A Week in Paradise: Day 4

8.31.2011
Thursday August 11, 2011:

Thursday we took a tour of the island via bus that lasted most of the day. Our bus driver’s brain and mouth were full of interesting facts and jokes about the island.

xoxo

Our first stop that morning was at Hanauma Bay. I remembered that place well. That’s where I learned to snorkel. There were so many fish there I could practically reach out and touch them! It’s a spectacular bay in so many ways.

Hanauma Bay.  Like a picture on a postcard.

Next, we stopped at the famous blow-hole in the rocks along the shore. I remembered that place too! The rocks and ocean make for an ominous but beautiful part of the island.

The Blow Hole!

Then the bus made a long climb up the mountain to Pali Lookout. That too, was just as I remembered as a child. The wind was so gusty it threatened to blow us away! But the view was awe-inspiring. The combination of greens and blues, jutting mountains and ocean, is out of this world.

Pali Lookout

We also stopped at a Buddhist temple and soaked in its dramatic green setting against a mountain. One of my favorite pit-stops was at a macadamia nut farm. We wandered around to sample all kinds of flavored nuts (more than once!) and had to buy a package to snack on. We also tried cracking raw macadamia nuts. They’re a bit more delicate than I anticipated! Then it was time for lunch at Kualoa Ranch.

Bron cracking some macadamia nuts

flowers + me = happy

Following lunch was a brief stop at Sunset Beach where the water was as calm as a bathtub, but in the winter, it’s where surfers flock to challenge the wild waves. I couldn’t resist wading into that blue-green crystal clear water! (Have I used the words "beautiful", "awesome", "incredible", etc. too much?  I'm sorry!  I just can't think of any more words to describe what we saw!)

Ahhh!  A rogue wave!

Love those palm trees

Last, but not least, was a tour through the Dole Pineapple factory. We purchased a big cone of pineapple ice cream to try. Bron doesn’t like pineapple flavored anything, but I was in love! More ice cream for me! We saw pineapple fields from afar and saw an array of pineapple plants up close and personal. Bron ate fresh papaya from a farm stand and we wandered the premises admiring all the different trees and flowers.

Pineapples and Pineapple Ice Cream

Look at the colorful plants!
This gum tree was neat.  Ripping the bark off revealed beautiful colors.

That night we attended a magic show and then meandered down the beach at Waikiki. We held hands and talked and Bron even kissed me right there on the beach in the moonlight. Romantic, right? Yeah, I’ve got an incredible husband! It was a peaceful romantic evening, a perfect end to a really great day.

A Week in Paradise: Day 3

8.30.2011
Wednesday August 10, 2011:

Wednesday morning we arose early to catch a bus to Pearl Harbor. I remember sailing the harbor often as a kid with my dad and family. We had many adventures (and un-adventures too) out there. Oh, the memories that place brought back! We sailed over the sunken ships in the harbor and my dad always made sure to tell us about that fateful day when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. My brother and I didn’t get it; we were more engrossed in the fact that there were dead bodies underneath there! Now, however, I have a different understanding and a somber respect for what happened.

Upon arrival at Pearl Harbor, Bron and I toured the museum there and relearned, in detail, the events that led up to the attack. Bron loves history. He was soaking it up like a sponge! Then, at our specified time, we got in line to watch a movie with real footage of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Finally, it was time to take the ferry out to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was too bad there were so many irreverent foreign tourists. I didn’t feel that the memorial was receiving proper respect; this was the grave of thousands of men who died for our country! It’s sobering to make that connection. Memorials like that should remain in place forever to help future generations realize the sacrifices other men and women have made for the blessings they enjoy today in this great country.

The sights of Pearl Harbor.  Us on our ferry ride.  (Bron is tired of pictures.)

I remember sailing here often! 
(Except there was no ugly bridge breaking up the landscape.)

These pictures are for you, Dad!

Aboard the USS Arizona Memorial

After touring Pearl Harbor, Bron and I had the entire afternoon open and free to do whatever our hearts delighted! First, we ate lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise. A cheeseburger and onion rings never tasted so good!

Eating a Cheeseburger in Paradise

Then we rented a pair of surf boards at the beach and decided to teach ourselves how to surf! Bron got up a good number of times. It made me so happy for him! As for me, however, my arms are apparently weak; I couldn’t get enough speed to catch a wave. So Bron, being the thoughtful husband that he is, gave me a little shove and I popped right up! Again and again! I was elated!

