Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mother-Daughter Date

This past year I made a serious point to take opportunities to take my daughter on dates. I picked up a devotional just for mother-daughter dates. It is called Secret Keeper Girl 8 Great Dates for you and Your Daughter by Dannah Gresh. We have been on three dates thus far. Each one focuses on a certain theme or topic. Each one has been great fun. I am so blessed to be able to share them with a loving daughter. Here is a sneak peak inside one of those great dates....

This dates theme was titled "The Source of Beauty". The challenge for this one was to find a quiet place to have with God. This particular one I had put off too long because I was trying to find the perfect place. I kept thinking the beach or a nature walk. I finally shared my predicament with a fellow homeschool mom. She shared with me about a local hike that her family had recently been on. I wasn't familar with it but was game for exploring it.

It was a 1.4 uphill hike in the local foothills which led up to a cross that someone had erected about four years ago. The hike was intense due to the heat of the day and did I mention it was all uphill. Just imagine being on a stair stepper for 1.4 miles and you may get the picture.
So many times Dancer just wanted to turn around and go back. It was just too much. I kept encouraging her and told her that it would pay off in the end, if she just hung on to it. The talks that we shared along the way about hardships, trials and things that she may face later on in life were used with that hike as a metaphor. It was just the perfect place to be just her and I that day.

After climbing and taking frequent breaks to refuel with our water we finally reached the top only to discover we needed to travel up another small incline. Both of us were tired. I wasn't giving up and she just was ready to throw in the towel. One last thing I shared with her helped her to trudge on. What I shared with her was from the book Pilgrim's Progress. After Christian had traveled the long path he still needed to pass through the river to make it to the Celestial City. I told her to imagine that this was her river and that the Celestial City was just on the other side. I might add that all during our hike that day we hadn't at that point seen the cross yet.....

Once she and I hiked up that last ridge we finally saw the cross. Oh what a site to see and of the valley below. The view was just gorgeous. So worth the 1.4 trek up there. I know the cross isn't beautiful but it is what it represents that is important. This place will always have a special place in my heart for the valuable life lessons that I got to share with my daughter. She will always remember to fix her eyes on the cross even through lifes challenges.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hawaii Day 6:

Today was a relaxing morning spent by the pool. After lunch we took a drive further up the coast to another local spot for some more snorkeling and boogie boarding with the kids. While we were packing up our things we met a couple that told us about a blowhole that was about seven miles further up the coast. We decided it was worth the drive up there to show the kids. Hubby and I had seen a blow hole before on our 10th anniversay when we were in Ensenada. A person in Ensenada said that there are only three in the world, Mexico, Hawaii and Australia. Come to find out now there may be two more in Hawaii somewhere.

Some of you may be wondering what a blowhole is. It is a hole in the rocky surface. When the waves come the water is forced up through the blowhole creating a geyser effect.

This one was a real treat for the kids because you could get real close to it. The one in Mexico is surrounded by a boardwalk-type bridge. Since it was later in the day the waves were at full force giving us quite the show and spray of water.

The arial views once again were breathtaking and the ocean colors weren't like anything we see here in California.

I think we may have missed this experience had we not bumped into that couple at the beach. There wasn't anything marked on the map indicating that there was a blowhole. All that we found was a small sign, too small even to be seen from off the road. We are so glad we found it and the kids were too!

Aloha for now!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hawaii Day 5:

Today we got an early start to take an all day trip on the road to Hana. We packed plenty of snacks and refreshments for our long journey and yes some motion sickness pills for Racer.

Our first stop before beginning our road to Hana trip was the surfers beach known as Hookipa beach. The waves here were the largest that we had seen so far on our travels through Maui. Living in Southern California we are used to seeing high waves and we had thought all of Hawaiian beaches had them but apparently not. Needless to say the waves and water color here were just gorgeous. So many different shades of blue as far as the eye could see.

The boys were just eager to go jump in the waves but with the long drive were we just beginning, we opted not to. I am sure the local surfer's wouldn't want two young boys in their way of hanging ten while riding a large wave too.

To make the drive on the road to Hana a little easier we had purchased a car CD called the road to Hana. Nothing on this road is labeled for the best places to stop. You won't find any billboards or signs telling you the best places to pull over and stop the car. Locals want to keep the area as natural as possible.

Speaking of pulling over and stopping the car....this can pose as a challenge as well since the road in most places is the size of a single lane highway to be shared between two cars. Having experience driving both Highway 1 and the mountains in northern California, my hubby did just fine.

