Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Too long, but many adventures!

Aloha blog family! I know it's been way too long since we've posted. I'm hoping by getting it together today, that it will inspire me to keep it up more regularly. I've actually started a post a couple of times when I've been sitting somewhere on my nifty iPhone. Unfortunately I've lost those posts with a mere turn of the phone, and the formatting has switched off and deleted an entire post at a time. As I sit to write this time, it's a Saturday morning and I'm about to go up to the North Shore with some friends for some overdue snorkeling at Andy and I's favorite spot we found with the Putnam clan six years ago. It's called Three Tables and is a prime spot just next to the famous Waimea Bay. Here are sine overdue photos to start off the blog!

Our friends, Andrea and Ryan from Enid, came to visit us on their way to a seven day inter-island cruise
around Hawaii!

A few photos from Aunt Janet's visit to Hawaii to see her first grandson, Fritz. I had so much fun spending time with Janet. I can't wait for another visit.

Andy got to go on a deep sea fishing charter with our neighbors! He had a great time and wore himself out as he caught a 6-ft. long swordfish! Pretty cool.

Andy I got went to the Polynesian Cultural Center for a luau and amazing show ... on them! I really like my job.

To recap the past two months, we sure were busy! I'll try to add as many photos as possible, but that's the part that takes the longest to do.

During the month of April, we had the Kerrs visit from Nashville, Tennessee! For their first time to Hawaii, E.J. and Jenny enjoyed five days on the island of Oahu with us then three nights in Maui for a belated honeymoon. On Oahu, we went to Paradise Cove Luau, Hanauma Bay, and the north shore! A major highlight was our Whale Watch on the Star of Honolulu cruise ship! Jenny's main request was to see the humpback whales during her visit! I was excited too, never having seen any myself, but I was worried since it was the very "tail" end of whale season here. The whales had come from Alaska early this year in December and they typically head back in April/May. We went for a nice lunch cruise, and of course, I was researching the experience for my job too! Lo and behold, only 15 minutes out into the ocean and two to three whales decided to follow our boat for the next 45 minutes! It was absolutely amazing!! Jenny fell to the floor of the deck when the first baby decided to leap out of the water and flip onto his back! They circled each other and seemed to enjoy the ships' attention!
There was another whale cruise out too, but we by far had the best sight that day! Another jump really made the day for us! We will never forget that experience together. We were screaming with excitement. It was amazing and awe-inspiring! We enjoyed a nice lunch on the boat and ice cream at the Aloha Tower Marketplace after the cruise. With the exception of some illnesses that both E.J. and Jenny experienced here, we know that had a wonderful time with us on Oahu.

The photo above is at the Paradise Cove luau in Ko'olina.

During the Kerrs visit to Maui, Andy and I took the opportunity to see Maui too for the first time, since Aunt Carol and Uncle Lance were also vacationing there for their anniversary up at beautiful Napili Shores. I absolutely LOVED Maui and can not wait to go back. Each day at my travel agent job, I recommend Maui to many people. For the longest time, I wasn't sure what all the craze about Maui was. Tons of honeymoons and weddings take place there among the beautiful beaches and resorts along the northwest coast of the island. Now, I know, that seeing the gorgeous sunsets and other islands off the beaches are just breathtaking! You can see Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe from Maui, closer than I thought, and much different from Oahu's views.

On the one above, there's a tiny sailboat on the horizon to the left of the shadow that is Moloka'i.

We loved our resort too. It's the Ka'anapali Shores hotel. I just can't wait to go back and scuba dive/snorkel the tiny crater isle of Molokini! We enjoyed our hotel suite along the Ka'anapali Beach, and we checked out E.J. and Jenny's Hyatt Resort and Spa ... boy, is that a gorgeous resort! We walked along the Ka'anapali Beach Walk so I could see all the hotels in order to better recommend to customers at my tickets and travel office.

