Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hawaii Memories

I've been to Hawaii several times in my life, and somewhere in my brain I thought that it would be a magical adventure to take my kids over there to show them the amazingness of it.

It did not disappoint.  Though, I could not wrap my head around the fact that they didn't seem appropriately fascinated with the color of the water, or the lushness of the mountains.  It's like they're kids or something.

I tried my hand at surfing one afternoon.  It didn't go suuuuuuper well... meaning, I didn't actually ever get up.  But I'd like to try again because I feel like there's something in there that I'm going to love.

Early on in the trip, McKenzie lost both sets of glasses.  This was a bit of a problem because she is quite blind without them.
"Brian, can't you do something?" I asked.  Being married to an ophthalmologist in this situation seemed like it could work in our favor... and, sure enough, he was able to order a set of contact lenses to the nearest Costco.  She popped those babies in and, look at that!  There are her eyes! 

There was one time that I found myself staring at her as she stared off into the distance.  Her eyes!  I love being able to see her eyes.  A silver lining of the ocean taking away both sets of glasses, I say.

It really was no surprise that she lost her glasses... during the week we were there, the waves were big and powerful.  Just look at the height of the water on that wave about to  rush up the sand!

Hm... actually, maybe you can't tell because there's not much perspective, but you'll have to take my word for it... that wall of water is pretty high.  Carson and McKenzie took a day or two to get over their fear of those waves, but soon, they were surfing them like pros.

And once I taught them to just lay in the sand and let the wave push them all the way up the beach, they couldn't stop.

They got beat. up.

With their pockets filled with sand.

Timothy stayed on the sand for the most part.  Which was a blessing because there was no way he could have enjoyed those waves.  They would have swallowed him whole.

One of my favorite things was playing in the sand with TK.  I'd grab a handful and transfer it over to his pudgy hands and then he'd transfer it back to mine.  "Put. in. T-T's han?" Yes, put in Timothy's hand.  "Put. in. Ma-ma's han?" Yes.

Eventually the kids got tired of the sand burns and turned their attention to exploring.

One day, Brian and Eric went zip lining (a selfless and awesome present Katie and I got them for Father's Day, ifIdosaysomyself), while Katie and I took the kids out to a nearby, amazingly beautiful beach.

It turned out to be a rather stressful endeavor, and this was the only picture I got of the whole evening.  The waves were massive and powerful and, while incredible to watch, scared me to death since I have a two year old (who believes he can conquer anything by himself (including the ocean)), a five year old (who will do almost anything, in or out of his own comfort zone, to hang with the older kids), and an eight year old and an eleven year old (that, while good swimmers, have little ocean smarts when it comes to currents and waves).

At one point, Carson jumped into the cavity of a rock that was appropriately named the Toilet Bowl because the waves coming in and out of the small space caused the water in the cavity to rise and fall and swirl.  It looked downright dangerous to me. Since Katie wanted to jump in, too, I stayed with the little ones outside.  Five minutes later, Katie emerged from the cavity holding the back of her head and looked at me with such a terror in her eyes that my mother instincts kicked in like an animal and I turned ferociously towards the toilet bowl to find my son.  Carson was thankfully just a few seconds behind her, eyes large, breathing hard, and a face that could only be described as 'failing composure'. They had gotten caught in there when a giant wave filled the cavity more than they had anticipated.  The rapid rise of the water threw both of them up in an uncontrolled swirl where Katie hit her head on a protruding rock, and Carson started clawing for his life.  Seriously.  He clawed the rocks so hard that he bent five of his fingernails back to the point that they were bleeding when he came out.  Thankfully, there were two young men sitting on the sides of the rocks who were able to reach in and grab Carson's hand to pull him to safety.  Carson tried to put on a tough guy face, but when I wrapped him in a giant, fierce hug, he fell apart to sobbing, which is so uncharacteristic of him that it shined a little light into his heart and showed me just how scared he had been.  My own tears started flowing and we walked along the beach for a couple of minutes to talk it out and get control of ourselves.  I spotted McKenzie in a dangerous place alongside a rock the size of a monster truck, laughing as the waves pulled her in and out, towards and away from the rock. In my mind's eye I could see all the currents and undercurrents that were swirling around that rock and it scared me thoroughly.  McKenzie! I yelled Kenz! The waves were so loud. Maaaaaaa - Keeeeeeen - zeeeeeeeeee!!! She looked. She saw.  I waved her in. Please don't play so close to that giant, jagged rock.  And stay where you can touch--- I know you can swim, but stay where you can tou--- KENZ! Stop arguing... this is non-negotiable.  Stay. where. you. can. touch. At about this point, I realized that I hadn't seen Miles in ...

