World War II Valor in the Pacific



World War II Valor in the Pacific, a National Park, is a must visit for every Oahu visitor. The National Park is located at Pearl Harbor and includes the U.S.S. Arizona and two museums along the harbor. The December 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into World War II. The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Park houses many japanese-airplaneartifacts, short movies and interactive exhibits.

There are plenty of tours advertised around Oahu which will take you to Pearl Harbor. The advantage of a paid tour is knowing you will have a seat on the boat out to the U.S.S. Arizona. Those who want to save the money can arrive at the park early in the day and receive free tickets. The Visitor Center only provides 1,300 tickets per day. With over 4,000 visitors to the park per day the tickets go fast. The entrance to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is free. Access to the two museums along the harbor are also free. Parking is also free. No bags are allowed in the park. There are warning signs in the parking lot that a lot of break-ins occur. There is a manned bag checking station available for a nominal fee.

Insider tip-if tickets are available for the day but not for a time you want, still get them. Walk over to the tour bus operators at the park entrance, be nice and sometimes they are willing to swap tickets for an ideal time.

ticketsPrograms run every 15 minutes and tickets are for a specific time. At the appointed time ticket holders gather in a staging area. From the staging area ticket holders move into an auditorium to watch a 23 minute video prior to boarding the boat. The U.S. Navy operates the boats that travel to and from the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. If there are high winds all boat trips are cancelled.

Flowers left from the 75th anniversary

The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial symbolizes the lives lost during the attack. Young men that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Visitors should remember they are visiting the resting place of these soldiers and be respectful with their behaviors.

As of January 8, 2017 there were only 5 U.S.S. Arizona survivors, ranging in age from 94 to 97 years old. These men all reside on the mainland. (The local term for the rest of the United States.) Of the five survivors, four of them made the journey back to Pearl Harbor for the 75th anniversary in December of 2016.

Upon arrival there is a short guided tour by a park employee before allowing time to explore. My mother’s heart was struck this visit by the 38 sets of brothers on board the U.S.S. Arizona at the time of the attack. 63 of the 79 brothers died during the attack. There was only one set of brothers who both survived the attack. There were 3 sets of three brothers on board and only 1 brother from each family survived. Also killed in action on the U.S.S Arizona was a father and son pair. I imagine when the brothers became shipmates the family found relief knowing the brothers could watch over each other, never imagining the unthinkable would happen.

The U.S.S. Bowfin and U.S.S. Bowfin museum has a nominal fee and is based at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The U.S.S. Missouri, is nearby and has a fee to access the boat. Finally, the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is also nearby and has an access fee.




Fibonacci, Math Mondays and Rabbit Trails

How My Math Monday Lasted for an Entire Weekfibonacci-book-2

We have started to have fun with math on Mondays. The fun can range from reading a book or playing a game, as long as it is  a fun way to play with math in a non-traditional way. Monday morning we poured our sweet tea and gathered at the couch to read “Blockhead, the Life of Fibonacci” by Joseph D’Agnese.

The book is about the Italian Mathematician that discovered a mathematical pattern often found in nature. I picked this book as a good lead in to go for a nature walk and to introduce Roman Numerals. Throughout the story there are opportunities to answer math questions.

All reading stopped when we reached the rabbit riddle. We worked together, made a chart on the white board and solved for the number of rabbit’s at the end of the year. We struggled for a while to see the pattern.

The next day we finished the book. On the very last page there is a list of things to find throughout the pages of the book.

Finally, we took the Fibonacci Spiral and went on a rabbit trail. We used our manipulatives to recreate the Fibonacci Spiral. It was all manipulatives on deck as we had to combine colors once we got to the last section. The Fibonacci Spiral (Golden Ratio also works well in a search engine) was so pretty we decided to take the rest of the week to recreate it by using a compass to mark the corners and a ruler-thank you Google!

We had lots of big, juicy conversations about different things in the book that I hadn’t anticipated. I don’t expect all Math Mondays to extend in to the week but am open to following the rabbit trails. Do you have something similar to Math Mondays in your homeschool?


The National Cemetery of the Pacific


The National Cemetery of the Pacific, the Punchbowl or Puowaina is nestled above Honolulu in an extinct volcanic tuff cone. It is a must see!

lady-columbiaWe wound our way through the curvy, poorly marked streets, by poorly marked I mean you have to be alert and have your game on. The signs are quite close to where you need to turn and we missed one. Trying to navigate turning around on the narrow, busy streets adds to the adventure.

