Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Christmas in Hawaii

Our family had the most amazing vacation to Hawaii for Christmas 2013.  When my mom got called to serve her mission at the PCC in Hawaii we decided we just had to go visit her.  Christmas seemed like the perfect time.  How can you beat Hawaii at Christmas...especially if Grandma is there!  

We headed out on December 17th and were able to travel to Hawaii without any travel issues.  The kids did great on the flights.  Our flight left Utah at about 11:20 am and we had one layover in L.A.   We arrived in Hawaii at about 8 pm.  It took quite a while to get our rental car and then to drive to our house which was about an hour away from the airport.  With the time difference it was super late for the kids.  They all fell asleep on the drive.  We arrived at our house at about 10 pm (1 am Utah time) and were so happy to see my Mom there waiting for us.  She had stocked the house with tons of yummy food for us.  She gave each of  a traditional Hawaiian greeting with kisses to the cheeks and a Kukui nut lei for each of us.  The kids got a candy lei too.  It was wonderful to see Grandma again!  
With the time difference all of us woke up between 3-4 am.  The sun didn't rise until around 7 am.  So we spend a couple of hours getting settled into our house and eating breakfast.  At about 6 am we walked down the street to the beach.  It was still pretty dark but the sky was beginning to lighten a bit.  We all played on the beach and waited for the sunrise.  It was so beautiful!  I decided that I was going to make sure I saw the sunrise every morning I was there.  
After the sun rose, we were able to explore our beach a little better.  We found that there was a huge rope swing that was really fun.  We played on the beach for a few hours and then headed back to our house.  We all showered and got ready and were surprised to find that it was only 9 am.  It was great to still have the whole day ahead of us.
We headed to the swap meet in Honolulu and had a fun time shopping there.  I didn't bring any Christmas presents to Hawaii with us, so we had each person pick out something for each person in the family.  It was fun to see the things the kids bought for each other.  We spent several hours at the swap meet and then drove into Waikiki for lunch.  We had heard that Hula Dogs were amazing so we had them for lunch, but we were a little disappointed.  We also stopped at a bakery and got some cream puffs and Hawaiian sweet bread.  The drive back to the North Shore was pretty long and a little brutal.  Everyone was tired and cramped in the van.  The kids just couldn't seem to get along.  I'll be honest...the drive wasn't a lot of fun.  But at least we had beautiful things to look at when we weren't playing referee for the kids.

