Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 69-- The Holidays

We thought the holidays might be a little hard since we were going to be without our families, but we had a great time! Our friends Brenden and Julie got married right before the holiday and spent their honeymoon over in Ko'olina and then after a week they came to stay with us in our little house. Then, as if that weren't going to be enough company, Kate and Jim decided last minute to come to Hawaii also. They stayed in a hotel in Waikiki, which made it an easy way to visit that little portion of the island.

Honestly, we've been so busy it's hard to recount all the stories. But I shall try. Cole and I tried to make sure we kept up with traditions by decorating gingerbread houses.

Cole's is my favorite because he has one of the little guys falling off the roof, and the expression of the other one cracks me up. 

I had a little friend join me in the laundromat over Christmas. Good thing I was sitting up on the counter, or I may have just squashed him reflexively. So he lived to see another day.

Our Christmas vacation before the actual day entailed, shopping, hitting the beaches, eating at our favorite places and going out dancing. Cole and I love dancing, so this was definitely a great way to spend the holiday.

After a day of filming some kiteboarding, Cole and I were freezing and warmed up at this little Italian restaurant. I love good italian food. Especially if you can order an omelette that really has nothing to do with being Italian. 

Kate with her new found bike, the pink panther.

Amy and Cole at Sunset

The day of Christmas Eve, it was officially Cole's second day off of the holiday, we decided to meet some friends at the beach. We made a quick stop at Ted's bakery, our favorite place, for cake and food, then went up to Turtle Bay Resort for some laying on the beach, surfing, or whatever anyone wanted. That night, Cole and I stayed up to watch Muppet Christmas Carol and eat pumpkin streusel... delicious!

On Christmas morning, we woke up, ate more pumpkin streusel with bacon and eggs, woot, and finished muppet christmas carol. For two hours that morning, I also skyped with my family, which included my brother Kaiden serving his mission in Lima Peru! It was so amazing to see him! He looked so good. 

After skyping, we left to go meet Jim and Kate for scuba diving!

This scuba trip was by far the best scuba diving I have ever experienced! I wish I had the pictures, but I don't yet. We will get them later, and video! The first dive was 120 feet to a ship wreck. We saw a 6 foot sea turtle, and an eel that was just swimming around, not just hiding in a rock. I've never seen that before. Kate actually ran out of air on this dive, so she buddy system'd all the way to the top. The next dive was much more shallow. An eel bit our guide as he was looking for an octopus. Not too bad, he moved his hand just in time. We swam around and saw a lot of cool fish. Then we saw a reef shark! He was awesome. And finally, we were playing with a little octopus, and he decided my face looked nice, so he latched onto my face over my goggles! I was looking straight into the middle of the octopus kinda freaking out... Cole continued to role film... and then I calmed down, and the guide took me to the ocean floor where I laid down and the frightened little octopus swam away for safety. 

After diving, we were starving. So I went and bought a little tourist dress so we didn't have to go home. We met up with Brenden and Julie, and the 6 of us went out for all you can eat seafood. Best idea of my life. Thanks for coming up with it Jim :)

After eating seafood, we were supposed to go to Les Miserables, but we'd missed the current show, and another one didn't start until 10:30. So instead, we went dancing. We were the only people there! Of course. But we paid the DJ to play eighties music all night. It was definitely a good Christmas.

This morning I went and got a package my mom had sent. She was so cute to send us a bunch of things for Christmas: another gingerbread house, sugar cookie cutters and recipe, pajamas, a Christmas decoration (mirror with tree and Merry Christmas in a bunch of languages), and stockings filled with candy. Cole also got a gift card to go get some tools, and I got money to go buy some paint. Thanks mom!!

Last night, the Smith family did their annual exchange. Truman had me, and sent me this cute card:

Adrienne picked out some sweet hair product for me. Which I love!

All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas and Cole and I have been really blessed.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 45

I can't believe it's December already! Number one, because it came so fast. I think this year has gone faster than any other year I can remember, and a lot has happened! I can't believe just last year at this time, Cole and I were getting engaged.

Number two, because it's still bathing suit weather outside.

A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks. Cole started his job at Vivint Solar. He's really happy, but he's working 10-14 hours a day, 6 days a week.

