HELLO

Hi there.
This is me...a happy wife, mom to three awesome boys, teacher to the aforementioned boys (we homeschool), chauffeur to karate, archery and swim team practices, scrapbooker and founder of the Good Grief Blog.
Life is good.

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Friday
Jul312015

Cousins

Spent some time with some of the boys' cousins recently...which was awesome and just too short. Last Saturday, Nathan and I went down to Longmont and took some senior pictures of our oldest niece, Haylee. It went pretty well, and we got some beautiful shots. (It helps that we had such a beautiful subject to work with!) One of my favorites, though, was this one:

For some of the pictures, we made a wildflower crown for Haylee to wear (with flowers from my friend's awesome new venture...thanks again, Sue!). Due to time constraints, Zach ended up finishing up the crown and did a decent job. Isn't he cute? ;)

Okay, though, here's a preview of one of the shots of Haylee:

It'll take me a bit to finish going through all the shots, but I'm hoping she's happy with some of them. :)

The next day, Zach brought all three of his kiddos up to Fort Collins. We ate and visited and boys did this:

And I made most of them let me take this picture:

And then later in the week, the boys and I drove down to Longmont and took kids out to eat...

...and then bowling...

(We were all fairly evenly matched and equally unfashionable, lol.)

Then we went back to Zach's where this quickly ensued:

...and I left those five doing that while Haylee, Marcy and I headed out to take a few more photos. 

And, sadly, Haylee and Quinn will be headed back home to Washington tomorrow. :( So glad we were able to see them while they were here...they'll be missed!

Thursday
Jul302015

Double digits

It's official. My babies are growing up. Sniff. No more single digits here. 

Yup, my Micah turned TEN today. His party is tomorrow so today is just hanging out with us. He requested a picture with his brothers...

...then he got to open the gifts from them and is now upstairs playing. :) We took his birthday pictures also:

And now for a list of ten things about my Micah:

1. He doesn't eat the ends of hot dogs/brats.

2. He's not quite mastered impulse control yet, lol. 

3. He's got incredibly high expectations for himself.

4. He's a big Broncos fan. (Except. Really he's not a huge fan...he just likes *being* a fan, if that makes sense.)

5. He likes stuffies and Captain America and HeroClix and Minecraft and Hero Factory legos and Alton Brown's Good Eats and Mythbusters and old episodes of Psych.

6. When the pediatrician asked him what his favorite subject is yesterday, he said cooking.

7. He's talking about writing another book. This one will be a chapter book with illustrations. (So far he's written the first three chapters, I think.)

8. He's been known to growl at people and has a tendency to take things too personally. ;)

9. He's still a karate and archery kid.

10. For all that he acts like an older kid and prefers to hang out with older kids, he's still a little kid at heart (which makes me happy).

Sigh. Happy, happy birthday to my sweet littlest. :)

Monday
Jul272015

Big Island

Last island. ;) On Friday (7/17), we flew from Kauai (to Maui) to the Big Island. We picked up our rental car and drove the 40 minutes or so to our vacation rental in Volcano...just outside (east) of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. After settling in a bit, we headed back out for a snack in Volcano then into the park. We visited the Visitor Center then drove into the park a bit to walk through the Thurston Lava Tube and hike a lava crater/lake floor (which was a bit surreal and rather drizzly, so we got soaked during that 4 miles of hiking).

And then we got in the car and made our way to the only public viewing site for current lava in the park. At the Jaggar Museum overlook, we were able to both walk through the museum (which had some fabulous displays and artwork) and see the lava glow as darkness arrived...

It was more impressive in person. ;) And very difficult to photograph, particularly since we'd not brought an actual camera, lol. In any case, after that we discovered that our rental car had heated seats (woohoo! as I was still damp from our earlier hike) and made our way to the Lava Rock Cafe in Volcano for a late dinner. Then we went home to enjoy the gas fireplace! (Amazing...considering that we'd been melting in Kauai just the day before, lol.)