The first glimpse of the National Cemetery of the Pacific is breathtaking. An American flag flows in the gentle breeze. In the distance stone stairs lined by the Court of the Missing, lead to the 30 foot white statue of Lady Columbia as she greets visitors. The Court of the Missing has 10 marble walls listing the names of over 29,000 U.S. service members whose remains were never recovered from battle. Lady Columbia represents all grieving mothers. There is an inscription from Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Mrs. Bixby, a mother who lost five sons in the Civil War. Behind Lady Columbia are buildings with maps and descriptions of different battles.

A short drive up the hill to the left of the entrance are restrooms, a computerized system to look up buried service members and a walkway to a stunning lookout. The walkway is wheelchair accessible. Looking south I saw Diamond Head, the hotels along Waikiki beach, Honolulu’s business center and the airport. A few steps in the opposite direction were views of the National Cemetery of the Pacific. It is easy to see why the National Cemetery of the Pacific is nicknamed the Punchbowl. The grounds are immaculately groomed. Grass is kept short, leaves are removed, dead flowers are removed and there are strict rules as to what is allowed to be placed at each grave site.


Historically, Puowaina, the Hill of Sacrifice, was used for human sacrifices to the Hawaiian gods. During World War II, the military used the area for coastal defense. Shortly after WWII, Congress approved the location as a cemetery. Some of the first to be interred were those military members that lost their live during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The National Cemetery of the Pacific is the second largest military burial grounds.

The National Cemetery of the Pacific is a must see. There is no admission fee and it serves as a reminder the number of military personnel who made incredible sacrifices so we can continue to enjoy our freedom.

The Riverboat Discovery- a Peak into Alaska History

The high pitched whistle from the Riverboat Discovery echoes through out Steamboat Landing, signaling it is time to board the boat.  We hand our tickets to a local college student and move up the gangway to the boat. We grab a free donut and cup of coffee as we head up to our favorite spot in the fresh air on the port side of the top deck. The Riverboat Discovery tour is a brief immersion into life in Alaska. Lots of history is shared with the passengers by a local host. There are video monitors so everybody can see the action- and there is lots of action.


Float Plane
Float plane

The first stop invokes goose bumps as a float plane takes off and lands on the river next to the Riverboat! Bush planes are essential to access the remote areas of Alaska.Side bar-my own love affair with Alaska began in the late 70’s when my dad returned from Alaska and told me about landing on a gravel bar in the river. My father helped the pilot turn the plane around so the pilot could take off. The challenges and dangers of being a bush pilot intrigued me, especially as I was afraid of heights. Years later this story would influence my decision to move to Alaska. I now have my Private Pilot license and Float Plane Rating. But I digress.. .

Trail Breaker Kennel
Trail Breaker Kennel

Just a little further down the river, the boat guide interacts with a musher at the Trail Breaker Kennel. We had the pleasure of listening to Dave Monson. He shares a glimpse into the life of a musher and kennel owner. Dave is the real deal with thousands of miles of mushing through the uninhabited wilds under his sled. He has won the arduous Yukon Quest Race and is a regular in the Iditarod Race, both are 1000+ mile races.  The sled dogs have boundless energy and are eager to run.

There are a few more exciting stops before disembarking at the Chena Indian Village. The Chena Indian Village has three presentations before guests have free time to wander about and discover the gems in the village. The presentations are given by people connected to Alaska. They often weave their personal experiences in the presentation. Each presentations is informative, thoughtful and well done. Be prepared to have your breath taken away as you see the beautifully sewn fur coat and ruff.

Three whistle blasts indicate it is time to board the boat and return to Steamboat Landing. The crew brings out delicious hand made salmon dip. This is a highlight for my 10 year old daughter as well as my 76 year old father.  Fortunately, the crew doesn’t mind people heading back for seconds after everybody has had a chance to try this delectable treat. The canned salmon used in the dip is so good that we often will give it as a gift. It is that scrumptious!Steamboat Landing

Insider tips:

  1. Sit on the left hand side of the top deck
  2. There is a 2 for 1 coupon in the back of a visitor book
  3. Eat the doughnuts
  4. Eat the salmon dip
  5. Enjoy the tour and learn some Alaska history

We love sharing the Riverboat Discovery with visitors.  Do you have a favorite place to take your out of town visitors? What are your insider tips?



The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own. I did not receive any compensation, monetary or otherwise, for this review. All photos are the property of this blog.

Six Things to Do in Cincinnati

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Cincinnati, OH. Cincinnati is rich with history, culture and things to do. I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of this amazing town and look forward to returning.