This is Cole's first panel that he helped install:

His first week though, was Thanksgiving, which means he only worked 4 days that week. Thanksgiving was a lot more eventful than we thought it would be! We were invited to have Thanksgiving with Danny Anderson's cousin Tori and her family. I woke up kinda sad that we weren't with anyone! But we went to beach, and then came home to make the best green bean casserole ever. It's cheese and bacon instead of mushroom. And don't worry, I didn't forget the french onions on top! It's going to be a must have for Thanksgiving's to come! That was the important part. I wanted to make sure we did something that would make the tradition list. So a recipe for a new dish was what is going to last. Dinner with the Sessions was excellent. All of the traditional fixings, complete with pumpkin and pecan pie. My two favs :)

Cole and I wake up at 6 every day so he can get to work by 6:30. On the way, one particular day two weeks ago, Cole needed to stop at Don Quijote (the grocery store around the corner. I love this store! It's kinda like a super walmart would be if it was created by asian people). So we stopped, and as I was sitting (stopped) letting Cole out of the car, a little old lady from the handicapped spot backed right up into me. Sigh.

The good news, we got almost as much as the car cost for this little ding from the lady's insurance company. So, not a total loss!

I've been running around like a crazy person since Cole is working so much, trying to tie up all the loose ends that moving has left us with. Almost done! Fingers crossed. I did have to add one more item to the list today when on our way home last night, Cole and I blew a tire:

Other than working a ton, having some car issues, Cole and I have found time to play! We go to the beach every Sunday. I'm trying to learn to boogie board (not going well) and Cole is surfing. He's also getting into kiteboarding, which is pretty awesome.

Oh! In order to make our house feel more like home, Cole and I made homemade ornaments from gingerbread. They are chubby little guys who only look decent from far away. But I strung them up all over the living room with some candy canes and ribbon, and with some stockings and poinsettias, this place is looking a little festive. We still are going to make gingerbread houses and we are making each other Christmas gifts this year.

I promise to get better about taking pictures! I've missed a ton, and I know because I don't have the pictures that I'm forgetting some very funny things. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 31

Our first month is up! It's day 31, says my android phone app... yes that's the sly way of telling you I got rid of my iPhone this month and switched to Android, via the Samsung Galaxy SIII. If you're wondering... it's amazing. Even just the live wallpaper of the little cute panda watching bubbles flow by makes me happier than my iPhone did--and of course that's just the beginning! But I won't bore you with phone things... let me update you!

Today was Cole's first day at Vivint Solar. I've been hanging out by myself all day. I dropped him off, then headed to the gym. After I went to McDonald's to take advantage of their free wifi. I'm not sure if you know this, but Cole and I have a little side project that we hope will continue to get bigger. So that's what I have been doing most of today. So far so good! You can check out the fruits of my labor if you'd like, I built this website for a guy that is teaching Cole how to kitesurf. He's doing trade with us. So Cole learns for free, while I built a little website for him. Pretty awesome stuff!! Anyway, the site I built is  (to keep going, I also cleaned the whole house and need to grocery shop in the next two hours before I pick Cole up. Not working is weird I've decided.)

As I mentioned, Cole is learning to kitesurf! It's pretty cool. We went and watched the kitesurfers in Kialua Beach yesterday after his second lesson. I regretfully have to tell you I didn't take pictures all day yesterday! So no kitesurfing pics, and no pictures of the amazing view (best I've ever seen) at the top of this hike I did while Cole was taking his lesson. Sorry guys. I failed you.

We are pretty settled into our new place now. We have furniture, and we painting the living room,

(I may have gotten some paint right in my hair...)

and we have even been able to watch movies on rainy days with our new projector!

And yes it does rain. Although we are not on the dry side of the island, we are not on the wet side either, we are smack dab in the middle. 

Even with the rain, we have been able to do some cool things. We are now scuba certified! Woot! So when you all come to see us, we can go on a sweet dive together!  (this picture is from last year... oh well)

We got to watch the sunset on a sailboat!

And throw some boogie boarding in there... I'm terrible by the way. Really awful.

