Monday, July 27, 2009

Flying high!

Saturday I flew with Max-man and Robin. What an experience! Their my hero's!Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap Lego buildings in a single bound, bringing smiles to even the hardest Marine at the movie theater! Its a bird, it's a plane, no it's Max-man and Robin!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Steps to a fabulous Hawaiian Vacation- Monkey style

1) Give your aunt a call who does travel agency stuff on the side. She'll find you a much better deal! Thank you Aunt Carla!
2) Wield your military ID like a weapon to get a better deal.
3) Make sure you know where all the USO's are located on your way. You will need them when you have a 6 hour layover in Califonia or take the red eye home! Thank you Bob Hope USO!!
4) Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen and sun glasses. And don't forget some snorkel gear! Of course if you forget these, you can always go to one of the 10,000 ABC stores in the area and pick some up.
5) Send your best friends to Hawaii to live. This is very helpful. They know all the good spots, like Sharks Cove and Turtle Bay. Plus they let you borrow their beach umbrellas and boogie boards which you most certainly didn't bring with you consider today's airlines nickle and diming you to death! Of course if you pull out that little weapon called your military ID again, Delta or American will wave your baggage fees and they will announce over the planes intercom that your husband is going on a family vacation after serving in Iraq and everyone will clap for you.

6) Just because everyone says to do it- don't. The road to Hana is not a must unless you enjoy puking! I can now say that I have been on the windiest road in the world, but you can't hang that on your wall! We never did make it to Hana. After stopping to reorient the gyro in our brains at the Garden of Eden, we made it to a little shopping area and then to a beautiful park. The Grandma and her GranddaughtersThat was enough fun for us- since we still had to make the 4 hour trip back. Never did see those sacred pools, but that is OK with me- since they really aren't sacred anyway!
7) If you can do a couple islands, do! I have now seen Oahu twice, Maui and Kauai.
8) Enjoy the beach and some body boarding. Lahaina was beautiful and the waves rocked. It took us a long time to find a place to park, though. Once we got onto Oahu, that little ID helped us get onto the best beach ever at Bellows!
9) If you go around the 4th of July, go see the fireworks on Pearl Harbor. If you are really smart, you will find the VIP boat and sit across from it. Of course, you need to be smarter than us. We sat on the grass, with a bunch of other people. And just like them, we got sprayed right in the face when the sprinkler system came on halfway through the fireworks!
10) You have got to have Hawaiian ice- good stuff! Of course North Shore is the place famous for it, but it's pretty much the same everywhere.
11) Do, Do, Do go to the Polynesian Cultural Center! We waited for the fire guys all day long and finally got to see them at the show at night. The boys loved it so much that Joe said he was going to bring his children here and ask them if they wanted to stay forever. Cap was our favorite. He was from the Samoan village and he taught you how to open a coconut and make fire. He told us what fire was in a bunch of different languages while he was doing this- including Japanese- "he" He says- I don't know what she is, but 'He' is hot!
Loved the spear throwing, learning to dance video
and swinging the poe balls. video
12) Take a hike to a secluded waterfall and pool and jump off the rocks into the water. You will need your a fore mentioned Hawaiian expert friends to be able to find this, though! Also swing on the vines video while you are on your walk.
13) get a tattoo- at the Polynesian cultural center (or PCC as the locals call it)- it's so authentic and so washable!
14) Get leid! Very important step! Of course you will need those special friends again to meet you at the airport and welcome you to the island the proper way!
15) Stop by the bamboo forest on the side of the road and help yourself to some fallen bamboo- look natural, like you aren't doing a thing when you see anyone coming!
16) Climb a coconut tree just like the professionals- good luck!
17) Prepare to spend lots of money at the Dole Pineapple factory and get lost in their maze. We finished with all our stencils in place, just under the record time of 6 minutes. Ours was somewhere around 1 hour and 8 minutes.
18) Stay at a nice hotel. When you switch hotels and find the next one is really, really not nice- don't ruin your vacation! Pack up and go back to the nice one and beg for a few more nights!
19) Bring your GPS- it will take you to the swap meet (and everywhere else!) where you can find quality junk for low prices!
20) Love your family! The Brothers
Enjoy the time you have with them. Take kids who love to fly and don't whine (they were so, so good!)
Be adventurous! Grandpa is the only person I know who snorkels fully dressed
Be Happy!
Relax! Repeat!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shock and Awe!!!

