play for pennies (or less): DIY cereal box coin roller

Yes, Keola’s working…NO, we’re not rolling in any kind of dough at the moment (and won’t be for the foreseeable future). It’s also been raining….a lot…so we mostly stay indoors. My last post has pictures taken from the day after Thanksgiving and it was the ONLY sunny day in the past 10 or so days…
That’s ok.
All these things force me to get creative when it comes to the kind of fun Noweo and I have, and honestly, it’s much more rewarding (and affordable) to make something than to run to the store and pick something out. Last week I was browsing some new blogs and came across Made by Joel, a blog full of simple, handmade toys where I found this idea for acereal box coin roller. I think I’m hooked on making stuff now.
Ok don’t laugh. I know it’s ugly, but it did the trick. Joel’s is much prettier. Also, my engineering skills kinda suck, so something that should’ve taken me less than 5 minutes to make took more like 15. In my defense, I was using corrugated cardboard so it’s not as smooth or easy to cut. My brother laughed at me the whole time, but when the dust settled, IT WORKED!
And…
Noweo LOVED it! (As did I…I’m easily entertained.)
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 If you’re wondering what those tape cassette cases (because yes, we still have TAPE CASSETTES) are doing, my brother thought it would be cool if we had something that the disc could knock over like toy soldiers or something. Well, we didn’t have toy soldiers, so we improvised.
I didn’t take photos of the construction process, because I only have two hands and because it’s pretty self explanatory. You can check out the simple tutorial at Made by Joel. I will definitely be trying out more of his wonderful ideas.
Hopefully they’ll turn out better looking.

day one.

Keola had his first day of work this past Friday, and well…so did I. I’m happy to report that both of our days were highly successful. It has been a long, LONG time since the only thing I had to worry about was Noweo, and giving her my full attention came naturally. Our day was so sweet and simple: A trip to the library, tons of reading, a nap, puzzles, organizing stuff, and before we knew it, it was time to pick up daddy.
I was nervous, wondering about whether I’d have the stamina to deal with a two year old all by myself. I’m so used to Keola and his Grandma being around to absorb some of Noweo’s boundless energy. I thought we would be bored, that I’d have to jam-pack her day with lots of activities, but that turned out not to be the case. She chose her activities herself and spent good chunks of time on them. She didn’t even ask for the iPad all day (I had hidden it on a high shelf) and only watched it for a little while in the evening.
I’m not saying every day is going to be like this, and my responsibilities are still not what they would be if I was running my own house (i.e. grocery shopping, making dinner cleaning, etc.) but it’s a good start. Keola starting on Friday and then having just a three days of work this week also helps with “easing” into it. Life is bound to get busier, but so far, so good.

settling in

This isn’t the first time I’ve posted pictures of Wailoa Park, and it certainly won’t be the last. This is one of the first places I want to go whenever I come home, and that’s just what we did Sunday afternoon.
I’m seriously, so thrilled with how things have been going since we arrived. Noweo, who on previous visits hasn’t been too comfortable around my parents, suddenly LOVES them. She’s so comfortable around all her Hilo family and that’s a relief. She sleeps really well, she eats really well, and generally has a good time getting elbow-deep in whatever’s going on. We’ve tried to keep her schedule normal (which is still tough right now) and give her the foods she’s accustomed to.
We’ve already seen so many friends and family at church and around town, and it’s gone a long way toward making us feel at home again.
As of today, stuff has been sorted through, donated, thrown out, organized and the remainder put into storage. We kept out only what we immediately need in our bedroom and it feels nice and homey.
Our car is on its’ way with more stuff from Maui and its’ arrival will likely require more sorting and tossing and donating (even though we edited our stuff before we sent it over).
Yesterday we paid a visit to Keola’s job and came home with starfruit, bananas, and a giant bag of sweet potato chips. Noweo got royally spoiled by the aunties (a.k.a. the staff) and she had a blast running around what I’m sure to her appears to be a school for giants. We definitely look forward to lunch dates with Daddy, and Keola looks forward to being part of a team and making real contributions to a community.
 We won’t go looking for our own place for a few months on account of us being broke, so in a way we don’t feel COMPLETELY settled yet and we look forward to that, but having a car and having all our stuff on the same island is a big accomplishment, so it’s all good, plus it’s fun to see Noweo getting re-acquainted with “Amma” and “Appa.”
I continue to marvel at how everything’s fallen into place. Back on Maui, I just received word that the short sale has been approved and closing will happen at the end of the month. Grandma will get a nice payout from the sale which we didn’t think she’d get, so she should be sitting pretty for Christmas.
Yeah, it was tough to say goodbye. Thanks for indulging me in my super gushy and emotional last post. It was an important turning point that had to be documented, and for the record, Keola gave me the ok to post it. It’s still hard, but there are so many good things happening here and on Maui that we can’t help but feel that everything happened just as it should. We are blessed.
P.S. While I didn’t initially intend it, turns out this post fits MauiShopGirl’s weekly photo challenge prompt quite nicely, and in the spirit of being too lazy to take another picture, I’m just gonna link up this post 🙂 For us, home is wherever we are, and we are still learning that lesson, but I’m over the moon about being in Hilo.

