Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Belated Memorial Day Post

We started our Memorial Day like we always do... attending the local parade to give honor and thanks to those who have served our country and kept us free.

Memorial Day always makes me feel nostalgic, so I edited these images in a vintage look.

Jeff offered to take this picture so that I could prove I was present.

Our town has the world's shortest parade.  Seriously.  It's over in about four minutes.

But we do have a cool, New England town common.
After the parade, we went home and called Ryan.  He is close to finishing his four years in the military.

He and Chloe have always been very close and I decided to document how she looks when she is talking to him.  She lights up.

This was how Jake showed his displeasure when he didn't get to talk to Ryan. 
Then he looked around to see if anyone noticed that he was pouting.  When he saw a camera lens pointed in his direction, his countenance instantly changed.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Comedy of Errors all the way home

Our last day in paradise started well. 
It was sunny.
Jeff and I found rash guards that didn't make us look fat and they kept the sun from making our sunburns hurt.  (Score!)

Hanalei Bay...our new favorite spot on earth.

It's such a pretty beach.
This is a famous pier that is featured in the movie, "South Pacific."  Sadly, it is being refurbished so my photo of it included trucks, ladders and other building materials.  Gah!

                                                   "I wanna go baaack..." (insert whining)

 Unfortunately, the water was pretty flat.  There were some waves big enough to surf, but we had to wait quite awhile between each one.
 Molly and Chloe couldn't wait to surf again!
These two...not so much!
And she's up!  Go Chloe!
Molly had a blast!

I have no more pictures of surfing because I had to get in the water and help but SaraGrace, Zoey and Jordan all did some surfing.

All too soon, it was time to go back and pack up.  There were some pretty sad faces in my car on the way to the airport.  I heard the kids in the back saying, "Are you crying?"   "Don't cry because if you do I'll start crying."
Yeah...we all felt like crying.

And from then on, the trip began to unravel.

Our rental cars were supposed to be returned to the airport with empty gas tanks.  Problem was that mine was almost empty and we had a 30 minute drive to the airport.  I told Jeff that I thought I should get a little bit of gas but he waved me off and said I would make it.  Why spend the $10?

Well...I made it to within SIGHT of the airport.
And ran out of gas.
We had planned to get there in time to grab dinner.
Instead, Jeff spent the extra time trying to find a gas station.  Which he did.  But they didn't have a gas can.
So he went looking for a hardware store.  He found one.  They were closing.
He begged.  He pleaded that it was an emergency.  They relented and sold him a 1 gal. can.  For $15.  (Glad we saved that $10 not putting gas in the car!)
We eventually made it to the airport.

In the meantime, my phone completely died.  Would not work AT ALL.
WHAT?!?!?!?  Grrrrr.....

The first flight went fine.  Our seats were rotten (back row) but at least some of us were sitting together and the others were sitting in twos.  Second flight, our seats were all over the place.  Three of us had to sit in single, middle seats.  I sat behind SaraGrace and Kate and part way through the flight, Katie's little face peered between the 2 inch gap in the seat and she said, "I barfed."
Please tell me she didn't say what I think she said.
"I barfed," she said.
I craned to see up into her seat and saw that she had a barf bag in her lap. Good girl!
Sure enough...she had barfed.
"What do I do with it?" she asked.
After seeing that she had daintily puked into the bag, we were able to dispose of it when the flight attendant came by.
As we were deplaning, she got sick again and used her bag like a champ.  We took several barf bags with us in case she got sick in the van.  She didn't.  I think she was motion sick because she has been fine since then.  The kids did SO WELL on all the flights.  I was so proud of them.  They had to sit by strangers and away from mommy and daddy and they were just brave and did it. 

You know how parents who are leaving a teenager home alone for a few days will make comments like, "I hope he doesn't burn the house down while we're gone," or "I hope the house is still standing when we get back,"?

As we got into the waiting van, Jeff ominously said, "I have to tell you something so you can process it on the way home."
"Taylor just called to tell me that the front porch caught on fire and there has been some damage."

It took us 90 minutes to get home from Boston, so I had plenty of time to process.   When we pulled up, Taylor was sitting outside waiting for us...looking rather terrified.
The porch looked like this:
Taylor painted over all the blackened wood in an attempt to make it look better but alas....he used interior paint.  So all that white that you see was painted by Taylor.  You can see some black on the decking material and underneath the porch it is completely black.
Our builder came and looked it over this morning and said we were 'very lucky' that our entire house didn't burn down.  We know it was God who protected us!