Although it is the holidays, and I keep trying to think about Thanksgiving being this week. It is super hard! All the doors are open in the house and the fan is on. I can't wear makeup often because it will literally sweat off my face if I try. I can put it on at night I've discovered... but then it has to come off a couple hours later, so what's the point!? Oh well. We have seen holiday shopping, and some Christmas decorations. Starbucks did have this little cute snowman that Cole ate (he said it wasn't very good) but it was so cute!

So Happy Holidays everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving! Even though I don't really feel like it's that time of year, I guess it is :) We miss everyone and hope you will all skype with us this Thursday!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 19/20

First I'm going to begin with saying that I can't believe my last post was day 17, because it honestly feels like it's been a week since I posted and I thought I was leaving everybody hanging. Second, it is only 7:46 pm, and I am currently 100% ready for bed and lying in bed pretending like I don't want to go to sleep, but I do. I really do. I'm so sleepy. My calves are sore, my eyes are tired, my head is fuzzy, and there's just the fact that I'm tired. BUT I'm also super relieved and so satisfied with how everything is going out here that being tired really doesn't matter.

So Cole and I bought a car! Yay! I don't know how many of you know this, but I name all my cars, and Cole's cars. My first car, a powder blue mini van, had many names, but it was usually Bertha. Worst name. I promise they get better. My second car was named Siv--Honda Civic, not clever but whatever. Then there was my little red Mazda, and her name was Babes. My fourth car was a Nissan Pathfinder named Toby. When Cole and I met, I started naming his cars as well. The first was the Maxima. He was named after Gladiator: Maximus or Max. Then there was the old truck, Charlie. The new truck, Leonitis or Leo. Finally, his bike which he named Thor to follow the theme.  Here in Hawaii, was have a 2001 Ford Explorer and his name is Loki. The god of extreme jealousy and a trickster. Since he seems to have fooled us: the gas tank always says full when it is not, a learned lesson since we bought him, he seems to live up to his name.

It was also on this day that we got a house to live in! We got approved for the apartment, but we couldn't decide if we were going to take it, and then we realized if we didn't we'd have at least two more nights sleeping with wild boars and in the rain. So we decided to take the first house that made sense. It's a two bedroom, so for those of you who have been hoping they could come stay with us, you got your wish. We have a spare room for guests! We're excited because it's also in a gated community and even though Hawaii is pretty safe, we had been to some rough neighborhoods and so we are glad we lucked out with this place. We are now residents of Waipahu Hawaii! Look below, it's directly left of Pearl City. This means we live amongst a ton of military. Cole's hair cut gets us a lot of people who ask if we are military. I feel a little like we're out of the club.

Since we had a place to stay most of our worries were solved! We hung out at the beach and with friends all day. We even got to crash on their floor instead of camp,

Interrupt: remember how I said I was so tired? Well, I fell asleep in the middle of that sentence, so I'm starting again on Day 20. Yes, I can fall asleep anywhere! It was before 8:30 and I was sound asleep.

So! We had crashed with our friends and the next day we signed a lease on our new apartment! It's 2 bedroom, as I mentioned and we are very excited about it. The rest of that day we decided to play! We went to the beach, where we played in the water and laid out. I got burnt--yes it's still hot enough to get burnt here. Then we had the most delicious BBQ pulled pork at this little place called Gracie's. I think. It had 3 tables and about 5 stools. We will definitely be back. After, we met up with our friends and went to breakneck beach with them. Jordan and Cole played in the waves for about 2 hours while Tierney and I jogged around, did a little calf work out, sat in the waves that came further up, and mostly just laughed at the boys when they got owned by the monstrous waves coming in. When we went to shower off, it took forever to get the sand out. I was seriously digging in the bikini bottoms to try and get everything out of there. I'm sure someone got a show, but glad no one took any pictures. After, we ran around taking pictures. Check out this cool tree! That pose is our international symbol for being awesome. It's a good story, I'll tell you sometime :)

This is the picture of the four of us: Jordan, Tierney, Cole and me in front of Shark's Cove. Not cool to snorkel in right now, but normally pretty sweet.

We then met up with some friends of theirs and had dinner. I swear if we weren't being so strict, the food here is so delicious it would be fun to gain 300 lbs. Don't worry, we won't. In fact, both of us have lost some weight since being here. Look how skinny Cole looks:

I get after him to make sure he's eating. But I think both of us want to take advantage and lose a few extra pounds. We're in Hawaii after all, every season is beach season!

