Sunday, March 22, 2015

Goat Island

I knew I had finally embraced Hawaii and life with three kids when I started planning the adventures we did on weekends, rather than just being dragged along by Ben.  I really do love where we live now.  If you follow this blog at all, you will know that the first year was a rough one.  The combination of moving and a new baby girl all in two months just set me into a funk. I am happy to report that I am back into the full swing of life. 

The first adventure I dragged everyone to was one to Goat Island.  I have been looking for good tide pools here on Oahu.  There really isn't much when you compare it to California that has some great ones with so much color and variety.  But as I researched I came across this one at Goat Island.  You walk across to the island at low tide and come back before the waves get too big.  It is beautiful.  We did this in January and here is what it looked like.

We were the first ones out there and had the whole beach to ourselves.  It is a bird sanctuary so you can walk along the edge of the island but can not go into the middle.  

 The boys loved the caves for "playing Hawaiian". 

 The giant tide pool we found.  It didn't have much variety but there were lots of sea cucumbers and sea urchins.  And it was massive. 
 Beautiful waves.
Walking to and from the island was not that bad.  You do fight the waves a bit even at low tide but both the boys did it just fine.  Mari was pushed out on a little kayak we have.  She rides like a princess most everywhere we go:).  Anyways, when we got back from Goat Island to the regular beach we looked around and saw it was a great camp ground.  We decided we had to come back here as it looked fantastic.  And it was!!

Last weekend we went back to the camp ground.  This was our second camping trip with Mari.  The first one was last year and did not go so well.  She managed to take up the whole tent.  This one when much better. We made the mistake of letting her sleep that day so she was the last one awake but she slept very well all night once she was asleep.  It took us about an hour to get to the camp ground.  The boys are so spoiled living on this little island that they think an hour in the car is terrible.  They were pretty sure we were torturing them making them go this long.  But once there we were forgiven as they instantly made friends with the other kids camping near us and were climbing trees and running wild until bed time. 

 Nati found these at the beach.  We are glad he doesn't need glasses yet:).  Love that cheeky smile.
 You could watch kite surfers from the beach in the the warm setting sun.
 Great big washing sinks for dishes.  The whole camp ground is well maintained a quite clean.
 Climbing trees the next morning.
 Path from camp ground to the beach.
 Boys wrestling with new friends in the sand.
 The island to the right is Goat Island.  We did not walk across to it this time because no matter how warm it looks in the picture it was chilly... probably 70 degrees:).  We are all wimpy now and can't handle the ocean at those temperatures. 

 The nice shady campground.
 Wild chickens on the edge of the road..there were even some eggs.
 On the way home we drove around the North Shore.  It was so gorgeous. 
 Watching surfers.
 My handsome men.
I am so glad to feel the need for adventures again.  We are about 10 days our from leaving for New Zealand.  I am not sure who is more excited the kids or us parents. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hiking Like a Leppard

Last month we did a hike to Pali Notches.  These are rather cool. You can see them in the picture below.  They were carved into the hillside to put canons in during a Hawaiian war.  Get this, the cannons were pulled up there by people!!  What?? We hiked up from the lower right of the picture to the top of the first notch.

Ben assured me this hike was short and fine for kids to do.  But he sometimes forgets that not everyone grew up in Africa doing crazy, unsafe, and wild stuff.  I took him at his word and invited friends along.  It was short but rather intense and not super for kids.  While they got some great pictures I am pretty sure they won't be doing this hike again anytime soon:).  In fact I am confident they will politely decline future Leppard hikes.  Ben has been hiking along these ridge lines for a year now so this hike really did seem like nothing to him.

We should have seen the omen at the beginning of the hike.  We were just starting up the mountain side when a sweet batch of little chicks with their momma came down the slope.  The kids are all oohing and aahing when all the sudden the momma goes nuts.  She turns and attacks one of the babies and I am pretty sure mortally wounded it right there.  It hobbled along trying to catch up but she wanted nothing to do with it.  The kids were all rather traumatized and wanted us to take it to the vet. But we ignored their pleas and started up the hike.  The first half was super slick and many of us ended up with muddy butts from taking a tumble or two.  Nati had insisted on wearing the wrong shoes and looked like he was trying to ice skate up the hill.  You honestly spent most of your time hauling yourself up the hill by holding on to vines and roots.  After the slick first part came the rocky drop of death.  It was a pretty significant drop off on either side and the path was covered with loose rocks.  Again for the Leppard group this is par for the course but after we got to the top we soon found just our family sitting there while everyone else quickly hiked back to the middle level where their was room to walk without looking down a drop off of death.

There were more than a few with a fear of heights.  While I am not likely to sky dive anytime soon I don't really get too bothered by heights.

Our brave friends, one even had a broken arm.  At least everyone is smiling for the picture.