When we made it back to Laie we went to Grandma's house to see where she lives and then went to the PCC to ride on the Christmas Lagoon.
The Christmas Lagoon was really amazing.  We rode in large canoes that the PCC workers pushed around.  The top left picture above shows us sitting together on the canoe.  They had the trees decorated and had different performers stationed at various parts of the ride to sing and act out parts of the nativity story.  My favorite part was when the three wise men sang O Holy Night.  They harmonized so beautifully and I felt the spirit so strongly.  It was a beautiful way to get in the true Christmas spirit.
Day 3 started off with a brief but very intense rainstorm.  When I left the house to watch the sunrise it wasn't raining but by the time I got to the beach and snapped a couple of pictures the rain started.  I thought it would blow over quickly like the little rain storms we had seen the day before.  But this one just got more intense.  I had an umbrella but was still soaked through by the time I got back to the house.  The storm passed in about 20 minutes.  We spent the whole morning playing on the beach.  The kids boogie boarded and played on the rope swing.  Grandma was working at the PCC that morning.  We met her there for lunch and met all of her coworkers.  She gave us a behind the scenes tour of the PCC.   After leaving the PCC we went to Matsimotos to try their famous shave ice.  It was delicious!  We also stopped at Costco to get a few things and saw some beautiful sites along the drive.    The girls had a sleepover at Grandma's house that night.  
Day 4 started off with another beautiful sunrise.  We were all excited to try out snorkeling.  I had read about a place not too far from our house that was supposed to have great snorkeling.  It was called Kulima Cove right near Turtle Bay.  So we headed there first thing in the morning.  Grandma came with us but didn't want to get in the water.  It really was amazing.  I think this was the first time I remember snorkeling and it was so fun.  I was surprised by the number of beautiful tropical fish we saw.  Dallin and Shelby were really good at snorkeling.  Cody did great but got cold.  (He doesn't have an ounce of fat on his body to keep him warm.)  Darcy even tried it.  I don't think the mask fit her face very well because she had trouble with water getting in.  But she was able to do it long enough to see some pretty fish.  We even saw and swam with a giant sea turtle (there is a picture of it a little lower in the post).
After snorkeling we headed home and got ready for our first day at the PCC.  We went to several of the villages and had a lot of fun learning about them and doing the activities.  Dallin was very good at the spear throw and even got a bulls eye shot.  We learned how to weave fish out of palm leaves and enjoyed the Tonga and Samoan presentations.  We watched the movie at the Hawaiian Journey and then headed to our Luau dinner.  When we walked into the luau they presented all of us with a beautiful flower lei.  Then we had our pick of delicious food.  My favorite was the kalua pork...my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  They had dancers and musicians performing throughout the entire dinner.  It was really quite an amazing experience.  After dinner we headed to the night show.  We had great seats for the show.  I was worried that the kids would fall asleep and miss the ending.  Cody and Darcy were having a hard time staying awake.  I let Darcy sleep for about 20 minutes and then woke her up during an exciting part where some bad guys were sneaking by our seats.  One of them winked at her as he passed.  She thought that was pretty cool.  She now refers to the night show as "the bad guy show".  Everyone was awake and able to enjoy the last half where all the fire dancing takes place.  It was really a fun show and I'm glad everyone was able to see it.    
Day 5 started out with another beautiful sunrise.  Watching the sunrises each morning was one of my favorite parts of the vacation.  The warm fresh air was so refreshing and the beauty just made me happy.  We spend the morning hiking to Waimea falls.  The hike was fairly short but we took our time because of all the amazing plants and trees that were there.  To get to the falls you walk through a botanical garden.  There were some very strange trees and flowers there.
The waterfall was fun because they allow you to swim right up to it.  They had life jackets there for everyone.  The water was really cold but we all got in and swam around for a while.  James, Dallin and I swam right up to the waterfall.  James was able to climb up behind the water.  The water was pounding down on him so hard that he almost couldn't make it.  I thought it was hard enough just to swim against the current to get to the base.
After Waimea falls we got cleaned up and then headed back to the PCC to visit the rest of the villages.  At the Tahiti village they asked for volunteers to help with their show.  One of my favorite memories of the PCC from when I was a teenager was watching my Dad go up and volunteer in one of the villages.  So I decided to volunteer so my kids could have that same memory.  They had me and two men go up to help them.  The had me model the Tahiti clothing and then had me do the Tahitian hula dance.  I decided to get into it and have fun even though I probably looked pretty silly.  Then they had the men come up and do a dance also.  At the end they had the audience vote for a winner by cheering for their favorite.  I'm happy to report that they cheered loudest for me and I was crowned the winner.  It was pretty fun.  We ate dinner that night at the Island Buffet/Prime Dining and then headed home to play a game of Canasta with Grandma.
Day 6 - a beautiful Sunday morning.  We watched the sunrise and then headed to church with Grandma.  Grandma is assigned to one of the married student wards at BYU Hawaii.  There were a couple of young children in the ward but not many.  So our kids really increased the size of their primary.   Several of us took naps when we got home from Church and others played games with Grandma.

I really wanted to take some family pictures while we were in Hawaii and decided Sunday afternoon was the perfect day to do it.  So we walked down to our beach and took some pictures there.

For the whole family shots, I set up my camera on a tripod and got everything ready then had Grandma push the button for us.  She did a great job getting the kids to smile.  I'm so happy with how they turned out.
We also went to the Laie Temple and spent some time walking around the temple grounds.  There was a giant tree with hundreds of vines all growing together.  It was quite amazing to see.

  This wave picture is a little out of order, but I think it's pretty so I'll just leave it.  The waves on the North Shore were so huge.  The were 15-20 ft swells for several of the days we were there.  