That evening we went shopping in Waikiki for souvenirs. Bron made sure I came home with some quality jewelry that I will use for the rest of my life; it’s a tradition he’s carrying on from our honeymoon. I picked out a beautiful pair of koa (a special kind of wood) earrings and a bracelet. I love them! We also found a Christmas ornament (another tradition we started on our honeymoon) among a few other items that we brought home with us.

Once we tired of shopping, we were hungry! We chose to eat at the Cheesecake Factory for fun. I’ve never eaten there before. It was the most delicious meal! And I just ordered an appetizer that the waitress suggested so that I would have room in my tummy for cheesecake. I don’t care if I gained an extra two pounds from that evening out. That cheesecake was to die for!

Wednesday was a busy, relaxing, and fulfilling (literally) day!

A Week in Paradise: Day 2

8.29.2011
Tuesday August 9, 2011:

We spent Tuesday at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii. This is a must-do when visiting Hawaii. I also recommend going with a tour guide. Ours was fabulous. He got us to all of the major shows all afternoon. It was stress-free and fun! The point of the Polynesian Cultural Center is to learn about the traditions of all the different islands in Polynesia. We saw a drum show and were entertained by lots of traditional dancing and singing. We watched a man make fire, open a coconut and make coconut milk, and even saw someone climb high into a coconut tree! My favorite tidbit about the Polynesian culture is that the men cooked, not the women. Cooking was considered very hard work! (And I’d agree if I had to cook so archaically too!) Bron and I even got to participate ourselves in some Polynesian traditions. We played music with sticks, “learned” how to make coconut bread and poi (mashed taro), and even hula danced! There was so much more we could’ve done but just didn’t have the time.

Climbing the coconut tree!  And some beautiful flowers I just couldn't get enough of.

The dancing float parade.

My hubby and me at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Bron learning to hula!

Man makes fire!

So after a busy afternoon, we went to another luau there at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We love food, especially food that tastes so good! By chance, I sat across from a guy who went to Hickam Elementary too. Crazy! We had a fun time reminiscing about our childhoods.

Now that's a roasted pig!  It looks gross, but is was yummy!

After dinner, Bron and I took a quick shuttle ride over to the Laie LDS Temple. It’s a stunning sight, especially at sunset. Perfectly beautiful. And maybe it’s so beautiful because the temple means so much to us.


Looking a little Hawaiian in front of the Hawaii Temple

Eye Candy

Then it was time for our show called “Ha: The Breath of Life”. It was a story about a baby who grows into a boy and into a man. He marries and has a son of his own. The show was about the eternal nature of our spirits, family, and the circle of life. Better yet, it was entertaining! Eighty percent of the folks working at the Polynesian Cultural Center are students at BYU-Hawaii. Performing at the center helps pay for their tuition and living expenses. They did a spectacular job! The show encompassed all kinds of traditional dancing and even boasted a better fire sword dancer than the night before! Awesome!!!

We went back to the hotel late that night feeling tired, full, and happy.

A Week in Paradise: Day 1

8.28.2011
HAWAII. IS. PARADISE. We had a trip of a lifetime! If only we could’ve stayed longer—if not forever. The weather was warm and always accompanied by a breeze. There were gorgeous big flowers in bloom everywhere. And the water at the beach felt warm but refreshing. The colors were what sent me into shock though; I was surrounded by intense shades of blues and greens from the sky to the sea. It’s the kind of landscape dreams are made of. Yes, this trip was a dream!

First, let me say that it was very difficult for me to leave my baby boy with his Grandma Nelson. I knew he was in good hands and that he’d have fun playing on the farm, but I don’t think I’ve ever spent a night away from Jed. I cried when I left him and I cried when I held him when we got back. There were moments on our vacation when I wished Jed was there with us, thinking of what he would probably enjoy, like his hair blowing in the wind. But there were moments on our vacation when I was really glad he wasn’t there because he would’ve been tired, bored, and fussy.

Grandma Nelson and Jed

I am grateful it was a week with just my handsome man and me. We celebrated Bron finishing his master’s degree! We had no responsibilities. We left our problems on the mainland. Our world was just the two of us in a place near to paradise.

So without further ado, our vacation: which I will split into five days so as not to overwhelm you or my computer. Tune in everyday this week to relive our adventures with us. Plus, the anticipation is more fun this way, don’t you think? (And yes, I had to buy a second overpriced SD card for all these pictures!)

