Maui Musings

The Wahine Writes

Moon Over Maui Moves

Written By: Jueli - Aug• 04•11

Moon Over Maui: Rosh Chodesh and the Jewish Mystical Moon Cycles

Thanks for reading and subscribing to my blog. I will continue to share personal musings and family adventures on this site. You’ll notice, however, that all of the moon content has been moved off of this site. It is now at Moon Over Maui: A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year. Using the Kabbalistic moon cycles as guide, you can journey with me through the Jewish mystical year as I learn and share vibrant moon-specific teachings, accessible tools, and meaningful everyday spiritual practices. Subscribe now to Moon Over Maui: A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year! And stay in touch. Aloha!

A List of Chai-waii Differences

Written By: Jueli - Aug• 02•11

I’m not sure what happens when we land on this small piece of land in the middle of the Pacific, but something definitely shifts. None of us is the same. Here’s a list of how life on Island is somewhat different than mainland living:

1)      Crawl into bed near midnight

2)      Wake up at dawn, without an alarm.

3)      Feel motivated without being driven.

4)      Treat inchworms, grasshoppers and geckos as pets.

This Grasshopper Helped Us Cook Dinner Stovetop

5)      Wear less clothing and no makeup.

6)      Live with red dirt-covered feet.

7)      Buy fish fresh off boats from the people who caught it.

8)      Laugh hard and easily.

9)      Jump into waterholes and cascading waterfalls.

Dad and Daughter Swim a Loop Beneath the Falls.

10)   Ride on boats and busses.

11)   Eat mangos everyday. Sometimes twice a day.

12)   Admire common island flowers and insects.

Orchids Hanging in Our Hiking Path.

13)   Swim in the Pacific every day, sometimes with turtles.

14)   Write, write, write, write.

15)    Spot rainbows and double rainbows above us.

Almost Daily This Rainbow Arched over Us.

16)   Drink juice from the heart of green coconuts.

17)  Blink at beauty to remember it’s real.

18)   Dice fresh salsa with ingredients from island trees.

Homemade Pineapple Salsa Atop Ocean Fresh Ahi.

Sooner than we realize we’ll be sitting in recycled air for five and half hours en route to the mainland. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I’m grateful our lives back home are filled with goodness, joy, family, and friends.

My boy says: I miss my guitar.

His sister says: I miss my friends. My best best best best friends the most!

I feel the truth of everything.


A Dolphin Sunset Studded Birthday

Written By: Jueli - Jul• 19•11

Chalk Drawing Wishes Haydn a Happy Fourth Birthday

Friday night was my son’s last evening as a three-year-old. He reminded his sister, dad, and me of this fact more than 50 times, lest we forget. At dawn the next day, he roused the roosters, shot straight out of bed, and crowed at the top of his lungs: “I’m foooour! I’mmmmmm fooour!”  (If it wasn’t so delightful it would be infuriating.)

Within minutes he’s bouncing on the bed and then running down the hall to see if there is a surprise for him (there is.) He pulverizes the stack of wrapped boxes stopping just in time to pull the gifts out before they’re smashed. He’s awed by the rodeo theme—hat, rope, stuffed calves, a few barrels, and a saddle of his own. “‘Radio,’” he yells. “My own ‘radio!!’” My man hopes the birthday getup will take him off the hook from playing the “rodeo game,” where boy chases dad until dad falls on ground and boy ties up his feet like a calf. Surprisingly, my man never says no to the game, though he wishes he would.

Immediately, the cushions are tossed on the floor and my boy is setting up the “radio”.

“Look at me, Mom.

“Mom, Dad, Sissy, look at me.

“Look at ME! Hey, look at me,” he persists until all three of us focus exclusively on his enthusiasm and his horse. He swings the rope in a lasso circle and yells at the top of his lungs.

The cell phone is ringing with grandparents’ good wishes as we try to feed, dress, and then move the kids out the door. The birthday boy’s wish for the day is be on a boat and to go roller skating. We’re heading out for a dolphin expedition on the Maui’s west side.

Being on the water is enough excitement for me and my children. But this three-hour cruise guarantees wild dolphin sitings or “your next ride is free.” Secretly, I’m hoping not to see dolphin so that we’d benefit from another day cruising atop blue water.

