Friday, January 15, 2010

Mele Kalikimaka 1

Yes, we are too lucky- we got to spend Christmas in sunny, beautiful Hawaii. We spent 16 days there.

As you can imagine, we were not looking forward to the flight with a 6 month old and a 2 year old, but they did really great. They slept a lot and Nate watched his "bovies" on the dvd player and was entertained by Andrew's ipod touch. Kaitlyn was a doll and didn't even cry when the plane descended to sea level and my ears were killing me. We did travel all night though, so we were pretty exhausted when we arrived. Luckily, it was 9 pm Hawaii time so we got to go home and have a full night's sleep- almost. The kids slept so much on the plane that they got up several times in the night.

The next day was Tuesday. Andrew's parents and sister had to work, so we hit the beach. We went to Hukilau beach on the north shore, and loved swimming and basking in the sun. We built sandcastles for Nate to destroy and Andrew made a tunnel. Nate liked feeling the sand and he enjoyed the water, but if we let go of him even with one hand, he would say "Carry you!" (carry me). We even put KK in the water, but she didn't last long. We also tried out the rope swing and Nate looked like a little Tarzan. Life was great and carefree:) We then got in the car and headed to one of our favorite places to eat, Ku 'Aina in Haleiwa. The kids fell asleep, so Andrew ran in and got us our sandwiches. I got mahi mahi with ortega and Andrew got pastrami. Mine was better. We parked overlooking the harbor and ate our sandwiches. We then drove to Wal-mart for new swimming suits and some other odds and ends.
On Wednesday, Karen came with us to the swap meet in town to find some matching aloha wear- I figured we can do matching while the kids still don't have a say. We also got some other fun Hawaiian souvenirs. We decided to go on this day b/c it was supposed to be rainy, but we learned early on that the forecast in Hawaii is never correct. It was really nice and sunny. On the way home, we stopped at the Dole Plantation where they grow pineapples and rode on the pineapple express. Nate liked the train and taking pictures behind the pineapple people. He also liked feeding the fish, but his favorite part was the pineapple "happy cone" we got at the end. That evening, Andrew's best friend growing up, Perry and his wife, Amy, took us out for Mexican food at Cholos in Haleiwa. Karen and Dwight were great to babysit for us and we had some much needed adult time.
On Thursday morning, we went to Hukilau cafe for some good old Hawaiian sweet bread french toast. Other then Nathan spilling his ice cold water all over my lap, it was fun and nostalgic. By the way, the Hukilau Cafe they show in the movie "50 first dates" is not the real one because the real one is located in Laie. We then headed off to Hukilau beach again because we had such a good experience there the first day. However, we quickly learned that the beach is not always relaxing with little ones. After a few hours, both kids were hot and miserable and crying to let us know it, so we headed home. After naps, Andrew took the kids to the playground at Laie Elementary and Nate gave Andrew a tour of Andrew's old elementary school. I went to the beach to have some real relaxation time. That night we went to the Ward Christmas party in our matching aloha wear, but Nate fell asleep within 15 minutes of being there, so we were unable to see Santa. We still hadn't adjusted to the time change yet.

On Friday, the weather was not great, so Andrew and I went through some of our college boxes that we left in the shed. It was fun to go through all of our things and the memories that went along with them. It was funny to find dating journal entries and pictures and look back on how young and naive we were. In the afternoon, we went with Karen to Shark's Cove for a picnic. The weather got a lot nicer and it was a perfect day for a picnic on the sand! Shark's cove is known for it's great snorkeling and it has many tidepools for kids to look around in. Nate enjoyed seeing the fish and crabs and throwing rocks in the water with the other kids. Little KK even put her toes in the water! We then headed to Haleiwa for some Matsumoto shave ice! We told Nate it was a "big happy cone." He was kind of frustrated with it at first because it was so cold, but he got into it and really enjoyed his rainbow shave ice. That night, Andrew's sister Leilani, invited her boyfriend to come over for pizza and games.