I have an interest in the history of the United States, the good, the bad and the ugly. I was excited to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.  The exhibits at the center are well done and very informative. I had a general knowledge of slavery but had no clue as to what life was like for the slaves. The Freedom Center helped enlighten me.  I naively thought the Slavery Pen was a secret newspaper for slaves. I felt sick to my stomach when I read what it actually was. I cannot even begin to fathom the inhumane acts the slaves endured. Emotionally I was only able to walk through half of the museum before I had to stop. I would like to return and finish the next time I am in the area. Insider tip: the Emancipation Proclamation is currently the special exhibit.

Friday evening I had the opportunity to dine at Taft’s Ale House near Washington Park.  The place was hopping. The former 1850 Protestant Parish turned brew pub is charming. There were only a few gluten free options. I chose the Tri Tip Steak with a salad to replace the potatoes and gravy. The food was delicious and worth the wait. Insider tip: street parking can be difficult. There is an underground parking garage at Washington Park, just a block or two away.

Washington Park is a gem and has something for everybody. There was live music playing and a beautiful set of fountains to splash in. People of all ages were wandering around trying to collect their next Pokémon in Pokémon Go.

The night life scene in this area is very busy. There are many restaurants and pubs in the area. We made our way to Graeter’s Over the Rhine for the most amazing locally made ice cream. They offer free samples to help narrow your selection. It was so delicious that I slurped it up before I could take a picture.  Insider tip: request a cup and get your second scoop of ice cream at a discount price!

Right outside of Cincinnati there are two places I visited that are worth mentioning. The Bluebird Bakery and Chamoda’s Candy Cafe, located on  Chester Road.

The Bluebird Bakery has beautiful pastries and my companions said they were delicious. I opted for a gluten free Buckeye and a tuna salad that was delicious. The service was wonderful and worth a return.

The owners at Chamoda’s Candy Café make you feel like family as soon as you walk in the door. They offer free samples of all their homemade candy.  All the candy is handmade. What makes this place extra special is the story behind this candy store. Chamoda was a UC football player that passed away. He inspired his dad to open this candy store. To honor his son a portion of the profits go to the Chamoda Kennedy-Palmore Scholarship Fund. Insider tip: try the free samples!

Cincinnati is an amazing place and three days doesn’t do it justice. What are your recommendations for when I return in 2018?


The 2016 Brave Writer Retreat

“Hello Beautiful”  was colorfully written in sidewalk chalk as we approached the entrance to The Barn in Sharonville, OH. The interior was charmingly decorated with strings of softly glowing bulbs. Beautiful gift bags waited for each of us. Encouraging signs were placed throughout the space. This was the scene of the 2016 Brave Writer Retreat.

The women who attended this retreat have interacted through various forms of media but very few of us had met in person prior to the retreat. Our online groups had expectations of support and encouragement and these expectations were carried throughout the retreat. It felt as if  I attended this retreat with 150 of my very best friends. I have never experienced this belonging, love and respect before. I found my tribe.

Each retreat presentation is worthy of its’ very own blog post so I will recap the biggest ideas that spoke to me.

The opening evening started off with a bang. Julie’s talk was called, “Updating Charlotte Mason to the 21st Century.” Julie’s humor and wisdom shined through with her comment regarding Charlotte letting down her bun. I walked away knowing that theories may speak to me but when there is struggle those theories may need to be adjusted to fit our current, unique situation. In our family, when we become very rigid and tied to a theory or a schedule, stress increases and our home life suffers which in turn affects learning. I now will give myself permission to take what speaks to me and leave the rest.

Melissa Wiley was our speaker Thursday morning. Her honesty and humor captivated me. She introduced “Tidal Homeschooling.” It was such a relief to find a name for what was naturally occurring in our homeschool. The low tide had always set me on edge because I would feel like we were “falling behind” the public school expectations. Light bulb moment here-for my family it is more important to love learning than keep up with some randomly chosen expectations that may no longer be relevant.

High tide is the more structured learning, where my role is the leader. Low tide is the time where kids pursue their interests and I become the cheerleader. Each tide lasts until interests wane and kids become restless. During the low tide I will be thinking about the next high tide. The other biggie I walked away with was how can we make this day awesome? We can make it awesome by connecting with our children.

After a short break we really started to have fun with “Comics Make You Smart!” Melissa shared a list of SAT words pulled from  Calvin and Hobbes comics. Wow! Mic drop, mind blown! Then she shared a whole genre of comic books I wasn’t aware of. Did you know there is a comic book about the U.S. Constitution? I recalled my love of  comics, especially their humor and wit. In fact, when I was ten, comics helped keep me entertained during a month long hospital stay. Why wouldn’t I share this joy with my own children?