After getting some acai bowls (which are like frozen yogurt) Cole and I said goodbye to our friends and went home. The next day was errand day again. Costco, Walmart, thrift stores, it was exhausting. This is why I was so tired last night. While we were running around Walmart, we did see some interesting, umm, patrons? Little birds :)

So what have we been doing today? We went into Cole's work to get him set up with HR. And then? More errands. We got memberships at 24 hour fitness and worked out. Joining a gym was one of my move requirements, so I'm so glad that Cole was on board and we made it work. I'm thinking of working there! It would be pretty rad to work there, I'd love it. After 24, we went thrift store shopping. Can I tell you that I should have been doing this all along??? Today we got 2 dressers, a leather chair, a bamboo/wooden side table, a really cool and don't know how to describe it TV stand, a worn blue leather couch, and so much kitchen stuff. We probably spent $200. It was amazing. And it looks good! We also officially have a bed. It's makeshift, but comfortable and king sized which is the most important part :)

Well we're making it work, and once again we have lucked out and are enjoying our new life!

PS one of my highlights of the last two days was a text from Megan, "Hey frito feet, I miss you!" I laughed for 15 minutes. Girls don't smell like sweat, they just kinda smell like chips. I'm more frito and Megan is more Tostito's. Don't ask more, because it's probably too much information for you already :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 17

Since our last blog post was so ominous, I thought I would post this morning to let everyone know that we made it through our first camp out safely. It was actually quite interesting! Well the whole day was... hopefully I can get all the details right.

Last time I left you we had departed out of our hotel and checked out the campground (so-called) during the day and found a little spot where we would stay the night. After that, we set out to find a car and a place to live. Throughout the day we drove and drove and drove. First stop, was McDonald's--free Wifi!! Cole says we are living the anarchist life out here because we go anywhere that has free wifi, don't buy anything (3 trips to McDonald's yesterday without buying any of their food), shower with baby wipes, and live out of our storage unit and our tent. Win :) At McDonald's we called around about apartments and cars. After setting up a few things we went on to the next agenda item. The Vivint Solar warehouse in Waipahu, which is where Cole lived last year, was where we ended up. We loved that it is in Waipahu because it's an area that we already know. It's smack in the middle of Honolulu and North Shore so it's kind of a big suburb with a lot of nice area. We stopped in to talk to the head tech there, Blake. He was super nice and we talked with him for quite a while. By the end of the meeting, Cole had a job. Man are we blessed and lucky! He is going to be learning all the ins and outs of Vivint Solar with Blake and working really hard. A lot of manual labor at first, but we are so excited.  Well I think Cole is a little bummed that he has to start working already, but it's definitely a miner negative side. We will play a lot before he has to start (two weeks from yesterday).

After Vivint, we went back to McDonald's to look at more cars and apartments. We realized we were absolutely screwed when we were about to go look at a car we liked and wanted to go to the bank to get cash... surprise, there isn't a Chase bank here! We had to hurry and go open a bank account so that we can transfer funds. We made a trip to the storage unit and couldn't even find our checks and so we felt quite stranded. How could we get an apartment or a car if we couldn't get our money?? The apartment thing works out just fine because they'll take our debit card, but we can't get money transfered to our new bank account for a few days. Luckily, we found our checks in the storage unit this morning and so we are okay. We still opened the bank account, because obviously we're gonna need it!

With that problem solved we started looking at apartments again. After our experience with the camping ground and being stressed all day-- this was almost too much for me. We kept running into the worst possible ghetto. It was unbelievable. I won't even show you pictures because it would scare you. It sure scared me. Finally we found this really nice place, in a gated community thank goodness, that we like a lot. We submitted a rental application and put $100 down to hold it assuming our application comes back approved. We can still choose not to take the apartment if we find something better, so we have continued to look. Back again at McDonald's around 6, we were back on our laptops and iPad's. Man are we a couple of bums!!! I actually did buy a coffee there, so not a total loss for McDonald's I guess...