On Saturday, Leilani, Andrew, Perry, and I went hiking in the morning to Mauna Wili Falls in Kaneohe. Andrew's parents were very gracious to watch the kids again- I think they enjoyed the time alone with them:) We hiked about a mile and a half through lucious green foliage and ended up at a magestic waterfall. We then climbed up the waterfall and found another waterfall to swim to. It was really refreshing to shower under it. It definitely seemed like we were in a movie. We then climbed back down to the top of the first waterfall and jumped in the pool below. I only jumped about 20 feet, Leilani and Perry jumped 30 feet, and Andrew, being the daredevil that he is climbed higher, and jumped 40 feet into the pool below. I am not a daredevil when it comes to jumping. After our refreshing swim, we headed back down the trail. It was a perfect hiking day- not too cold and not too hot. When we got home, we played with the kids for a bit and then took a nap. That night, Andrew and I went out for our anniversary. We got some take-out at one of our favorite local grinds- L&L's. I got terriyaki beef and he got chicken katsu. We then drove to the Turtle Bay resort, ordered a virgin pina colada at the bar to validate our parking, and found a picnic table near the hotel overlooking the waves. We were all alone, so it was quite romantic. The food was really good and inexpensive. We were debating whether to do this or go out to a nice restaurant, but I really liked our low profile date. We then took a stroll around the hotel enjoying the waves and each other's company.

On Sunday, we got up and went to church, but we weren't feeling well so we went home early. That night, we celebrated Andrew's birthday with some of his friends from growing up and some of my friends from college who are still on the island. We had a great time reminescing and enjoying each other's company.

Mele Kalikimaka 2

On Monday, Andrew and I were both really sick and couldn't get out of bed, so Aunti Lani and Grandma took care of the kids for us and took them to the playground. That evening, we all went to a local beach called Alligator's pond because there is a big rock shaped like an alligator. It is great for kids because the rock breaks the intensity of the waves and the water in front of it is calm. Nate loved throwing rocks in the tide pools and playing with the other kids.

On Tuesday, Auntie Lani and I took the kids to the beach while Andrew slept. He was not feeling better, but I was feeling well enough to go to the beach. I figured I might as well soak up some sun while I'm recovering. It was Andrew's birthday, so he had another friend visit, but he could barely talk so it was a good thing we had his big celebration earlier in the week.

On Wednesday, Andrew was feeling well enough to go somewhere so we decided to head to the other side of the island and go to Sea Life Park, Oahu's version of Sea World. Nate loved the dolphin show and later that evening told us all what he saw using his hand to demonstrate how the dolphins swam and then jumped out of the water- "dolphins, swim fast, jump, water!" It was very cute. We didn't know if he was really into it at first because his face was so serious, but he was just taking it all in. We also saw sea turtles, a seal show, and scuba divers feeding huge manta rays. That night we went to the new night show at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was much improved because it had a storyline. There was a young man that lived in different Polynesian cultures throughout his life. It showed the similar values among the cultures and emphasized the importance of family in all of them. It also showed the unique songs, dances, and traditions of each culture. I was sure that Nate and Kaitlyn would be asleep by the end, but they both loved it. Nate kept asking questions, clapping, and saying "yay!" and when Grandpa tried to put Kaitlyn on his shoulder to sleep she arched her head around so she could see the show.

Thursday was Christmas Eve, so we spent the morning baking and decorating cookies, a Miller tradition, went to the beach, went Christmas caroling (even though most of us couldn't sing due to our colds), had Clam Chowder, and read the Christmas story. We decided that we weren't well enough to travel the next day so we called the airlines. They said due to the blizzard back east, there was an east coast waiver for travelers to change their flights to up to a week later with no penalties. We decided nothing would make us better faster then staying in balmy Hawaii. Tough luck, hugh? I actually had a hard time deciding whether or not we should stay because we couldn't see my family for New Years like we were planning on. They assured us that we would see them later and felt we needed to stay in Hawaii to get well enough to travel. Knowing that we didn't have to pack made Christmas Eve a lot more relaxed, though.

