21 January 2015


I just wanted to share some more photos from the rest of our Hawaii trip. We've thoroughly enjoyed this vacation. It has been a good mix of activities and relaxation, and we've enjoyed good conversation with some old friends and some new ones at the conference. 

Early one morning while Michael was attending his conference classes, I explored Lahaina and happened upon this huge banyan tree. This single tree has about 18 trunks and covers a 1 acre park. And it was early enough that there were barely any other people around, so I got to enjoy it as the morning sun shone through the branches. 

Finding sea urchin shells in the tide pools south of the beach near the condo. 

We followed the instructions in Michael's guidebook and hiked all over on barely-visible trails and through thick waist-high grass before finally finding this two-tiered tide pool. It was very pretty, but the best thing about it was that we were the only people in sight for almost the whole time we were there. 

And we got to go check out a cool blow hole a little ways north of where we stayed. 

Then the next day we followed the guidebook again and took a hike over lava rock to a secluded beach down south. We did snorkeling there. It was fun, but the 5 mile hike over very loose rocks seemed to go on forever, and we both felt that that beach wasn't worth that hike, since there are so many other great beaches here that aren't as difficult to get to. 

On our way back north we stopped at my parents' favorite beach from back when they lived on Maui when they first got married. It's called Makenna Beach, or Big Beach. It has been our favorite beach so far too. The sand was soft, the colors of the sand and the water were beautiful, the water was very clear, and the waves were big and pretty, but not too big to play in. 

(Look at my cute husband!)

And, of course, what trip to Hawaii would be complete without catching geckos?

Then we had the best fish dinner at Mama's Fish House, right on the beach. 

After that we went to the next beach up the street and saw some sea turtles. 

This has been a wonderful vacation!

16 January 2015


Well, it only took us 12 years of marriage, but we finally saved up and came on a vacation with just the two of us. Michael had a work conference, so I came along too. It worked out perfectly because we were able to rent Michael's grandma's condo on Maui not far from the conference location. The condo is beautiful and is right on the water. 

Yesterday we explored the little tide pools just outside the back door. Michael tried out a little snorkeling and really enjoyed seeing all the fish until he got caught on some coral and scraped up his hand and tore some holes in his swim shirt. But he'll be just fine. Then we found a little restaurant nearby with good local food, which just happened to be right next door to a large amphitheater where they were doing a luau performance, so we got to listen to the cool Hawaiian music all through our dinner. 

We must still be on San Diego time because this morning we both woke up before daylight, so we are breakfast on the balcony while the sun came up. A little while later we saw some whales from the balcony. Then we headed off on the road to Hana. We enjoyed several little waterfalls along the way. 

Our favorites were some where you hiked through a bamboo forest to get to them, and one tall thin waterfall with a very clear turquoise pool where we both jumped in. I liked that one because no one else was at that waterfall most of the time we were there. We also hit the black sand beach for a short time before we arrived at the little Hana airport. 

We decided to splurge on one activity while we were here: motorized hang gliding. You ride with a pilot, and he gives you a mini flying lesson while you go.  We flew out over the mountain and the pilot pointed out different kinds of trees and ancient volcano craters, and we saw a very tall waterfall. And we flew out over the water. My favorite part is when we saw a young humpback whale and circled around it a few times. Cool!  And even though I'm not the kind of person who would enjoy bungee jumping or sky diving, this was different -- it felt very safe and I wasn't nervous about it.  Then we rushed back for the registration for Michael's conference and the dinner. 

I'd say it was a full, fun day. And I'm really looking forward to the rest of our week!  And so grateful to my parents for watching our boys for us (and happy that they said the boys have behaved well for them so far). I'd say this has been a wonderful vacation so far. 


***Update:  Unfortunately the owner decided on another family for this dog before we got back from out of town and had a chance to meet him. I'm pretty disappointed, but I'm sure we'll find another dog that will be good for our family. 

I'm so excited. We have been looking for another dog, and I found this beautiful boy online yesterday. His owner hates to give him up, but with her new job she just works too much to have enough time for a dog now.  He is great with kids and other dogs, he's active, and he loves to snuggle. Sounds like our kind of dog. I've talked to his owner, and next week I'm going to go see him, introduce Harley, and decide if he's the one for us. I hope it's a good fit. Isn't he beautiful?

11 January 2015

Goodbye Brax

We recently found out about a need for a service dog at a local non profit school with a class of foster children with learning disabilities.  Their special education teacher was looking for a golden retriever or Labrador retriever that could be trained as a therapy dog, and would live with the teacher's family and accompany him to the school everyday to be a companion to the 4 students in his class. 

As soon as we heard about it, we thought of our yellow lab, Brax. Brax is such a well behaved dog and he gets along so well with all people, that we knew he would be a perfect fit. It was kind of sad to think of giving Brax away, but as we explained it to our boys, Brax will be so good for those children at the school who don't have all the same blessings and opportunities that we enjoy. It will really be a great thing to do. And since Brax loves everyone and has never been especially particular about which people he is with as long as he gets to spend time with people and get lots of love and attention, we were confident that his transition to this new life would not be difficult for him at all. (And although he has always been good with other dogs, he cares much more about people and tennis balls than playing with any other dog, so he shouldn't have a hard time with being separated from Harley at all).  

Brax will get to go and be a therapy dog at the school each day, and the school has a large new soccer field and track where the class plays and walks every day, and Brax can play fetch to his heart's content.  And then when he's not at the school he will live with the special education teacher and his young family. We were very impressed with the teacher -- he seems like he will be a responsible and caring dog owner, he is very active, and they will make Brax a part of their family.  So Brax will get to spend his days with children at the school, and will still get to be around young children at home too -- he will continue to get (and give) all the attention he loves. 

When we told our boys some of them seemed a little sad, but they were pleased that Brax gets to go be a service dog for those kids who need him more. (And it probably makes it a little easier for them since they still have Harley). They said their goodbyes and Camden wrote a little letter and drew a picture for the children in Brax's new class. Isaac also drew a picture of himself with Brax to send along with him. And then Brax was off to his new home and lots of exciting adventures.  When the teacher came to pick him up, Brax was such a good boy and he wagged his tail the whole way as they walked away. He will be happy, and will really be the perfect dog for this job. 

Since Brax left, the boys have actually seemed fine so far. In his prayer this morning Camden even said "we are thankful that Brax could go to be a service dog for the kids in that school."  And, of course, the boys have been asking when we can get another dog again. 

We assured them that we would adopt another dog soon -- there are so many shelter dogs out there that need homes, I'm sure it won't be long before we find another one to be part of our family.