Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hawaii Vacation, Day 8

On Day 8, we checked out of the hotel and made our way back to town, stopping to say goodbye to our favorite spots along the way. 

We had the best time on our Hawaii vacation. It was like the best of both worlds because Aaron and I got to relax, rejuvenate, and do the things that we wanted to do, all the while spending time and creating memories with Hank and Max. I wish that we could have the same experience with all of our boys, but it felt really special to have such concentrated one on one time with our oldest. A piece of my heart will always be in Hawaii, but I feel so lucky to have reconnected with this place on our vacation. 

Hawaii Vacation, Day 7

We saved the best for last. On Day 7, we toured the Laie temple grounds and visitors center and then headed to the PCC. I just can't say enough good things about what a great time we had at the PCC. When we described the attraction to the boys, they were a little skeptical, and, honestly, I wasn't sure we'd get our money's worth out of the ticket price, either. But, we had such a blast! The boys laughed and loved the village demonstrations, the luau was fun, and the night show was very quality and entertaining. So glad we went. 

Hawaii Vacation, Day 6

After warming up on the small waves in town, the boys were ready to graduate to some slightly bigger waves on the north shore. We rented a couple boogie boards and let them get pummeled at sunset beach for a couple hours. 

In the afternoon, we rented jet skis in Haleiwa. While Aaron and Max charged the waves and got air off the wake, Hank got nervous anytime I sped up and begged me to slow down. I don't think the jet skis were his favorite part of the trip, but I'm proud of him for giving it a try.

Our beloved Matsumotos hadbeen completely remodeled since our last visit. The shave ice was good, but it just wasn't the same in the new, fancy shop.  

We ended the day at Waimea bay with more boogie boarding and swimming.

Hawaii Vacation, Day 5

Staying in town at the resort felt like a fun vacation, but when we relocated on Day 5 to a hotel in Laie, it felt like coming home. Along the way, we stopped at the Dole Plantation and competed (righties vs. lefties) in the pineapple maze, rode the train through the pineapple fields, and treated ourselves to a Dole Whip. 

The tour of BYUH brought mixed emotions: many of the buildings were new or remodeled and didn't look anything like I remembered, but, some things, like that indescribable 'spirit of aloha' that can be felt on campus will never change. I loved revisiting the place where Aaron and I met and sharing those memories with our kids. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but that little campus holds lots of good memories. 

We timed our drive along the north shore just right to enjoy a spectacular sunset along sunset beach. Truly, this just made my entire trip. It was stunning. We soaked up every last minute of the colorful display until it was dark.

Hawaii Vacation, Day 4

I was such a treat to be able to enjoy a physical activity together with Hank and Max without all of the accommodations that are usually required when we bring the whole family. The multiple flights of stairs were worth the climb when we ascended the top of Diamond Head and enjoyed the panoramic views. 

After our morning hike up, we hiked down into haunama bay for some snorkeling. It took Max a little while to get acclimated to the snorkel equipment, but both boys had a great time exploring the bay and checking out the sea life. 

That night, we cleaned up and ate dinner at one of Aaron's very favorite Italian restaurants. More than the food or scenery, what I remember most about this day was just thoroughly enjoying the company that I was with. 

Hawaii Vacation, Day 3

As much as I love to relax, by Day 3 I was beginning to feel antsy and ready to leave the resort and explore the island. So, we ventured out to the swap meet where we scoured the market for treasures and souvenirs. Hank knew exactly what he was looking for and bought himself a Hawaiian print suitcase, a bracelet with his name on it, a snow globe for his collection, and a tiki statue. The only thing that I found that I couldn't live without was a couple jars of coconut peanut butter. After our shopping trip, we squeezed in a rest at the beach and a spin around the lagoon on a water bike before Aaron and I attended his company gala that night. 

Hawaii Vacation Day 2

Day 2 started off with a lazy morning at the beach. Aaron and I rented a couple beach chairs and parked ourselves under an umbrella to watch the boys entertain themselves in the sand and tide for a couple hours. Hank and Max were enthralled with the small waves that broke along the shore and wore themselves out chasing the waves. That afternoon, we cleaned ourselves up and walked the short distance to the Waikiki strip where we refueled at the Cheesecake Factory. We splurged for dessert of maladadas at Leonard's Bakery. 

One thing that I don't want to forget about this trip was how sweet and affectionate the boys were towards me, especially Max. I was treated like a queen. They held my hand everywhere we went and opened doors for me and Max always took special care to find a plumeria for me to wear behind my ear. It's amazing how a little one on one time affected their personality and behavior--they were so charming and delightful!

Hawaii Vacation, Day 1

This day was long awaited and much anticipated. Max had literally written down in his notebook a minute by minute itinerary for our vacation, including each detail like passing through airport security, picking out our treats at the gift shop, and checking in at the gate. To say that the boys were excited would be an understatement. 

Our first order of business upon our arrival was hitting up one of our favorite food spots near the airport. Honestly, I scarfed it down too fast to even enjoy it much. Now that it's over, I'm wishing I would have savored it a bit longer. Next time. 

We didn't waste much time before heading to the pool--a swim for the boys and a nap under the palm trees for Aaron. 

We officially went off the clock and lost track of all time while relaxing at the pool. It was heavenly. As the sun began to set, we wondered out of the pool area to explore the beach. The sunset was spectacular--the depth of the colors as the sun touched down on the horizon was simply stunning. To share the scenery with three of my favorite people was bliss. 

Hank and Max couldn't get enough of the ocean. The rolled in it, jumped in it, dived into it and ran away from it. I loved being able to watch their first experience with a warm beach. 

The boys would have played in the water all night, but we finally pulled them out at dark to watch the hotel's firework show--a fancy way to celebrate our arrival to the island and the conclusion of a pretty amazing first day of our vacation. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Fourth of July, Part 2

After a family barbecue at Nana and Papa's house with Aaron's cousin Devon and her family, we broke out the fireworks. The pop-it's and sparklers are always a big hit, but this year's firework display included our first experience with aerials. The boys had fun selecting the order of the fireworks and taking turns lighting them, but we had a moment of excitement when one aerial knocked itself over and shot rockets straight towards us! Besides a few scorch marks in the lawn, all ended well and we learned a valuable lesson about firework safety. 

Perhaps now more than ever before, I feel acutely grateful for the freedoms that we enjoy in our country and for the many sacrifices made to secure those freedoms. With society and morals in seeming decay, I sometime question my own patriotism, but as I reflected on the great heritage of our nation, I gained a greater love for this country. God bless America!

4th of July, Part 1

We just couldn't stomach paying full price for Cowabunga Bay season passes this year, so when a sale came along, we took advantage of the offer and spent our holiday morning at the water park. As it turns out, we enjoyed it so much that when the chance to buy the passes at a discount mid-season came around, we couldn't pass it up. I love that we're finally at a place where the boys are all comfortable in the water and I feel confident in our water safety.