste testing adventure through some of these foods I have come to consider “Hawaiian.” A few of these goodies I have had before and others I tried just for the sake of this post.

Kalua Pig

Basically shredded pork, but the pigs are cooked in an underground pit of coals called an imu. Yummy! You can get Kalua Pork by itself, on sandwiches, quesadillas, pizzas, you name it… I love it.


Poi is a sticky substance made from pounded taro root. It has taken a long time for me to try this… I’ve been wanting to, but despite it’s apparent popularity I have had a hard time finding it. Perhaps this food is popular because of it’s traditional role opposed to it’s flavor. We haven’t come across it at our normal haunts, but we did get to try it at the luau. My conclusion was that it didn’t taste like much at all. Not good, not bad. It’s just poi.


Ah spam…. I have had a can of Spam in our cupboard the entire time we’ve lived here. It’s for “emergencies.”  Tyler refuses to try it and I’ve been secretly waiting to sneak it into dinner without him realizing it. It’s a very popular thing here. If you go to a drive-in or even McDonald’s Spam will be on the menu. I have tried Spam in the past, but for the sake of it being Hawaiian I have decided to try the Spam Masubi. Kinda like Spam sushi. Lowgrade sushi. These can be picked up in any gas stations (I hear Shell’s used to be the best) or street corners, just about anywhere really.

We were lucky enough that someone made some homemade, fresh masubis for Tyler’s work going away party, and you know what Ty actually tried one! They were still a little warm and the nori (seaweed) wrap got stuck in our teeth, but I think they were much tastier than either of us expected.

Loco Moco

I’ve mentioned the Loco Moco before. Rice topped with a hamburger patty, topped with a fried egg, topped with brown gravy. It’s good for any meal and restaurants like to put twists on it. Sometimes they make it classy by using nice cuts of steak, or Zippy’s puts chili over the top instead of gravy. I give Loco Moco’s a thumbs up, with the caveat that the gravy can make or break this dish. So find a locale with good gravy and you are set!


Haupia is a coconut “pudding” (in quotes because it is not the consistency of pudding, but more like gelatin). Haupia is used as fillings or a topper for desserts. This we have tried in a Purple Potato Haupia Pie. It has a light sweetness that makes it seem like a healthier dessert. They even serve a Haupia Pie at McDonald’s and some bakeries have haupia filled malasadas!

Lau Lau

Is a meat dish where the meat (usually pork or fish it seems) is wrapped in either taro or ti leaves and steamed. It is common to find this at plate lunch places like drive-ins. I had L&L’s pork lau lau and was slightly disappointed by the lack of flavor. However Tyler’s mom got a version of this dish on the Big Island that looked very tasty, I think hers was more of a seafood lau lau.

Mac Salad

A plate lunch isn’t quite complete without a scoop of macaroni salad. I used to avoid Mac Salad at pot lucks and family gatherings, but since moving here I have acquired a taste for it. It is normally a very mild recipe and it’s very tasty on a hot day.

Li Hing

Li Hing Mui is a powdered covered dried plum.  As the letters in the name suggest this one was not named by Hawaiians but the Chinese, however it has garnered it’s fame here in the islands. I bought these the other day, and YUCK! They were very strong and I’m not a fan of the dried plum concept with the giant pits and all. Apparently when Tyler was young dried plums were popular with his friends only with lime powder, he wasn’t a fan back then so he opted out of this taste testing experiment.

I HAVE however had the Li Hing powder in many other tasty forms. It is a favorite among locals and it seems it can be put on anything. Li Hing margarita? Yes please! I have had Li Hing sourapple gummies and Li Hing popcorn as well.

As a bonus feature I would like to document my favorite aisle in the drug store / grocery stores… they all have it. It’s an aisle full of wonders. Strange wonders. Everything from candy to dried shrimp. If you were one of the lucky few to receive a package from Tyler, you probably got something from this aisle…

{Picture to come soon!}


In Hawaii, first birthdays are a BIG deal. A baby’s first birthday rewards them with a huge luau with all their friends and ohana.

At work this helps me out a lot… After every photo shoot I do for a family, I present them their photos in slideshow form and then of course I try to sell them packages including the slideshow. Here in Hawaii we are the top sellers of the slideshow (oh yeah!) because everyone likes to play them at first birthday luaus.

Today was our first Hawaiian birthday. One year ago we touched down in paradise.  It seems like it’s only been a blink of an eye, but a whole year has gone by. Not only our first year in Hawaii but our first year living together, learning from each other. I know this year of our lives is one we will never forget nor regret. We love Hawaii and all the experiences and adventures it has gifted us.

Tonight we celebrated this occasion with our own first birthday luau! (At ‘the best’ tourist luau on the island.)

It’s been a long day of memories being made so I’m not going into too much detail now, but I wanted to make sure to squeeze in a post on this very special day.

round temple gardens.

As of June 1 Tyler has been a free man. Meaning he is no longer working at the dive shop and has all his days off! Therefore, when I have the day off we’ve been taking day trips to enjoy our last month of Hawaiian living. As I have been in a picture mood lately, I have lots to share of our discoveries.

Round Top Drive

A drive I read about in a book… it goes up above Waikiki and has some very scenic views.

Along the drive we also stopped at a Pu’u Ualakaa State Park for more panoramic lookouts and making of new friends.

We also explored the Honolulu Zoo this day (Which I LOVED — Most amazing monkey and ape habitats) we neglected to get any photos to share.

Byodo – In Temple

I’m so happy I stumbled upon this gem somewhere in the interwebs and discovered it’s really close to home in Kaneohe. It makes me realize we are most likely missing out on so many other potentially AWESOME attractions on our island. This was a magical place to spend a damp and misty morning. Amazing architecture, nature, history, and Buddha.

For additional enjoyment check out this infrared photo, it looks like the temple and surroundings are majestically covered in snow.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens

There are a lot of botanical gardens on Oahu, I see signs for them all the time pointing this way and that. It wasn’t until we were driving home from the temple that we decided to finally follow the arrows to one. The only other one I’ve been to was $15 admittance, but this one was far superior (except it didn’t lead to a waterfall) in size and plant variety and completely FREE! Gotta love free entertainment in such an expensive place.

Tyler’s favorite plant, and the one I would choose as shelter if a rainstorm were to sneak up on us.

And at last after many attempts, a successful Koa tree identification finally took place! Ive been trying to figure out what they looked like since moving here.

This place is huge and we did not see even half of it on our first trip. We returned today with smoked ahi spread and grapes to have a lovely picnic in a new area of the gardens. Another discovery took place today as well… the bush/trees  in our backyard with the multi-colored leaves are variegated hau trees! I love getting the answers to my wonders!

P.S. Forgive my lame title for this post. I was at a loss.

chasing the sun.

Hawaii will forever be in our hearts, but now I will be able to look back on it and remember our Hawaiian engagement. Yes, that’s right, as of May 30 around 5:30ish a.m. we are engaged!

3 years and 7 months (to the day) after our first date Tyler proposed!

I have a much more extensive blog post about the proposal in my personal file, but for once I want to keep a story hidden from my blog so we can tell it in person. Some things are just better like that.

I will however, share some (okay, a lot) of special photos from the day. From sunrise to sunset we chased the sun celebrating our commitment to forever after.

It was the perfect day.

The narrative coming to a city near you between June 25th – July4.