Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hawaii 2013

After a summer filled with fun, sunshine and busy days, we have settled back into the routine of school and slower days.  I know for many, the school year is a busier time, but for us, it's our down time!
Our summer started with an amazing adventure.

We left for Hawaii on Alexander's last day of Kindergarten.
Doesn't everyone celebrate the end of a school year with a first class ride to Hawaii.?

It was late when we arrived so we dumped a little dude 0n a sleeper sofa, unpacked what we could, and grabbed a few hours of sleep because an exciting adventure awaited us when we awoke.

Speaking of, we woke to this view every morning.
Diamondhead and ocean, along with perfect temperatures.

 Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona
We quickly got ourselves together and headed out the door to meet our tour bus which was taking us out to Pearl Harbor!  In the past year, Alexander's interest in World War II has overcome all things, except for Legos.  His love of battleships now outweighs his love of trains so it was only natural that a visit to Pearl Harbor would be our first adventure.
This was the reason we came to Hawaii and none of us were more excited than this little guy.
I used Instagram to capture our days so I'm including those along with other photos we took.
It's easier that way.
Eric and I loved following him and watching the wheels turn as he learned all about this monumental location.
He asked question after question and was so respectful while we were on the USS Arizona memorial.
They only allow you to remain on the memorial site for about 20 minutes or so, but it was worth every minute.  Such an amazing experience to stand there with veterans, families, and one happy little boy.
We explored a bit more of Pearl Harbor before our tour bus picked us up, drove us around Honolulu, and dropped us back off at the hotel.  Naturally, we headed to the pool to cool off!

Each morning, we had a family meeting to decide what the day's adventure would include, but in reality, Daddy had a plan and we were all happy to follow.

 Hanauma Bay
This bay has been reported to have amazing snorkeling and we wanted to introduce Aleaxander and Umma to snorkeling.  Eric and I had snorkeled years ago in the Caribbean and loved it.

Little did we know, you have to arrive in the early morning hours or you won't find parking.  When we arrived, the parking lot was full.  Apparently, everyone got the early morning memo but us!  Thankfully, Hawaii has many beaches so we continued down the road to the next available beach.  I mean, you can't be in Hawaii and not play on a beach, right?
Despite strong waves that kept us on shore, we played on the beach and enjoyed the warm weather.  

After an hour or so, we decided to head back to the hotel and explore downtown Honolulu.
However, on our way back, the parking lot at Hanauma Bay was open!
We pulled right in and set ourselves up for snorkeling.

View from the parking lot.  You can't really tell from the photo, but the beach to the right of the bay is covered with people!  It was crazy busy.
Alexander can't wait to get to the beach.
Time to snorkel!

Unfortunately, snorkeling wasn't quite what we had hoped for.  Our little guy didn't like snorkeling at all.  The water was really murky with high tide.  And did I mention all the people?
The good news is Umma snorkeled for the first time and crossed the event off her bucket list.

Later that night, we ate dinner in downtown Honolulu and enjoyed the firework show from the pier.

We were back on the road the following morning.  Remember when I said that in the world of Alexander, battleships outweighed trains?  Well, it was time to make his dream of walking on a battleship come true.

 The USS Missouri
She is anchored out at Pearl Harbor, along with the USS Bowfin, a submarine used in WWII. 
We toured both. 
The kid lost his mind.
Naturally, we wore the tourist-y audio controllers and took the full tour of both ships.
Alexander is standing on the deck of the Bowfin, with Missouri in the background
It took hours to completely walk through both ships and the submarine museum.
There were moments when Alexander was excited, exhausted, overwhelmed, talked up a storm, was quiet and reflective, but I have to say, I think he loved every minute of it.
Now he says whenever we watch the movie Battleship, it is going to be even more awesome!

 North Shore and Dole Plantation
As I said earlier, the rest of us didn't really care where we went each day, but Daddy was on a mission!
We packed up the rental car and headed to the North Beach.
Sure was rainy out there!

First stop was the Dole Plantation for a train ride, wandered a maze, and pineapple whip.
He liked the chickens in the maze.
The weather was pretty rainy and I could tell Eric was itching for our next stop.
 But I had no idea WHY.
Before long, we pulled off the road and saw three shrimp trucks.  Eric says you're not a foodie if you don't know about this place.
Giovanni's Shrimp Shack on the North Shore.
The story goes something like this: a rig pulled in years ago to feed the surfers fresh shrimp scampi and it never left. 
People have been signing the truck for years. Eric and Umma left their mark.  Umma said it was a bucket item list she didn't even know she had!
Eric ordered shrimp scampi for all of us and his was the hot and spicy.  Wow, was it hot and spicy. 
Despite the weather, the day was filled with adventure. 

Beach and Sunshine
Mama had had enough of driving around and was ready for sunshine.
Can you blame me?
Our hotel was about three blocks from the beach so we packed up for the day and headed out.
Dig in sand.  Swim.  Feed fish.  Dig in sand.  Swim.  Feed Fish.
That's literally what we did all day.
Can you blame us?

