Sunday, March 2, 2014

Back to Reality

Wow!  After writing about sunshine and relaxing I got hit with a dose of reality.  First chris jetted off to Las Vegas for “work” for a week while I manned the fort at home.  A week of school, kids, and jet lag I was exhausted by Friday.  Chris has no sooner landed at home before I started feeling bad on Friday night.  He wasn’t home an hour before I got the most awful stomach virus ever.  Then it slowly picked off each person in our house one by one.  Thank goodness Gracie didn’t get it!  It was terrible, and our second stomach bug this winter!  We have not been lucky on the sickness front at all.  Before I complain too much though, I wanted to share the last few pictures from our trip. 

Chris and I did A LOT of eating while we were in Hawaii.  The food was amazing, and such a mix of American cuisine and Asian influence and fresh seafood.  You couldn’t go wrong…


Yes, I admit that we became “those people” and we took pictures of our food!  We went to a fabulous restaurant called Roy’s and it was one of the best meals we have ever eaten.  We loved it so much that we actually went back again on Friday with Jessica and Wes just to prove to them that the food was THAT good!  This we my favorite dinner and I am that boring person that ordered it again when we went back on friday; Prawns with lobster ravioli!


We told them that it was our anniversary and they had a special dessert for us on Friday too!  I still can’t believe that it has been 10 years!



We did work off all of that food by going running almost every day in the gorgeous weather.  Before we went to our last amazing dinner Friday night Chris and I went on a gorgeous hike up to Mona Falls.  Mona Falls is a National Park right near Waikiki and Jurassic Park and Lost have been filmed there.  I can see why because the forest looks so mysterious and magical.  Unfortunately it rained on us for most of the hike, but we still had fun sliding up and down the mountain of mud to reach the falls.




This is not the best picture but you can see how soaked we are!


One of the days we rented a jeep and took a tour around the island just stopping at different places.  Jessica and Wes came with us and she knew about this famous stop called Leis Point.  It is in a lot of movies!  It was breathtaking.  The picture doesn’t do it justice of how crazy and big the waves were when they crashed into the wall of rock.  I think my iphone caught a better picture of how big and powerful the water was there!



We stopped at Chinamen’s Hat too!

Then we took the Jeep farther up the island to the pipeline and the North Shore to see the big surfing waves!  I have never seen anything like it!  There was actually a competition going on that day, so we stayed and watched the surfers for awhile.

This is a picture from the Pipeline.  It was starting to rain again, but there was actually one guy out surfing in those waves.  Could you imagine?



I took a ton of pictures at the North Shore, but it is hard to get a sense from the photos just how big the waves were!


I don’t know if we will ever be back!  It is just so so far away and so very expensive.  We felt so lucky the whole time we were there, and it was just what we needed after such a long year of job changes, worries, and stresses with Gracie.  It gave us lots and lots of time to relax, reconnect, and take in a beautiful world that is so very different from our little town. 

Aloha Hawaii!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Aloha from Paradise

If I close my eyes, I am still there…..the beach, the waves, the drinks….oh wait I am back home with three crazy kids!  At least I still have the pictures to make me smile!  Chris earned a promotional trip to Hawaii through his new job.  We got a free flight and a free room at the Hilton at Waikiki Beach for 4 nights last summer.  We decided to add onto the trip and stay for a bit longer to really enjoy ourselves.

My parents took care of the kids for 8 long days while we were gone. THANK YOU!!!

I had substitutes lined up at the preschool.

It was an adventure just getting out the door for the trip, but man it was worth it!


It is amazing how many pictures I choose to take with my phone now!  It is always with you no matter what!  I think I had over 100 photos from my phone on our trip.  My how the times have changed.


On the third day of our trip we went on a group excursion of whale watching, dolphin sighting, and snorkeling.  This was almost a whole day adventure, and it was one of Chris and I’s most favorite part of our trip.  We LOVED the boat, I got to see whales for the first time in my life, and the snorkeling was alright.  The water was a bit choppy so the swimming was rough and took a lot of energy.  I went out for a long while and then the guide said he saw a reef shark, so I turned my little butt around and headed back to the boat.  I have a pretty scary snorkeling and shark experience from my teen years and I don’t care to repeat it any time soon!


The boat was gorgeous.  This picture doesn’t do it justice, but the boat was HUGE, the crew was so nice and the views were breathtaking.



We got to follow along with this school of dolphins called “spinning dolphins.”  They got their name because they like to jump and spin.  We didn’t get to see them jumping because they actually were sleeping.  They get together in groups and get next to another dolphin when they want to sleep.  They turn off the side of their brain closest to the other dolphin while they are sleeping.  Isn’t that amazing?  They were right under the boat though and we got to see them splashing a lot.  There were a few children on our boat including a 4 year old boy.  He was just so excited and happy, it made me miss the kids!





We went on our trip with Jessica and Wes, our neighbors and friends.  Jessica is the sales rep that earned the trip as well and invited Chris and I along.  Thank you Jessica! 




Chris and I spent a good part of the morning just sitting on the boat watching the water pass underneath us!

Almost every morning I would go running at a park located down the street from our hotel.  The boardwalk was just breathtaking.  I had to stop every so often to snap pictures.  The running trails were all along the ocean so I would run out to the piers and take it all in.  All of these photos were just snapped on my phone while I was running. 






The Hilton was located at the end of Waikiki Beach.  From our room on the 28th floor we had views far and wide of the Diamond Head Volcano and the beaches.  One of our favorite parts of the day was watching the whales swim through the bay each afternoon from 5 pm to 7 pm.  We noticed that in the afternoon the bay would be full of sailboats.  It took us a few nights to realize that all of the little spouts of water were the whales blowing.  It was mesmerizing!  We got to see some of the whales jump and crash down which apparently is very unusual.  There were some afternoons we would see between six to eight whales swimming around. 