After lunch I joined Stephanie Elms for “The Re-Upping Moment: Tackling the Teen Years at Home.” She had us start by identifying our fears. My fears regarding homeschooling high school boiled down to: did I teach him everything he needs to know because we are quickly approaching the no “redo” zone and how can we deep dive to pursue interests  and still manage the “requirements?” After I wrote my first fear I realized how irrational it sounds. Of course there will be things I didn’t teach him. His learning won’t suddenly stop at the end of high school. Our relationship won’t suddenly end. The most important thing I can do is to teach him to be a lifelong learner. Again, Steph reiterated the importance of maintaining a relationship with your teenager to help make sure the path fits your child’s needs rather than making your child fit to the path. The other really big idea that struck me is “there is no educational emergency.” Say what-why am I wasting all this energy worrying?!!?! Community colleges can help shore up any deficient academics areas. Finally, and most importantly, I need to help my teenager stretch and grow without affecting his relationship with learning.

Friday we discovered what home means to us. We participated in a free write. Benevolently reframing has changed my life. It allows me to tell the truth but reframe it in a positive light. This speaks to my optimistic nature. Time was set aside in the afternoon so we could begin to process the retreat and look towards the future. I realized when I don’t take care of myself I become more and more negative. This isn’t healthy for anybody. It is imperative I take time to do some #awesomeadulting so I can have our best version of home.

I  returned with a sense of peace and acceptance for my journey and our homeschool. In the time following the retreat our home has become more relaxed and fun. My teenager was eager to tell me the things he would like to learn. I have had fun cooking with my daughter and discussing the reasons behind her dislike of copy work. I have even managed to pursue my own passion and attend a tap class and go on a date with my husband. Life is good.  There are still gems from the retreat to process and apply and those will come in time. This retreat is what my soul needed.

Have you ever attended a retreat that rocked your world and allowed you to make significant personal growth? I would love to hear about it.

Lessons Learned-Bathroom Spruce Up

It has been an interesting two weeks. My husband and son went on a trip. This appeared to be the perfect opportunity for my ten year old daughter and I to change out the bathroom sink and faucet, something I have never attempted. I have learned so many lessons.

  • First, projects will take at least twice the amount of time than expected to complete.
  • Pee traps are disgusting and will make your eyes water and your stomach lurch!
  • Bone sinks aren’t a popular in stock item and oval sinks don’t fit into round holes. Travel time to Alaska for a replacement sink could be 5-8 weeks at the big box stores. Fortunately, there are other stores that carry bone colored drop in sinks.
  • 10 year old girls like hammers and chisels!
  •  Make sure the hoses are long enough to connect and that the hoses connect properly prior to applying the silicone to the stink. Hoses do stretch and the hands of a 10 year old are nice for reaching into tight places to detach the hose.
  • You Tube is a valuable resource when you have a leak.
  • Painting vanities take a lot more time than expected.
  • Painting and patience go hand in hand.
  • Sometimes you just have to cut the blob of paint out of your hair. I hope my hairdresser doesn’t notice.
  • The paint for wall will be staying in the can for awhile.

Living life and learning new things is one of the best examples I can provide my daughter. The sense of accomplishment and team work will be worth the hard work and late nights.

What tips do you have for a bathroom spruce up?

10 Things I Learned From the Death of my Smart Phone

I had just put the turkey in the oven and checked my phone for the latest updates. There was a sudden brightness and my phone started an endless cycle of the start up screen, the blue screen of death and a dark screen. The phone would not power down. At first I was upset. What would I do without this little piece of convenience at my fingertips? I was surprised at what I learned.

  1. I miss connecting with my family.
  2. I no longer own an alarm clock.
  3. It is easier to fall back asleep in the wee hours of the morning without checking on the latest news, weather, Facebook updates or Words with Friends games.
  4. Owning a smart phone has made me reliant on it.  I only have memorized the phone numbers of my husband and my children. I don’t know the phone number of my dad or my brother.
  5. My elbow isn’t made to always be bent while looking at my phone every spare minute. I blamed lifting weights.
  6. I don’t miss needing to know. I survived without the latest  status updates,  photos, weather or emails.
  7. It is okay to be in the moment and not do anything while waiting in line.
  8. The forced down time allowed me to focus on and figure out some personal things.
  9. I had “time” to write.
  10. Losing over one thousand pictures doesn’t erase the memories. It made me realize I need to be in the present to make the memories, not looking into my phone trying to get the perfect picture.

And because it is the season of giving here is one extra:

  1. It is okay to not be busy. My frenetic swiping and typing made me look like a lab rat addicted to cocaine. No more. I am in control of my time!