Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Life Update


Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Every time I sat down to write, I found myself struggling. I started this blog as a way to keep family and friends updated on our life now that we're so far away. The problem is...our life is not all that exciting to write about. I'm determined to stick with this though, so here's my random thoughts on life this past month.


I got a little flak on Facebook for posting a lot of pictures of the beach. While it might look like I'm spending all my time there, I've only been to the beach a few times since moving here. I *may* have gone overboard taking photos of the ocean, but I lived in the desert for 30 years and the joy I feel when I see that water has yet to fade. I got a snorkel and goggles and have tried them out a little, but we haven't really gone anywhere that has much to see. I really want a GoPro, but I settled for a $20 waterproof case that fits my little point-and-shoot camera and that's working well enough for now.
Testing out the waterproof camera case.

Hawaii really is beautiful (duh) and I'm most happy when I'm outside. I love all the flowers, trees and green everywhere. I like going outside in the morning to watch all the little birds and throw them some birdseed. I smile when I spot a gecko and finding a tiny hermit crab in a tide pool made me more excited than it should have. Last week, Mike built some planter boxes for me and I'm trying my hand at a little veggie and herb garden. We have plans to add more plants and flowers outside near the front door and on the lanai. It's a good thing the weather is perfect for growing things outside, since we cant really keep plants in the house because of the cats.

Hermit crab

Hopefully these will all be full soon!

Mike's teenage daughter, Makayla, arrived last month and is staying until mid-July. She's a great kid and this is the second summer she's spent with us since Mike and I started dating. Last year, I was worried how she'd react to me, but we got along great, so this summer was no worries. Makayla lived in Hawaii for a while, so we haven't done a lot of touristy things with her. We've gone to the movies a couple times, had some girls only shopping trips and gone to the beach twice. She and Mike are taking a surf lesson in a couple weeks and she's pretty excited about that. She's definitely more "teenager" this summer and spends a lot of her time talking to her friends on Facebook and hanging out with our neighbor that is her age and knew her from when Makayla lived here before. She's turning 15 just before she leaves and we're planning to spend the day at the water park.
I love this one!

Mike finally has a regular schedule, although it's not the shift we've been accustomed to. His new schedule does give him more consecutive days off, so that is an upside to me seeing a lot less of him on the days he works. I'm still not working (that sounds so weird). We decided with Makayla being here and then my parents visiting for a couple weeks, now isn't the best time to look for a new job. Mike and I are going to revisit this subject at the end of the summer. We are doing fine on just his salary, but it seems silly for me to not work when there's really no reason for me to stay home. The job market in Hawaii is not great, so it's a blessing that I don't need a job right away. Pandawire is still going strong and hopefully will continue to grow. Our sales are nothing close to covering my missing paycheck, but it is a nice supplement. Since I'm not working, I'm trying my hardest to be a good housewife housegirlfriend, but it's not easy! I seriously don't know how people do this with kids also factored in. I think I need to make myself an actual schedule so that I can divide my time between household duties and working on photos/listings/marketing for the site. Total honesty? Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed with all the things I should be doing, I just give up and take a nap. So, yeah, I need to work on my productivity. 

But honestly, could you focus with a view like this?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Living Like Tourists

Mike came home 2 weeks ago and we've been busy, busy, busy! We spent that first week getting the house ready in anticipation of our very first visitor. It seems like we have a never-ending stack of boxes to unpack. Even now, after going through so much stuff, we have a few boxes of decorations to look through. It's awesome to have Mike home and to know we don't have any more time apart in the foreseeable future. We have so much fun together, even running errands and cleaning the house is more enjoyable when we're together.

Our friend, Mark, arrived from Las Vegas last Friday. He'd been to Oahu a few times, but we used this as an opportunity to play tourist, since there was still a lot I hadn't seen. The first thing we did was visit the Dole Plantation. I was super excited to go, just so I could get a Dole Whip. Whips are basically pineapple soft serve ice cream, insanely good and I've only ever found them at Disneyland. Every time I visit Disneyland I get a Whip; they're honestly one of my favorite things. The Plantation has a lot of things to do, train ride, gardens, shopping, but we only did the Pineapple Maze. It's one of the largest mazes in the world and I was legitimately worried about getting lost in there. They give you a map, but it's teeny tiny and I had no clue what to do. Luckily, the guys took full control and I just followed them through the entire thing. There are 8 different checkpoints to find within the maze and you trace little stencils at each one. We were timed going through and finished in 45 minutes, which seemed crazy fast! I swear I would have been lost in there for hours, never mind finding all the checkpoints.