I enjoyed spending time at the Temple.  The grounds are very beautiful and there is a wonderful spirit there.   I really wanted to see a sunset from the beach.  So we headed over to Sharks Cove to watch the sunset.  Grandma had a practice for a choir performance she was doing that night so she didn't come with us to Sharks Cove. 
I think this shot (above) ended up being my favorite.  I have been practicing with my kids for the past several months to help them learn how to smile naturally for the camera.  Every few weeks I would say "give me your best smile."  and then have them practice smiling on demand.  It seemed to pay off because for this shot there was no one behind the camera.  I just used my remote trigger to take the picture.

Day 7 we enjoyed another beautiful sunrise together.  We all decided that snorkeling was one of our favorite things so we spent the morning snorkeling again while Grandma worked at the PCC.  

We spent the afternoon at the Dole Plantation.  We rode on the Pineapple Express train and learned about how they grow pineapples.  Then we ate some yummy pineapple ice cream.  There was a beautiful rainbow while we were eating our treats.  I was just amazed by how many rainbows we saw while in Hawaii.  I think there was at least one every day.  

Day 8 was also Christmas Eve.  We watched the sunrise and then drove to the other end of the island to go to the swap meet again.  Their website said it would be open on Christmas eve from 8am-3pm, but when we got there it was closed.  We were disappointed about that because the kids really wanted to spend more time shopping there.  So we decided to see some other things on our list while we were down there.  We went to the Pali Lookout which had some great views of the island and ocean.
We also went to the Makapuu Lighthouse.  I was thinking we would just drive to a lookout and see it, but we found that there was a hike we could do to get close to it.   It was a pretty warm day and the hike took longer than I thought it would.  But the views were amazing and the lighthouse was really pretty.   We had our Christmas Eve dinner at the PCC that night.  Then we went home and the kids acted out the nativity for us.  It was fun to have them do all the parts themselves.  They pulled together costumes using whatever was available in the house.  They all played multiple roles and had a fun time doing it.
Day 9 - Christmas Day!  I must say that this was my favorite Christmas Day ever.  Grandma slept over at our house so she could come see the sunrise with us.  Santa filled our Santa hats with treats this year rather than stockings.   When we woke up all the kids looked in their Santa hat and ate breakfast then we headed to the beach to watch the sunrise.  We took some pictures with our Santa hats and played on the beach for a while.
Then we went back to our house to open presents.  

We decided to spend the day snorkeling at Kulima Cove.  Grandma decided to come in the water with us.  She spent quite a long time snorkeling with us and had a really fun time.  James borrowed a GoPro from one of his coworkers so we were able to get some good underwater footage of our snorkeling adventures.  

I forgot to mention that we saw a pregnant Monk Seal (upper right image) on our beach Christmas morning.  It was sunning itself on the rocks.  We thought it was stuck at first and called animal control.   They told us it was a favorite spot for the monk seals to sun themselves.   Grandma made the girls hula outfits and they looked so cute.
We drove to sunset beach to watch the sunset on Christmas Day.  It was beautiful.  From sunup to sundown we were out playing on one beach or another.  It was quite an amazing day.
Day 10 was our last day in Hawaii.  We watched the sunrise and spent some time playing on our beach.  Then we got cleaned up and packed all our things.  The bottom left image is us in front of our house.  We left the house around 11 am and headed over to the PCC to spend the afternoon there.  We saw the Hawaiian and Samoan village presentations.  We stopped at Grandma's house to print our boarding passes and drop her off.  It was hard to say goodbye to her.  All the kids were crying and so sad to leave her.  There were quite a few tears as we drove away.  Luckily we were able to distract them by talking about the fun things we did so the tears didn't last long.  We dropped off our rental car and headed to the airport for our departing flight that night.  We flew on the red-eye flight that left at 10 pm and got us to SLC at 6 am.  Everything went smoothly on the flight.  Most of the kids slept pretty well.  James and I slept some but not great.
The final sunrise of our trip was quite different from the rest!  We watched the sunrise over the mountains as we drove home in our icy car in 20 degree temperatures.