Family and Hiking Diamondhead
We met up with our family from Alaska.  They typically spend a couple of weeks in Hawaii every year and we were lucky the days overlapped.  I spent a summer with Terri and her husband Per when I was in college and they are wonderful people.  
We traveled to their end of the island (located by the harbor) and met up with them so Umma could go paragliding with their group!  Sadly, I don't have any pictures but she says it was epic and loved crossing this event off her bucket list.
While she was paragliding, we hiked Diamondhead!
And what a hike it was!
It was a super hot day but the view at the top was SO worth it.
Shaved ice to cool us down at the end!
After the hike, we met up with the family.
Alexander and Per built a sandcastle.
I loved watching the guys work together and Per grin at our bossy, busy boy.
After all that digging, we were ready to be poolside so we wandered back to the hotel and found the pool.
And bar!
And the fun kept on going!  
We needed to head back to our hotel and clean up so we could join everyone for dinner at Duke's.  
This is Terri and Per's daughter, Zoe.
"the best pool buddy ever"
Later on, Alexander and Terri were inseparable at dinner.
We couldn't have asked for a better day with family in the sunshine!

  What began as a leisurely walk along the boardwalk, soon became a brisk walk to where the boat awaited.   On our last night, Eric surprised us with a ride on a catamaran boat ride!.  We had talked about it all week, but neither Mom or myself thought it would really happen.
Alexander loved everything about the boat ride!
The boat took us on a ride out beyond Diamondhead.  Turtles swam around us and waves crashed up on us.  After a few hours (and several cocktails), we finished up with dinner at Duke's.
There was no better way to celebrate our last night in paradise.

On our final day, we enjoyed one last walk on the boardwalk.
One last cocktail.
And headed home.

Hawaii  was an adventure of a lifetime and not one we will soon forget.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

And just like that.....Alexander is a FIRST grader!

Kindergarten is done!
Seems like only yesterday that Mommy was forcing you and Daddy to take pictures on the first day of school.
We were less concerned about your academics as we were about the social side of school.  You knew your letters and numbers.  You were starting to write your letters and you were a proven rule follower and enjoyed school.

On the other hand, you had one best friend (if you don't count your grandparents), and you were inseperable for two years of preschool.  The two of you were about to be split up and we were worried how you would respond without your Addie.
First Day of Kindergarten
Within the first few months of school, our concerns about your social life were put to rest.  We started to hear stories about your "crew".  Logan.  Noah.  Emma.  Ainsley.  Sophia.  Who were these strangers?  Did they even exist?  By November, Daddy was helping in your classroom and assured me that these youngsters did exist.  In fact, he confirmed how well liked you were by other in the classroom.  It was amazing to think how your world was expanding outside of our home, without us by your side.
In the meantime, your writing was improving, your math skills were taking off, and you were starting to read.  Yes, these are things most kids learn to do, but your parents couldn't help but be proud of your accomplishments. Every night at dinner, we ask two questions.  This was your idea, by the way. 
"How was your day today?"
"What is one thing you learned today?"
Daddy and I often found ourselves caught up in your stories and didn't mind when we didn't have our turn.  We learned that you love PE the most and music the least.  For the first six months of the year, you dug in the sandfield every day with the crew at first recess, making volcanos.  You earned coupons for good choices.  We learned which students talk the most, which students you stayed away from because they made bad choices, and how much you loved your teacher.  You started to be invited to birthday parties and announced, "next year, I'm inviting everyone...except those who make bad choices."  You do not like to get in trouble and yet, you have surrounded yourself with the most high-energy kids in your class.  I can't wait to see how this part of your personality unfolds.
By January, we discovered that you have a natural leadership in you.  A new student enrolled and your teacher sat your kindhearted self next to him to help him out.  A friendship was quickly formed and Tegan was included into the crew.  It came as no surprise when you announced that you told your teacher that you wanted to move next to Logan because, "he misses minutes at recess and he needs my help to stay on task."  Tegan's mom has mentioned how grateful she was that her son was placed next to you, because you were so helpful and kind to him. 
You have always been independent and kindergarten couldn't break that out of you. To prove this point, Daddy told me a story about a morning when your teacher suggested you go to the back of the school to play with all the other children as you waited.  You kindly responded, "no thank you.  I'm fine right here." and didn't budge.  She looked at your daddy and grinned, "That's what I like about your son. He knows what he wants and is very sure of himself. It's not so great when other kids try following his example."  You follow the rules, but cannot be swayed to follow along with the crowd. 
Today, Mommy forced everyone to take pictures on the last day of school.  For the first time in a long time, she had a blog post forming in her head and pictures were necessary!
We are so proud of you, little man.
We have a first grader.
He's growing up.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Wand Chooses the Wizard

Back in March, we started the Harry Potter books.  It was his idea and I was happy to oblige. 
 I'd been waiting a long time for this day.
Tonight, we finished the last 18 pages of the book so we could start the Harry Potter movies.
It was well worth the wait.