Oh geez ... when did I see Miles last?!  Miles!

The beautiful waves completely lost their beauty at that point and just looked like Death.  I sprinted down the beach towards the crowded section 50 yards away where I had seen him last, leaving behind an emotionally fragile Carson, a feeling-rebellious and overly confident but tentatively obeying McKenzie, and Timothy, who was safely in the care of Katie, though, also two years old and playing in dangerous waters.  Miles... Miles... look for Miles... too many rocks... I can't see.  Look for the curls.  Look for the red.  Listen for his voice... For heavens sake, don't look panicked even though you are. 

And then there he was, playing in a tiny, one-kid-sized cove, happy, all by himself and completely unaware that all the rest of us had been 50 yards down the beach for the past twenty minutes.

I inhaled a breath of relief that came in a bit shaky and called for Miles. "It's time to go," I whispered in his ear as, for the second time in under ten minutes, I wrapped one of my sons in my arms and gave thanks to God for protecting him.

We went back to the same beach later - just the grownups and biggest kids - and happened to catch a fun scene where a family was lighting off fireworks on the big rock.

It was much, much more enjoyable that way.

But the best thing about Hawaii, for me, is always, always the ocean.

Not being in the ocean, necessarily, but being next to the ocean.  In fact, conditions have to be pretty perfect in order for me to enjoy being in the ocean.  Because, if you know me you know, I have this weird, rather unhealthy fear of sharks.  It's a big deal.  So if the ocean is not crystal clear, I get all sweaty and panickey when I'm in it.  "So, why are you okay when the water is clear? Do you think that, if you saw the shark coming, that you'd be able to get away?" Katie asked in an I-love-you-but-you-know-that's-kind-of-crazy tone.  Um... well, yes. Yes, maybe?  Actually, I think I just really, really, really, really hate to be surprised and would rather see the shark coming and prepare for the bite rather than just ... BITE, you know?  Maybe?  Maybe not.  Anyway.  I haven't spent much time analyzing why I feel the way I do on this subject, but the fact remains, I don't like being in murky waters because, sharks.

So, snorkeling.  Remember how the waves were pretty intense the whole week we were there?  That made for some pretty murky waters, but I was determined to go snorkeling anyway since we were in Hawaii, and I actually love snorkeling in Hawaii.  So I went.  Katie, Brigham and I went.  And I did okay.  I didn't love it, but the water was clear enough that I could see... enough.  So the next day, I wanted to take Brian - mostly because Brian went snorkeling in Miami and was blown away with the coolness of it, so I was excited to show him just how awesome snorkeling could be. I mean, Hawaii, right?!  So I went.  Eric, Brian and I went.  We got past the rocks and the surf and started swimming towards the open water in search of sea turtles, and this time the water was much murkier.  You feel so alone when you're snorkeling in murky water, you know?  You can't really see anything and you can't hear anything except for your own breathing in and out, in and out, in and out of the snorkel. My head and my chest began to tingle in the moments-before-panic way that they do, and I tried to talk myself into some sense of logic. Lindsay, stop.  There are no sharks (sharks!) right here.  Just get out a little more (sharks!) and maybe the water will clear a bit.  Think of the sea turtles and (sharks!) the colorful fish... You'll be able to see (sharks!) the bright coral and the awesome (sharks!) rock formations under the (sharks!) water, but it didn't work very well and I found myself having to stop and take my head gear all the way off to breathe every couple of minutes.  The guys came back to me the third time I stopped to see if I was okay and I tried to laugh it off because, embarrassing.  Once I assured them that I was fine, Eric started swimming away and I whispered to Brian, "Hey, will you just hold my hand?  I think I'll be okay if you hold my hand."  So we swam, side by side, hand in hand, and I listened to myself breathe - it was easy to listen to it because my throat was so constricted that every time I inhaled it sounded like a gasp, and every time I exhaled, my vocal chords vibrated into an audible hum. Gasp! Hummmmmmmmmm. Gasp! Hummmmmmmmmmm.  Gasp! Hummmmmmmmmm. Three more minutes of that and I decided that I was actually probably not okay and that I should go back.  The guys were kind and offered to escort me back to the beach but, that's lame, so I put on my big girl panties, waved goodbye and swam back to shore just as fast as my flippered legs could take me. I sat on the rocks for a couple of minutes to compose myself again and started laughing, right out loud to no one but myself, about the silliness of the whole situation.  I looked around and felt happy because I'd been wanting a chance to explore the rocks at Sharks Cove anyway (um, also, the name of the cove we were swimming in?), so I replaced my flippers with water sandals and started to climb.  Oh. My. Goodness.  The most beautiful views you ever saw.  Waves crashing into the rocks; powerful currents, swirling colors of blue ranging from deep to almost white.  It was breathtaking in the best sense of the word - unlike the snorkeling that was breathtaking in the not-so-best sense of the word.  I was happy that I had turned around.