Ben and Yared kept going to the second notch and Ben caught this shot of us sitting on the top waiting for him to come back.  We are the little dots of the right. 
We made it back to the car park and went our separate ways.  I made the mistake of mentioning to Ben that the baby Albatross's were hatching.  So on the way home he convinces me we should do another hike that afternoon.  We load the kids back up and drive to the North Shore.  This hike is really easy and incredibly beautiful but not something to do after you have made the kids do an intense short hike already.  We walked 2.6 miles out to the the reserve where the Albatross are.  The walk was amazing as whales were frolicking the whole way along.  We had our binoculars with us and got some great views of them playing and breaching.  The kids did really well on the way out.  Mari walked some of the way but spent most of the time in the Bob Stroller.  (that is how easy the hike is..the stroller made it).  But on the way back there was a lot of motivational talking to keep Nati's little feet going.  He declared it ridiculous to do two hikes in one day.  I think he might be right:).  I wish we had done this hike on another day.  I would have spent a good two hours out at the reserve looking for baby seals that I had heard were there too.  

Here is little miss full of energy and jumping before the stroller ride. 
Whale watching.
Albatross couple with their egg.
Little fuzzy baby... at least we were successful in our mission.
 Some nests were right off of the path

In the reserve

The kids did really well overall and I think they even had fun for the most part.  There really is so much to see and do here in Hawaii.  I am glad Ben pushes our comfort zone as we will not have any regrets when we leave.  We will have seen and done everything.  Two more years of adventures here in the tropics.  Only two weeks until our adventure on another island... New Zealand. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Six Years Later

Six Years ago Ben and I became parents for the first time.  I woke up that morning recovering from major surgery.  I remember gently making my way across the room to the computer to see if there was any news and found a one line email that read. (I still have this email)

"Your boys were approved today."

These were the anticlimactic words that let me know that after years of longing I was finally a Mom.  But the words did not matter.  What mattered was there were now two little boys waiting for us in Ethiopia that were legally our sons.   It is amazing to me that this was six years ago.  Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes I can't remember what life was like before I was a parent.  But either way, I love being a Mom more than anything.  It has been an amazing six years.  I say it all the time and I mean it, I would not change the way we became a family at all.  I know that adoption has its challenges for all involved.  I also know that interracial adoptions add an extra complication.  But I know from the bottom of my heart and soul that these three children in our home and hearts were meant to be ours and we were meant to be theirs.  I know God brought us together.

Every year on February 25th we celebrate God's story of making us a family.  This year we took the kids to Farrell's. When I was five and visited America for the very first time we went straight to a Farrell's.  This place holds a special place in my heart as it was like a 5 year old's idea of heaven.

As expected, all three of our kids loved it too.  I have to give Farrell's staff credit as they celebrated us becoming a family and made it seem normal and every day like the five other Birthdays that happened while we were there.

Please celebrate with us as we have now been a family for six years!!!

As I tucked the boys in tonight I told them again the story of how we became a family. I have made it into a bit of children's story that they can say it along with me. I lay with each boy and hugged them tight and sang to them about how much I loved them.  As I left the room Nati says, "Mommy this was the best family night ever."  He is right each one is better than the last. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Good Friends

When I married Ben, one of the things I inherited were a group of great Navy (and civilian) friends he had made in Italy.  I didn't realize what a gift this was until we got to Norfolk VA and I was able to live near a bunch of them as well.  We all just happened to be stationed in the same area together for about 2 years.  It was so fun to be around them at that time of our life as this is where we became parents.  They were our family away from family and helped us SO much as we made it through our first years of parenthood.

Here is a group shot of a bunch of the Italian crew.

The Carpenters were one of these families.  They have two girls about the same age as our boys. Back in Norfolk days none of the kids were in school and we did a ton of playdates, weekend get-to-gethers and kid swapping for date nights.  I dug out these pictures to show you how little the kids were the last time they all hung out together.

It was such a treat that they came all the way out to Hawaii to visit us.  They are on their way to Italy again (lucky dogs) but made it a priority to come visit so the kids to get reconnected.  It has been 3 1/2 years since they saw each other.   But they hit it off famously.  Now I do believe we need to return the favor and go visit them in Italy…don't you agree?????

They were adventurous enough to try Ethiopian food with us at our new favorite restaurant.  There was some serious jet lag in this picture.
 The kids did exactly what we had all hoped..they played and read and laughed.
I love this shot as it shows a mass boogie boarding catch with Ben Go Pro-ing the event.

 These two have always shared a laugh or two or three.
 At Bellows Beach
I must confess I left my camera at home a lot this trip as I wanted to just enjoy our friends so I didn't capture all shaved ice, snoring, beaching, pool time that we did.  

 On Memorial day we went on a family bike ride around Ford Island to visit the historic sites(I think we might have too many bikes as we had enough extras that we only had to borrow one more and all 8 of us could ride).  Here at the Utah.

 I LOVE these trees.
 Water and chalk in the front yard.

 They tattooed themselves with chalk.
 He wasn't mad just posing so I could see all the chalk on him.
 Just because she is TOO cute.
 Their last night here and they caught a rainbow!!
 I love these last two shots.  The way to Mari's heart is through her stomach, you can see Mark and Deanna trying to win her over:).

 One thing we forgot was a group shot of all of us.  Hmmm I guess we will just HAVE to go to Italy after all!!!