The magic that is the Dole Whip

We also visited Waimea Valley to hike through the botanical garden and up to a waterfall where you can swim. This was my favorite thing I've done since being in Hawaii. The hike was a nice paved walk with beautiful plants, trees and birds along the way. The pool at the base of the waterfall is deep and the force of the fall made a current that continuously pushed you back. So, I didn't really swim right under the fall, but I still swam in a waterfall!
I swam to about center of this pic. Next time, I'm going all the way!

So happy to be back together!

I have lots more to write about, but I'll have to save that for another day. I also have many more photos posted on Facebook, if you want to check them out! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy Cat

A few days after the move, Evie started doing the strangest thing. At least once a day, she'll bring one of her toys from upstairs to wherever I am downstairs. She lets out a little meow and then leaves it at my feet, purring and looking so proud of herself. She doesn't seem to want to play fetch, which she has done in the past. I'm pretty sure she's doing it at night too. I wake up with cat toys in the bed or on the bedroom floor.

I've read up about this behavior and I understand that it's a sign of affection or gifting thing. I'm sure it helps that I always praise her and pet her when she does it, but she still started doing it on her own. I'm just trying to figure out why she started doing it.

My first thought is, I'm home ALL the time with them now. After the last year or so, maybe she's just really excited that I haven't left her for more than a couple hours since the move.

Maybe she loves having all this room to explore, as opposed to being kept in the bedroom most of the time (for her own safety) when we were staying with my parents.

Perhaps she's picked up English and heard me, repeatedly, say how much it was costing to move the cats to Hawaii. If that's the case, Evie, a toy mouse doesn't really make us even. ;)

Whatever the reason, I'm happy that she's happy. For a cat that isn't especially affectionate, this is a pretty sweet gesture. I'll keep praising her and trying to get some video of her bringing me gifts. That is, as long as the "gifts" don't become dead mice or bugs...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

First Impressions

Thoughts and observations after being here for one week.

The humidity. Oh, the humidity!  I knew it was humid here, but I really wasn't prepared. It's probably due to growing up in the desert, but any kind of humidity hits me hard! Yesterday, I was told by a local that this week has been especially bad, so it gives me hope that it will get better or I will get used to it. My hair and skin LOVE the humidity; I haven't been using any lotion other than sunscreen. Chubbs is usually super static boy, to the point of his fur sparking, but he isn't having any issues here. In fact, he's looking quite fluffy!

The bugs. Thank goodness this is an issue I unnecessarily worried about. There are definitely a lot more little bugs around; ants, flies, tiny spiders and moths, but nothing to the extreme that I feared. So far, my only encounters with any especially creepy ones have been sweeping up their dead bodies and I'm praying it stays that way! I do have at least 3 bug bites on me now and no idea where they came from.

The radio. I am loving Hawaiian radio stations. They play traditional and modern Hawaiian music and covers of (mostly older) songs done with a Hawaiian spin. Mike says I'll get tired of hearing the same songs over and over, but it seems like all radio stations do that. At least this music is mostly "new" to me.

The locals. I knew moving here that I would be a minority. It didn't worry me at all, as I tend to get along with most people and am pretty open minded. Other cultures really interest me and, in this aspect, Hawaii really does feel like another country. I love hearing Pidgin and Hawaiian words dropped into most conversations. So far, everyone I've encountered has been really friendly and helpful.