This next picture is not a picture of my rock climbing excursion because I didn't take a camera along on that one, but this one at least shows you the colors... now just imagine beautiful, jagged rocks and the spray of waves... incredible.

We had a full week of activities, and the last night we were there happened to be the 4th of July, which was awesome because, fireworks in Hawaii?!  Katie and I went to the stores to find the best fireworks we could and, after loading up our cart with the few fireworks we could find, came home to light them.

We waited the hours before dark, promising the children that we would get to the fireworks just as soon as the sun went down.  Finally, the time came and we took all the fireworks out to the driveway where we quickly learned that every single package we bought was filled with, not fireworks, but poppers... which was rather disappointing to all of us.  Apparently fireworks are rather restricted in Hawaii.  Darn.  But Katie found a beautiful solution to the problem when she laid a towel out on the grass and gathered her girls to her sides.  "Just look up," she said.  "Those are natures fireworks."  I pulled my own towel out and joined her with my own kids and we sat and watched the beautiful stars twinkle in the sky.  A (very) occasional shooting star brought excitement, and I felt lucky to be there in that beautiful place, surrounded by people I love, watching the heavens though the palms.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Summer Birthdays

This guy turned six over the summer.  Hard for me to believe since, you know, mothers can never believe that their children are actually growing up.

We pretty much rocked his world when he found this in the driveway.

I super love McKenzie's and Carson's faces turned towards their little brother, obviously excited for him.

The bike was definitely the hit of the day, though it was strongly rivaled by these:

Ten packs of gum.  Just for him.

That night, he requested Cici's pizza, so off to the land of macaroni and cheese pizza we went.

The lot of us were exhausted, but Miles was like the energizer bunny.  Birthdays are fun like that.

We came back home and finished off the evening with a great cake,

and celebrated a bit more that weekend at the sky zone with his buddies McKenzie, Carson, Timothy and Jackson.

Less than two months later, it was Carson's turn to celebrate.

Nine years old.  Really and truly.  I also refuse to believe that.

For the past three birthdays, Carson has found himself just two weeks into a brand new city... which means that there are no friends to celebrate with.  He has been such a good sport about it, and we have taken care to make his birthdays extra special with family events and family magic, so I don't really even think he's noticed that much.

But this final move was different... still just two weeks into our brand new city, we found our pool looking like this on the day of his party:

Packed with kids. With friends.  I can't even count the number of times my heart caught in my throat as I watched them all play.  I won't dive into all of the emotions behind why this move has been incredible for us just yet, but that pool full of kids is one glimpse for you.

We ate pizza,

Played water balloon volleyball,

ate doughnuts from a string,

(or, in Kaylee's case, tried to eat the doughnut from the string)

and sang happy birthday just before we ate the cake that Carson imagined up himself.  "I just want a regular, rectangular, vanilla cake, with strawberry frosting, and frozen, chocolate whipped cream in the center."  Well, okay then.

The next day (Sunday) was his actual birthday, and he was absolutely thrilled to find that Nana and Poppy had sent these along for the occasion.

And Brian and I made all his dreams come true with this penny board (which I had to Google to even find out what it was when he told me that's what he wanted).

We love you, Carson!