Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas/New Years

Home again for Christmas this year. We celebrated with our new Makakilo friends.

One last ride on Santa's Train.

Pearce's friends wait for him. Left: Camrin, Braiden, Max, and Kaleb.

Last chance for Pearce to remind Santa about how good he was and that he really wants a Batman Cave.

We were lucky enough to be invited to the Koch's home for Christmas Eve, where PP played on their inflatable jump house, bashed a pinata, and decorated cookies for Santa. Pearce had a hard time getting past the taste-test phase of cookie decorating.

And it passed as yummy.

I hung up our stockings at the bottom of our staircase with care. I looked for Christmas garland and came up with nothing. Hawaii doesn't have many options for Christmas decor. At least, that I've found. If any of you know of a spot, let me know. Pearce also set out cookies and milk along with a note for Santa. Notice Pearce's continued concern that Santa will break one of our cardinal house rules and leave the door open. He was also so confident he'd get his desired Batman cave that he thanked Santa as if it was already a slam dunk.

Christmas morning Santa left only crumbs and an empty glass with a little note to Pearce.

And of course gifts.

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Pearce's reaction to Santa's surprises. A very typical Pearce reaction, which means a reaction nobody could predict.

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Pearce got a "toy in his butt!"

Pearce's confidence in his Batman Cave wish came true. He must have read "The Secret."

So many super heros. Hey, it's not spoiling when the little man actually deserves it. If there is a more well behaved 3-yr-old I haven't met him. And he's fun, cute, and smart all at the same time.


My favorite gift from Santa was an Amazon Kindle. I must have been a good girl or kissing Santa gets rewarded.

Eric and Pearce dueled it out with their new light sabers. For about an hour. Eric tried to act bored a few times, but we all know he was more excited to be wielding a light saber than Pearce.


I made creme bruele strawberry french toast for our Christmas brunch. And Superman came to visit. He didn't take it off until we left in the afternoon.

For the rest of the afternoon we went to see Avatar in 3D. Eric's friend and co-worker, Mike, joined us for the movie and for dinner. Does that mean we're dating?

Eric and Pearce ready. Mike must be out getting candy.

Christmas dinner at the famous D.K. Steak House in Waikiki. The food is amazing, but best of all, they cook and clean it up. We didn't have to spend a minute, let alone the entire day, in the kitchen, freeing us up to enjoy each other and the spirit of the day. The best Christmas gift of all.

Pearce passed out with his Ellie and Batman.

New Years Eve was, as always in Hawaii, all about fireworks. Not just during the stroke of midnight. Not even just the night of NY Eve. In Hawaii, the firework show goes on all day and all night starting on about the 26th of December. By 8 p.m. the night of the actual holiday, a visitor would not be blamed for mistaking Oahu for Baghdad in 2003. It's insane. Now that we moved to Makakilo, we thought this year would be milder. Totally wrong. It was, in many ways, more insane. Our Filipino neighbors (who put the TAY! in 'ParTAY') had over half the island to their house and several thousand dollars worth of fireworks for all to enjoy detonating. Including little 2-yr-olds. Careful Pearce watched from afar before finally braving an attempt. And, of course, almost blew his thumb off. It was just a smoke bomb, but when it started smoking he froze in fear, gripping tighter. Eric had to run over and pry it out of his hand as it began to spark and pop. He had a nice black blister on his thumb for about a week. And a healthy fear of fireworks seared into his memory for the foreseeable future that will hopefully deter him from screwing around with fireworks until he's in his twenties. Shortly after, we went to the Ohki's family for fun until midnight. Pearce, who quickly got over his firework trauma, had fun with all the kids. Great food, great karaoke, and great company. And, of course, great fireworks. Thanks, Sarah, for the invite. Unfortunately, I wasn't in blog mode back then and failed to take any pictures. But to truly know how crazy New Years is in Hawaii, one must see it with their own eyes to truly believe it.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Amber & Sam Visit

Amber and Sam Mortensen, Eric's childhood friend, came to Hawaii to visit us a few weeks before Christmas. They expressed interest in a hike, so we chose Sacred Falls, which we've never done but always wanted to. Sacred Falls is located a few miles south of Laie on Oahu's Northeast Shore. It has been closed for almost 10 years because of a rock slide that killed several. If caught, hikers are fined several hundred bucks. We decided to risk it, but significantly decreased that risk by soliciting the help of Heber, who does this hike in his sleep every few months.

Almost at the Falls. Left: Heber, Olga, Wendi, Pearce, and Eric. It's a short hike, but only in terms of physical distance. The trail is overgrown, and we had Pearce and his small 3-yr-old legs to contend with. And Sam, Amber and Rachel had just got off the plane. Literally. We picked them up and this was our first stop.

Pearce, Eric and Wendi. The walls are vertical on either side, especially the nearer to the falls. If there had been a rock slide, there really is no place to run. It's easy to understand why they've closed it. And I must say, we were a bit underwhelmed by the beauty of the falls. It's not that the falls aren't beautiful, but just that as a hiker, you can only see the final 100 ft or this 1100-ft fall. A helicopter is the preferred way, I suppose.