I have to say a big THANK YOU to my Mom for making our trip so amazing.  For many people the blessings they receive for having a parent serve a mission are intangible and hard to define.  We have received many of those kind of blessings while she's been serving.  But we also were able to enjoy a very real, easily defined blessing in the form of this amazing vacation.  It will be a fun memory we will have forever.  Thanks Mom for all you did to help us have an amazing time!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pictures from Fall

It has been a fun and busy fall for our family.  Cody played soccer and loved every game.  He just can't seem to get enough of it.  He plays every chance he gets.  His skills have improved so much over the season.  I am excited to see what the future holds for him as an athlete! 

 Shelby also played soccer this year.  She has taken a couple of years off from soccer since she was doing both dance and piano.  This year she decided to drop dance and pick up soccer again.  I worried that she would be behind because of her break, but she jumped right in and was a great asset to her team.  She scored several goals for her team throughout the season.  
  The picture below shows her just after scoring a goal.  Way to go Shelby!
Dallin has had a lot of soccer games this fall and they have all be so exciting to watch!  
 Most of the time we had pretty good weather, but we did get rained on during one game.  But the rain didn't seem to slow the boys down any.  They just kept on playing.  
 This was one of Dallin's goals.  He was able to score at least one goal in most of his games. 
 During his last game of the season he scored three goals in one game.  It was his first "Hat Trick" and he was super excited about it.  (I didn't know what a hat trick was before that game.  It's what they call it when a player scores three goals in one game.)  What a great way to end the fall season!  Their team won all but one game and took second place in the league.  I believe they will advance to the Select level next Spring.  
Darcy has been a happy little girl throughout all the games this fall.  She's such a fun little person and I'm so happy she's in our family.  
 Dallin has also been playing flag football.  It is really fun to watch them play.  Their team also won all but one game.  Dallin is really good at pulling flags for the defense.  
  He is also very good as a receiver.  He caught several touchdown passes.  
  But my favorite thing to watch is when he catches a kick off or punt and runs the whole length of the field for a touchdown.  (I think he's done it 5 or 6 times this season.)  He is so fast and is somehow able to weave through the entire team without getting his flags pulled.  

It's hard to believe that October is almost over.  I love the fall season and have really enjoyed our good weather lately.  I know that cold times are on the way which makes me appreciate the warm sunny fall days like these ones even more.  

I sure love my kids!  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Day of School

I woke up this morning to the sound of my kids getting themselves ready for school.  I heard them each take showers and then help each other make their lunches.  When I got out of bed at 7:30 am the were all ready to go...school doesn't start until 9 am.  I was so proud of them for being such responsible independent kids.   They were all super excited for the first day of school!  

 This year Dallin will be in 6th grade, Shelby in 4th, Cody in 1st, and Darcy in Kindergarten.  So all four of my kids will be going to Foothill Elementary.
 The bus came 10 minutes earlier this year than it did last year, so it was a good thing my kids were so early today.  I was hoping to get a picture with all the cousins together at the bus stop, but because the bus was early the Cherringtons arrived just in time to jump on the bus and the Esplins missed it alltogether.

 I'm going to miss having my kids around.  This summer was a lot of fun.

Heading off to school...hope it's a great year!

