Thursday, December 11, 2008

White Christmas

Look what fell out of the sky today!! SNOW!! Snow is just as much an oddity here in Brandon as it is in Tucson. Of course, the school district didn't want to cancel school in case the weather moved north...but it hit us dead on (with about 2-3") and with 1300 students just arriving, it was NOT good!! Teachers tried to keep some type of order until the principal came on over the intercom and told the teachers to "take your babies outside and let them play in the snow". The kids had a ball! I'm sure today is one of those days they'll always remember!! Finally the district called to close school and it took us two hours to get all the kids on their way home. All these southern teachers were in a panic about having to drive home in the "slush" I gave them 'snow' driving advice, trying to calm them! Hopefully they'll cancel school in the morning BEFORE the kids arrive tomorrow cause it's supposed to freeze and ice over tonight and a repeat of today would NOT be good. In the meantime, we've been enjoying our snow day...putting together a puzzle, drinking hot chocolate and watching TV.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Glimpses of HAWAII

The week before Thanksgiving, Ken, the girls and I went to HAWAII. This was more than likely our last vacation as a family...and only the second vacation we've taken where we didn't go specifically to see family...the first being when we went to Nauvoo when our family was "new". We used flight miles (saved up for years) and Mom's timeshare (booked 14 months in advance) and off we went! I planned the trip to include a stop in Phoenix both going and coming so we were able to have 'early' Thanksgiving with all the family the Saturday after we returned from Hawaii. It felt a little odd not going through all the "Black Friday" adds with my sister and sister-in-laws after dinner (as that has been the tradition) but other than was great to be able to have that short visit.
We spent our first vacation day in the Phoenix airport with a 'broken' plane and didn't arrive in Honolulu until nearly midnight. It was sad not being able to see the islands from the air, but we arrived without incident! The condo was amazing, a little 'village' of condos and hotels actually with shops and restaurants...right ON Waikiki beach. We loved sitting out on the balcony with the warm breeze, looking out at the ocean. WONDERFUL!
"The Arizona Memorial"
What a sobering place. We took the audio tour that explained the displays in the museum (a must do), saw the movie and took the boat ride to the Memorial. The greatest sacrifice was made by so many that day almost 67 years ago.
Scenic Drive
We took the scenic drive to the Northeast part of the was BEAUTIFUL! I couldn't believe how, at one point, the ocean came right up to the highway. That day was a gorgeous one!! We passed banana tree fields, the macadamia nut farm and saw some strange looking trees with a bazillion roots growing above ground.
Laie Temple
Before we went to the PCC, we stopped at the Hawaii Temple. We were greeted by sweet sister missionaries who gave us girls fresh plumeria blossoms. Although the temple is smaller than you would think, it's a beautiful place. We got a chance to see one of maybe 4 surviving 1st editions of the Book of Mormon in the Hawaiian language and met a missionary couple from Lehi UT.
The Polynesian Cultural Center
I think a highlight of the trip was our time at the PCC. We got a chance to learn about the culture of the islands and enjoy their dances and traditions. We couldn't help but think of our Tucson friends, the Hauk's...and the rich heritage they carry in their family. We LOVED the Luau and shared dinner with a couple from Hong Kong. The Night show was amazing!! Students from BYU Hawaii made up the performers...what talent! (even the caucasian kids did pretty good jobs) Fun, fun, fun!

Of all the beaches, I wanted to go to Lanikai. It's one of the most photographed and beautiful beaches. It's an out of the way beach with access from a small, alley type walkway on a little neighborhood street. I never would have found it without Mapquest!! We didn't stay long as it was overcast and raining off and on. We were hoping it had snorkeling didn't. So we just enjoyed the scenery and soft sugary sand.
Sandy Beach
We stopped here on our way back from Lanikai Beach. The waves were pretty rough since there were no reefs to block them and there were several surfers out.Waikiki Beach
We loved being able to walk out of the condo, around the Lagoon and right to the beach. I was surprised at how small Waikiki beach is compared to the beaches of San Diego...guess I wasn't taking into consideration that this IS a small island! It was a surreal experience to look out of the condo and see Diamondhead...such a world known landmark!
The one thing Ken really wanted to do was snorkel. The girls and I had never done such a thing and were a bit concerned about breathing ability! Suprisingly, the water is VERY salty and we literally floated around, making snorkeling easy. We were amazed at all the colorful fish we found in the reef just a little way off from shore. Puffer fish, angel fish, blue fish, yellow fish (I sound like Dr. Seuss). Ken saw some large squid, a trigger fish and an eel (he was more adventurous than we were and went out around the sea wall). He ended up taking nearly two cameras full of underwater pictures (which will probably take us forever to develop) and came out of the water with "little boy" excitement. It was great fun!
We were sad to leave but left with plans to come a different island next time. I think the girls enjoyed their final "Hoorah" with Mom and Dad!