Friday, March 23, 2012

5 - 2 = sad

So, this little pensive face is Andrew's, my youngest. However, it is his older brother I miss each morning as the bus stops at our house to bring him to school. Apparently, no one has notified the school bus company that he is no longer in RI.  

Being the ones "left behind" is not easy, not that I expected it would be. While Nick and Jake certainly have their responsibilities in Hawaii, they have begun to enjoy "our" new life, minus three.  Our new town and home are all we google-map hoped it would be, and more.  Lush, vibrant, local, and with perfect weather.  While our HI living space is half the size of our RI living space, it is clean, bright, new and modern.  

There have been some hiccups along the way.  Our car arrived safely in California, however the boat refused to take it over without payment (we were told payment would be made once on Oahu).  And, it's estimated arrival is over a week later than what was quoted.  Jake's medical records were not recorded correctly in RI and, therefore, made it a bit stressful to get him registered at his new school in HI.  And, Nick watched first-hand as the baggage handlers in LAX threw his bags full of our iMac and electronics over two feet onto the conveyer belt ... that's what $110 of luggage fees buys you, apparently.  

Now to get over the hiccups here in Rhode Island that are keeping our equation of sadness in check.  Our house is still on the market, with a price drop of almost thirty-thousand dollars.  We planned to rent it for April 1, but an early April Fool's joke as our tenants backed out at the last minute.  Like the cat who came back, Gizmo, our Chihuahua, got an extended stay at chateau Dazzeo - which worked out well as his new placement is perfect. 

As of now, we have no date set to zero out the balance, instead we continue to live vicariously, and with a bit of envy, through the boys as they experience their 
Aloha State of Mind

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy Tails, Until We Meet Again

One of the most difficult decisions we've made to date is re-housing our four-legged family members.  Gizmo, our Chihuahua, was the first to find his new home.  While I loved the little pooper, I know how happy he is to be the only dog, with no kids, and completely spoiled!  Scampers, our daughter's Guinea Pig (probably the cutest 'pig' ever) is going to a fantastic new home with a best friend.  Mya, hands down the best cat ever, is vacationing in Florida with the kid's grandmother until they fly out together later this year.  Henry, the Leopard Gecko, is still looking for a home.  His only request?  Crickets, please!

And then there is Max, our almost 10-year-old Golden Retriever.  There was no shortage of interested adopting families.  In the end, we decided to place him with a high school friend in Maine, with two children of her own, and a little pug named Ruby, who needed a little guidance from an older man, such as Max is. That's the motley crew pictured above, Max somehow letting our littlest know that everything would be okay.  

There's no doubt that we miss him. And, even more than missing him because he's our dog and we love him, I really find that I miss his actual presence.  I still expect him to come to the door with a toy in his mouth to greet me.  I wonder if we've left him outside when he doesn't bark at a knock at the door ... or a person walking by, or a car in the driveway, or when the kids close their bedroom doors a bit too hard.  I've asked more than once if he's been fed, and called for him to come clean up any food that has fallen to the floor. Just the other day, after writing the blog post about shipping our car, I stepped down off the breakfast bar stool, and stepped over the dog, who is now no longer there.

It has been, no question, the saddest part about leaving the mainland.  If I thought for a second the pets would be happy about being drugged out and under the plane as cargo for a 16-hour trip, and risk a three-month quarantine once on the island, I would spend the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars to get them there for their own Aloha State of Mind. However, as that is not in the plans ... anyone want a snake?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First to leave

Lucky little zoom zoom, on her way to the grand island of Oahu via car carrier.  She'll get to see the whole country on her way from East Coast Rhode Island to West Coast California.  Then its a boat ride through the Pacific to her final destination, Honolulu, Hawaii.  

While the process to ship our car has been a simple one, parting with the almost $2,400 to do so was a bit less simple of a decision to make.  However, once we crunched the numbers of buying a car, renting for the short term, or even looking in to a lease, having a new car (2011) with a manageable car payment once we arrive on island seemed worth the expense.  

Fresh with a wash and wax, oil change, rotated tires, and a completely clean interior (it would have been nice to have been able to load up that car with belongings!), little zoom zoom was loaded on the transport and off she went, excited, I'm sure, for her own Aloha State of Mind.

In order to pick up your car once on island, there are a few things to have in order.  A valid driver's license, valid registration (of course ours expired February 29 and I found myself giving the state of RI's DMV two hours of my life, and $68 - neither of which I will ever get back), and valid car insurance.

Warning!  I'm about to be disparaging to our little Rhody again!  

