MILILANI HIGH SCHOOL CARNIVAL '19 • Oahu Family Photography

Hawaii • Lifestyle

“What day is it?” I remember our 4 year old daughter asking.“Tuesday,” I replied.Her fingers began quietly counting forward as she mouthed the days of the week.

🌧️ 🌈Pitter-patter, pitter-patter, drip, drip, drop. What a rainy weekend! It’s weekends like this when I dream longingly for thick, warm clothing and homes that have heaters. Ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but if you know me, you know I absolutely HATE cold weather. Despite growing up in Michigan and suffering through much frostier temperatures than the pitiful 63 degrees it supposedly is now, you can currently find me clickety-clacking on the laptop keys, huddled in a tightly trussed hoodie, longing to feel warmer soon. No joke.  Despite the weather conditions, our family had been looking forward to this weekend for a couple of weeks–ever since our 7 year old son brought home an that half slip of paper from his elementary school for: Mililani High School’s Carnival. Personally, I love carnivals, but nothing can really beat the anticipation that a child feels when they know something rare and exciting is about to happen.

“What day is it?” I remember our 4 year old daughter asking.

“Tuesday,” I replied.

Her fingers began quietly counting forward as she mouthed the days of the week. Our daughter takes knowing when special events are coming up very seriously. When there’s not an event looming on the horizon, she makes up special events of her own–such as throwing her stuffed dog, Zuma, (from Paw Patrol) a birthday party. He’s turned one, two, and three several times.

“Two more days until Valentine’s Day and three more days until the carnival!” She exclaimed excitedly, but also with a look of impatience. Oh, how a short while can seem like an eternity when your a child waiting for something special to happen.

Finally, Friday arrived. To her dismay and our son’s as well, the sky just wouldn’t stop its cold drizzle. I had to make the very unpopular mom decision to postpone our outing or risk us all being soaked to the bones, miserable, and ultimately getting sick. They were mildly consoled with the promise that we would make it to the carnival another day, and that there was still plenty of weekend left.

EK Fernandez Fun Pass...what a deal! >.>

On Sunday, I just wouldn’t let the overcast sky deter us any longer. We all bundled up in our long pants and jackets to brave the threatening weather. Lo and behold, it did begin to drizzle–just as we arrived. Great timing right? We were determined to make a go of it, though, so we trudged over to the money eating machines to exchange our dollar bills for a piece of colorful, wallet draining plastic card, and yet somehow they call it a Fun Pass.

Now, please forgive me for digressing just a little bit. Don’t get me wrong. As I mentioned before, I absolutely love carnivals myself, and as a former teacher, I am all for supporting local schools. However… what in the world is up with these carnival prices??? I totally get that I grew up in small town Michigan where the cost of living is immensely cheaper, and I was also a child a few decades ago, so there’s that whole inflation thing as well. Even so, taking those things into account, how in the world does the cost of rides go from $10 for 6 hours of unlimited fun on discount day in Michigan to $3-$5 per 1-2 minute ride with no bundle or band discounts in site? Granted, we only take part in the frivolity of it all a couple of times per year, so I guess it is what it is, but boy do these carnivals have a stranglehold on your purse. Not being the carnival accountant for EK Fernandez however, I guess I will end my digression there and get on with the fun.

Zero Gravity MHS Carnival 2019Back to the rides…my son was super excited to go on Zero Gravity which stood right in front of us, and I hadn’t been on that ride since I was young, so I quickly volunteered to go with him. It was lightly sprinkling, but we were eager despite the flawed weather. The ride started out just as I remembered from being a kid. We began to spin…faster…faster…until we were fully plastered to the side of the spinning cylinder. Then tilting up…then down with merely some handles to hang onto, a loosely fastened rope in front of us, and a bit of centripetal force to keep us from falling to our doom. At about this point in the ride, when I was visualizing all the possible ways this could end if the motor stopped turning the ride fast enough, I had another unpleasant realization. It’s not a bright idea to go on Zero Gravity while it’s raining. Everytime the cylinder turned and swooped us down to the bottom of the ride, there we were laying almost horizontal to the ground with the rain falling directly on top of us. Now granted it was a fairly light rain, so while we did get wet from head to toe, I wouldn’t have called us soaked. The worst part, though, was that the rain was falling directly into my eyes, leaving me half-blinded with the only recourse being to endure the unpleasant feeling of tearing your arms through the centripetal force and up to your eyes to give relief. I was happy enough when my son decided that the ride was a little scary and he didn’t want to go again.

Thankfully, shortly after our first ride fiasco, the rain stopped and stayed away for pretty much the rest of our time at the carnival. The sun even came out for a bit to give us a beautiful rainbow, and to warm and dry our damp clothes and rides, so we could enjoy the festivities.

The kids were very excited to see a kid friendly version of the Wave Swinger. The Lolli Swings is a candy themed swing with double seats that allowed both of our kids to ride together. Like the Wave Swinger, it twirls you up above the ground in an oscillating motion, but at a height and speed that didn’t send our children screaming and crying for us. Our daughter especially enjoyed this ride.