Monday August 8, 2011:

We arrived in Honolulu Sunday evening. We were tired but too excited to sleep. After checking into our hotel room, we wandered the streets and shops of Waikiki and got a bite to eat.

The next morning, we were up with the sun. We were ready to take on the world at 6:00AM! Instead, we waited around for the tourist breakfast we had signed up for. Lame. (I don’t recommend it. I suggest just talking with a tour agent at your hotel and booking all of your sight-seeing adventures that way.) Anyhow, after breakfast and signing up for some tours, Bron and I hopped on the city bus called “the bus” (brilliant name!) to hike Diamond Head.

Note: I lived in Hawaii for three years as a little kid. My dad was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base and that’s where I attended kindergarten through the second grade. Some of my favorite family memories are in Hawaii. On this trip back to Hawaii as an adult, I was curious about what I would remember. I actually remembered quite a bit, like where the giant pink hospital on the hill was and which exit to take to get to my violin lessons at Punahou school, plus much more. In some ways it was like returning “home”. In others, it was an entirely new experience.

Anyhow, our hike up Diamond Head was easy and fun! I remembered the lengthy staircase and tunnels. So cool.

99 steps up and down.  Whew!  There were a few more stair cases too.

The view from the top of the volcano was breathtaking! We could see two sides of the island surrounded by blue-green crystal clear water.

View of Waikiki from the top of Diamond Head

Later in the afternoon we swam at the crystal clear beach just across from our hotel. It felt great!

That night, we rode a bus to the coast on the west side of Oahu for a dramatic luau dinner. I must mention that these native Hawaiians who entertained us sure knew how to make us feel welcome. They were a lot of fun and made sure to address all of us tourists as “cousins”. At the luau, Bron and I got our picture taken on the beach at sunset, sipped on virgin drinks, and watched our entertainers take a roasted pig from its pit under the ground. Roasted pig like that is delicious! Bron and I stuffed ourselves full of traditional Hawaiian foods that night. Then we sat back, relaxed, and watched some hula dancing! They did all kinds of dances and dressed in all sorts of outfits. I wish I could shake my hips like that! I need to learn! Last, but certainly not least, we had the pleasure of watching fire knife performers! I was afraid the stick of fire would come flying into the audience! But it never did. It was an awesome night!

Lovers in Hawaii

The luau and the roasted pig.  Yum!

Incredible hula dancing entertainment

How to Ride the Tube Slide

8.25.2011
... when you're just one year old.

Step 1:  Climb the super steep tall steps.


Step 2:   Upon reaching the precipice, carefully lift your right leg and put it in the big hole. (This may take several tries.) Then carefully slide your left leg in. Now you should be resting comfortably on your belly.



Step 3: Let go! Don’t forget to scream in wordless delight!
 


Step 4:  Place your feet on the ground and grin with proud satisfaction.



Step 5:  Do it again!



About Jed at 16 months:
(I feel like I need to update about the things he does every so often. These cute stages don’t last very long.)

• Jed is training for the Gallon Challenge! He guzzles nearly half a gallon of milk a day. And he guzzles so much at one sitting, he curdles! It comes back up out of his mouth and nose like cottage cheese. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all though.

• When Jed gets excited and laughs, he snorts! It is the cutest thing! However, I’m afraid that he will get beat up for that sort of thing in school.

• When I ask Jed, “Where are your shoes?” he goes to find them. Jed brings me one shoe at a time. Sometimes they don’t even match. It’s darling.

• Jed waves at almost anyone and anything these days.  He waves as we leave the house and he waves at the neighbor's dog.  It's adorable.  The problem is that I'm usually the only other person that sees it; Jed's timing is totally off.  He misses his opportunity and waves way after the fact!

• Jed talks all day long, from the minute his feet hit the ground in the morning until he finally nods off to sleep. He jabbers with all the inflections of the English language, but it isn’t English. Sometimes we both become frustrated because Jed knows exactly what he wants and I can’t understand. It’s good to know that this stage won’t last forever. I love hearing him jabber though.

• Jed likes to read books. He sits there and lets me hold him. I’m a lucky mom. He’s a cuddly kid, sometimes. I love it when he lays his head on my shoulder.

