Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bullet Point Update

I know updates without pictures are practically worthless, but my pics are on the computer with Willy about 1900 miles away and if I don't do an update soon everything is going to leak out of my brain and I'll never remember the whirlwind experience of our last few weeks. So a bullet point update it is!

  • Loads and loads and loads of Hawaiian Bucket List stuff accomplished between about April and July. Will update on each individually when I have access to pictures! Highlights include a trip to the Big Island, a trip to Moloka'i, a final hula performance, and many family hikes and outings.
  • Our last Sunday in Hawaii was much anticipated and a wee bit dreaded. We'd seen other families move off the island and we knew what was in store for us. It happened to be the first Sunday of the month which at our church is Fast Sunday so I had the opportunity to go to the pulpit and share my gratitude and my testimony. My best friend spoke right before me and I turned into a blubbering pile of tears and tissues. One man in our congregation spoke and said that we would go to Louisiana and create a new family among the church members there. And while I believe that to be absolutely true, my church family in Hawaii is my "Ohana" and that's something extra special to me. Our family was invited to the front of the chapel and the congregation sang Aloha 'Oe to us (total waterworks - Ben and I were a complete wreck) and then all came to the front to give us hugs and love and leis. It was amazingly overwhelming and emotional. There simply aren't words to describe the feelings of that day.
  • Yard sale after yard sale after Craigslist transaction after Craigslist transaction. That's pretty much how we spent our last few weeks in Hawaii - unloading as much of our furniture and random household stuff as possible. Probably our favorite transaction was selling our full size upright freezer. It was bought and then loaded... into the back seat of a convertible BMW. The guy that bought it had to push his driver seat so far forward to accommodate for the size of the freezer in his back seat that his seat wasn't even clicked into an official locked position. His face was practically touching the windshield as he drove away. I can't tell you how many times I've kicked myself for not taking a picture. It was quite a sight!
  • Grateful for a family that had recently moved into our ward (church congregation) who could benefit from a lot of our unsold furniture and unused pantry and freezer items. They helped remove a lot of stuff from our home and we were thrilled to help them get better set up and settled with furniture they didn't have because they'd also left most of their stuff behind when they moved.
  • Fifteen years of marriage and four children worth of "keep it" stuff condensed and packed into 20 flat rate priority mail boxes, a dozen or so Media Rate boxes, and a dozen or so Parcel post boxes (plus one bike box and one large frame box). All to the tune of roughly $1500 shipped through USPS and FedEx (versus $6500+ if we'd tried to keep a very small amount of our furniture and sent the same amount of boxes in a cargo container). We were surrounded by boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap for the last few weeks in Hawaii. We shipped allllll those boxes to an incredibly generous and supportive friend who lives about 30 minutes from the town we're moving to. I'm not really sure she understood exactly what she was offering when she said we could ship our things to her, but I'm so grateful for her generosity and willingness!! I can't wait to "meet" her for the first time face-to-face (we've known each other 10+ years online!) and thank her in person.
  • Extremely grateful for a last minute fair price purchase of our piano! My best friend in Hawaii had wanted to buy my piano but didn't think it would fit in their home or their budget. When she heard that my original buyer had fallen through and that we were lowering the price one more time she couldn't resist. She wanted a real piano in her home for her children who are all learning to play and she said having my piano was a little like having a bit of me in her home. I couldn't have been happier about this new home for my piano!
  • Our last trip to the dump was the first time I had a complete melt-down about moving. I'd had lots of moments of quick tears and then stubborn refusal to continue crying. But when Willy and I went to the dump with our final load, the last thing to go in the bin was an oscillating fan that we'd purchased at KMart for a whopping $15 or so within the first couple days we were in our first home in Hawaii. The fan had saved us on those hot and humid Hawaiian days and nights. As Willy hoisted the fan up and into the giant dumpster he rather ceremoniously said "Farewell old friend. You served us well." I responded with hysterical laughter which turned into gasping for air and the honest fear that I was going to pass out which turned into uncontrollable sobbing. It was such a silly "straw" to break my emotional back but that's what happened. The floodgates were officially opened at that point and trying to control the tears from then on was futile.
  • I had to apologize to my two dear friends Michelle and Wendy (and Wendy's daughter Quincie!) who had offered multiple times to help with my purging, packing and cleaning in preparation for the move but whose help I had refused until the last possible minute when desperation finally struck me. I'm not sure if it was pride or stress that caused me to not accept their help sooner but when I finally realized I needed the help and that I simply couldn't do it alone they were there 100% for me. We cleaned late into the last evening that we were in Hawaii. Just like when we moved into that home and those three cleaned and set up my kitchen for me, they took it apart and cleaned it again in preparation for turning the keys back in to my landlord. They even hauled away the last random stuff deemed useful-for-someone and passed it along for us (or put it to good use themselves, I hope!)There just aren't any greater friends than these women. Saying good-bye was awful. Saying thank you was easy, but there weren't really words adequate to express the gratitude I felt.