As we talked to our neighbors, we got the full story.  The fire started in the afternoon at the time that the school bus was pulling up to drop kids off.  The driver saw the fire and wouldn't let kids off the bus.  Parents were waiting and one ran to the neighbor to tell her to call 911.  Then the parent went to see if Taylor was at home.  He was.  And blissfully unaware.  She ran around to the back of the house to find an open door and came bursting into the house yelling for Taylor to get out.  He jumped up and joined the neighbor who had pulled our hose out.  Unfortunately, our front spigot was turned off for the winter so it didn't work.  The neighbor ran and got buckets of water from her house.  Taylor ran the hose around to our back spigot, which WAS thankfully working.  He sprayed the fire and got it out before the firemen arrived.  Our neighbor said it was a good thing because it took the fire department 20 minutes to get there.  She said, "If we had to wait for the fire department, I don't think you would have had a house left.  The fire was moving so fast."  She and her husband both wanted us to know that Taylor had been 'an angel' all week, taking out the trash, mowing the law, walking the dog, etc. and they felt so bad for him because he was so upset.  They said if he hadn't sprung into action, the house would have been gone.  To which I said, "but if he hadn't been careless in the first place, there wouldn't have been a fire."  hahaha

At any rate....we are VERY thankful that it wasn't worse....that we still have a house...and no one was hurt.  Taylor has always been the kid the family voted, "most likely to burn down a house."  He is always messing with flamable things.  Hopefully, he learned a valuable lesson.  He was very shaken up--to say the least.  The firemen were all ribbing him and saying, "How are you going to explain THIS to your parents?"

We could see that he was already beating himself up enough and didn't need us to pile on, so we just looked things over and listened to him relive it over and over.  He assured us he would pay for the damages and hopefully, as he shoulders the burden of paying for it, it will teach him to be more careful in the future.

We are just so very thankful that we didn't come home to our house being gone.  If not for the neighbor alerting Taylor, the fire would have been out of control before he could have done anything.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fun in the Sun

Tuesday morning we looked out the window and....gasp....the SUN was shining!  It had rained every day up to that point--except for the time we spent with Bethany.  Looking back, it was a blessing that it was cloudy most of that day because otherwise we probably would have gotten fried to a crisp.  Thank you, Jesus for looking out for us!

Our fun surprise activity was TUBING!  It was at an old sugar plantation and the waterway was formerly used to help harvest the crop.  Now it's a fun tubing river of sorts.  Interestingly, most of the route is in tunnels  so we had to wear helmets with lights on them.  I soooo wish I could have gotten pictures, but I couldn't take my camera for fear of it getting wet.  The kids looked so adorable in their life jackets and helmets.  Jeff and I....not so much.  (although thankfully, we didn't have to wear life jackets)

The kids quickly forgot being awakened at 6AM once they were in their tubes and having fun.  They pronounced it "super fun" and "that was awesome" when we were done.

It was only noon, so we still had plenty of daylight to play.  There was a waterfall nearby that I had been dying to see, so we drove to see it.  It's the waterfall that was pictured in every opening scene from Fantasy Island for those of you old enough to remember that show.
Gorgeous!  I'm so glad it worked out that we were able to see it.  God must have had so much fun creating Hawaii.  (Not sure what happened in Nebraska and Illinois...but anyway....)

Since it was sunny (yay!) we all wanted to go to the beach.  We decided to look for one on our way back toward our villas.  First stop was this beach...

We didn't see anyone swimming there and there were a lot of 'danger' signs, so we drove around the corner and found this one.
Oh my much fun!  The waves were really high so the kids had to stay in the shallow.  One bad thing about that...see the brown all around Chloe?  It's sand.  Lots and lots of sand.  The kind that gets into every orifice and under swim suits.  And the sand here sticks like GLUE.  It's very challenging to remove it.
 SaraGrace and Molly were helping Katie ride the waves after mommy was done hogging the tube (because it was seriously fun, guys!). 
And much easier than surfing.
 Wheeeee!  A faceful of water.  Where's Katie?

Chloe, waiting to catch a wave.  She and Jeff were body surfing (because, like I said, Mommy was hogging the tube).  I can see how waiting for the next perfect wave could become addicting.  I pretty much kept trying for another 'big one' until I was so exhausted I just laid on the tube like a slug.

After awhile, I wanted to wander up the beach a bit and take some photos.  It was so incredibly beautiful.  The waves were majestic and I was soon wishing I could sit and watch them for the rest of the day.
Before we realized it, two and a half hours had passed.  The kids wanted to go back to the pool at the villa's, so off we went. 

On the way back, I wanted to stop at a nearby lighthouse that we had seen a few days ago--when it was cloudy and drizzling.  Jeff took the older kids to get some snacks and the little kids and I went to the lighthouse.

Is this not breathtaking?!
I could have just pulled up a chair and stared at it for hours, but the kids were not as impressed.

We walked down to the lighthouse grounds where there was an observation area.  I thought it was so cute when SaraGrace lifted Katie up to look into the binoculars.

The odd mix of rain and sun was evident when standing in the same spot but turning to the north or south produced this... 
To the north, clouds and rain (this is where we were staying...ha!).

 To the south, beautiful sunshine.
We had one more photo-op stop before going to the pool.  At the moment, I cannot remember the name of this famous spot so just enjoy the pretty patchwork with the rainy mountains behind it.

Making a train in the pool.
Jake says 'Aloha' to everyone he meets and flashes them the 'surfs up' sign.  He's so hip.