It was so fun to have a mini-vacation during the Kerrs visit. It absolutely was wonderful to spend time with Carol and Lance as they treated us to a delicious meal at the Pineapple Grill up at the Kapalua golf resort area. It was so scrumptious!
The next day they picked us up to drive around the island over to the "upcountry" side. I just loved seeing the views and scenic outlooks! You can see both sides of the island, both coasts, from the hillsides of the upcountry! We visited the "Surfing Goat Farm" were a family, originally from Germany, opened a goat farm in Maui. The goats can play and walk up and down old surfboards donated by surfers from the islands. I tried lavender goat cheese, as there are famous lavender fields on Maui too, and Andy tried some goat milk. Carol and Lance use to raise goats, so of course this site popped out to them on the map, so we stopped by to visit. We had a wonderful lunch in a small country town and then took to some shopping in the whale/beach town of Lahaina. It was albsolutely wonderful to meet with family and share some time together. It made us really excited for more family to visit! We can't wait to host our parents and siblings sooner rather than later! Come on out!

May was full too! We shore dove at Shark's Cove on the north shore with some friends and that was incredible. There were lava tubes that Andy went though as I waited outside working on my buoyancy. I sure don't feel comfortable going through tight spaces yet, especially if I'm still balancing on my own in the first minutes of each dive trying to swim past reefs without touching them. It was a fun day. Lots of beautiful fish! We also scuba dove with Island Divers again off their boat (where we got certified) with a group of friends. We are averaging about once a month now. What a great time we always have! We end with some baja mexican food at Cha Cha Cha near the dive shop! Pineapple salsa and li hing mui margaritas all around! Can't wait to share those with some of you!

Andy went back to Japan and Korea for a mission, and spent some extra time there golfing and sightseeing! I'm so happy he really loves every aspect of his job! It makes the waiting at home (in Hawaii) much easier on me. During May, I helped out with a squadron spouses "coffee-themed" coffee and also with a baby shower for a dear friend (due this month with a baby girl). My gift to her was a pink and green diaper cake! Here are some fun pics from both events. 

To describe the diaper cake, diapers rolled with bows and placed in the shape of a cake is a popular gift and decoration for any baby shower these days. She absolutely loved it and I had a blast making it. Since January, I've now been to three baby showers. I can definitely tell my friends and I are "at that age." It's so much fun to learn from all the new moms and mommies-to-be here, in Andy's squadron and including cousin Alicia with baby Fritz. I must report little Fritz is doing very well and has to be the cutest and smartest five-month-old I know. ;-) In regards to the Hofmanns, Alicia and Grant have a visitor for the summer that arrived in May, and I couldn't be more happy about it. Alicia's sister, Vanessa, another cousin, is here visiting and nanny-ing for the summer for them at their abode downtown! She's here for her summer away from college, and both Andy and I are having a blast with more family here. We all love to get together at a beach and end up at our place for dinner. It's so fun to spend quality time with cousins now, since we all grew up out of state. Calling all the Steger cousins .... come on out to visit!! You have a place here at our house. I'd love to see each of you! =)

To end the month, our dear friend, Michael Eatmon came to visit us for 10 days! It was so wonderful to have such an awesome friend make the trip out, for HIS birthday, even! We gave him a thorough tour of Oahu. I don't want to spoil all the adventures for everyone else who's due to visit, so I'll just show with photographs! We had a blast and a nice mini-vacation again for us too. We stayed in a cabin on the beach, had a one-hour helicopter tour and scuba'd! Too fun. Thanks for the awesome time, buddy.
We had a fry at Eric's house for the Memorial Day holiday. Fried snickers, twinkies, hoho's, zucchini, a whole turkey, you name it.
Andy and I got to try out another luau at Germaine's. Gotta check them all out for my customers. ;-)

June has been a bit slower. I've been working hard and Andy has had some unexpected time at the office. They were due for some squadron-wide missions for the entire month, but after some cancellations military-wide, Andy had time at home to get some things done around the house and inside the squadron. AS of now, he's currently on a mission in Australia. I do have to say he's very excited about this one. We hope to try and visit the continent again for a vacation early next year with some of our closet friends here. Also on the same note, Patrick, my sister Julie's husband, has set out on his deployment today for 12 months to Afghanistan. I want to envelope both of them in my prayers and thoughts. A challenge for them to say the least. I know they are both so strong and will be better individuals and a super awesome couple because of it. Thanks for the all your hard work and journeys to come, Patrick, we're all rooting for you and love you.

I think that takes care of the highlights. Thanks for your patience in getting this update. I will try to make smaller updates more often! Love you all.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Waiting, waiting ... oh, and keeping busy!

