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
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!