Friday, July 16, 2010

Love of the Game

I believe I mentioned several months back that J was selected to attend a professional baseball training camp in Massachusetts this summer.  He's been preparing for camp for several months and the time is almost here for him to go.  He leaves Tuesday for his five day intensive training camp.  Today we received a welcome packet via email that contained his detailed itinerary and the player roster.  I had a major mom moment and got sniffly when I saw his name listed.  Baseball is his dream and getting selected for this camp is the first step towards that goal.  He's played since he was five and has shared a lifelong bond with his grandpa.  My dad has coached him, supported him, and most of all, encouraged his love of the game.  So it seemed only fitting to my mom and I that my dad fly up and watch the last few camp sessions next weekend.  Families are welcome to attend and watch, though the players are under the supervision of the coaches at all times.  So my dad will get to see him participate in workouts, agility training, and play in a game.  J is at the point where it's time for him to spread his wings.  He's moving on from Little League into the more competitive world of high school and travel ball.  His grandpa has been with him every step of the way, so he should be there to see these first steps down a new path.  A path that hopefully leads where the two of them have dreamed for the past fourteen years. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hawaii Wrap Up

We're home.  We got home early Thursday afternoon after several long, but uneventful, hours of traveling.  Upon arrival at home, we all proceeded to crash in a jet lagged fog for several hours.  By Friday, we were able to get unpacked and somewhat settled back in.  our internal clocks are still somewhat off, but we're dealing with it. 

I wanted to do a final post on our trip and share some of my favorite things about Hawaii.  It was such a fabulous trip and I'm so glad we were fortunate enough to be able to go.  I snapped over 900 pictures to help preserve our memories, but even without them, I don't think any of us will ever forget this trip.  So, here goes.  A list of my favorite things from our fabulous Hawaiian vacation:

Maui:  The entire island is so beautiful and laid back it would be impossible not to love it.
Shave Ice:  This yummy treat is topping my list of favorite treats for a hot summer day.  And the ice cream in the bottom is a must!
Haleakala Crater:  The sunset view atop Haleakala is something I will never forget. For me, it felt like being on the edge of the world, right next to  heaven.
Aloha DressesMy new favorite summer style.  These long, flowy dresses are as comfortable as they are beautiful.
Sunset in Waikiki:   On our last night, we spent a few hours on the beach.  We stayed til sunset and the last picture I took was of the kids next to the ocean with the sunset behind them.  Stunning!
The Pacific Ocean:  We live near the Atlantic, and while it is beautiful, too, it doesn't quite compare to the wild beauty of the pacific.
Pearl Harbor:  What a beautiful, sad, and moving place.
Black Sand Beach:  One of the most stunning sights I have ever seen.

I could go on and on listing all the things I loved about Hawaii.  But what really made the trip special was being able to share it with my family.  We traveled with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  There were 16 of us total.   At times we got on each others nerves and little arguments cropped up.  I'm sure other people look at us and think we're nuts traveling together that way.  But without any one person, the trip would have been totally different.  And experiencing all of the wonderful things we saw and did together as a family is what made this trip so special.  When I remember this trip in the future, I will remember A building sandcastles with her great aunt, J and cousin M hanging out trying to be cool on their surfboards, N perusing the shops of the International Marketplace with his ever patient cousin Cindy, standing atop Haleakala together to witness that dazzling view.  Most of all I will remember how lucky we all were to be able to experience the trip of a lifetime together. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hawaii, Day Nine,Pearl Harbor

