Monday, April 21, 2014


Aloha!  After being encamped in the heart of the Midwest for the last three weeks (whoever decided to put Illinois, Indiana and Iowa all right next to each other really wanted to mess with my plans for going in ABC order to try to keep it a little more balanced, lemme tell ya!) we hitch a ride over 6,000 miles away to the tropical beauty of the Hawaiian Islands!  (And yes, I do realized that H comes before I in the alphabet meaning we should have already done Hawaii – stick around this week and find out why we shook things up.)

I have been looking forward to Hawaii week since we kicked off our state adventure.  I couldn’t wait to learn more about how a chain of islands halfway between here and Asia became the fiftieth state.  Plus I don’t know about you, but I’d be more than willing to take a trip to Hawaii for a week – even if it’s just a pretend vacation where we learn about and include parts of Hawaii in our day to day routine while firmly entrenched here in Michigan.  I’ve got quite the imagination and a four and five year old who remind me of sponges; can’t wait to share Hawaii with them this week.   I did approach putting up the wall a little differently tonight.  I felt my ability in words to impart on  them the true beauty of Hawaii was inadequate so I substituted in a few videos from the islands of a lot of the things I've discussed below.  A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

One thing I wanted to make them aware of tonight while we put up the Hawaii wall was how different the landscape of Hawaii is than any other state in the union.  There are 8 major islands (one of which is uninhabited) that make up the state which extend over a 1500 mile area.  The chain of islands formed as the Pacific plate moved slowly northwestward over a hotspot in the Earth’s mantle at about 32 miles (51 km) per million years. (thanks Wikipedia!)  Each of the eight major islands have their own nickname and actually have their own color and flower used to identify it.  The three largest (Hawaii, Maui and Oahu) are the most well-known and draw the largest numbers of tourists. And when the tourists come, boy is there plenty to see and do!

Tonight we did our best to cover quite a few highlights of Hawaii.  We talked about the history of surfing and some of the best spots to catch a wave.  Surfing, also known as “The Sport of Kings” was made popular by King Kamehameha I who is known as the first person who united all the main islands under one rule. It was by this point in our evening that as usual, Thing 1 and Thing 2 were making plans for the entire Gatchel clan to move to Hawaii.  Grant started lobbying for it as well when we discussed the Hawaii is the only state in the nation that actually grows coffee commercially.  Kona coffee is grown exclusively in Hawaii and is one of the states main exports.  The state is also well known for its production of sugar cane, macadamia nuts and one of my favorites, pineapple.  The Dole Plantation,  located on the island of Oahu is known for its beautiful gardens and the World’s Largest Maze


If good food, music and partying is more your style, Hawaii has you covered.  Hula is a dance unique to Hawaii accompanied by chant or song that preserves and perpetuates the stories, traditions and culture of Hawaii.  And the best place to see traditional hula dancing (though there are many different forms and styles, including a more modern form that is influenced by current dance and music) the best place would be a Hawaiian Luau!  The Hawaiian feast is usually accompanaied by some form of entertainment.  Traditional foods served at a luau include poi, kalua pig, poke and haupia (which I made tonight!).  I’m excited to try lots to Hawaiian recipes this week in order to really transport us to the islands!  Music is also important to a luau and I showed the kiddos a video of one of the most well-known Hawaiian performers, Don Ho whose music drew tourists to the state shortly after it first joined the Union.


We also of course had to talk about the volcanoes which were (and still are!) responsible for creating the islands.  Kilauea is an active volcano on the main island that has been continuously erupting since 1983.  Mauna Kea also on the main island, from underwater base to peak is actually twice the size of Mount Everest!  Hawaii is also home to tropical rainforests and more endangered species than any other state, including the green sea turtle.

We also touched briefly on the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the impact it had on leading the United States to enter World War II.  I stressed to the kiddos that even though Hawaii wasn't a state at the time, it's location made it an asset to the United States but also a vulnerable target as it is so far from the mainland.

I could have gone on (and could here) quite a long time as I was really taken with the spirit of the Islands.  I’m looking forward to learning myself and sharing more with the kiddos and anyone who happens to be perusing my little blog.  I made reference to it earlier, but our mail this week is what caused us to switch Hawaii and Kansas around.  My Aunt and Uncle are currently just wrapping up a cruise of all the Islands.  While there, at each port they stopped at, they were gathering and sending materials to the kiddos. The hope is that we will actually be receiving mail from all the different islands during the week.  So excited and I know the kids will be thrilled!


I couldn’t wait to start my culinary trip through Hawaii – I had such a hard time narrowing down recipes  (Seriously, I probably have 50 recipes bookmarked…) but decided to kick it off this week with a dish I knew would thrill at least the Bean; Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi.  My poor Bean has been stuck in the land locked Midwest for the past three weeks and has been missing her seafood fix so I set out to hook her up tonight.  Mahi Mahi (which means very strong in Hawaiian) is not a fish we’ve had before so I was excited to try this one out.  I made a Hawaiian Banana-Sweet Potato Casserole to go with it and we had quite the feast that everyone enjoyed.   To munch on while we put up the wall I made Pineapple Haupia which I mentioned is traditional laua fare.  We had quite the party here for sure!


Tomorrow the Bean (who is off school all week) and I are looking forward to a play-date with friends in the morning.  Then it’s more pineapple fare for dinner and a Portuguese dish popular in the islands for dessert.  Looking forward to our project tomorrow night, which is making our own Hawaiian leis!  So until then….

How to make the Bean happy post-shopping

Two spoiled kiddos got mail today!

Thanks for the Easter goodies, Miss Cassandra!

Sweet Potato and Banana Casserole

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi with the casserole and Hawaiian rolls!

Pineapple Haupia (Best way I can describe this - think of coconut jello with crushed pineapple in it)

Watching some videos on Hawaii

Wall's up!

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