I’m asked continuously, “You see anything, Mom?” He pouts and leans his head heavily against my arm, “I haven’t seen anything, Mom.” I point out lava cliffs and birds, tell the story of the long ago abandoned pineapple field island we’re sliding beside. I point to the shimmering sun streaking across water so blue that you have to blink before regaining focus.

Crystal Blue Water above the 200-Foot Deep Ocean Bed

But there aren’t any dolphins. Until, suddenly there are.

Spinner Dolphin Draft off the Bow

We move quickly when the naturalist announces that a small school of spinner dolphins is headed our way. The kids crouch up front just as the pod begins drafting off the bow of the boat. Seven of them, including a babe alongside its mama, dips and spins and jumps before us.

“Last year two turtles came to wish you a happy birthday, and this year the dolphins came for you,” my girl yells excitedly into the wind at her brother. My man and I take our eyes off the dolphin for a split second. We always wonder if spending every birthday of his life 2,100 miles across the sea, far from family and friends, is fair to our boy. In this moment we silently concur: It is.

Baby Spinner Flips for Haydn's Fourth

Sooner than our exhilaration wanes, the pod moves away from our two-deck ferry. We pick up speed and head to the shoreline against five-foot rolling swells. I have to chew ginger and sip ale to keep my stomach from lurching.

My girl pronounces the obvious with a smile stretched to full capacity, “The waves are fun unless you feel sick!”

Happy Birthday to You...

Later, we share a birthday milkshake, drive to the south shore, play in a park, and adjust my boy’s skates, which we had picked up for 50 cents at a garage sale earlier in the summer. We roll toward the entrance of the outdoor roller skating rink just when it should be opening. The fence is locked behind a small wooden sign that reads, “Closed July 16 for renovations.” Disappointment hovers over the moment, but all my boys says is: “I’m too tired to roller skate.”

We all are too exhausted to do much of anything, and we still have a 45-minute drive back to the North Shore. We cruise along the scenic beachfront route in silence.

“Let’s jump in,” my man says, half joking and so tired that his words nearly slur.  Without asking for much confirmation, I flip a U-turn and park adjacent to the sand. We change into suits and run toward the shoreline.

“It’s not cold! It’s not cold!” the new four-year-old shouts as he whips his body into the frothy foam wave.  He stands up, runs across the beach, and starts to dramatically strum his imagined air guitar, hair flying left and right, short syllables of made up songs pounding against the shoreline.

We swim and laugh and play in the Pacific as the blue and white cloud-filled sky slowly turns yellow and green and then extraordinary orange.

The Sun Bids Us Adieu, and a "Many, Many, More Happy Birthdays to You."

“This day was all about me,” my boy says with a smile.

It’s the first day of his four-year-old life.

Happy Birthday.



Love, Turtle Beach!

Written By: Jueli - Jul• 06•11

There’s a spot off the edge of the Makena shoreline called Turtle Town. This infamous tourist destination is splashed on marketing brochures across the island. They promise that if you wake up at dawn, dress in layers and sunscreen, and race 40 minutes to an overcrowded dock full of people, you might during the daylong boat ride see a honu, the Hawaiian word for sea turtle.

(Turtle pictures taken at the Maui Ocean Center.)

My children will tell you that honus can hold their breath and stay under water for up to five hours. Younger honu, however, come to the surface as often as every 20 minutes to inhale air before they swim down again to a comfortable spot within the coral floor. Typically, Honu are hard to spot expect during these life-sustaining voyages to the ocean’s surface.

Sitting beachside in Makena you always see four or five of these charter boats floating between shore and horizon. They’re close enough that you could swim toward them, but far enough that the coral display of color and fish distracts you along the way. The boats’ shapes and colors add a moving element to the nearly unreal 180-degree view of lava rock, islands, clouds and sea.

"Turtle Beach," Makena, HI

My family of four doesn’t take the charter to Turtle Town. Instead, we head to sand the children affectionately call “Turtle Beach.” This moniker came from our virgin trip to Turtle Beach on my son’s second birthday. Although he was then too young to put his head under the ocean’s surface, two sea turtles popped their heads above the water line to wish my boy a happy birthday. From then on, the name ensued.