• Jed LOVES being outside. He loves sitting in his stroller with one foot hanging over the edge. It looks so comfortable. He also loves going on bike rides and he loves playing at the park.

• Whenever I get on the floor to do some sit-ups or push-ups, it’s an open invitation to wrestle! I don’t get much muscle toning done. Oh well. Wrestling is much more fun.

• One of Jed's favorite things to do around the house is flip head first off the couch.  It's best seen in person, but these pictures explain his stunt pretty well!


That’s my boy! You make me smile every day!  I love you so much, Jed!

The Move

8.06.2011
These last two weeks have been a crazy blur of events. I left our home in New York with Jed on July 21st.  We landed in Salt Lake and immediately set our sights on Zion's National Park for a family reunion. It was a blast! Then we hitched a ride with my mom and brothers to Meridian, ID where we spent a week playing at the parks and eating delicious food. I also had the awful task of rental shopping.

My number one priority upon arrival in Idaho was to find our little family of three a place to live. I hit the freeway at 80 mph towards Twin Falls; a two hour drive from my mother's house. Speeding along, it felt so good to be home! Idaho may look dry and desolate to folks out east, but it's beautiful to me. Idaho is wide open spaces. It's gold and green fields as far as the eye can see with tall mountains standing guard in the distance. It's irrigation ditches, pivots, and sprinklers. It's giant blue skies and puffy white clouds. It's trucks and cowboys and everything simple and everything new. Idaho is home and it feels really great to be back!

Because Bron will officially begin his dairy consulting job August 15th, we will be living where the cows are: pretty much in the middle of the state in the middle of nowhere. I explored lots of dead towns that looked like nobody would notice if they burned to the ground. I also explored Twin Falls. As soon as I crossed the bridge over the deep gorge I was hooked. This town is known as the heart of the magic valley. It's small, but it's growing and has everything a person could ever need. The town boasts a brand new hospital, a four year college, a mall, an LDS temple, and many restaurants and things to do on the weekends. I ran around town like a chicken with my head cut off.  (It was the worst day of Jed's life, I'm sure of it.  He screamed at me.)  I saw the scary, run-down parts of town with the cheap deals on rental homes. I also saw the ritzy parts of town and drove past the rentals that were well out of our price range. I finally settled on a cute two bedroom two bathroom upstairs apartment in a quiet neighborhood across from an elementary school. It just felt right, and more importantly, for the right price. The apartment has big windows that let in the sunlight. It also comes with all the amenities, including a washer, dryer, and dishwasher. As I opened the door to the dishwasher and slid a knife into its spot, I exclaimed to Bron, "Having a dishwasher is like, MAGICAL! I am sooo excited!"

So while I shopped and stressed over a place to live, Bron and his brother, Talon, embarked on their trek out west in a gutless Budget truck packed to the brim. Bron is a driving maniac. He drove every mile. I'm glad he had his brother there to help him though. That drive definitely can't be done alone and I'm grateful Amber lent her husband to us for a week. The two brothers stopped in Palmyra. They also saw beautiful horse farms in Kentucky. But the crowning moment of the trip was when two tires blew out on the truck in the middle of Kansas. They waited and waited on the side of the road for help. It grew dark. They turned on the emergency lights to the truck and used them until the battery ran dry. Then they turned on the lights to the car on the trailer and used them until the battery went dead again. Finally, help arrived hours later and they were on their way. I'm glad I wasn't there. Amazingly, Bron and Talon still made it to Twin Falls exactly when they planned.

The entire Nelson family was there to help unpack the truck last Wednesday. It's awesome to have a family chuck full of boys! Thankfully, nothing seems to be broken or ruined from the move except for Bron's throne, the recliner, but with the right help, I think it's fixable. We spent two days without hot water until the gas was turned on. Jed got a bath via boiling pots of water. Bron and I just suffered through quick cold rinses in the shower. I put the entire kitchen together during one of Jed's naps and we've spent the last two days exploring our new town. The mess seemed overwhelming at first, but I see the potential. This is going to be our new home for a while. I think it's going to feel good.

We left our apartment in shambles to spend this weekend with Bron's family in Ririe, ID. It is so amazing to think that they are just a three hours' drive away! We are far enough from family to be on our own, but close enough to enjoy time with them.

THIS MOVE IS THE BEST THING EVER! I feel it in my bones.

Next: A sweetheart's vacation to HAWAII!!! I am busting at the seems!