Friday morning, Nate woke up to a tree full of presents and was excited to see everyone open presents that Santa brought as well as to open his own. We would have brought his big present with us if we would have know we weren't going home on Christmas day, but Nate enjoyed playing with Andrew's old leggos and watching his new movie. He also loved opening up his stocking and finding the chocolate and clementine inside. We had a nice Christmas dinner and then that night went to a showing of "Avatar." I wasn't thrilled to see it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a really good mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure.

On Saturday, we all got up, packed a picnic, and headed to bathtub beach- another kid friendly beach where the reef breaks the waves to create a bathtub effect. There was an old bunker that Leilani and Nate had a fun time playing in. We also saw this new sport where people paddle themselves around on surf boards. It looked like fun! We spent a good part of the day there and Nate played up until the very end.

On Sunday, Andrew woke me up before the sun was up and took me to Pounders beach to watch the sunrise for our anniversary. He made apple cake and cut up yummy tropical fruits for our breakfast. The sky was gorgeous and we cuddled on the sand as we listened to the pounding waves and watched the beautiful colors in the sky. We then went to church and enjoyed a quiet evening playing games and enjoying our families' company.

On Monday Andrew' family went back to work and we headed to alligator pond again to enjoy the beautiful weather. That evening we walked to the temple visitor’s center to see the Christmas tree displays. The lights of the temple were dark because they are remodeling it, so that was sad, but the visitor’s center was great. Each stake on the island was in charge of decorating a Christmas tree using the theme of a Christmas scripture.

On Tuesday, the weather was not beach worthy, so we hung out at home in the morning. Kaitlyn rolled over for the first time! Nate spent his time playing with the leggos and making a fruit loop lei with Grandma. We went back to Wal-mart to return some items and then went to Perry and Amy's for dinner and to let the kids play. They have kids similar ages, so our kids enjoyed playing with them. Nate loved the new toys and the trampoline. Us adults enjoyed playing Wii and eating pizza.

Wednesday came too fast and we spent the morning packing. We were hoping that the weather would get nice enough to go the beach, but it wasn’t so we decided to have a family photo shoot on campus in our matching aloha wear. Andrew’s dad is a professional photographer so he took our pictures, while Karen tried to make the kids smile. Afterwards, we went out for lunch and I got L&L’s one last time. That evening the weather cleared up, so we took a picnic to Sharks Cove and the tide was really low so we were able to walk among the tide pools without getting wet past our waist. Nate didn’t like it at first, but it wasn’t before too long that he was splashing in the tide pools like the rest of us. He got a kick out of the fish swimming past us and said “fast” as they dove under a rock or in the corral. Andrew, Leilani, and I climbed up the lava rock wall that separates the ocean from the cove to check out the magnificent waves crashing on the rock. Wow, what a view! It was at that moment that I realized just how much natural beauty Hawaii really has and I felt kind of small and insignificant as I gazed out at the vast sea. I kind of took a picture in my mind and then we found a spot to jump off back in the water so we could stomp through the tide pools and get back on shore. We ended up eating in the dark because we had such a great time playing in the water. It was a perfect ending to our vacation.

The next day was New Year’s Eve and Andrew’s family dropped us off at the airport. We had such a great time with them and were very glad they were so generous as to let us stay another week. Nate was excited to get back on a “big plane” but he still talks about Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Lani, the cat Misty, and the water at the beach. The kids did great during the flights home and luckily it was uneventful. When we got off the plane in Maryland, it was New Year’s Day, and when we stepped into the frigid weather, we missed the tropical 80 degree weather we had grown accustomed to over the last few weeks. Hawaii is always a great place to visit and we were so grateful we were able to go!