We arrive at Turtle Beach by car and follow the path of honu pictographs to the shoreline. We pack enough food and water for the day and hope the ocean’s roar doesn’t prevent our young babes from navigating “past the wave line.”  We hope for clear water. And pray the mood of our children stays excited and curious.

"Oh Yeah!"

For July Fourth, we received another birthday present (this time in honor our country’s birth). The water was more placid than we’d ever seen at any island beach. It reminded my man of his childhood days playing beside Lake Tahoe. The water was clear, the air was still.

The four of us swam into the ocean more quickly than ever before. Fingers intertwined with my three-year-old’s, we swam toward the coral. Although the water was surprisingly warm, my children’s small frames only lasted 20 minutes before they wanted to go back to the sand. Perhaps they were cold; perhaps bored. I don’t ever question their requests to stop swimming in the ocean. I’m grateful they are brave enough to be in it at all.

Half ASL I Love You, Half Hawaiian Shaka

Once back onshore I couldn’t sit still. As soon as the children were engaged in making train tracks and princess castles in the millions of grains they were sitting on, I headed back out to the ridge.

As I reached the coral, a tractor-wheel sized turtle swam up beside me. I immediately took in a breath and held my hands against my heart so as not to frighten him. He had to be at least 100 years old by the size and markings on him. My heartbeat raced as it does after a swift run. I swam behind him at a fair distance, breathing air steadily, adjusting my eyes to the marble yellow and black carvings on his war-torn shell. His face housed two swollen carbuncles exploding from his cheeks. His graceful movement transferred to my own limbs. As if in fantasy, another turtle rounded the bend and cut between me and his elder. They swam ahead together, beckoning me to follow.

I was solo with these two honu for an eternity of turtle-viewing time. When they swam to the surface, I also would pop my head above water and catch a glimpse of their mouths opening for air, our eyes greeting one another. The eldest swam out of view so I contentedly followed my younger guide back to his coral-reef bed. We swam over the outer rise of the underwater valley. Suddenly I was in midst of SIX turtles that were resting, air gulping, dancing, swimming. The submerged waves of their whirl pushed against my body. I was stunned and suspended into their world of color, grace, peace, and silence.

One by one the turtles settled themselves or swam away. The yellow, pale pink, and shades of green coral returned to focus and guided me back to the shoreline.

“It must have been a family of honu,” my boy yelled excitedly when I later told him what I had seen. “Maybe the babies are on the sand in their eggs. And the family is waiting for them to be born and crawl into the sea.”


July Fourth Parade in Paniolo Country

Written By: Jueli - Jul• 05•11

The four of us rushed up the side of Haleakala on a two-way road toward the Makawao Town July 4th parade. This town is cowboy country. In Hawaiian, cowboys are called paniolos. Makawao is only one-block long, but it’s dripping with red, white, and blue flags, banners, clothes, and cars.

The parade began at 9 a.m. and we were a little late. Mostly, Hawaiians are on the kind of lax time that my Jewish heritage has accustomed me to. Not so for parades, apparently. The horses started walking and the politicians started waving at 9 a.m. exactly.

Favorite parts for the kids: collecting candy from the floats. My man and I enjoy the respite and the creativity. Only in Hawaii would people hula or zip line through a parade.

For my girl, the highlight was the pink horses with ribbon-braided manes and rear sides sporting sparkle-glitter hearts. My youngest, who had just finished a Pirate-themed week at summer camp, was wowed by the “real-life pirate.”


North Shore Rainbow of Welcome

Written By: Jueli - Jun• 30•11

We’re a week into living on the North Shore of Maui. The small surf town we call home is just on the edge of lush fauna and hosts the last gas station for many miles. People from all over the world drive through Paia Town’s crossroads. They stop to buy souvenirs, brown bag lunches, freshly caught fish and shaved ice (one of the best on Island), before they venture another 43 miles across 54 one-way bridges between us and the waterfall laden rainforest side of the island.

We know only a handful of people, and most of those are closer with our children then they are with us. Camp counselors, summer program teachers, babysitters, restaurant owners. We never have any one over for dinner, preferring to eat as a family under sparkly white-holiday lights that spiral up an outdoor gazebo on the property. Unfortunately, it doesn’t protect us from the rain, which happens many times a day on this side of Maui.  So, we get wet. Or we eat inside.