The house. This has been my biggest source of stress. Mike was only in the house a couple of months before being sent to California and he unpacked what he could. We were supposed to have someone staying here and watching the place, but about 3 weeks in, that fell through. When I arrived at the house, tired, hot and sweaty (thanks again humidity) I was really frustrated to find it looking like...well...like no one had lived here for 3 months. The window style here allows some of the elements to get in, along with the lovely ocean breezes. That meant some small leaves, dead bugs and dust. Lots and lots of dust! Add to that the need to still unpack a lot of stuff, feeling alone and missing my loved ones and you have a pretty stressed out Chessie. I'm slowly getting things cleaned up and making a to-do list for my handyman when he gets home. We have company starting a week after he gets back (and throughout the summer) so I'd like to have the place pretty much ready by then and have a little time to spend together, not working on the house. The house does have a nice lanai and amazing views. The cats and I spend a good part of the mornings and evenings sitting outside watching the birds and butterflies.

I think we'll stay.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Moving Day

Aloha from Hawaii!
Before I get into the details of our journey from Las Vegas to Oahu, I just want to thank everyone who has been incredibly supportive of me during this very emotional and exciting time. I feel so badly about not getting to see most of my Vegas friends one more time before I left, but those two weeks went by insanely fast! I don't know when we'll be back to Vegas (most likely not this year), but I will definitely give more notice when we do. Meanwhile, I really hope to use this blog and Facebook to keep in touch with everyone.

Wednesday morning I woke up at 3:30am and could not get back to sleep. I was feeling so many emotions; excitement, sadness, worry, anticipation. My dad, the cats and I left for the airport at 6am to be there in plenty of time for my 9am flight. At the Hawaiian Airlines ticket counter, I got moved to the First Class check in line due to my "special" baggage. It was then that we found out the flight was delayed about 2 1/2 hours. The agent offered to check my bags and check the cats in for the flight, but then we could leave and come back around 10am to hand the cats over to TSA. We opted to keep them with us, but not drive all the way home, just to be safe. My dad and I found a quiet corner of the terminal and I put the cats facing each other in hopes it would comfort and calm them. I would have loved to take them out of their crates, but it wasn't safe and probably not allowed in the airport. It was nice to have that extra couple of hours to just chat with my dad and not have to rush our goodbyes.  
At 10am we went back to Hawaiian Air's ticketing counter and they escorted us to TSA so the cat carriers could be inspected. At that point, I did get to take them out and hold them. For all his meowing, Chubbs did NOT want to come out of his crate. Poor boy was shaking and meowing while I held him. On the other hand, Evie the Explorer walked right out when I opened her crate. She was squirming to get away and tried to get free while I was putting her away. After the inspection, I said my goodbyes and had to leave them with the airline employees. I double checked that the area they would be kept was temperature and pressure controlled and they assured me it would be. They also confirmed that the pilot was already aware of his special passengers. It was really hard for me to say goodbye to them, knowing how scared and confused they probably were and how long of a journey we still had. Once the cats were checked in, my dad and I said our goodbyes and I headed to my gate.  

Despite my concern for my Chubbs and Evie, I did enjoy my flight. The airline served a complimentary breakfast/snack of fresh fruit, crackers, cheese, juice and chocolate covered macadamia nuts. They later passed out drinks and a bag of Maui Onion chips. They were even offering a free rum punch cocktail to the adults, but I'm not sure if that's usual or if they were trying to apologize for our delay. The seats had built in screens and I watched a short Hawaiian documentary called "Listen To The Forest". Other than that, I stared out the window, amazed at how cool everything looks from 36,000 feet. When Oahu came into site, I got really emotional. The whole thing felt surreal.
The flight was a little over 5 hours and we arrived in Hawaii at 2:30pm. I gathered up all my bags, hopped on a shuttle and headed to pick up my rental car. The shuttle driver gave me directions on how to drive back to the Animal Quarantine Center to get the cats, but I got confused and ended up parking at the airport. As I was trying to find my way there, I got a call from Animal Quarantine asking if I was still planning on picking them up that day. I said yes and took that as a positive sign that all the paperwork was correct and they wouldn't be in quarantine at all! Once they brought the cats out, I started crying. I cannot explain how stressful this aspect of the move was for me, although my family and Mike have a pretty good idea. It would have been tough financially, but even more, I couldn't bear the thought of them being confined in kennels for four months after all they'd already been through. Seeing that they were safe was such a relief, I kind of lost it. 
Everything went smoothly on our drive to the house. There was some traffic leaving Honolulu, but I've seen much worse in Vegas. The cats were totally quiet during the ride home. Poor things had been in their crates about 11 hours at that point and they were not happy. I called Mike (hands free) on the way and he stayed on the phone with me during the entire drive. I only got a tiny bit lost at the very end, which might be a record for me when going new places. I set the cats free as soon as we were inside. Chubbs timidly crept out and looked for the nearest hiding place, while Evie charged ahead in her typical fearless style. I spent the evening checking out the house, slightly unpacking and talking to my dad and Mike. I couldn't find the energy to go to the grocery store, so I ate my leftover airplane snacks for dinner. By 9pm, all three of us were passed out on the bed and I don't think I've ever slept so hard.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Adventure Is Out There!