The next morning, we headed out toward Hilo, stopping at a couple Farmers Markets along the way for breakfast and coffee and shopping. (The Saturday Hilo Farmers Market is awesome and well worth the time, folks!) Then we continued on around the island counter-clockwise...stopping at Akaka Falls to enjoy the short hike there:

We ate lunch at a nearby town and continued our drive, marveling at the difference in scenery from one side of the island to the other...from rain forests to desert and sagebrush. By early evening, we'd made it to the west side of the island (the resort-y area) for our luau and enjoyed a beautiful evening of food, drinks and entertainment. Happy sigh. :)

On Sunday, we woke early (despite getting in late after a long drive back across the island in the dark and fog) and headed for the Volcano Community Farmers Market that a potter had told us about at the Hilo Farmers Market the day before. We had a yummy breakfast and enjoyed the sense of community there before heading back to pack our bags and check out. With a wee bit of time to spare before we needed to get to the airport, we went back into the national park. First we checked out the artist gallery next door to the Visitor Center. (It had so much gorgeous work!) Then we drove the Chain of Craters road to the end to see the Holei Sea Arch:

Along the drive, we marveled at the lava meeting the ocean and how the crust of the flow made us think of brownies, lol.

Finally, though, we headed for the airport and started the traveling process that got us home to Denver Monday morning. Whew. :) 

Friday
Jul242015

Kauai

Kauai. Loved Kauai!

We spent the bulk of our time on Kauai. Yay! Again, we got a VRBO place...this time on a secluded bay up in the NE part of the island. This is Moloa'a Bay...our studio was about a block back from the beach. We saw maybe three other groups of people on the beach during the entire time we were there, along with sea turtle tracks and plenty of fun little crabs.

Our first full day on the island, we went for a walk down by the bay and up the coastline a bit.

It was gorgeous and almost deserted. Perfect. :)

Then we went back and got ready for the day and headed south, stopping at the Kauai Coffee Plantation for taste testing and a tour and some shopping:

Did you know Kauai Coffee has 4 million coffee trees right there on Kauai?! Like the Dole pineapple tour, we learned lots of fun facts. :)

After the tour, Nathan asked our guide for a restaurant recommendation so that I could get some lumpia (we'd seen a Thai/Filipino food place on the way but they hadn't had any...and then fate gave us a Filipino tour guide), so we headed there for a late lunch. Yum!

We continued along the south coast and up the "grand canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon. Having been to the actual Grand Canyon and living in the Rocky Mountains, I must say that I wasn't as impressed as others might be, lol. But. At the north end of the canyon drive, there was a spectacular overlook where you could look out over the Pacific Ocean and the Napali Coast (where things like Jurassic Park were filmed) which was well worth the drive.
 

Then we got back in the rental car and headed south again then east up the south coast, stopping at this glass beach (which is not marked on the maps...sorry, I can't remember where it is...somewhere on the south road east of Waimea Canyon and west of Hanapepe). Wish we'd gotten there maybe 30 minutes sooner (for the sunset) but it was still gorgeous. :) The areas that didn't have glass had black sand...lovely.

Tuesday, then, we drove west along the north shore and eventually tried our hand at snorkeling on Tunnels Beach. In short order, I discovered that my great tendency toward seasickness (really any kind of motion sickness, lol) does not work with snorkeling. Like at all. ;p 

So. Nathan pulled me back to shore and I got to enjoy some time soaking up the sun on the beach. :) Meanwhile, Nathan had a fabulous time exploring the area with his new snorkeling skills and even saw a couple sea turtles and schools of fish!

After getting plenty of sun (PSA, if you're tall and white like Nathan, remember that rash guards ride up and so you should apply sunscreen to your lower back even though it doesn't show when you're just standing up, lol...also, remember to *re*apply sunscreen when your wife who doesn't sunburn tells you she's going to), we stopped in Hanalei for a late lunch and some shopping (and to return our snorkeling gear).