Hello! Andy is delayed for the third time on his second mission of the past month! It's been a busy busy month for him and the C-17. He should arrive home after a repair to the plane ... by, wait for it, wait for it, ... tomorrow early AM! It's been a challenging few weeks for me, balancing keeping busy with friends and work, while waiting for the next e-mail, phone call or skype, to learn more about a return time for Lt. I'm so happy Andy loves his job, because the alternative would be a lot harder. I've been leaning on God along with friends, and I have been growing these past weeks. On a fun note, check out the photos below of evidence of "Mustache March" for pilots. Andy got a chance to see our dear friend, Kevin, for a brief 15 minutes at the air base in Qatar. He also sent a photo of Diego Garcia where he did a lot of waiting and bicycling (to pass the time).

Yes, Kevin has a mustache too.

More photos and posts to come! The Kerrs arrive tomorrow to the island! E komo mai, Jenny and E.J. ... I'm so ready for visitors and time out of the office for both Andy and I. Yay!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Update & Turtle Bay Anniversary Pics!

Andy is out of town on a mission, ... again. I'm learning what it is like to be a pilot's wife, in the real Air Force. Even though Hawaii has it easier than some of the other bases for his jet, he might as well be deployed right now as he's been home about as much the last three weeks. Well, not home. :-) But, hey, just the same as any other pilot's wife .. airlines, etc. No complaining, just growing.

So, I thought I'd take a moment to write a post about what's going on right now on the island. I went to church today with my friend, Jessica, and it was wonderful. While singing a favorite praise and worship song this morning, I realized how much I missed my close friends and families. It was a nice time ... so MANY friendly people. The weather was beautiful, so Jess and I decided to take ourselves out to lunch just us, since Kevin is deployed and Andy is gone. I can't remember the last time I didn't have anything pressing for an afternoon and was able to just take my time and grab a bite "out." It was so nice and we stopped in a perfect little high-end consignment and antique shop, that was just too darn cute. We both made some fun purchases and then just enjoyed lunch at a small cafe with peach danishes and coffee/hot tea to finish it off, European style! I really felt like I was transported to Germany for a second at a Baekerei ... yu-um! Now, it's drizzling outside, since we are in the rainy season, and I'm accomplishing small chores around the house like ironing and dusting while listening to Anne of Green Gables from the dvd player! ;-) 

Well, we've reached the day when the mainland changes their clocks and "springs forward!" For us here in Hawaii, we stay the same. So, fam and buds, we are now 5 hours earlier for you in CST! I know you had just been getting used to the time difference, and now it's an additional hour earlier! No worries, just leave me a message if you call and I'm on a different part of my day ... I'll call you back! Andy is a day ahead of ME, in Japan, which makes it ultra confusing. I think he's due back toward the end of the week. We will just see! =)

My new job is going really well! I'm liking all the friendly excited military folks and their families coming in to buy tickets ... sometimes right off the airplane! There have been a lot of visitors from Alaska lately and they are ecstatic to be here! Everyone is very nice and excited. I'm selling all kinds of packages to fun activities like: submarine trips, luaus, helicopter rides, parasailing, shark cages, sunset dinner cruises and whale watch cruises, just to name a few! It's a fun job and so much less stressful than advertising or marketing. It's right around the corner from our neighborhood, and I'm averaging about 25 hours a week! It's fun to get to know more people as well.

I thought I'd post some photos from our anniversary trip up to the North Shore where we stayed at Turtle Bay Resort. I found some great seashells and they were filming a surf movie while we were there. It was a lovely time and we got back home before the "tsunami" tried to hit! I hope everyone is having a good month! If you ever want to skype with us, just let me know and we'll make it a date.


We dug out a nice sand hole as a lounge spot!


The little mounds made by teensy little sand crabs on a deserted beach.


Our view at night. 
The beach we were at earlier, was the farthest you can see, all the way in the distance on the right! We walked the whole way around to there. So fun!


Our view in the morning.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fun in Jan \ Feb 2010 in Hawaii


It's been a been a fun and busy January \ February!  Here goes!

Sarah attended a baby shower for her cousin, Alicia.  She was expecting soon, and so the ladies threw her a shower at a friend's house in Hawaii-Kai.  Sarah attended and all had a great time.

What an awesome cupcake cake!  The baby "Epic" is a joke.  Surfers and Grant Hoffman frequently use the term "Epic" to describe things of a very large magnitude and scope, usually of high quality (Think great, giant waves).  So, the baby's name isn't Epic. More on that below.