Along the highway locals have set up fruit stands for people to stop, sample and purchase local organic fruits. We stopped at a few. The first one was a man that served us our first coconut. It is a coconut still in the green pod. Here he is taking a macheti to it. The kids were impressed but I think they were more impressed with the yummy mangos that they purchased. My kids love mangos so much back on the mainland that they decided to use their own money to buy a whole mango for themselves.

We stopped by several waterfall pools along the way. They looked like something out of a movie or a Fantasy Island episode when combined with the colorful flowers and follage around them, simply beautiful.

Our final destination was the seven sacred pools at the Haleakala National Park. There are more than just seven sacred pools there I might add. According to the informative CD that we listened to, they were orignially named something else but changed their name to attract tourists; they were hoping to lure people to area. It was a great day to visit the area because the tide was low and the pools were great for swimming.

After swimming it was getting late for the long trek home and our greatest fear was taking the road home in the dark especially since it is very narrow. A local suggested that we take the road that runs along the backside of Haleakala. Many experienced travelers, including our friendly CD narrator, warned us not to take it. My hubby was up for the daring challenge on traveling on a dirt road in a rental car that could potentially have wild animals stopped to block it along the way.
It was a hair raising, nail biting ride back. If we thought the road was narrow traveling on the way to Hana, this one was even more so and bumpy. It proved to quite the adventure for the whole family and luckily we and the rental car escaped just fine. We got to see some more gorgeous views and the devastation left from the volcano eruption left on this side of the mountain.

We finally arrived back at our condo just about 12 hours later from the time we first left. A long and adventuresome day in Maui.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hawaii Day 4:

Today we decided to have a leisurely morning and take the kids out later in the aftenoon to explore more beaches. We stopped at a beach in Keihe and the whole family had fun in the water taking turns with the boogy boards. The kids became pretty good boogie boarders.

After swimming for over an hour we loaded up the car and traveled further down the coast to another beach. The next beach was hidden away from some million dollar homes in the Kanahena area. The beaches here are very different as compared to the beach in Keihe. Keihe has white fine sands and Makena is filled with lava rocks and a ton of coral can be found underwater. The boys found the rocks to be fun to see who could throw the farthest.

By sunset the water still was very warm and the sunset was simply amazing. I think I must have over 100 pix in just sunsets from the many that we saw in the week of our travels there.

Once we returned to the condo we took our cooking outside in the pool area where hubby barbequed some salmon on the grill for the family. Yum Yum! We made a few friends with some local kittens in the complex that come out at night for scraps and our kids provided for them a grand feast.
Another great and perfect day in Hawaii!
Aloha until day 5!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hawaii Day 3:

We had to head out early this morning to board a boat to take us to the Molikini crater. Hubby and Racer took some motion sickness medication to avoid any accidents from happening on our 5.5 hour boat ride. It helped them not to get sick but it made them both very groggy.
Molikini was once a cone volcano that erupted thousands of years ago. After blowing it's top it left a crater that still can be seen today. It is located east off the island of Maui. It is now referred to today as an island non inhabitable. People are not permitted on the island but it is one of the world's best places to snorkel and scuba dive.

The snorkeling in Molikini was just perfect that day. God blessed us with great weather that day in fact our whole entire trip I might add. The water was crystal clear just perfect for viewing. Dancer just loved every minute of it. The boys enjoyed it too but headed back early because they felt the water was just too cold. Even after been outfitted with a wet suit they were cold; must have been the motion sickness pills taking effect.

Since the water was so clear the fish were just vivid with color.

The water was just teeming with all kinds of fish that we were so close to them. The more we searched and swam we saw how amazing the world is down below. Not only did God create every living thing on land but His hand was at work when He created the oceans as well. Each fish was beautiful. We even saw a school of fish several different times during our swim. Sorry I don't have any pictures of those or others of our swim since we didn't have an underwater camera at the time. I know, don't ask. All of us have lasting memories that will last a lifetime.

After our swim at Molikini we were taken to an area known as Turtle Town for the tourists. Off the shores of Maui there are plenty of coral caves that house green sea turtles. Green sea turtles are in abundance out there and are protected by US government. Because of this visitors are not permitted to try to hop on their back and go for a swim or to touch them. It is also not best to do so because they are known to bite as well.

By the time we reached Turtle Town the boys were not up for it so Dancer and I hit the water to go exploring. It was a huge success! We got to see five sea turtles and swim with two at two different times. The two we swam with were so close that if we reached out our arms we could touch them. Dancer and I had to keep pulling back as the waters kept pulling us closer to them.