On our way back to our place, we got to experience traffic in Kauai. Given the nature of the roads (really just the one road), a single accident can shut down everything for hours. :) After sitting there for a bit, we decided to turn around and go back to the shopping area outside Princeville that we'd passed. We did some more shopping and eventually got back on the road. Stopped to see a lighthouse then ate dinner on the beach before heading home for the night.

Wednesday, we had a lazy morning of sleeping and breakfast and shopping and such. After lunch (a family Filipino restaurant where they forced food upon us as good Filipinos are apt to do, lol), we joined a river kayaking adventure...kayaking the Wailua River for about 2.5 miles then hiking 1.3ish miles in a rain foresty jungle to secret falls, where we stopped for a snack and to swim in the pool under the falls...and then doing it all in reverse. Our guide was terrific and we were quite happy with the outfit we signed up with, Wailua Kayak Adventures. (Bonus, they were about half as much as other places we called.) 

After all that (and after being supremely thankful that we weren't one of the other families in our group who discovered upon getting back to the marina that they'd dropped their rental car keys back at the falls), we found a place to change then headed south to Spouting Horn, catching it just as the sunset...

It sounded so eerie.

Thursday morning, we headed down to "our" bay for one last morning...with Nathan snorkeling and me beach combing and taking pictures...

...and then we spent the rest of the day exploring down near Poipu (shopping and eating and visiting the botanical gardens). We enjoyed dinner back up in Kapaa at The Eastside restaurant (highly recommend!), and then tackled packing. 

Friday morning we headed again to the airport to fly to the Big Island...

Thursday
Jul232015

Oahu

So. You probably noticed that I went missing from the blogosphere for awhile. ;) If you're friends with me on Facebook, you've been getting updates. For those who didn't...or who just want to hear more...here's the story:

At the start of the month, Nathan flew out to Hawaii to spend a week working at Hawaiian Airlines. (He's done this three previous times over the past year. He does contract work for them on their website. Tough gig, right? lol) At the end of that week, for the first time EVER, I flew out to Hawaii. Woooohoooo! Yup, for the first time since having Noah almost 15 years ago, Nathan and I managed a vacation of longer than 16 hours or so together and without kids! (HUGE thanks to Nathan's mom for flying out to stay with the boys!!)

Awesome!

So. First off, I flew to Honolulu, where Nathan met me at the airport with a beautiful lei and then took me for a walk on a beach in Waikiki before we headed back to the VRBO (vacation rental by owner) place he'd been staying at in Kailua. 

We walked down to the beach and enjoyed that before heading into town for some dinner and further adjusting to the humidity, lol.

The next day, we headed to Pearl Harbor and took a ferry to the USS Arizona Memorial...

...then toured the Bowfin submarine nearby, along with touring the various museum exhibits all around.

(There was a fun little Filipino woman employee in the control room who took my phone and made us pose for a bunch of photos, like that one in the top right. She was hilarious. ;) Also. Nathan apparently is too tall to work on a submarine, lol.)

After that, we grabbed some lunch nearby (heads up: there's a marina just north of the memorial area that's not well marked but has a fabulous restaurant) then drove north through the middle of the island. We stopped at the Dole Plantation to browse the shop, complete the maze (apparently a world record largest maze), ride the train/tour and enjoy some delicious Dole whip.

Did you know pineapple grew on little plants like that?! Yeah. I totally didn't know that. ;) We actually learned lots of fun facts during our train ride tour. :)

Then we got back in the rental car and headed even further north and found these amazing sea turtles (they call them honu in Hawaii) at a beach along the north shore. (Technically, it's called Laniakea Beach and isn't overly clearly marked that we could tell.)


And then we went back to the VRBO and walked down to the beach to try our hand at boogie boarding...which was great fun!

The next day (Sunday), we decided to drive around the island counter-clockwise on our way back to the airport. We stopped first at Byodo-In Temple:
 

and then continued on (stopping here and there for things like food and window shopping but basically just enjoying the time and the scenery) to the end of the road in the NW corner of the island:

We found that white coral all set out that way. :) 

And then we made it to the airport and flew from Oahu to Kauai...