A quick google search led me to Island Insurance, a family owned and operated Hawaiian company.  I was fortunate enough to have my call answered by Roselynn, the owner's daughter.  For all of those who tell me that the local's use of the word "haole" is always derogatory, I challenge you to call Island for yourself.  Now, I know it's her job to make me feel comfortable enough for me to spend my money with her company, however it is certainly not her job to share her experiences with me both on island and on the East Coast.  We had a lengthy conversation, and, after finding every available discount and entering me into a contest to win a new Mac book, Roselynn provided our quote.  While I won't get into actual numbers, let me just tell you that my new Hawaiian car insurance is one fourth of what I am paying here in RI ... for the exact same coverage.  So much for that "cost of living" increase!

With hesitation, I asked to add my newly licensed son to the policy, an addition that increased our RI insurance almost $3,000 for six months.  Yes, you read that right.  $3,000 for six months!  Adding Jake to our new Hawaiian insurance?  Priceless.  And free.  No, really, free.  I guess living on a rock has its advantages, which far exceed the white sand beaches and tropical weather.  Now, what to do with all of that extra money in my pocket ... suggestions welcome!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Little Rhody

There she is, our little Rhody, sandwiched between Massachusetts, the Atlantic Ocean, and Connecticut.  Often used as a unit of measurement, Rhode Island covers an area of approximately 1,214 square miles, and was one of the thirteen original American colonies that declared independence against British rule to begin the American Revolution.  Nicknamed "The Ocean State," every point in RI is within 30 miles of sea water.  

Why do I tell you all this?  Well, it has been brought to my attention that my blog posts have been a bit disparaging to my home state. And, since it's said that every native Rhode Islander who leaves always finds their way back, I figure I better take some time, and some blogsphere space, to list all of the unique features of our little state so that she welcomes me back if the time should come.

To start with, Rhode Island's history is a rich one both culturally and architecturally, with breathtaking scenery and mouth-watering cuisine. Really, no matter your tastes, some of the best food around is created right here in RI, and there is no shortage of boutique restaurants to be found. Packed with 400 miles of coastline, and 20 percent of the country's historic landmarks, Rhode Island hosts the home of the sailing capital of the world, Newport, which is also home to the famed Gilded Age mansions.  

Providence, our state capital city, boasts celebrated restaurants, award-winning theatre, and a vibrant arts scene; all enhanced by an elaborate river-walk that winds through the city streets (our sister city just happens to be Venice!).  You'll easily experience authentic Rhode Island from South Country's pristine beaches, to following in historical footsteps in Blackstone Valley.

With all that Rhode Island clearly has to offer, there is one spot that holds significant meaning and memory for our little family of five. Beavertail State Park in Jamestown is one of those places I know I will visit in my mind, even as I sit on the white sand beaches of Hawaii. It's here that we were married (that's us there, aren't we just so cute?!), and where we go as a family to climb the natural shale rocks and wade in tidal pools.  It's also a place I hold sacred, as it is where my father, who has since passed, and I could be free to enjoy our ever separating relationship, as we worked through divorce, and remarriage, through the tender years of my childhood.

So, that's it in a nutshell, perhaps even a Hawaiian macadamia one at that. Goodbye coffee milk, clam cakes, and Del's lemonade.  Life, as we've known it is about to take a pretty sharp veer in course, a leap of faith, if you will.   And so I leave you today with this thought - one's sense of adventure isn't so much inherited as it is discovered - I know we look forward to our adventures, living in an ...

Aloha State of Mind

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wine Pairings

Okay.  I'm excited now. For those of you who know me here on the Mainland, you know my passion for wine.  For those of you following from Japan, Canada, Germany, and the Ukraine (thank you!), I invite you to visit my website to get caught up.  

This decision to move off of the mainland has been a bittersweet one. Leaving friends, loved ones, our furry family, and, yes, my dishes, has been the bitter side.  Living in a tropical paradise?  Well, clearly the sweet side! Over the past four years I have worked hard to establish myself in the world of wines, creating my own business, Premium Pour Wine Tastings, to fill a void I noticed here in Rhode Island of offering in-home wine tastings.  

This year, 2012, my business has already shown tremendous growth. Proposals for events with well known corporate Rhode Island companies have been accepted and (here's the bitter side of things again) have had to be withdrawn.  And I've had to disappoint a number of brides-to-be, anniversary celebrations, and birthday girls with the news that I can no longer make myself available for their events. Now for the sweet side again!  Tamura's Fine Wines, seemingly the island's largest chain of fine wines, liquors, cigars, and, of course, poke, has offered me an interview!