Sea turtles look so graceful and peaceful when they swim. I can't help but think of Finding Nemo when I see them. After watching that movie it is awful tempting to want to jump on their back and go for a swim.
This was a real treat for the whole family especially for Dancer since she is our animal lover who would love to work with animals. I would recommend this trip for others. We happened to stumble on a good deal due to the time of the year. They also allowed two of our kids to travel free with a paying adult. They provided all of the snorkel gear, wet suits were not included however. A continental breakfast, unlimited soft drinks, water and juice and a yummy lunch was included as well.

Aloha until Day 4!

Hawaii Vacation Day 2

All of us woke up around and a little after 4am. We still hasn't adjusted to the time difference. We just layed around and rested. Shortly after 5am the whole family headed out to the lanai to watch the beautiful sunrise.

After breakfast we decided it would be best to go pick up our snorkel gear. Once we were fitted with gear, purchased boat tickets for Molikini and did a little shopping we went out to the best local snorkel area to give it a try.

Walking in fins was quite the experience. Quite comical at times I might add, but so worth it due to the sharp coral that is in various sections of the shallow water.

Dancer got over her fears of the waves and deided to take hold of my hand as I led her into deeper waters. The different color fish that we saw were truly amazing.

(Please note that the underwater pictures above were not taken by my camera but were edited in based on the fish we actually saw.)

The boys quickly gave up trying to walk in fins and stripped them off to jump in the waves and water. Poor Racer got quite the cut on his foot from the sharp coral and cried and cried. After cleaning his cut we ended up leaving that location since Racer just wasn't in a happy mood any longer and the pain in his foot was too much for him to bear.

Hawaiian shaved ice was near to take his mind off the pain. The whole family enjoyed a cup of shaved ice. Yummy!

Later that day back on our lanai we saw a beautiful rainbow. Since Hawaii is a tropical state and at any given time it is raining some where on the island, rainbows can be found.

Aloha until Day 3!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Where have we been? A Family Vacation to Hawaii

My Hubby and I have talked about a trip to Hawaii ever since we first got married. That was 15 years ago. Through the years of children being born, Hawaii dreams got pushed to the back burner. Two years ago we finally made it a reality; we tucked some money away and waited.

Instead of just a trip for the two of us to be gone for a week only to worry if the kids were OK, we decided to take them with us and make it a family vacation. I will share with you our adventures in Hawaii with plenty of pictures too.

Day 1:
We left LAX early in the morning. Yes, I did say early. Our goal was to leave our home no later than 5am to make it to the airport in time. LAX is a very busy airport and traffic in and out of it is terrible.

The kids were excited. Excited that we were heading to Maui but even more excited to be on a plane for the first time.

The ride was smooth and worry free. The kids did great and they took turns looking out the one window seat that we did have. The loved the fact that there was a flight attendant to offer them drinks and who would come at just a click of a button and being able to watch a movie was an added bonus.

Once we arrived in Maui. right away we noticed the change in weather. It was windy and humid. Something very different from our dry climate state. All of us couldn't wait to get our bags, our rental car and begin exploring. On the plane everyone placed guesses to see what color car we would be getting. Guess what.....I won! The car was colored maroon/red.

Next, we ate lunch at....Costco. Yes, our first meal in Maui was not a Hawaiian style meal but a cheap hot dog, drink combo. We were famished and let me tell you anything would have tasted good to us by this time. After our quick bite we searched the isles within Costco to stock up on food for our condo. Prices were about the same for most items. The biggest difference we noticed was the bread and milk costs and a few other items.

Once our car was filled with groceries we made our way to the condo. The condo was located in Kaanapali, called the Honua Kai Resort & Spa. For a family that is so used to camping in a tent and most of the hotels our kids have seen are a Holiday Inn Express or a Best Western, this was like staying in a royal palace. We later told our kids to enjoy it while it lasts that this will not begin to be a habit with our family. We would be back to tent camping and cheap hotels again next year.


Words just can not begin to describe how gorgeous everything was. It was just breathtaking. I think I needed someone at this point to help me pick my chin up off the ground so it wouldn't be constantly dragging. (Just beyond the pool in the picture below is the ocean, a beautiful beach too. It was less than a five minute walk from our room.)

Our condo was not an expensive ocean view, but a view above the valet parking. Inside it was a spacious two bedroom/two bath and it had everything we needed. The kids loved the fact that there was three HD TVs, since we only have one really old TV at home. Our two youngest shared a room and one TV, our oldest had the pull out sofa in the living room and hubby and I had the master bedroom.

After unloading our bags we headed down to the pool. The pool looked like something out of a magazine and the water was invitingly warm. The kids were excited that our resort not only had five different pools but a water slide to boot. They felt like they had just died and gone to heaven.

Aloha for now....