Today was our last full day in Hawaii.  We left the hotel at 6:15am to catch our tour bus.  Today's tour was to Pearl Harbor.  I will tell you right away that I didn't take a lot of pictures.  There are some locations that are meant to be pictured in our memories, and Pearl Harbor definitely falls into that category.  I also don't feel it's appropriate to be snapping pictures in what is in all essence, a burial ground.  So while I took a few shots of various plaques and the harbor itself, I took none of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.  I think this post will flow better if I simply give you my impressions of this important piece of American history.  We began by viewing a twenty minute film about the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  We then had some time before our scheduled trip out to the memorial.  The harbor itself is beautiful, like all of Hawaii.  It is certainly less tranquil than it must have been on that morning in 1941, but it was still hard to imagine such a terrible event in such a beautiful place.  A ferry boat shuttles groups of people out to the memorial of the U.S.S. Arizona.  Visiting there was akin  to viewing the Vietnam Wall, Arlington Cemetery, or Ground Zero.  The Arizona is visible beneath the surface of the water, a somber reminder of all the men forever entombed within her.  Oil floats to the surface and we learned this is known as the"tears of the Arizona."  Lore has it that when the last survivor of the Arizona dies, the "tears" will stop.  We also learned that there are 22 survivors of the Arizona still living.  They may choose to be cremated and entombed in the Arizona if that is their wish.  I was a little worried about taking a to a place that really requires a quiet, sober demeanor.  She did well though.  I suppose even a young child can feel the quiet dignity of such places. 

After leaving the memorial, we then visited the U.S.S. Missouri battleship.  I can't tell you much about it because A was tired and hungry by that point so she and I skipped that portion of the tour.  Hubby enjoyed it very much, as did J and N.

The remainder of our day was spent shopping, followed by a few hours on Waikiki Beach.  We're back in our room now, attempting to pack.  We will have the morning to enjoy before the shuttle picks us up at 1:00pm for the trip to the airport.  We depart Honolulu at 4:00pm and fly straight to atlanta.  From there, we'll fly on to Florida and home.  I'll post soon with a list of my favorite things about Hawaii.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hawaii, Day Eight

Doing a little blog catch up here.  Last night we saw some fabulous fireworks.  The Waikiki fireworks are spectacular and we were able to enjoy them quite nicely from the hotel balcony.

Today we spent several hours on a Circle Tour of the island.  We went to Hanauma Bay, several other beautiful beaches and lookouts that I lost track of the names of, and the Dole Pineapple Plantation.  The tour was a good way to see the island and our guide Steve was very knowledgeable.  We also drove past Pearl Harbor, but we're taking a tour there tomorrow.  We visited the North Shore, famous for its huge waves.  Unfortunately, this is the wrong time of year for the big waves and the water was calm as a bathtub.  I did take the kids picture standing in the water of the  North Shore though.  That was at Sunset Beach.  Without the tour, I doubt we would have seen nearly as much of the island.  I would have liked more time at the pineapple plantation.  The pineapple ice cream was seriously yummy.  I also would have liked to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center.  However, with our Pearl Harbor tour tomorrow we can't be back in time to catch the shuttle and we have no car.  We'd have to rent a car to get there and it is quite a drive from Waikiki where we are staying.t's suggested you plan on at least half a day there as well.  Guess I'll just have to plan a return trip to see the things I miss this time around!  We fly home Wednesday night.  Is our vacation reallyn almost over?  It has been an amazing eight days, ten if you count our traveling days. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bye Bye Maui, Hello Oahu

We left Maui this morning to fly to Oahu for the remainder of our vacation.  I have to say that Maui was probably the most beautiful place I've ever visited.  We really enjoyed the laid back pace.  The people were friendly, the weather was perfect, the house we rented was beautiful.  The view from the summit of Haleakala Crater was unbelievable and something I'll remember for a lifetime. 

Yesterday part of the group took an ATV tour of the up country, then hubby and brother took J, N, and cousin M deep sea fishing.  J caught a 26lb wahoo and M caught a 20lb wahoo.  We had it for dinner.  J, who claims to hate fish, ate some since he caught it and decided it was delicious.  Honestly, it wasn't the tastiest fish I've ever had, but it was decent.

This morning we flew to Oahu, where we will remain until Wednesday afternoon, when we will head home to Florida.  Our hotel is in Waikiki, about two blocks from the beach.  We have a tourof the island planned for Monday and a visit to Pearl Harbor is on the agenda for Tuesday. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hawaii, Day Five, Black Sand Beach and Haleakala Crater

Warning!  This post will be long!  We saw some amazing sights yesterday that I can't tell you about in just a few words. 