I am just not up to doing the Hawaii trip, yet, so instead I wanted to write about our latest experience. We were asked several months ago by our bishop to be Ma's and Pa's for the upcoming youth conference which was to be a mock Pioneer trek this year. They do this every 4 years to help the youth appreciate their pioneer ancestors as well as their parents today and to find strength they didn't know they had. We were a little reluctant at first. 1) I was worried about our children for the three days we would need to be gone and 2) neither of us had worked with the youth in this area and didn't know much about them. The bishop said he was planning to help us find places for the children and that it didn't matter if we didn't know the kids as we would have a mixture of youth from all over the stake. The planning meetings were time consuming and not very convenient, the actually trek was just 6 days after we got back from Hawaii and I had to sew my pioneer costume to go. We also ended up buying about $200 worth of stuff to go on the trek. It was a late night trying to get ready, a very early morning where we got lost and didn't get there until an 1 1/2 late (turns out everyone else had just been standing around doing nothing the whole time anyway), and it was the hottest day of the year so far. I did not start out with a very positive attitude, but in the end it was the best experience ever. We truly enjoyed ourselves and loved working with the youth.
The group we had looked a little on the less muscular side, but in the end their heart, their spirituality, their strength of spirit and a few hidden muscles made our group the best one out there by far. Rob took us and the kids up the hill to the shade as we waited and got to know each other. We went down the hill to build the handcart and brought it up the hill empty. The kids decided right then and there that we must be the smartest parents of the whole group. The most muscular of the group said in his testimony at the end of the trek that he looked at our group and thought he felt sorry for them, until his name was called last and then he wanted to cry. At this point he had decided that he would just get a few more muscles then he planned on this trip and tried to have a more positive attitude. He ended up being the person we chose to be our Big Brother. He also said that he was wrong and that we were definitely the best group out there.
We had 5 girls and 4 boys. 2 of the boys weren't so much on the helping side, so our girls shouldered a big load and they did a great job!
The first day was the longest and hottest. The path was mostly through shaded areas, but also mostly hilly. Because we were already at the start of the hill, we got to be the first cart in the line. This was nice, because carts got confused, broken, took their own breaks, etc along the way. Our group moved out, trying in vain to stay up with the trail boss. We did about 1/4 of that long day out of site of anyone. We also did a lot of waiting to get the other carts caught up to us.
The first day was also the Women's pull. This is suppose to show the girls the kind of power they have, prove to the boys that the girls were pulling and show the girls how much work the boys were doing. The last time they did this, they had about 14 kids(boys and girls) to a cart. This time there was 8-9(therefore, less girls per cart this year.) It was impossible for the girls to get the carts up the very steep, rocky, rutted hill they wanted them to without helping each other. Luckily, the girls figured this out all on their own, before anyone even tried or someone would have been injured for sure. They all hopped onto 4 wagons and pulled those up first. Closer to the top we saw at least 1/2 the boys picking blackberries and staring at the girls. They got a sever talking to by one of the pa's (we heard later on.) The boys were not allowed to talk to the girls, but they were allowed to help any way they could think of without actually touching the carts or girls. Some fanned them, one continued to pick blackberries for them to eat afterwards, a few, includind a couple of ours, started filling in a couple of the bigger ruts and picking out some of the bigger rocks. Most of the girls helped 2 or 3 wagons up the hill. Our group of girls helped with 5-6. They just kept running back down. One even got sick and we had to keep yelling at her afterwards to stop her from helping with ours. Five kids went to the hospital after that first day with heat exhaustion. None of them were from our group, thankfully.