I started crashing around 8, and getting kinda loopy from being so tired. But we had an appointment to meet a guy for a car at 9:30, so I powered through and despite some incoherent comments about Cole not making sense and would he please try to speak clearly because obviously HE was too tired to complete his thoughts (not so--I would too tired to hear the completed thoughts) I got a second wind. At this point we had eaten granola bars, bananas, peanut butter and jelly and crackers all day so we were starving. We decided to try some Hawaiian food in Cole's old neighborhood. Let me expand on this part of the day!

So it may have been that we had been in the sketchy areas and stressed all day, but everything seemed way more trashy than ever before. Keep in mind, we're in the same strip mall right next to where Cole used to live, where we walked a million times. It's extremely safe! But we were just on edge. Everyone was looking at us wrong, or looked sketchy. A little old asian man yelled at me for not buying his bananas for sale because I was a liar and he had family stuff to take care of... well that was my last straw so we went into the little Hawaiian food place and got Chicken Long Grain, Salmon something, and Kalua Pork. The Pork was delicious, sorta, and the rest was well... it made my stomach queasy. So we left and Cole got two tacos from Jack in the Box (cat food tacos we call them lol, they are the best) and I ate yet another banana and some craisins.

After a less than delicious but fine dinner we went to go meet a guy with a Honda Passport we liked. We pulled up to a really nice neighborhood, relieved, and a guy from the mainland (Boston) greeted us. We looked over the car, the guy was a real talker but it was so nice to talk to someone friendly. Long story short, the car was a piece, so we left knowing we still need a vehicle.

Finally, it was the end of the night and time to go back to our campsite! We made the drive up to the trailhead and started putting together the gear we would need to stay the night. While we were packing up, the security guard from the state department building I told you about, came over. He asked us if we were the couple that was camping there, and we said yes. He asked if we'd scouted out a place, and we told him yes. He then proceeded to tell us about a better place further down the trail, and gave us little points that we could use to our reference to know we were going the right way. He was so nice! He was originally from Sacramento and he and his brother owned a private security company and he was heading up the part that was in Oahu. He had left his family back in Sacramento, and he seemed lonely. He kept talking and talking and showing us pictures on his phone. He told us about how he hunts wild boars where we were about to camp. But not to worry! If we stayed up high (which is where we were camping) we'd be just find. He said that the hunters just used dogs, not guns, and that they wouldn't bother us because they'd be down in the valley. He also told us that the boars would smell us and stay away from us because they would be scared. This nice man talked some more about his horses and family while we were packing up, and then we left him and started on our little hike.

I was nervous, not really scared but just really tuned in to everything around me. It was raining pretty good, and frogs (huge 6-8 inch frogs) were everywhere. Well we saw two, but it seemed everywhere! After about ten minutes we reached a stream we jumped, as we were told by our new friend. After about ten more minutes we reached a rope that was tied to trees on this steep portion of the trail and we used the rope to climb up. Finally, we reached a place where there was an amazing view of the valley and we could see the town below. There was a bench and a little place for our tent. So we set up and got everything situated and settled down listening to the rain. Unfortunately, I was too wired to sleep. Probably still nervous. I played on Cole's phone, and listened to the rain, and every other sound of the forest. I think I slept about 2 hours total. Well I know I did, because I kept looking at the time.

All throughout the night it rained, but our tent was so good! We stayed completely warm and dry. When we woke up... we woke up to this:

After we woke up, we took a walk further up the trail to see if there were any better camping spots -- none that we found. But we did find this cool cave!!! We didn't have our flashlight so Cole didn't explore it. I'm kinda glad, because I was still a little tense.

This morning was interesting because after we hiked back we were SO muddy. We started freshening up back at the car and realized that the wipes we bought hadn't gotten put into our Walmart bag :( So we went back to Walmart to buy wipes, clean up in the bathroom, buy a double car phone charger, and get some laundry detergent. After we were all cleaned up anarchist style, as Cole says, we made it back to our storage unit (where we found our checks today so we can buy a car) and changed our clothes and finished cleaning up some more.

Back to McDonald's we went! We had had a breakfast of protein shake and candy for Cole, and protein shake and granola bar for me. It was definitely not enough for Cole after our meager food yesterday, so he finally patroned McDonald's for two $1 burritos and a coffee, I also got a coffee and it was wonderful. 

We are off to more apartment showings and car searches. Hopefully we'll get in some snorkeling today!  Oh, and we saw this cool blue stop sign yesterday :) Side note.