Funny Quotes

  • Darcy came up to me the other day with a permanent marker and said, "Mom, is it okay if I use this pregnant marker to draw a picture?" January 2012
  • Darcy was in a bubble bath the other day having a great time. She made a beard out of bubbles and put bubbles on her head to make herself look like Santa. When it was time to clean off the bubbles I parted the bubbles to get down to the clear water and she said, "Oh, I didn't know there was water down there!" December 2011
  • Darcy calls hangnails or snags on her nails "Pinchies". She says "Mom, can you get this pinchie off my toe?"
  • Whenever we do something fun Darcy always says, "Lets to dat adain." I love her little voice when she says it.
  • Every morning Cody comes into my room while I'm still in bed and tells me, "Mom, it's light outside. It's time to get up." To which I reply, "Okay, let me get dressed." So now when Cody is getting dressed and I call to him his response is, "I'm getting my dressed on!" I love it. No more getting dressed at our house...its now know as "getting our dressed on".
  • I like to make fruit smoothies for breakfast sometimes. Cody calls them Smoot Moolies, so that has become the name for them at our house. The other day when I was making a smoot moolie Cody asked if he could help me make it. I said he could so he jumped up on the counter and picked up a banana. He proceed to peel it and then handed me the peel and said,"Here's the armpit mom." I wasn't sure if I heard him right so I asked him what it was called. He said, "The armpit...you know the thing that the banana is in." November 2009
  • This afternoon when we were driving to the store I had a funny conversation with Cody. “Does Matt have a house?” Cody asked. “Well, Matt is here to buy a new house.” I replied. “Ooooo, that sounds fun!”Cody said. About a minute passes and then he says “How is he going to carry it?” I’m trying my hardest not to laugh. “I think he needs a big rope.” Cody said, happy that he figured out a good solution to the problem. I just love Cody…he keeps me laughing all the time. January 21, 2010
  • I was really tired one afternoon so I flopped down on the couch and said, "I'm pooped out!" Cody came over and snuggled up to me on the couch and said, "I'm having poop time too!" July 2009
  • When I told the kids that James was going to be going to California, Cody sat up straight and excitedly said, "Like Lightening McQueen! He went to California!" October 2009
  • The other day James said to Cody, "How's my buddy?" Cody got a very serious look on his face and said, "Name's Tody!" (He still can't pronounce C's very well.) The only things he will let us call him, other than his name, is big boy or funny kid.
  • When we were first potty training Cody he said he needed to go to the bathroom during sacrament meeting at church. So I took him to the bathroom and sure enough he did his business in the toilet. This was one of the first times he ever did poops in the toilet so he was really excited. When we walked back into sacrament meeting (we were sitting near the front of the chapel) he loudly proclamed "Daddy, I did giant poops in the toilet!" December 2008
  • Cody comes up with cute names for things. Mostly because he has troubles prononcing some of his letters. Some of my favorite names are "Daddy's Toke-Toke" for Coke, "Dr. Seuse" for Dr. Pepper, the "lurnal" for urinal, and "peanutbutter jam" for peanutbutter mixed with honey in a bowl.
  • Shelby had a hard time saying her G's when she was little. So we were working with her on how to say Grandma. She could make a growling sound pretty well, so we we had her growl then say grandma, so she used her best growling voice to say "GRRRR AMA"
  • The sun was shining in Cody's eyes the other day and he pointed at it and said, "Mommy, that circle is burnin' my eyes!" January 2009
  • Heres a list of funny words our kids have come up with for things: Fwaps (Cody's word for patting Darcy's back), bednight snacks, square noodles (ramen noodles), peeps, giant poops, dishwasher (Cody says this is where we wash clothes), low-low (lawn mower), regular grandma (Shelby's way of describing the difference between Great Grandma and her (regular) Grandma, oopadaisy (Shelby)
  • When we were building our house Shelby and Dallin spent a lot of time here with me working on it. One day when I was putting up the finish trim I couldn't find the hammer. I was looking all over for it and just didn't have any luck finding it. Shelby (2 yrs old) made two fists with her little hands and said, "It's okay Mommy, you can use my bammers!" November 2005
  • When Dallin was 1 yr old, he used to love making car noises. His favorite noise to make was the sound of tires screeching and then a crash. So EVERY time we would apply the brakes in the car we would hear his little voice from the back seat..."errrr kshhhh"
  • When Dallin was about 3 years old, he always liked to sit between James and I on the couch. But his way of saying it was cute. He would say "Can I sit in the tween of you?"
  • When Dallin was about 4 years old, I let him and Shelby skip naps because we needed to go somewhere. As we were driving on the road Dallin said, "Wow, look at all these people who are skipping naps too!" I guess he thought everyone had naps during the afternoon! Summer 2005