  • Spent the last few nights in Hawaii staying with our dear friends, the Cummings family. We squeezed all 14 people into their home and were as comfortable and happy with the time we had together as we could have ever imagined! It was a GREAT time! They treated us to our first taste of Southern cooking - Jambalaya for dinner one night and grits, bacon and biscuits for breakfast one morning! Delicious!We played and laughed and managed to squeeze in one last trip to the beach together. We cried together. They all woke up to see us off the morning of our flight, and their 13 year old daughter even played a gut-wrenching and BEAUTIFUL version of Aloha 'Oe for us on her trumpet. Clear and true and beautiful music while Michelle gave us each a farewell lei. We cried some more.
  • An amazing couple from our ward arrived early (5:30 a.m.!) the morning of July 4th to collect all our luggage and haul it to the airport for us. While Willy returned the rental car, Mary kept me calm and sane. She and Jon paid the porter to deal with our baggage needing to be checked and then waited with me and the kids until Willy got back. They were the last familiar faces to bid us farewell. Their early morning generosity overwhelmed us. Mary is convinced that we'll be back in Hawaii someday. She says we're truly kama'aina and that she expects to welcome us back in a few years. I don't doubt it!
  • Once we were at the airport things went incredibly smoothly. Check-in was a breeze, we arrived at the gate just as they started boarding first class and families. We found our seats, got situated, went potty, and then waited (while I tried not to hyperventilate due to the harsh reality that we were leaving...) A flight attendant asked me if we'd had a good vacation and I burst into hysterical sobbing as I explained that we'd been living in Hawaii for four years and were actually moving to the mainland. Poor guy had no idea what hit him. He just kind of patted my shoulder and apologized for making me cry. I was mortified but couldn't shut off the tears. I was devastated to realize that I was on the wrong side of the plane and couldn't see the island as we flew away. I cried when I saw the turquoise ocean water getting farther away. I strained to see out the windows on the opposite side of the plane any time it banked slightly and gave me a glimpse of O'ahu. I sobbed. Ben sobbed. Willy sobbed. We were a wreck. I can only imagine what people around us must have been thinking. A few minutes and a few gallons of tears later we were flying over Moloka'i and I got to see Kalaupapa again. That was distraction enough to help me dry the tears and settle in for the flight. The flight was uneventful, and I finally shut down and slept.
  • The boys (including and especially Willy) were giddy when we got to LAX and they got to see so many different planes from so many different airlines landing. Things like seeing billboards again, navigating FAST moving traffic, eating at In N Out, and having to drive two separate rental cars (significantly cheaper than renting a minivan for two days) distracted us from the sadness about leaving Hawaii and we settled into our two-day Los Angeles stay.
  • We slept late on Thursday July 5th. It felt wonderful. We were exhausted physically and emotionally from the last preparations and final days in Hawaii. Sleep was welcome! When we finally woke up we headed to Venice Beach and spent the day enjoying street performers, fun shops, watching amazing skaters at the skate park, and playing at a park (where Toby hurt his foot and is still hobbling a week later because of it.) Molly played in the sand as if she'd never seen a beach before in her life. It was crazy but fun. We slept soundly again that night.
  • Friday July 6th was the day we anticipated picking up our van which had been shipped on a cargo boat and had arrived a few days earlier. We were originally scheduled to pick up the van on the 5th but there was some west coast dock worker holiday that day ("Bloody Thursday"... I kid you not) and the port office was closed (would have been nice of our booking agent to share that with us at the time of our booking so we could plan accordingly! We weren't planning for 2 days of car rental and hotel. Grrr!) We had to return one rental car, drive to Long Beach and collect our van and then return the second rental car. Annoying but doable, even in LA traffic. But I forgot the paperwork with our booking # on it so we had a bit of a hiccup in collecting the van - had to call Ben (who was still sleeping in the hotel room) and have him find the info we needed. Phew! Then we had to wait our turn - the place was hopping since it had been closed for two days due to the holidays. We went to our van and inspected it for damage. No problems, it appeared. We took care of final paperwork and prepared to leave. But when we put the key in the ignition nothing happened. The battery was dead. Completely. We walked back to the office and they called the service guy to come jump the battery for us. The service guy took care of the battery and told us he has to jumpstart about 30 cars every day since most of the cars had been unused for about 3 weeks! Finally we had our van and headed to the hotel to get the kids and our bags and hit the road. But even after having driven about 1/2 hour to the hotel, the battery wouldn't hold a charge. When we turned off the van it refused to start again. Fortunately our car is under a year old and still under warranty, and fortunately there was a Kia dealership a few miles away, and fortunately we were able to get the van jumped again so we could drive it to the dealership and get in line to have it serviced. UNfortunately there was a several hour wait to have it serviced. So we took the shuttle trip to the itty bitty local mall where we ate in the food court and wandered through a few shops killing time while we waited for our van to be ready. Finally the van had a new battery, an oil change and was deemed road-trip-worthy. We returned the 2nd rental car and FINALLY hit the road... just in time for afternoon LA traffic. *sigh*
  • Once we got out of the sprawling LA area and traffic our road trip to Utah was pretty uneventful. Driving such a long distance was a challenge after only ever driving an hour or so at a stretch on the island. We stopped more than most road-trippers do. But we finally arrived at about 2 a.m. in Cedar City to the goofiest welcome ever! My parents and three of my siblings and their spouses were outside standing in my sister's driveway holding signs that spelled "welcome" while doing a crazy little bouncing dance. I laughed so hard I cried. I come from a family of complete goofballs. It was awesome! Unfortunately all of our obstacles from the day had delayed us so badly that we missed all the family reunion fun on Friday, but at least we had Saturday to look forward to with my family.
Whew... I'm wiped out and I've barely made it to Utah in my recap! That will have to do for now. I'll try to blog about all our fun Utah adventures within the next day or two!

To be continued...