At the end of January, our friend Ricky came just for a weekend into Hawaii.  Ricky was Andy's classmate from C-17 school in Altus, OK.  He flies C-17s for the Guard.  His job brought him into Hawaii just for the weekend, so we showed him a great time in just the day we were allotted. 

One of of our first stops was the Yard House, a great brew-pub down in Waikiki.  Although a chain, they have great food and beer, and so they are continually packed.  From L to R, Ricky, Andy, and a serious looking Dan.

The next day we got an early start and hiked Diamond Head Crater, which overlooks Waikiki and Honolulu.  Even though its only 80 degrees, the crater is pretty dry and desert like, with virtually no wind to cool down hikers until you reach the top.  Hence, most folks look somewhat sweaty after the hike.

Sarah, Ricky, and Andy

Waikiki and Honolulu view from Diamond Head


Inside of Diamond Head Crater and view to Hawaii-Kai and Koko Head.

On the same afternoon we met up with our best buds the Vandagriffs and a mutual friend we had met at their church. Our friend Dave is retired Navy, and he decided to rent a house right on the beautiful North Shore of Oahu.  He also is a Kayak enthusiast, so Dave, Sarah, Jessica, myself, Kevin, and Ricky all Kayaked out to an island called Chinaman's Hat and climbed the rock!  What an awesome view, and a great time.

View towards Kaneohe Marine Corps Base

Dave's back patio.  Awesome!

Another pic of Dave's back patio


View of back patio and mountain ridges of Kahana Valley State Park overlooking the water.

Before we knew it, the Hoffmans were about to have a baby!  Soon, a beautiful baby boy!

Frederick James Hofmann
07:11am on 01/31/2010
5lbs. 14.5 ounces


 Baby Fritz! (many photo credits: Daddy Grant)

Pondering the imponderables?  Health Care?  Perhaps we'll never know....

Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu where baby Fritz was born, as well as Grant, Alicia, and Fritz at home!

View from Tripler AMC on the hill overlooking West Honolulu and Aiea

Dad (Grant) and baby Fritz!

Next up was the visit of our former Vance AFB next door neighbors, Ryan and Andrea.

Andrea is an Airline Pilot, and Ryan is currently an Air Force Instructor Pilot in the T-6 back at Vance (T-38 stud to T-6 FAIP for you Air Force folks).
Great folks, and we enjoyed their short stay with us!  We saw them off to a cruise of the Hawaiian islands, a well deserved break for the both of them.. 

Next up was a visit from Aunt Janet, Alicia's mom!  We were happy to host her for a week while she flew out and helped Alicia and Grant with their new addition to the family.

Aunt Janet and baby Fritz!

Aunt Janet "Mimi" and baby Fritz!

View from Baby Fritz's apartment.  Baller!

Baby Fritz continues to be a source of joy for all he allows in his presence. According to some, he might grow up to be a pilot or the President,or anything else that starts with "P" (Postmaster General?)

In totally unrelated news, the Putnams bought patio furniture!  Sweet!  And Tiki torches!  FIRE! (green umbrella not pictured)

So what has Andy been up to you ask?  Flying of course!  He just got into the groove at work and now is enjoying the fruit of his efforts, being a C-17 Pilot.

Taxiing past a flight of departing F-16s

Lining up on the runway for departure. 

Vipers (and their KC-10 support) wait for their turn for departure.

Honolulu International taken on departure, looking North


C-17 on the ramp at an island location.  Notice the person at ground level at the entrance door.  The C-17 is a huge jet.  I realize it every time I preflight!  Also note the Navy C-130 at left.

View from inside the cockpit looking at the "small" C-130.

View from altitude.

One of the numerous atolls in the Pacific.

Finally, Sarah got offered a new job here at Hickam AFB!  She'll be working part-time in the Information, Tickets, and Travel office!  Should be relaxed and more laid back then her previous 4 jobs since graduation!  (We've said that before, but we mean it this time.)

Well that's about it for now.  The only other thing to mention is that we escaped the Tsunami Warning that was declared for the Hawaiian islands, due to the large earthquake in Chile.  Luckily, by the time the waves and surges got here, they were reduced to normal size and looked simply like a strong tide.  Our prayers go out to those who were affected in Chile!

Much Aloha,

Andy and Sarah