Our daughter standing tall against the ride height charts, just made the cut off for a few of the “adult rides” as well, so she experienced her very first rides on the Super Sizzler and the Gravitron. Being not yet five, I was a little worried that they might freak her out, but on both rides she giggled with pure joy and bounced off exclaiming that she wanted to go again. In fact, the favorite ride of the day for the whole family ended up being the Super Sizzler. There’s just something about not being able to help the fact that you are squishing the person to your right as you get launched from one side of the platform to the other that is so hilariously funny and enjoyable.

Somewhere in the midst of the ride excitement our tummies began to grumble, and we realized it was time to get some grub. Wanting to really support Mililani High School’s programs (and try to avoid some of the excess grease of carnival food), we chose to stick primarily with the high school run food booths. Since these booths take only scripts and the carnival only accepts the Fun Pass, we decided to be extra smart this year by scoping out the booths first before getting the tickets and ordering, saving ourselves from having too few or too many tickets in the end. With just the right number of tickets in hand, we ended up ordering an incredibly healthy meal (sarcasm intended): a kalbi plate lunch, a spicy ahi bowl, a teriburger, and saimin from the school…and 2 corndogs (our kid’s guilty pleasures) from the carnival.

On a hot summer’s day, saimin at a carnival might not go very well, but I have to say, with just a bit of nip in the air and dampness around, the hot dashi was well worth it. While there’s a very real possibility it might have just been a good old bowl of S&S, my son (the Saimin connoisseur) enjoyed the soft, tasty noodles, and we all enjoyed a sip of warmth.

The teriburger tasted just like the brand May’s, and probably was, so at just $2 it was a pretty good deal for carnival food. It was a hit with everyone except our daughter who gave it a thumbs down and stated, “It tastes like steak.” She doesn’t like steak.

The kalbi had good flavor for a plate lunch, and while my husband would have liked a bigger portion and some seasoning in the corn, he said the size was about right for the price.

Other than the saimin, the biggest hit for the kids really was the corndogs. I’m not sure what it is about those blanketed dogs on a stick, but our kids light up every time they get the chance to eat one, and they thought these were exceptionally good–even more so than normal. In fact, Kiari gave it a full two thumbs up. When our kids mentioned that the breading was a little sweet, my husband and I had to check it out for ourselves. It was a bit oily, but sure enough, the breading had this sweet, yummy quality about it–almost as if they had breaded it with funnel cake batter. Maybe they did???

The kid’s least favorite item was the spicy ahi bowl. I had gotten that item for myself and it was worth it–not too spicy, and some good flavor with the furikake in the rice. I enjoyed it…but my husband and I, being the instigators that we sometimes are couldn’t resist the opportunity to entice our kids to try it. Of course they politely declined, knowing full well what “spicy” means. So, we upped the ante–and the unhealthiness of our day–by bribing them with the promise of ice cream that night for just one little teensy bite. Our son wasn’t going to allow an opportunity for ice cream to pass him by and jumped in full force. Admittedly, his limited reaction was a little disappointing for us, but we were still proud of him for stepping up to the plate and being brave. Our daughter, much more skeptical with spice, grudgingly gave in with some prodding. The poor thing took it much harder than her sibling and barely got the fiery piece of seafood down her throat. While I was a little sympathetic to her spiced misery, would it make me a bad parent to admit that I’m going to enjoy that video for years to come?


Spicy islike...FIREoh, andWATER

After lunch, we discovered what my husband and I considered to have been the two absolute best deals of the carnival. At our first stop, I believe we spent about $4 total and student volunteers from the school painted a pokemon ball on our son’s cheek and turned our daughter into Captain America. They didn’t want to wash their faces at the end of the night. Our son even ingeniously attempted to tape a plastic half sphere over his cheek when we told him it was time to bocha (bath time), so we allowed him to postpone the inevitable for a couple more hours until bedtime.

The second absolute deal was the petting zoo. The poor animals looked as if they might be a bit tired of people petting them after 3 days of fair fun, but the kids still really enjoyed the experience. Our son has been trying to convince us for two years already that he is responsible enough for a pet rabbit (he isn’t ready), so getting to interact with a few bunnies as well as several calm goats, ducks, turtles and a pony, all for $1.50 each was a steal. Unless you live on a farm, I doubt you can find a similar experience for less anywhere.

A trip to a carnival would not be complete without allowing yourself to be ripped off by games of chance. After carefully scouring all of the tents, we determined which games we thought had the best combination of fun that our kids could enjoy playing, decent prizes, and the least chance of emptying our wallet without realizing it and walking away with nothing. The fishing game was expensive, but with a guaranteed prize of a large blow up Chase from Paw Patrol (one of our daughter’s favorite shows), it’s no wonder half the kids at the fair were walking around with one. We also got lucky on the water shooting game and a ball toss game, so our kids walked away with another couple of medium-sized stuffed animals that they really don’t need, but will cherish the memory anyway.

As the afternoon waned on, it was time to head home. Of course the kids were disappointed. I think most kids could probably last pretty long in some sort of carnival-a-thon where you ride and play until you drop. They were consoled, though, with the reminder that we still owed them ice cream that evening.

So overall, was the Mililani High School carnival worth the money??? Absolutely not! LOL. I still don’t want to think about how easy it is to burn money at one. BUT–you can’t really put a price on the memories that we made together as a family and in support of our children’s future high school at the same time. Will we be going again next year?–ABSOLUTELY!

♥ IZUMOTO PHOTOGRAPHY | Mililani Family Photographer