Happy New Year from Oregon! We finally finished all the last minute things to do on our house (it's going to be a rental now) before bidding adieu to Hawaii and making the big journey across the great Pacific to spend a few days with my sister. Tomorrow we're off to Boise for some winter fun with some of Steve's family and the baptism of Steve's sister's boy Kenny, then back to Oregon to spend time with my family until mid January. I hardly know where to start with all the adventures we've been having...I won't bore you with all the particulars, but here's a bit of advice: if you can at all help it, DON'T ever plan to move the week of Christmas!! :-)
It has been quite challenging to try and keep Christmas traditions and activities intact while we have been consumed with packing out, cleaning and preparing the house for renters, taking care of all the many, many details involved with moving across the ocean, etc etc. A HUGE thank you to all our friends who graciously watched our kids for so many hours while we were patching, painting, cleaning, sorting, and eliminating what was left after the packers came.
In the middle of all the craziness was Steve's graduation from grad school and UH. After a condensed, 18-month program he earned his MBA degree. Congrats, honey!
We have so many stories of the crazy things that happened last minute (we can laugh about them now), including finally heading to the hotel in the evening of Christmas Eve, only to discover AFTER driving an hour into Waikiki that neither one of us had our wallets. Our gas tank was on empty because we were shipping it the next day and it needed to only have a few gallons in it, so we had to bum $10 off the very kind gas station attendant to put enough gas in our van to drive back to our house (I hadn't had time to pack our luggage yet, so we just had a few overnight things) to pick up our wallets. By that time it was after 8:00, and we were all starving. We drove into MacDonald's for a quick bite to eat....but it was closed for Christmas Eve. Same with Burger King...and Wendy's. We drove back into Waikiki, repaid the gas station attendant, found a Jack-In-The-Box that was open, and by 10:30 that night we were finally settled into our hotel room! Beautiful.
The next morning, Christmas Day, we drove all the way BACK to our house, ate breakfast with Andrea and her family, and at around 10 am the kids were finally able to go see what Santa had left them in their stockings. The were VERY excited about the giant candy cane lollipops.
We had made arrangements with Santa to deliver their actual gifts a few weeks after Christmas, when we finally get settled in Virginia. The kids were surprisingly willing to wait, thankfully enough. Their gifts from mom and dad were almost all winter clothes, surprise surprise...since Eliza was Hazel's age when we moved to Hawaii, and the other 2 kids were born there, we had practically nothing warm to dress them in!
It didn't matter to Hazel that the plastic was still on the lollipop...she had a great time with it anyway.
Here are Eliza and Hazel modelling their Christmas skirts...I made Eliza's a couple of years ago, when that darling fabric from Michael Miller first came out. I had a little bit left for Hazel's skirt, which I paired with the super fun polka dots and stripes also from Michael Miller. Hazel's skirt is definitely too long (oops - I forgot to measure her and I made it while she was napping), but hey- it should be just right next year!
Here's a goofy-faced Eliza expressing her boredom with posing for mommy...
Hyrum playing peekaboo in the bushes...
...and Hazel doing one of her favorite things - playing in the rocks.
Here she is trying desperately to see what is going on over at the neighbor's house - she could hear the kids having a great time over the fence.
I also FINALLY got my haircut last week, thanks to my friend Stacy. I love it - it feels so good to have my hair off my neck, and it's just long enough to be able to pull back into a ponytail to get it off my face.
Since my tripod was already packed and gone, I pulled a mirror shot like Camille, who also showed us her new do like this (except her mirror was clean).
Here we are at the hotel, with Eliza showing us her beautiful snowflake she made with her new Connectagons set. It was very tricky (gross understatement), by the way, to keep two rambunctious kids quiet for a few hours while baby Hazel was trying to take a nap in the same room and Steve was doing all the last minute things on the house and taking care of our vehicles.
We went to dinner that night with Steve's brother Paul and his wife, Dale. The kids were so wound up, they were absolutely crazy - I'm sure that everyone in the restaurant was glad to see us leave after so many spills, running around, hiding under the table, "speaking" in outside voices, etc. (sigh) Every time we go out to eat (a few times a year), we always vow that we are not going to do that again for a very, VERY long time!
On the way up to our room on the 17th floor, the power went out and we were stuck in a pitch black elevator for a few minutes. Not the best feeling in the world, to say the least. I'm not typically a clausterphobic person, but that was not a comfortable scenario!
Fortunately the power came back on momentarily, and we were able to make it up to our room before the power went out again,this time for good! Apparently lightening had struck a few of the power centers (for lack of a better word) and they shut down the grids on the ENTIRE island all night long. The emergency lights were operating in the hallways, so we went out there to open the gifts that Paul and Dale had so generously brought for us. Thank you!
The power was out, but the weekly fireworks show (every Friday night) went on as usual! Here's a tripod-less shot of the fun, as seen from our hotel room balcony.
On Saturday, we went to the local Aquarium. My absolute favorite sea creatures are the jellyfish. They are so mesmerizing with their pulsing, transparent phosphorescent forms drifting gently through the dark water. I am just fascinated with the fact that they lack a brain and internal organs, and yet they move, eat, grow, glow, and reproduce. I could sit and watch their graceful aquatic dance for hours...but since the kids, especially Hazel, had no intention of staying put for more than a few minutes, I had to settle for a few quickly snapped photos and it was off to find Hazel the explorer.
How would you like to come face to face with this huge "beauty" in the middle of the ocean?
Isn't it incredible how human-like its face is?
This picture doesn't show it, but those fish are actually HUGE - much bigger than the little boy in the foreground. I couldn't get a good shot that accurately conveyed their real size.
I was intrigued by this little Sea Dragon - isn't it amazing? The tank was dark to show how it glows, so I wasn't able to get a good shot of it without slowing down the shutter so much that the quick little creatures were blurry. At least you can see all the amazing appendage-like fins it has. It really does look like a dragon!
I am always amazed by the incredible array of colorful fish there are in the world...
The kids were very excited to see "Dory" fish (remember Nemo's friend?)
I love polka dots, and was especially entertained by this spotted beauty. Every square inch of this guy is gloriously bedecked with spots. How fun is that?
Hazel had such a fabulous time splashing at the pool - she LOVES the water.
Here are my other 2 fishies at home in their aquatic environment...it was good to get one more pool trip in before moving on to the land of winter. Hopefully we can get Eliza involved in some sort of aquatic sport when we move to Virginia - she is already fairly proficient in all the strokes, it's so fun to see her demonstrate her skills.
....and here they are, enjoying one last hug from Santa before leaving Hawaii.
I hope you have all had a Merry Christmas, and may your New Year be full of fun times and cherished family memories! Now it's time for me to sign off and play games with my family. The cousins have had such a great time playing together, it's been a wonderful visit. Now where is all that chocolate? I've gotta get my fill before getting serious about some resolutions...I haven't written a single one down yet, so I figure I'm okay until tomorrow. Isn't that how it works? :-) Happy New Year!