Tomorrow, I'm doing the biggest thing I've done in my life. I'm getting on a plane and leaving behind the life I've had for the past 30 years. The thought of not living in Las Vegas is so strange; Hawaii might as well be on another planet!

I have to admit, I'm getting pretty stressed and emotional about leaving. I'm trying very hard to fight my natural urge to think of all the "what ifs" and things that terrify me about this new journey. I've lived a very uneventful life, so far. Lots of love, but very little uncertainty or adventure.

I'm pretty proud of myself for stepping so far out of my comfort zone to make this move. It feels like I'm finally doing something really amazing. Not because it's Hawaii, but because it's CHANGE. I'm looking forward to this new chapter Mike and I are starting and excited to see the direction my life is heading!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Back and Forth

     I'm back in Vegas for now. As sad as I always am to leave Mike, it was nice to get back to my family and fur babies. I was able to talk to my family while in California, but obviously my cats had no clue what was going on. I was really worried they'd feel confused and abandoned. Happily, they welcomed me back with open paws! We've completed all the necessary paperwork and fees (so many fees!) involved in moving the cats to Hawaii, there's nothing to do except get on the plane next week.

     It's crazy how time flies. It seems like I just got back and now I leave in less than a week! I've been trying to spend as much time with my family as possible. My dad and I work out together during the week and have just been hanging out since I'm staying at their house. Unfortunately, my mom left to help out my aunt in Japan shortly after I arrived. She won't be back until after I leave, so I'm not 100% sure when I'll be seeing her again. My parents want to come to Oahu for their 25th wedding anniversary this summer, so hopefully that happens.

     I spent 4 days this past weekend at my sister's house, visiting with her and my nieces. Those girls are so awesome and growing up so quickly. It's really hard to think about how different they'll be when I see them next. Kaylee is 10 and only about 8 inches shorter than me. She says she'll be taller than me when I see her next and she's probably right. Lily just turned 7 and I was so happy to get back to Vegas just in time for her birthday. She promised me she will stay little so I can still pick her up when I come back. Leaving my only sister behind is really rough. We fought SO MUCH as kids, but are really good friends now. It sucks that we won't be going shopping or having lunch together any time soon.

     My feelings on leaving go back and forth. I'm excited to be going somewhere so different from Las Vegas. Excited about the beaches, nice weather and whatever new adventures Mike and I find. I'm not happy to be moving so far from everyone I know to a place I haven't been in 30 years. I'm not excited at all about getting there before Mike and really worried about finding everything on my own. That's probably my biggest worry right now. He'll be out there about 3 weeks after I arrive, so it's really not that long. I am really looking forward to us finally being in our house together!

     I know, it probably sounds lame to be whining about moving to paradise. Trust me, I know how lucky I am, it's just a lot to take in sometimes. Especially for a girl who really hates change.

     However, there's no growth without change and that's what I keep reminding myself!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2 Month Recap

     These 2 months living in Monterey have flown by! I feel bad about not blogging more, but I felt like I didn't have that much to talk about. While we've done some traveling and sightseeing, life has been pretty standard here.

     Weekdays, while Mike is at work I just hang out in the hotel room. I was going a little stir-crazy at first. Having no job/responsibilities sounds awesome, but after a couple weeks it gets really boring! Now, I just try to enjoy this leisure time and know that it's a blessing. I read, work on photos and listings for Pandawire or walk over to the nearby outdoor mall. When Mike gets home around 3:30pm we usually head to the gym and then go out for dinner or make something in the hotel room. Our hotel has been wonderful! They put us in a great room and have made every effort to accommodate our random requests, like a second mini fridge for all the groceries we buy.

