Welcome to my blog

Thoughts on ordinary and not so ordinary adventures in the life of one Mom

Saturday, October 23, 2010


        My parents are visiting from Phoenix this week and it is so nice to be reminded of home in such a personal way, a visit from your family.   On their visit we are trying to do things that bring us together as a family; sightseeing, playing and dining together.

They arrived just in time for Joseph's birthday, but Jospeh and Alex had previously arranged plans for the day, so the family celebration would have to wait.   The boys participated in the Lacey Veach day of Exploration at the Punahou School, in celebration of Hawaii's own astronaut who flew in the Space Shuttle.  He died of cancer in 1995, but his family continues his great work bringing science to the children of the islands by providing this activity each year.  It was apparent that the whole community missed him terribly and sought to honor him by spreading his passion for science to the next generation.  Joseph and Alex had a great time learning about the ocean and electricity while participatingin fun hands-on events  (ANLCers, sound familiar?).  Our family was able to come together for dinner for Joseph's birthday when we dined at the Oceanarium, which has a two-story aquarium inside.  As a special treat, we had a diver dive into the aquarium and hold a sign wishing Joseph a happy birthday.

      A visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial is a must-see here in Oahu, not only to pay respect to those that died on December 7, 1941, but also to experience the history of this place and the history of the United States of America.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the nation came together and joined a war that needed to be fought.  The US entrance into the WWII changed everything, in the world and back home.  Experiencing the power of this place with your family is especially moving.  Sharing it with several generations who experience it through the prism of their own lives (some long and some not long yet) makes it even more meaningful.

        Another great family destination on Oahu is the Polynesian Cultural Center.  I was a little leary of visiting a Polynesian "theme" park, beacuse I know that cultural accuracy is often sacrificed in the name of entertainment.  This was not the case at the Polynesian Cultural Center.  The performances and activities were authentic and enjoyable.    We learned a lot of about the Polynesian cultures from Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Hawaii, Fiji, the Marquesas and Aotearoa (New Zealand) in this park, which had different "islands" devoted to each culture.

       In "Samoa" we wove fish out of coconut tree leaves and learned the importance of the coconut tree in family life.  Samoans use every part of this staple plant.  In "Hawaii", we learned the art of ancient hula, a dance meant for storytelling, and its evolution into what it is today.   We all also learned to play the ukulele.

In "Tahiti", we learned about the French Polynesian islands and their signature fast moving hip shaking dance, the tamure .  The highlight was certainly when Steve was brought up on stage to participate in a dance off.  Check out Steve's dancing at http://www.aidaspics.phanfare.com/4872345   His performance starts at about 3 minutes in but the others are fun to watch as well.  In "Tonga", we met the "friendly people" and learned about the drumming that is used for both entertainment and communication.  In Tonga we also tried spear throwing.

       Ha, The Breath of Life, the large-scale nightly production at the Polynesian Cultural Center, told the story of a boy who travels through the Polynesian islands experiencing rites of passage along the way.  At each stage (ex: first birthday, marriage, death in the family), he participated the traditional family rituals through music and dance.  In an hour and a half we saw the circle of life through many of the Polynesian cultures.

     One night, Steve and I took advantage of our regular babysitters' visit and went out by ourselves while Siti and Jidu watched the kids, a treat for us and for the kids and the grandparents (or so I'm told).  We saw the Magic of Polynesia starring John Hirokawa.  This was a wonderful show full of showmanship, dancing, some comedy, and of course, illusions.  My favorite trick, pardon me, illusion, was when John Hirokawa made a helicopter (the state bird of Hawaii) appear out of thin air.  For his last illusion, Hirokawa related the story of how his son, growing up in Hawaii,  always wondered what snow was like.  He then made it snow for us, just like he did for his son, years ago.  It was a spectacular scene in the venue with snow produced first from a ball of wet paper in his hands and then throughout the whole auditorium.  Even though this wasn't the most impressive illusion, it did fill the audience with the wonder that his son must have felt the first time he saw it. 

        Ohana is the Hawaiian word for family.  Family is a very important part of the culture here.  It is not only about your relatives but also your community.   This week was all about ohana in many different ways.  Primarily, we experienced the joy of being with our relatives, especially for Joseph's birthday.  The boys participated in a recent Oahu tradition that is steeped deeply in the community; the education of a generation and the memory of a Hawaiian hero.   We also exerienced the comraderie of a nation brought together by a war that still resonates.  At the PCC, we witnessed the spirit of many tribal people who strive to keep their culture alive one family at a time.    We even had a glimpse of ohana at the magic show where the last illusion was a tribute to a son who asked his Dad a question.  Ohana is much more than just relatives---it is family, community, comraderie and respect.   We experienced all of this in Oahu this week.  No wonder Oahu is called the gathering place.

This blog is updated weekly

No comments:

Post a Comment