We ended up 2 1/2 hours behind schedule that day. We didn't get into camp until 9:30 at night and had to set up, build a fire and make stew and biscuits on an open fire from scratch. This picture is actually from the second night making dinner- I couldn't take pictures in the pitch black that night!
The families were given nothing to eat on the way that day so everyone was hungry, but almost too tired to eat. Our family kept a positive, all be it exhausted attitude. They did what they had to, ate quickly and got ready for bed. Even still, we had 3 girls who huddled around the fire or the one candle we brought to try and read their scriptures. We slept under the stars that night with cows mooing right next to us.
The second day, the leaders realized that it had been too hard on the kids the first day, so they tried to shorten the trek by a couple miles. Unfortunately, after about 1/3 of the wagons got down a very steep hill they stopped us and told us the way was impassible and we would have to go back up the hill and continue the original way. I was not at all happy!! But those kids of ours, just said, "oh well" turned the cart around and muscled up the hill. The other carts sent some of their bigger kids down to help those who had to come back up, but our kids told them that they were fine and to go help the other carts. They truely were an inspiring group!
Before we got to camp that day it started to pour on us. Everyone pulled out the tarps and set up shelter as soon as we got into camp. It rained a couple more times that night. The trail boss told us where to stay each night- the first night we were right in the middle which meant we were bombared with smoke from all sides. Even if it hadn't have been pitch black, I wouldn't have been able to see with all the smoke in my eyes! So, the next day, we broke away from where he put us and went down the hill, right next to the stream, between two trees to set up our shelter. There were quite a few jealous individuals out there when they saw that. We played games, had a hoedown and watched a demonstation on blacksmithing. It was a good evening.
The next day we had a testimony meeting, where all but two of our kids got up. Our Big Sister was the first person to bear hers, in fact. I leaned over and told Rob, theirs the Relief Society President for the college ward she will go to (when she goes!) I never got up on that first fast and testimony meeting, when I went to college, because I always thought I would wait until the next time when there was less people getting up- but I also never got much of a calling. I was the hymnal passer-outer one year. Seriously, though, how else are they suppose to guage the youth, if they don't hear from them. I realize that know! One thing this definitely taught me was, Be a Part of Life. Don't be a Bystander. Get in there, get involved! Our kids all amazed us, because they did that! They were so outgoing, spiritually involved, quick, smart, full of strength, not overly worried about what others thought, comfortable with themselves! Amazing for teenagers, don't you think.
Shock and Awe was one of the family names we came up with. We also called ourselves the purple people eaters and we liked to tell the Sunbeams (the yellow team) that we were going to eat them! Just a little bit of shock and awe from our group!
It was a great experience and I am glad we got to participate. It has helped us grow! We were so thankful to the people that watched our real children for us, as well. Even when Max got so sick (Fever and congestion). Thank you, Thank you!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Aloha!

For the past 2 weeks we have been hanging loose in Hawaii. It was a memorable trip for our whole family. I had to download my camera twice, because of all the pictures I took. I decided against bringing my very nice Canon Rebel and instead just brought the small Elph, otherwise I think I would have tried a hundred more pictures just of flowers and birds! Lucky for today's technology we had our laptop with us. Unfortunately for today's technology all those pictures are now stuck on that laptop, as we lost the AC adapter somewhere along the way home and the battery ran dry. So the Hawaii pictures will have to wait for another day.
For now we are trying to get ready for our next trip- the youth conference pioneer trek. I just got material and some patterns the other day and cut most of it out. I still have to make bloomers- yes, that's right bloomers. At first I refused, but then I started thinking about ticks and decided I would rather have them on!! Really, I am the only one trying to get ready. Rob and Joey are sick with the flu. The other kids just keep sleeping until 9 or 10 and have little or no energy. I am not sure if it is Summer time blues, jet lag or the flu creeping up on them as well. It will just be the perfect ending if I end up with the flu during the trek- don't you think? -Because it's not going to be miserable enough on it's own. Seriously, who thought up the idea of pulling handcarts in recreated pioneer outfit, including bloomers, in Virginia's sweltering mugginess of July? The weather channel calls for 94 degrees and a good chance of thunderstorms every day! The best of both worlds!