     On the weekends, we try to get out a little more while still trying to save money. Carmel-by-the-Sea is only 10 minutes away and it's fun to spend a few hours walking around the cute little shops. There are so many restaurants here; we've rarely eaten at the same place twice, just because we want to try everything. We've done 3 wine tastings which is fun, but pricey since we always seem to buy a few bottles. We drove to a gem & mineral store in Vacaville about a month ago and Mike was in heaven. Then we drove over to San Francisco to have dinner and check out Fisherman's Wharf. I like San Francisco (this was my 3rd time), but I HATE the traffic. It's especially bad near the "touristy" areas and we were happy to get out of there. We plan on going to Sonoma this weekend to visit my Aunt and maybe definitely do some more wine tasting.

     While Mike is still here for another 6 weeks (at least) I am flying back to Vegas on March 24. The cats have to fly to Hawaii BEFORE April 15 due to the summer heat embargo, so our flight is April 10. This means I will still be in Hawaii alone for 2-4 weeks, depending on when Mike gets to come home. It's not the ideal situation, but it's how it has to be. I'm trying to remain calm about all of this, but every few days I start stressing about something new. We no longer have a car there, so my main concern is finding a reliable yet inexpensive car as quickly as possible. I know nothing about cars and nothing about the island so I'm really hoping Mike's friends/contacts can help me out. I'm also very worried about getting Chubbs and Evie there safely. Due to Hawaii's rabies/quarantine rules, the cats have to fly there checked as baggage. I've done lots of research on how to make it as comfortable as possible for them, but I'm still very worried about how stressful it's going to be on them.

I'm just crossing my fingers and praying everything works out. That's all I can do, right?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hello, goodbye

     I meant to post the day I arrived in Monterey, and then yesterday, but staring at a screen instead of my honey just didn't sound as fun. ;)

     Obviously, we both made it to California safely. Mike flew in from Oahu Wednesday night. Some bad weather made his journey a lot longer than expected since the plane couldn't land in Monterey the first time. I flew out Thursday afternoon and had a pretty uneventful flight. Although, flying into Monterey, we were totally surrounded by fog & I was just praying the pilots could see where they were going. I had expected to have to wait for Mike at the airport for awhile, but as I was standing in baggage claim I felt a tap on my shoulder. He was standing there (in uniform, swoon) and I jumped into his arms. There may have been some squealing too...

     It was rough saying goodbye to my family. My mom is such a wonderful, generous person and my dad and I are such good friends. I'm so very lucky to have two awesome people looking after Chubbs & Evie, who I'm also missing. It was hard to say goodbye to my sister, brother-in-law and nieces too. Those little girls are growing so fast, it makes me sad to think of everything I'll miss by living so far away. Right now, I feel like my heart is split between two places. I suppose I'll be feeling that way for awhile.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So close!

     Plan B is going well. Mike is on a plane to Monterey right now and I fly out tomorrow morning. I'm so excited, nervous, stressed that I'm an emotional basket case. Well...more so than usual.

     I cannot wait to see him; the butterflies are in full force now! I'll probably be waiting at the airport for a little while, due to my arrival time/his work schedule, and I think that's going to be the worst. It's like Christmas, my birthday and Disneyland all rolled into one! Oh, the anticipation!!

     This past Friday was my last day at the job I've had for 9 years. Leading up to that day, I was SO excited to be leaving. Then I got all sentimental on my last day (see above, emotional basket case). I think it was mostly due to the awesome little going away party they threw me. Mind you, my department is almost all men and I've had some sort of conflict with almost every one of them in the 9 years I worked there. I figured many of them were happy to see me leave. The fact that they took the time to plan this little party, full of my favorite things, was so very touching. I'll hopefully be seeing my few female friends from work when I come back to Vegas for the kitties.

     I sold my awesome little Honda yesterday. It was the last BIG thing on my to-do list (until the cat stuff in April). Now, I just need to pack, because...umm...I haven't yet. At all.