We were all out there enjoying the sunshine (because we weren't already sunburned enough--ugh).  Jeff and I had brought our computers to the pool to try to catch up with life on the Mainland, when we suddenly started to get wet. 
What in the world?!
The sun was shining and there weren't any noticeable rain clouds so at first I thought the wind was just blowing some spray from the waterfall.
Then I looked up and realized that it was RAINING!
It was so funny.
We moved all of our stuff under the pavilion and watched the rain come down while the sun continued to shine brightly.
Then we cracked up to watch the mass exodus of people fleeing to their rooms.
I tried to take a picture of the rain--which was coming down in sheets, but it's pretty hard to see.  You can see the wet pavement, though.

All the while the kids swam, blissfully unaware since they were splashing around.

It eventually stopped so that we could get our computers and camera back to the room safely.

After cleaning up, we went into Hanalei for dinner.  Hanalei has become our favorite place.  It's a tiny little town with a great personality.  We ate dinner at a Mexican place which had outdoor seating and this view....
If you look closely, on the right you will see a long waterfall.  So beautiful!

I'm writing this post from our covered porch, enjoying my last morning sipping coffee with a view of the mountains and listening to the birds.
We are going into Hanalei today to go surfing.  The kids are stoked.  Well...some of them, anyway.
My sunscreen wore off long before it was supposed to yesterday and now my back and shoulders are fried.  I guess that's what I get for hogging the tube.  I'm not exposing my shoulders to the sun today so if I am going to surf, I'm going to have to buy a rash guard. (awww....too bad! hee!)

Our flight leaves tonight at 10PM so we have the whole day to play and then hopefully the kids will sleep on the flights home?!

We are all very sad that this is our last day but we are so thrilled to have had the opportunity to make this trip.  It has been a dream come true--not just for Katie--but for all of us.  Who would have thought when watching her tiny body hooked up to all those wires and struggling to survive, that we would have ended up here?

Last but not least....HAPPY 14th BIRTHDAY to Jillian!!!  She is the lucky kid who gets a birthday in paradise! :)

PS:  The rain here has made every hair on my head swell to twice it's normal size.  Just thought you would want to know that. Gah! 

Whoo...Whoo...Hawaiian Luau

Sorry I didn't post last night.  We went to a Luau and didn't get home until late.  I just didn't have the energy to post.

It was pouring rain when we got up and the rain continued to come down throughout the morning.  We noticed something that cracked us up. The rain comes and goes and when the sun breaks through the clouds a little, people come rushing out of their villas and head out to the pool.  Then when the rain starts up again, there is a mass exodus with everyone scuttling back to their rooms.  It is hilarious!

About mid-afternoon, we headed to the Luau because there was a boat ride on the grounds that could be taken to  a place called the Fern Grotto.  Sounded off we went.

One of the first things we saw as we waited for the boat, was this peacock.  He was obviously used to people and was hoping for some food.  The kids scrounged up some crumbs to feed him and he ate out of their hands.

On the boat...Are we having fun kids?
After a 20 minute boat ride, we got out to walk to the Fern Grotto.  We walked through a jungle with some really beautiful flowers.
And lots of mosquitoes.

And here is the grotto.
It looked better in real life.
There are a lot of weddings performed here.
I hope the brides wear lots of bug spray.
Just sayin...
Cheesy tourist photo op by the grotto.
We then returned to the boat and rode back to the dock--scratching and feeling itchy.
The Luau entrance was right next door, which was good because we were starving!
 This pretty much speaks for itself.
 To our surprise, we saw many peacocks wandering around the grounds.
 There are some gardens there and when I saw this bridge, I knew I had to take a picture of the kids on it. 
They were thrilled.

We continued to walk around until the festivities were ready to begin.
In Kauai, there are chickens walking around randomly.
At the airport.
At the beach.
At the grocery store.
It's crazy...and rather endearing.  Except when all the roosters start crowing at 4AM.  UGH.
This rooster got chased off by the peacock.
I felt kind of sorry for him.
Then, was time for dinner.
There were lots of choices and the food was really good.
 During dinner, there was an announcement that volunteers were going to be needed to do the hula.  SaraGrace and Jordan decided they wanted to help out.  And Jake decided to glom on.  In the meantime,SaraGrace had to go to the bathroom so we got in a very long line to use the facilities.  We were almost to the front of the line when the announcement was made...."Calling all Hula dancers...."
Of course we had to abort our trip to the bathroom.
Priorities, people!

Jake tries--unsucessfully--to master the hip-action required to do the hula.
 I love this shot of the two of them after they finish.  It captures both of their personalities to a T!

After dinner was the show.
It was a nice show but all the slow hula dances got a bit repetitive and Chloe and I were just wishing they would cut to the chase and bring on the FIRE DANCERS!

Yeah!  Fire Guy!

We ended up getting back to the villas pretty late.  The kids were exhausted and so were Jeff and I.  After we got them all settled into bed, I checked my email and to my surprise, our Make A Wish rep had set up another fun activity for the next morning.
As in...we had to be there at 7:30AM and it was a 45 min. drive to the venue.
Getting to bed late and up at 6AM had potential to be disastrous but we decided that the fun would outweigh the grumpies.
And it did.  But that blog post will have to wait until tomorrow.