My job, I hope, will include leaning how to pair wine with the traditional Hawaiian cuisine, poke. Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is a raw fish salad and means "to slice or cut." Local residents insist a party wouldn't be a party without it. There's even a world-class festival each September to celebrate it.  

For those of you who enjoy sushi, I think you will agree that Ahi Tuna is some of the best sashimi to be found.  Now to pair with that delicious, melt in your mouth, local Hawaiian treasure with a bottle of Tamura's fine wine?  Yes, please!  Just another reason I find myself daydreaming on a winter's day for an ...

Aloha State of Mind

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

OMG! You're moving to Hawaii? ... can I have your dishes?

(Sung in Carly Simon's voice) You're so vain.  You probably think this post is about you.  Don't cha, don't cha!  For those of you who think this post is about you, think again.  You are not the only one who has asked for my Fiestaware, in fact, you are one of many!  One of many who hate to see us go, but love to watch us sell our stuff.  Yes, I say this tongue in cheek, but it is oh so true!  And, for those of you about to take offense at this statement, I truly do love you for it <3

After rehoming the pets and leaving our friends and family, parting with our belongings is proving to be a bit more difficult than I would have imagined. Based on everything I've read (tropical weather and furniture life, will my old space fit in to my new space, year round yard sales, to name a few) and the expense of moving a home off the mainland (think upwards of $12,000 with no relocation help), we have decided to sell just about everything.  

My grandmother's china will see the inside of a tote in a basement in Maine for the foreseeable future, and the beautiful Teak dining room table that was purchased over 35 years ago when my parent's still loved one another, will be staying with family.  Other than that, it's all yours!

So, if there is anything you've got your eye on that resides in our humble abode, now is the time to speak up.  Except if it's the Fiestaware you're hoping we'll leave behind.  Unfortunately for you, these lucky plates, bowls, and mugs get to come with us to experience their own ...

Aloha State of Mind

Monday, March 5, 2012

Two Weeks ... Two Less

Above are two of my most favorite people in this world, my husband, Nick, and our oldest son, Jake.  And, while that may be a tropical island they are photographed on, it is not the island of Oahu ... at least, not yet.  For days I've been saying two weeks from Monday, two weeks from Monday and, here it is, Monday, and my boys leave for our new life in just two short weeks.

Booking their airfare was another adventure in this whole 'let's move to Hawaii' reality.  I Kayaked, I Orbitzed, I Pricelined, I Cheap Ticketed.  And then I finally found the secret of booking backwards.  I'm not sure if I coined this terminology, or maybe picked it up along the way, but in booking backwards I started with the last leg of the flight, and found connections from our home base that worked within the time allotted.  

Need me to clarify?  Nick is flying Southwest from RI to CA, and Hawaiian Airlines from CA to HI.  Yet, I started with flights that came into Honolulu on Hawaiian Air.  And that's where I found her - a $171 flight from Los Angeles. Such a steal, I signed up for frequent travel miles and considered it booked! Next, I needed to get Nick into LAX from Providence. Hello Southwest, where bags fly free and typically get to their final destination at the same time you do.  Working backwards from when Nick would fly out of Los Angeles, I found him another steal of a flight, getting him in with plenty of time to pick up his checked bags, find his way back through airport security, and catch his Aloha flight to Oahu.  Great.  Booked.  Super Savings $$$.  Done.  

Or so I thought.  After we secured our rental in Mililani, we gave Jake the choice to travel with his dad ... note the operative word, with ... wrong again! Four days later, and the same flights had more than doubled, and we were back to square one, booking backwards for the same great deal.  With a little finagling, we managed to find a flight we were happy with from PVD to San Diego and then off to Oahu.  Great, grab the credit card and book it, right? Not so fast ... in less time than you can say 'hele mei hoohiwahiwa', or 'come celebrate', the deal was gone.  But no one said this process was going to be easy and, an hour later, we successfully booked Jake on Southwest to CA and Alaskan Airlines to Hawaii.  Yes, you read that right.  Alaskan Airlines to Hawaii.

And, as I sit here, blogging to an unknown audience with google's autosave feature constantly reminding me that my two weeks are slowly making their way into one week, six days and twelve minutes until my boys are finding themselves in an Aloha State of Mind,  one thought keeps running through my state of mind -  as we learn to live without them here in the bitter North East, where spring is often just another word for winter, and my boys enjoy life with their toes in the sand, if she knows what's good for her, Mother Nature will hear my not so silent prayer ... I better not see snow!     