My man and I sit side by side during the day, each lost in our respective professional passions. We break for lunch together outside. And we break in the afternoon to jump into the white water bay a couple minutes from the house just before I drive up the lower side of Haleakala for afternoon pick up. We feel like we’re dating again, except we have longevity, perseverance, familiarity, and two children between us. It’s sweet and romantic.

Yesterday we were floating in the ocean naming into the waves adjectives that described our relationship: respect, adoration, fun, laughter, humor, passion, shared interests. Solar flashes of electricity awakened my heart, gratitude dripping from my skin as I swam through the Pacific.

The children are immersed weekdays in their own island experiences:

Twice a week my girl rides a long yellow school bus to local pools and South Shore beaches. On Tuesday mornings, she scoots closer to Uncle Max who quietly passes on to the children the ancient Hawaiian folk tales his tutu told him. She learns hula, decorates her wrists with blades of grass, plays relay games, and zealously observes the bustling schoolyard filled with local children.

My nearly four-year-old boy is in familiar surroundings at a summer preschool. This is his second summer with this program, though his first without the comfort of his older sister accompanying him. His teachers can sense that he’s got a wild streak beneath his sweet, demure personality, but he hasn’t yet come out to the crowd. He talks rapidly at pick up about pirates and water play, proudly showing off the smiley super star stamped on his hand for a successful nap (something he hasn’t regularly done at home for nearly six months). Only surprises in the car and an afternoon plan of adventure persuade him to willingly leave the play yard. He waves and yells, “Goodbye, friends” at the top of his lungs. At the last minute, he runs back and throws his arms around the legs of that day’s favorite staff member.

It’s a good life.

Friday through Sunday are Family Days.

More on that later.




South Shore’s Sand and Salt

Written By: Jueli - Jun• 30•11

We spent the first two weeks on Maui unplugged from our mainland lives. We vacationed on the south shore, which is lined with one breathtaking white sand beach after another. We spent a little extra cash on our condo so that we would have a view of the Pacific, complete with a foreground of silhouetted palm trees. Just before sunset, we’d cook up dinner, pour a pitcher of ice water, and race to nature’s nightly dinner show, complimentary seating on the building’s 7th floor. The 180-degree light extravaganza began shortly after we arrived: For more than an hour, the falling ball of luminosity would play hide-and-seek behind watercolor-painted clouds that shifted from cotton ball white to cerulean blue, pale orange, a color wheel of pink, shades of saffron and cream. Four outrigger canoes on a schedule feathered through the ocean’s glass surface, their ancient Hawaiian call-and-response carried to our yearning ears on the same breeze that affectionately ruffled my children’s salted hair.

Days were filled with sand and salt, books and magazines, colored pencils and protractors. We stayed satiated and hydrated with mangos, papayas and lime, lychee, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salt and pepper pistachio nuts, and at least one-hundred liters of drinking water. We learned early that people under six years old will consume mass amounts of H20 from a Camelback, as they bite open the plastic mouthpiece and suck the water down.

When we weren’t drinking water, we were playing, laughing, bobbing, snorkeling, floating, or surfing in it. The children are more comfortable in the ocean than they ever have been in a pool. Something about that makes me smile. They made friends with other vacationing kids, instantly calling one another “best friends” and talking as if they’d spent the entirety of their young lives as neighbors.

We strung purple orchid leis, twirled practice fire poi (sans flames), and danced hula. We ate shaved ice with ice cream and mochi and red azuki beans (yum!). On an adult dinner cruise (read: no children), there was time to be quiet while bobbing with turtles in the surf beside the West Maui mountains.

On our last day of “vacation”, we woke up at dawn to play in the placid early morning sea. We ate our final pb&j sandwiches, named our favorite parts of Maui’s south shore, and walked back to our vehicle, which stored suitcases and boxes filled everything we owned on Island.

At this point, most families would be taking their salty water-logged bodies to the airport after a nearly perfect vacation. Perhaps not exactly rested and rejuvenated (!), but filled with fun, laughter, and brilliancy.

For us, we drove 40 minutes to Maui’s North Shore. We were going home to Paia Town. The kids were starting summer camp on Monday. Full inboxes and exciting professional projects were waiting for us.