saying goodbye

Maybe it’s too early for me to be blogging again. This past week has been extremely busy with moving Grandma’s furniture into her new house and moving our stuff to Hilo, and things are still kinda raw, BUT, the events of last week need to be blogged. So I’m blogging. Pardon the timeline format. It was the easiest way to get it all out.
Monday 11/5: I can’t remember that far back…
Tuesday 11/6: We need to waste a bunch of gas so we could ship our car (yeah! we bought a car), so breakfast at Komoda bakery in Makawao was in order. We take the highway up, but we come down through Pāʻia. My favorite drive…and why not? We won’t be seeing Maui for a while.
A sweet friend from church helps us move a couple of dressers to Grandma’s house AND brings us dinner. Awesome.
We load up our car and get it ready to ship.
That night we ALSO drive around for another 1.5 hours all over the stinkin’ valley. Sheesh. Good mileage is great until you need to ship your car and have to waste a quarter tank of gas. We should’ve gone to Lahaina.
Wednesday 11/7: Car gets dropped off at the dealership. The car’s still on its’ way, but you cannot imagine how happy I will be when ALL of our things are on the same island as us. It hasn’t been that way since early 2011…
Move more stuff goes to the new house.
Grandma makes a turkey since we won’t be here for Thanksgiving.
Wednesday is the last night we spend at Grandma’s old house. We only let ourselves think about it at night. We can’t be blubbering fools during the day with so much to do.
Thursday 11/8: We move the beds and couch to Grandma’s cottage. We also move as much food as we can and throw away lots of stuff like 10 year old bottles of spices.
My brother in law Kawika comes in from Hana with his family.
Grandma makes her last batch of famous beef stew in the house. It’s the best. We take a shower and say goodbye to our nieces since they’ll be in school when we leave. The older one cries while I hug her and in a shaky voice I tell her it’s going to be ok.
We get in the car and drive away while the girls wave from the kitchen window the way they have so many times before.
We go to Grandma’s new house. Kawika and family  join us as well. Our first night there and last night on Maui. I spend the night tossing and turning. It’s just different.
Friday 11/9
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We go back to the old house to get our suitcases ready and say goodbye. Over the past few weeks we had been filming Keola talking about each room of the house and what he remembers. In our last moments there we film the backyard.
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We take another walk through the house and it finally happens.
I walk into the middle bedroom to find Keola looking around one last time.
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His body slumps when he sees me, and he puts his hand on the wall for support while he sobs. I run over and hold him as his frame shudders. It only lasts a minute and we collect ourselves and walk out of the room hand in hand. While selling the house was the best thing for Grandma, it certainly was not the easiest. Even now at this late hour Keola tortures himself wondering if there might have been some way the house could be saved.
It’s time to go.
We get Noweo, put her in the car, and back out the driveway for the last time. We never thought this day would ever exist, that there would ever be a “last time” that we’d leave this house. But it’s here, and now it’s gone.
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We head back to Grandma’s cottage and meet up with the rest of our family. Keola’s sister and Mom join us there and we spend the rest of our time on Maui talking story and eating stew and Halloween candy. The mood is light and while it was hard to squeeze 7 adults and 3 kids into a tiny living room, it managed to feel a bit like home, because it was full of family.
It’s 12:00pm and it’s time to head to the airport. Goodbyes to my sisters and mother in law are easy. I’ll see them again and they can take care of themselves. My little niece and nephew (the youngest grandchildren) are a little harder since I know I’ll they’ll be so different the next time I see them.
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Our luggage goes into Kawika’s truck, and we get into Grandma’s car. Grandma drives us to the airport and pulls up along Hawaiian Airlines. We unload everything and get it ready on the curb. The moment I’ve been dreading is finally here. I give Kawika a hug and then hug Grandma. I’m trying SO HARD to keep it together because I love this lady. Since coming to Maui, I have been her confidant, her companion, her ears, her voice. She may not be blood, but she’s definitely my third grandma, and she has relied on me for many things. It’s the people you care for that you grow to love the most. We clutch each other with watery eyes and then it’s time to let go. I already miss her. She gets back into the car, and drives away. I know I’ll see her again, but I desperately want her to be ok in the time between then and now. I get to leave with my family. She will eventually be left alone in a foreign house. It just seems so unfair.
I quickly make myself busy talking to the porter, writing down our confirmation code on an old receipt and collecting our IDs. Keola asks if I’m ok and I vigorously shake my head, eyes lowered, refusing to look at him. The emotion is too close to the surface. It’s just the three of us once again.
Airports are notorious spaces of liminality, neither here nor there. We can’t turn back now, nor do we want to, but leaving almost makes it feel like the last year and a half never existed, like it was a dream and now we’re waking up. But it was real. The drama, the frustration, the laughter, the long conversations, new friends, new babies, cousins that are now more like sisters, great food, beautiful views… It was all real and unchangeable and an important part of who we are. We’re taking it all with us to our new life in Hilo.

fall fun

Besides it being the season of my birthday, I’ve never been a huge fan of Fall. I look forward to Christmas far more than Halloween or Thanksgiving. Still, children necessitate making an effort to do fun things and create memories for them, so even though we were cutting it close and barely made it up to the Kula Country Farms pumpkin patch in time for Halloween, we made it, and boy was it worth the trek. Seriously though, nobody has to twist my arm to go Up Country anyway.
This was my first time to a pumpkin patch. I couldn’t believe all the different varieties of pumpkin and just how many pumpkins there were. We LOVED the view, the cool air, wandering around and looking at all the pumpkins, and finally picking just the right one. (Errr….forgot to take a picture of it 🙂 With traditions like these, Fall may just become a favorite.