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Things I never thought I'd do ...

Oahu, Hawaii ~ Google Maps

Moving to Hawaii is clearly on the list of things I never thought I'd do, that's a given.  Sell my home in the current market, also on that list, along with part with my "no more minivan" luxury car, leave behind my faithful four-legged friends, sell all of my furniture (especially my one-year-old, I finally, after 36 years, have a matching bedroom set, set), take a 16-hour flight across five timezones (with two children!), be apart from my husband and oldest for an undetermined amount of time ... oh, and move to Hawaii, site unseen, blind, without prior knowledge, never visiting, and having never been further West than Illinois.

With all of this, the one new experience that still baffles me a bit, and makes me just a smidge nervous of all of our modern technology, is the fact that we have not only found the town in which we'd like to reside in, but the actual house, via the world wide web.  

Google maps is an amazing, slightly scary, tool.  With it, we mapped out Oahu, visited beaches, national parks, various towns, and took walks (yes, walks) around each neighborhood that showed promise - and good school systems.  

See that red balloon with the "A"?  That's Mililani Town.  Google map it for yourself. Then "drop the pin" and get a street view of where we'll be living on island.  Heck, google map our new address, Wikao Street, and take a walk around our new neighborhood.  It's quite lush, isn't it? And did you see the basketball courts and playgrounds?  The kids are really looking forward to living in a neighborhood setting.

If google mapping your way around an unknown island, trying to get a feel of where you want to start out your family adventure isn't 'out there' enough for you, then you'll love this ... we skype'd our new rental house.  

For those of you not familiar with skype, it's a video calling service, and it's free. The kids enjoy skyping with their Neecy in Florida, and even with their godparents the next town over.  But skype a house?  Now that is definitely something I would have never imagined I'd do, yet I did exactly that.

Our new landlord (a very cool local islander) took us for a skype tour, inside and out, kitchen to bedrooms, and bathroom to lanai.  She gave us a visual tour of the house, and the neighborhood.  We met her, and her multitude of canine friends, and she met us.  We even took her for a tour of our home so she could feel comfortable about the way we would keep her property.  Then we took her outside ... to winter, to which she said, "no wonder you want to move to Hawaii!"

So, there she is, our tropical oasis, home away from ... wait ... it's just, well, home.  And one more reason we're turning day dreams into reality and leaving to live an ...

Aloha State of Mind

The obligatory "why this blog" post

It's paradise, right? Who wouldn't want to live here?  In the land of sun, surf, white sand beaches ... but this is vacation, not real life, right??  Honestly, Hawaii was never the place I dreamt of when I fantasized of our family vacations.  We're more the Europe type, taking our oldest for three weeks to France, England, Switzerland, Italy, or a quick get-a-way to Ireland before our youngest was born.  Living in New England, summering in Maine (even on an island!) and winter breaks in Vermont.  But Hawaii?  Sure, it's pretty, and warm, but is it worth the 16 hour, multi-stop, flight?  

Then there is the reality of living in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union - a state by which other's are measured (how many RI's fit in Texas anyhow?)  Winter is, by far, the longest season of cold, dreary, lifeless days and even colder, darker nights.  And, for a small business owner such as myself, there is no such thing as catching a break in Rhode Island, giving taxachussetts a run for it's fame and notoriety.  But we're native!  How could we leave?  Won't we miss the snow and the change of seasons?

Honestly, I'm not really sure of how we happened upon Hawaii, or why the daydream of a move became a reality.  I tell people that it was our oldest, Jake, who was the catalyst to making a move out of RI.  His interest in moving away for college in 2013, and my inability to let him go.  And, maybe that was what started it ... or maybe not.  My husband and I started to apply to jobs outside RI, in warmer climates, and where his skills and special clearances as a nuclear welder, and my passion for fine wines, were desired (and paid $$$)  Once Hawaii was on the table, Nick (my husband) had his blinders on, and there was no point in reasoning a move elsewhere.

Then, a strange thing happened.  His current company posted an opening in Pearl Harbor.  Nick applied, and was offered, the position with one VERY big caveat ... NO relocation.  This was in late 2011 and it's taken us just a few short months to make the commitment to the 50th state in the union.  This blog is our way of sharing our experiences with those who may be dreamers, and offering our how-to guide to those who may be doers.  

So, sit back, grab a mai tai, and join us as we figure it all out, with our feet in the sand and an umbrella in our drink.  Mahalo, and welcome to an ...

Aloha State of Mind