The day began back over on a beach in Lahaina, where several from the group went parasailing.  Since I am a big chicken and afraid of heights to boot,  I sat on the beach and watched.  A played in the water and got enough sand in her bathing suit to build a deluxe castle.  At one point we saw a seal swimming near the shore.  Since I have a love of animals, marine animals in particular, I was very excited and ran down the beach to try and get a good picture.  I only managed to get a shot of his back as he dove back down in the waves.  How cool to have seen a seal in its natural habitat though!

After a picnic lunch, we set out to find a black sand beach.  We drove through some beautiful areas in Wailea and Makena before coming to Makena State Park.  After bumping down a dirt path that passed for the road we came to the beach.  It was worth the bumpy ride.  The black sand was beautiful.  It's fiiner than white sand and brushes off your feet very easily.  It was very soft to walk on.  We didn't go in the water since the surf was rough, but we were able to wade in the edge. 

The next part of our day was a drive up to the summit of Haleakala Crater, a dormant volcano with an elevation of 10,000 feet.  We wanted to reach the summit in time to see the sunset.   The drive itself was amazing and harrowing all at the same time.  Rembember, I'm a chicken, so the drive up that twisting , narrow road had me white knuckling it the higher we climbed.  It was strange driving up through the clouds and there were some amazing views.  After an hour or so we finally reached the summit.  The temperature was in the low fifties and the sun was setting as we got out of the car.  It was one of the most amazingly beautiful sights I've ever seen.  It felt almost spirtual up there above the clouds.  In fact, A was waving to the angels.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

I've never seen anything like it before.  It was like what I imagine heaven must be like.  So peaceful and beautiful and bathed in light.  I'm so thankful I got the chance to see it and that the kids got the chance to see it.     

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hawaii, Day Four

Hard to believe we're this far into our vacation.  It's going so fast!  So far, we're having a great time.  Yesterday was no exception.  (In case you hadn't realized, with the time difference I'm writing blog posts a day behind.)

We slept in a bit yesterday after our jam packed day of snorkeling and luau.  The kids were scheduled for a surfing lesson mid morning so we headed out to watch.  My boys, along with their cousins, M, B1, and B2, and my brother all toook a lesson from Ino at Maui Wave Riders.  The lesson began in the park above the beach where they learned to techniques of paddling and standing up on their boards.  A was not scheduled for a lesson but Ino didn't mind that she put her boogie board down and participated anyway.  Next they learned to carry their boards dwn to the beach and into the surf.   Ino accompanied them and they waded out to a good spot.  Eveyone did pretty ngood but N turned out to be the surfing star of the day.  He managed to rise up, do the switch, and ride his board all the way in several times.  Now, in case you're picturing giant Hawaii waves, these weren't.  The waves were gentle yesterday.  We will be visiting the North Shore when we go to Oahu where we're told we'll see those legendary Hawaiin waves.  I've already told J and N they will NOT be attemtping to surf those waves! At the end of the lesson Kyle, also from Maui Wave riders, went out on a board with a camera and took awesome shots of the kids as they surfed.  He gave us an excellent deal on two cds with all the images he took.  You'll have to wait til I'm back home where my comouter has a cd drive to see those.  In the meantime, here are a few shots that I took.

J riding a wave in.

N the surfing star.Cousin M

The group with their awesome instructor, Ino.

The kids loved the surfing lesson.  If you're ever on Maui and interested in a lesson, Maui Wave Riders was awesome.  The kids learned a ton and Ino and Kyle were great. 

After the surfing lesson and lunch, we headed out to tour the island some.  Our first stop was Iao Valley State Park.  We saw some beautiful scenery as we climbed up and down the paved pathways.

Next we set out to find a waterfall my brother had read about.  By that point in the day, everyone was getting a bit tired and cranky.  We were sniping at each other a bit and tempers were starting to flare.  We pulled over at a scenic lookout spot to regroup and try and figure out where the waterfall was.  We didn't find the waterfall, but we found this instead.   It went a long way towards soothing everyone and restoring peace and harmony to the day.  


Awe inspiring, isn't it? The kids climbed all over the rocks and for once I wasn't a nervous nellie and let them have fun.