Rachel and Pearce with the Nordstrom Santa. Nordstoms "invited" us to their Christmas seasonal event. So, Amber, Rachel, Pearce and I had breakfast with Santa at the Nordstroms cafe. Pearce informed me later that he wasn't the real Santa, but a helper Santa. I asked him how he figured that out. He explained, it was because of his fake beard.

Next we went over to the posh Mandarin Oriental hotel to see the dolphins.

Their holiday decor was amazing. This is how I would like to decorate my house for the holidays.

Feeding the dolphins. This has always been one of our favorite free activities in Honolulu. You have the option to pay $300 to sit in the water and have the dolphins touch you three or four times. Or, pay $0 and watch it all from five feet away.



Rachel and Pearce look for stingrays.



Overall, it was a great day with the kids. And a great time with Sam, Amber and Rachel. Except for Sam teaching Pearce several new "naughty" words and phrases. Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures. But Amber did. Here's a link to her version of this trip.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kauai

After the big Thanksgiving feast we hopped on a plane to spend a week in Kauai for a little R & R. It's funny flying to the other islands because you wait longer in the terminal than on the plane.

Pearce is big enough to take his own luggage. For the picture, anyway. Once he realizes doing so hinders his ability to kill bad guys, he lets one of the adults take his burden.

The flight to Kauai is about a 25-minute flight. Somehow, they still find a way to serve you a beverage.

Loading up the rental.

The next day was a beach day.

Connor played with this dog for hours. No idea whose dog it was.



Pearce found a friend to play with. This is one of his strengths...finding a stranger and integrating himself into whatever activity they're into.

Later we met up with David's cousin, Shawny and her family (the Vilas) at their daughter Lexi's play. Left to right: Shawny, Bobby, Jane, David, Wendi, Connor, Eric, Blake. In the front is Lexi and Pearce.

At dinner. Shawny and Wendi.



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Later in the week, Shawny took us Zip Lining to a ranch near the one she works at as a horseback trail guide. Shawny and David.

Connor looking a little nervous.

Wendi and Eric.

David.

Eric.

Connor going.

Connor coming.

We crossed a couple ravines to get to our next zip line.

One at a time. Eric couldn't help but shake the suspension bridge while poor Connor was in the middle. Nobody fell, luckily.

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We walked down to a watering hole with a waterfall and lunched there. Here's a video of Eric showing off.

Shawny with form.

Wendi coming across a huge gap.

Wendi flashing the shaka...or something close to it.

Shawny doing the same.

The whole gang, readying for our final big zip.

Eric, Wendi, Connor, Shawny and David.

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This is a fun video of Eric and David racing on one of the final zip lines

Pearce and Tutu, meanwhile, spent the day playing Candyland and swimming in the pool and spa.

Connor's pet lizard. Those who know Connor know that, since he was a little boy, he's always collected pets wherever we were. He's like a foster parent for pets.


Connor swinging around a beach near where the Vilas live on the Northeast Shore of Kauai.

Shawny and David.

Connor playing with Shawny's dog.



Pearce and Eric dueling it out. This went on for at least half an hour.

Jane and David.

Pearce and Eric after the duel, snack and lounge on the beach. It was too cold and the water too rough to go swimming. We have become beach premadonas.

Connor found another pet, this time large, nasty sea slug.


Pearce flashing his cheesy smile. He developed this look sometime after 3 and has kept it going strong.

His sword magically turned into a rifle. This happens often.

Connor with his rent-a-pet

Later in the week we did a trip to Kauai's south-side, stopping at this beach for some snorkeling.

Unfortunately, Daddy David was the only one "man" enough to snorkel that day. Apparently, it wasn't that good anyway.

Connor put hermit crabs on Eric's back to stay entertained.

And then, on Pearce's back.

Jane getting some sun.

We continued down the south side of the Island to what Mark Twain famously dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific...Waimea Canyon.





David, Wendi, Connor, Pearce, Eric and Jane at the Kalalau Lookout near the top of Mt. Wai'ale'ale (purported to be the wettest spot on earth). Kelsey had gone back to Cali for school by now. The clouds rolled in shortly after this shot was taken.

And gave us this remarkable in-the-cloud scene. It's surreal at the top of Wai'ale'ale. It's so wet that the foliage is stunted. There's a nice boardwalk throughout the swamps atop Wai'ale'ale, but we decided with the clouds, the late hour, and a three-year-old, to save it for another time.

We finished the day, and pretty much the whole trip, with a visit to the end of the road on the West side of Kauai at Barking Sands Beach. It's about a three-hour drive from the North Shore of Kauai where we were staying, but only about 15 miles away as the crow flies. But the crow would be flying over some of the most rugged landscape in the world--the Na Pali Coast. In the distance (to the left) you can see Ni'ihau, one of two islands we've never been to (the other is Lanai). Ni'ihau is private, owned by an old sugar baron family. Apparently, they only speak Hawaiian there. This beach was totally deserted for miles and miles. Overall, another awesome trip to Kauai. Still our favorite island.