Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind….Ohana Dinner

We hula’d and twisted as we decorated for our “Aloha to Hawaii” dinner night.

And while we did, daddy drilled holes in some fresh coconuts so we could have an authentic Hawaiian drink.  Delicious!

And of course it wouldn’t have been appropriate to do anything Hawaiian without a little music so we turned on our fun new appletv and set it to Hawaiian Legend Israel Kamakawiwoʻole singing, somewhere over the rainbow.

Brian even found a program where it looked like the kids were standing in front of the beach in Hawaii and we dreamt for a minute that we were actually there.

Hawaiian Dinner Menu:

Traditional White Rice

Chicken Hawaii

And for dessert, a medley of Hawaiian fruits

Here is a real picture of our last family trip to Hawaii, back when we just had three little ones, WAY too long ago.

And here’s another fun shot of a beautiful Hawaiian woman we met and got to know on our trip.  She danced the hula right by our hotel and gave Addie her homemade lei and hair clip.


Always an Excuse for Shave Ice


I’m pretty sure nothing says “Aloha” like shave ice.  When my family vacationed in Hawaii in high school, we enjoyed the sweet syrupy ice so much my dad even looked into buying a professional machine.  Fortunately, this delicious nectar has made its way across the Pacific and landed in our sunny state…and thanks to places like Target, you can get a cheap machine like this one…

Electric Shaved Ice Machine by Hawaiian Shaved Ice #S900a

(We have an older version of this model that works pretty well.)

While this machine does do the trick in a pinch, we also just happen to have the BEST shave ice place down the street and decided to use our study of Hawaii this week for an excuse to partake.

shave ice is always better with friends

We used our special shave ice cone cups and spoon straws to make it even more authentic.


A Pearl of Great Price

For Christmas last year (or maybe it was 2010 🙂 ), I tucked away a pearl kit my mom gave me from one of her real-life travel adventures, knowing we would be learning about the Hawaiian Islands.

We had a bunch of fun opening the clam and determining what type of “love” we would have according to the pearl’s color and the poems written in the little manual made me crack up as they had a bit of an Asian slant.

 Ours was peach which symbolized happiness in love….

After you open the pearl, you place it inside the provided necklace.

And now I have the tool to a love filled with happiness…..or so they claim :).

Aloha Art

On our next day in the beautiful islands in the Pacific, we decided to have some fun with art, inspired by our favorite art teacher.

Today’s project was a fish printing.  First, using watercolor paints, we painted the background.  I taught the kids how to do a “wet-on-wet” watercolor, painting the background with water first, then adding the color and watching it twist and turn on the page.

Here’s how they each turned out.

Next, using small pieces of foam, they each designed a fish and traced over it with a pencil to leave indentations for printing.

Lastly, we dipped our fish in shades of tempura and printed them on our dry backgrounds.

Here's my foam fish....tried to copy the humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Hawaii's state fish)

For more complete directions on how to do your own fish printing, let Patty show you how.


We are now on the eighth letter of the alphabet….H….and what better US place to learn about that begins with “H” than Hawaii?

Here’s what you do when you’re learning about the Aloha State (other than hop on a jet and actually visit the beautiful islands)…

you hit the beach, of course….

and while you’re there you can grab a beach pencil and practice some spelling…

and if you’re really thoughtful when you’re learning about the Hawaiian Islands at the beach you can use your beach pencil to write your mother a love note

(okay so we may have gone off our list just a bit as we got caught up in the ocean air)

a soldier’s dinner and a president’s dessert

This was one of the most fun meals we’ve enjoyed so far in our journey around the US, reminding me of another exciting dinner we shared in our journey around the world and this one was pretty fun too.  Maybe we should eat in the backyard more often.

For our Gettysburg meal, as we read and learned about the civil war all week, especially as we were really understanding it from a soldier’s perspective through

Rifles for Watie

we decided to have a meal mimicking something the soldiers would have eaten while in battle.  And of course, we couldn’t resist the urge to have our own “authentic civil war” backyard fire (thank you Craigslist and the friendly lady who sold us the washing machine drum fire pit).

Gettysburg Menu:


served in empty aluminum soup cans

served in empty aluminum soup cans

Hard tack

hard tack is a super hard cracker the men would carry with them in the packs

hard tack is a super hard cracker the soldiers would carry with them in their packs

I seriously almost broke my tooth on this stuff

I seriously almost broke my tooth on this stuff

Bacon (made a la fire pit)

 Fall in soldiers!

our mighty men

After dinner we shifted gears a bit, thanks to some inspiration from a library book we found…

It was a cute little story, but the best part was the back…

So we brought our battalion indoors, cleaned them up and enjoyed some fine-dining, president Lincoln-style.