I hope to sort through more of our pictures this week and share them soon!  It has been jarring getting back to reality this week with school, children, and of course Chris had to travel for work until Friday.  Solo mama!  Love, Clare

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Look Back

Just in time for 2014, here is a look back at 2013…All of the love, laughter, and quite a few tears!  We are ready for a better 2014 for sure!

Yearly Montage

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Life as a Jedi


Sometimes you just embrace what they love, and you make it your own (or at least you try!).  Bradley has been in love with Star Wars for as long as I can remember now!  He has watched the movies multiple and any trip to the library will bring back two to three different Star Wars books.  Chris and I have read the entire series over and over again.  What better way to celebrate turning seven than with a Jedi Training Party?!

Bradley actually helped me plan the entire party.  He helped to pick out the invites, the activities and even the party food.  I think he is starting to like Pinterest as much as I do!  We would just search for “star wars party food” and sit there in awe of how awesome and creative people are.  Bradley would pick out the food he wanted and we were done! 

Bradley’s big present this year was getting a bedroom makeover (more to come on that).  So the morning of his birthday he actually got two smaller gifts from us, the more recent Star Wars movies, and a Star Wars figurine set.



After he watched one of the movies we set up the house for the party!  As each child came over they received “Jedi Training Badges.”  Each badge had their “Jedi” name, which was actually their name spelled backwards.  They thought this was hilarious!  I found the badges on Etsy of course!  Bradley helped me come up with all of the Jedi training activities:

1.  Attach the helmet to the Clone Trooper

2. Build a Star fighter

3. Complete Light Saber Training

4. Help the Jedi Escape from the Manaan Planet

5.  Test Your Force Game

6. Save Han Solo from the Planet Hoth

7. Destroy the Death Star


We started with “make a star fighter.”  Bradley made a model star fighter and then we made little boxes for each child with the pieces inside to make their own.  That way as children came to the party they could work freely until everyone arrived.  Kids got really creative with this activity!  I also provided a large bowl with Bradley’s Star Wars figures for kids to use after their planes were complete!



Next was “Pin the Helmet on the Storm Trooper”  I really don’t know squat about Star Wars.  I drew a large picture of a Cone Troopers body, but on accident made Storm Trooper helmets to tape on.  The kids thought this was hilarious that I mixed up the two troopers.



Then we split up into two groups: some kiddos headed to one area of the basement for Light Saber Training.  I made Light Sabers out of pool noodles cut in half and duct tape.  Then I got balloons blown up from the store and attached them to weights on the ground.  We pretty much let the kids go for it and they didn’t disappoint!  You better watch out!!!!!!



Then the other group headed into the preschool art studio space for some sticky fun.  One of the planets in Star Wars is the Manaan Planet.  I made a humongous batch of blue gak and then we hid a bunch of Lego men inside of the gak for the children to dig through and find.



I think the big kids had just as much fun as my preschoolers playing with and exploring the Gak!


The next activity we did were getting Hans Solo from the Hoth Planet.  I printed out pictures of Hans Solo and laminated them.  Then I froze the pictures in pie tins with Green colored water.  The kids worked two at a time with little chisels to free him from the Frozen Planet!


We then tested our force!  Bradley came up with this activity all by himself.  I printed pictures of all of the Star Wars Lego characters.  A child would come up and pull out a picture and describe the character without saying their name.  It was his own Star Wars version of 20 questions.  They each tried to guess the character and then the winner took a turn describing the person.

Here is everyone gathered around for the game.


Bradley demonstrated and went first for the Test Your Force Game, love their seriousness! 

I love that he wanted such a big boy party, but wasn’t too big to dress up as Anakin for the party, and that his has a wrist full of rainbow loom bracelets that he made himself!  Love this boy!


Then we headed upstairs for some Star Wars party food.  We had…

Pretzel Rod Light Sabers


Yoda Soda: Lime Sherbert and Sprite mixed together (big hit!!)


Princess Leah Rolls (cinnamon buns) and Wookie Cookies (Oreo cookies)


Jar Jar Links in a Blanket (pigs in a blanket)


Death Star Donuts (Chocolate Donuts)


We also had:

Droid Parts (Chex Mix)

Padawan Popcorn (just plain old popcorn)

Jedi Juice (juice boxes)

Vatorade (Gatorade)

The kids were so cute, they really embraced the names of the Star Wars food.  They would come back to request more “Yoda Soda” or “Vatorade.”  It just made me smile!

The last part of the party was knocking down the Death Star PiƱata.  Bradley and I started working on this thing about a month ago. I found the directions online to make it from scratch.  We bought a beach ball at the dollar store and started putting layers of paper mache on it.  I was so worried that it would crack open on the first hit that we put five layers of paper mache on this thing!  Well it ended up a lot stronger than we had anticipated!!

Once we got the paper mache finished and dried we cut out a circle and pulled out the beach ball from the inside.  Then I painted it with silver/gray craft paint and filled it up with candy.


I added a rope to hang it up and then sealed up the hole with silver duct tape.  The last stage was glitter, lots and lots of black glitter.


Our plan worked!  We couldn’t get this thing to bust open!  The good part was that everyone got a turn to hit it down.  The bad part was that the fishing line gave way and the Death Star ended up hitting Ellie in the head.  Whoops!  Next time a think three layers will suffice.




It finally did break open after we let the kids wack it on the floor with a whiffle bat.  I think they liked destroying the Death Star the best of all!

Everyone left with little finger flashlights and their own container of Star Wars Galaxy Goo!


I love you so much Bradley Boo!!  Please don’t grow up too quickly!  7 is just too close to 10 for me!!!  Love, your star wars wannabe mama