Whann’s in (not always) Paradise

Whann’s in (not always) Paradise

Gordon and Julie Whann

Whann’s In (not always) Paradise

(I will be adding new content to this blog post as I go.)

(We would have starved to death if it weren’t for Top Ramen.)


Hello and Welcome

(Hola a me ka hookipa ana)

Top Ramen w/ Seaweed and Rice Crackers

A Typical Dinner for us in Hawaii

Top Ramen Soup, Rice Crackers, Tea


This blog is about our lives in Hawaii but also our struggles at times while we were living there.  We may have been living in paradise, but paradise is not always wonderful.  We have gone through poverty, hunger, shin splints, adjustments to new cultures, foods, island shock, victims of crimes, military life, long deployments, just to name a few.  But we also experienced beauty, education, introduction to new foods and new ways of life, friendships, watching our children grow up there, and the list goes on…..

I may not get around to talking about it all, but I will talk about what I feel like sharing.  I hope you will enjoy as I dive into some of our struggles living in paradise.  The up’s, the down’s, the good times, and the hardship’s. 

Because Paradise is Never Actually Paradise

(p.s.  Some of the roaches are the size of your fist.)

Me, Gordon, and Veronica (One of our Kalikimaka (Christmas) Cards one year.)

Here we are in our backyard in Honolulu.

Mele Kalikimaka



An Egg Roll from the Philippines

A Postcard Signed by Diana Hansen-Young to Veronica that I Framed

Lumpia, with Sticky Rice and Dipping Sauces

Our New Favorite Dipping Sauce


My Grandmother in the photo above on one of her many trips to Hawaii.

That is also her milk glass mug that she purchased while there.

My Orchids I Brought to the Condo to Cheer Me


Christmas Day 1986, Oahu, We Rented Mopeds to Drive Around the Island

Our Christmas gift to each other here was to pay for these moped’s.  I remember they were $25.00 each for the day.  That was all the money we had.

Sadly, while we were driving around the island I was attacked on this day by 3 local Hawaiian teenagers while on my moped.  I was a good distance ahead of Gordon.  These guys tried to knock me off of my moped as I was driving by.  I was able to avoid it and they weren’t successful.  But Gordon saw what happened and stopped and confronted them.  That’s when one of them punched him really hard in the face.  I knew that Gordon was outgunned here and that those giant teenagers (probably Samoan or Tongan) could squash him so that’s when I started yelling things like, “Gordon, don’t hurt them!  Remember how much trouble you got in last time!  You almost killed those other guys!  Leave those boys alone before you end up killing someone!”

THAT is when they left us alone.  Gordon has never hurt anyone in his life, but they didn’t know that.  🙂

You are very welcome Gordon!  I saved his life that day.  These giant teens were high on drugs and ready for a fight with a hoale.

Luckily, we got out of that scrape, especially since I was pregnant with Veronica at the time.  Had those boys succeeded in knocking me off, I might have lost her.

Moral of the story, it doesn’t matter who is the bigger or the strongest, it’s all about the smartest.  🙂

Our Little Veronica in her Daddy’s Sailor Hat in our Backyard in Honolulu


We had the privilege of living in Hawaii for 13 years.  For the first few years it was a big struggle..  We didn’t have much money and always lived paycheck to paycheck.  Sometimes food was what we could afford and not necessarily what we wanted to eat.

Top Ramen soup was our staple.  They were only 10 cents each, so Top Ramen it was!

But after eating Top Ramen for so long it did get to me.


I do have to admit that I had my Scarlett O’Hara moment underneath a palm tree, wearing Aloha attire that I waved my fist in the air and proclaimed, “As God as my witness, as God as my witness, they’re not going to lick me.  I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never eat Top Ramen again!”

Julie Lancaster-Whann

(That really did happen.  But now I eat Top Ramen because I want to and not because I have to.)


Me, Visiting the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial 1986


Pregnant in Hawaii

This is me, around Valentine’s Day 1987, Pregnant with Veronica, in our apartment in Pearl City, Hawaii.

Me, Pregnant with Veronica outside of our apartment in Pearl City.


Julie, Gordon, and Little Veronica, 1989

When Veronica was born in 1987 I had just moved into base housing in Honolulu. 

Julie and Baby Veronica

(We couldn’t afford to buy a real baby mobile so Gordon made everything out of origami and chopsticks and string before he left to go out to sea.)

Gordon was out to sea on the cruiser, The U.S.S. Worden.  My mother, grandmother, and two of my little brother’s, Frank and Ben, had flown over to be with me.  Veronica was a breach baby so I had a C-Section.  Gordon was deployed and in the Persian Gulf at the time.  He was sent a telegraph letting him know he was a father and that she was a girl.  He didn’t get to see her until she was 3 months old when the ship returned.  Veronica had colic the first 3 months of her life.  All gone by the time he returned, naturally. 

The reason I am posting this is because Gordon was an E-4 in the Navy at the time.  A good rank for enlisted, but not much money.  I signed Veronica up for the WIC Program at the time.  WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children.  It was a welfare program designed to help families like ours.  I would go to the commissary with my WIC coupons and buy baby formula, rice, dried beans, and peanut butter.

Veronica was on the WIC program until she turned 5.

WIC was there to help us.  I will always be grateful for that.  Having Veronica be on WIC meant that we could use other food budget money to buy fresh fruits and veggies.  So for awhile we were ‘Poor in Paradise.’  Which is probably how I should have named this blog post to begin with. 


Gordon and Veronica at the State Fair 1988.

I don’t know what year this was but it would be around 1989, Christmas time.

Backyard in Honolulu, Hawaii 1989


Orchids and Maps

Orchids are a very sturdy flower that I love specifically for that purpose.  Not only beautiful, but very long lasting. 

They remind me of The Big Island for some reason.

I painted that coconut.  Actually it was the first coconut I ever painted and I thought it turned out really well.  The outrigger canoe I bought somewhere, some souvenir shop, the maps I bought on sale at library book sales, and the lovely hand woven crown I bought at a craft fair.

Under the Hula Moon

I do love this book.  Living in Hawai’i

By Joyce Fujii

Beautiful Book!  Beautiful Orchids!  Beautiful and Delicious Macadamia Chocolates!


All you ever needed on the island was a swimsuit, cover up, beach bag, and flip flops, or slippers, as they called them.


My Beautiful Hawaiian Women

The latest to add to my collection.

The people of Hawaii are the most beautiful that you can imagine.  You see so many mixed race couples there.  They make the most beautiful children.  It’s as if they took the best features of every race and combined them and created perfection!

You Had me at Aloha!

Just some floral tea that reminded me of Hawaii.


Puka Shells and Memories

My Wahine Veronica

Real Puka Shells

During our years in Hawaii we spent many a Saturday at the Aloha Flea Market where we loved to shell shop.  The very thick shell necklace and bracelet were bought by me at the flea market.  But the loose ones in the photo below, were found by me on various beaches.  The are real puka shells.

Puka Shells we Found on the Beach

Puka Shells and Photographs

Me with Veronica and her friend at Sea Life Park

Just reliving some nice memories.  I do that sometimes.


Julie (Kulii)