After a more heavy week, it was nice to have a fun, unique dinner.  And although we are grateful that there is no longer obvious slavery in our country, we are all too aware that people in the US and around the world are mistreated and sold as slaves.  It is truly heartbreaking.  We spent much time this week praying for those people around the world who are purchased and treated like possessions and we thanked Jesus for purchasing us at the most costly price.

Thank you Abraham Lincoln for taking a stand when others were too cowardly to stand up for what is right.  Thank you for your words of inspiration at Gettysburg to rally the people to fight for justice.

fourscore and seven years ago….Gone to Gettysburg

I am SO behind in posting our adventures that I will likely be grouping a lot more together these days.

We left Flagstaff and took our journey east to Gettysburg, going deep into history and sad times in our country.

It’s been a long time since I learned about the great war that divided the north and the south, black and white, slave and free, and as much as I feel so ignorant regarding slavery and even the reality of this war, I caught myself in such disbelief as we read stories and learned, wondering how could people fight over whether or not they could own other people. It truly baffles me still.

In order to learn more about the war and those involved, we dove into  several books from the library and home.  These were our favorite:

The Children's Book of America

This is a book I bought when I taught and it has great short bits on different events in American History. The short story we read from this week included one on Lincoln’s childhood and what led him to the presidency.

The Gettysburg Address, Illustrated by Michael McCurdy

“The Gettysburg Address” with wonderful illustrations and a brief description of what made this speech significant.

Mr. Lincoln's Boys

This was one of my favorites with sweet stories of Lincoln and his two wild sons and how he loved them so!  It was a touching book about how a father cherishes his children in the middle of fear and devastation.

Tallinn and I spent much time reading this wonderful book! While we didn’t finish it as it ended up being a bit heavy and over his head, I hope to continue it again someday when he’s a bit older.

President Lincoln was by far my favorite president and being reminded of his character, hard work and determination, brought back lots of childhood memories.  What an amazing leader he was!

Gettysburg Spelling Words:

1. honest

2. civil

3. battle

4. war

5. fighting

6. slavery

7. address

8. unfair

9. African


I forgot to post pictures of the grand canyon art we did during our week in Flagstaff.  It was pretty complex for a second grader, as it was originally intended for fourth graders, but the directed drawing part of the lesson actually taught me a bit as well.  I’m still locating Tallinn’s piece, but in the meantime, if you are looking for inspiration on painting the Grand Canyon, this is a wonderful art lesson by Patty.

Jambalaya and Alligator Bread

We finished our week in the Everglades with a “kid friendly” meal, which isn’t my typical style (not that I don’t enjoy making “kid” foods, but I’d rather make a legitimate delicious dinner and “kid friendly” and delicious don’t necessarily go hand in hand, in my opinion), but it was super fun and enjoyed by all.

So, after a week learning about the difference between a swamp (wooded trees) and a marsh (grassy plants), watching graceful manatees dive down deep, and reading about the many plants and animals that make up what is known as the Everglades, we sat down to a meal representative of the area we studied.   Even though we already spent a week in Florida, we chose to dine that week like the astronauts.  This week, we ate like the Floridians do.

Everglades Dinner

Alligator Bread

Okay, maybe they don’t eat alligator bread, but that was our “kid friendly” part and a perfect conclusion to our week.  Don’t let this bread fool you into thinking it’s a crocodile, for, as we learned, crocodiles sport a long skinny snout, verses the wider front that graces the gator.  The kids LOVED this, of course and each chose a body part to enjoy.

Florida Jambalaya

Okay so this may not have been the most kid friendly as it was a teeny bit too spicey and I may have lost a little control with the cayenne pepper, but at least we could all breathe well for a few days.

Key Lime Pie

Just a tip, don’t send your spouse or significant other to a gourmet grocery store to buy key limes, turns out they are much more likely to be found at the typical run-of-the-mill store.  This key lime pie was simply delicious and will be stored away in my files of family favorites for sure!

Thank you Florida and thank you Jesus for the beautiful Everglades you made for us to enjoy.  Enjoy it we did!

My Bucket List

Okay, so let’s be honest, I haven’t really sat down and written a “bucket list”, but if I did swimming with manatees would be on it.  As a sixteen-year-old I had the amazing opportunity to swim with dolphins in Hawaii and again as an adult in Cancun (which was actually a bit better since it wasn’t as regulated and we even got to have the dolphins push us along by our toes as we stood in the water).

Having had such wonderful experiences, I am even more curious to discover what it would be like to swim with the massive, chubby, short-legged creatures known as manatees.

This week as we have been learning about the Everglades, we couldn’t resist viewing a little footage of what that experience would be like.