Thursday, March 31, 2016

8 is great! (november 2014)

Eight is an exciting age. At our home it's especially great since it happens to be the age that the kiddos get to start either Cub Scouts or Activity Day Girls, and also the age when our children get baptized (I think there will be a baptism post to follow). 

For Brook's 8th b-day, he got to enjoy this delicious cake!!

With his amazing (and young;) parents and family.

Maybe even  more fun than eating cake with his super cool parents, he also got to go with everyone to Chuck E Cheese's for a fun evening out. I know Chuck E Cheese's might seem (be) a little ghetto, but it has always been such a perfect place for our family--with our size and range of ages. It's big enough that there's enough to do for an hour or two, but small enough that everyone for the most part can roam around on their own. 

And of course the cousins got to join which made it that much more exciting!!

They had a great time playing some games. 

Visiting and eating pizza.

Watching Brooks open presents. 

And just having some good plain fun!

Glad you had a great b-day Brookerhood!! We sure love you in our family and are happy to see you growing up into such a nice little gentleman:-).

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

october 2014 misc.

And to finish out the month of October we have James' personal history/heritage project ...

He made crepes with Grandma D. to show a traditional family recipe. They made them the night before and then we rolled them up with cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of syrup in the morning. They were delicious!!

The best part (well, for me anyway) was that I got to volunteer in the classroom that morning, keeping an eye on the project displays as other classes visited. 

And also in October, Kevin talked me into a morning hike on the Cable Line Trail on Tiger Mountain (in Issaquah).

Here's what Washington Trails Association has to say about the hike ...

"What a workout! The Cable Line Trail on Tiger Mountain is not for the weak of heart, nor the weak of knees. A steep, slippery incline awaits you here, climbing over 2,000 feet in just 1.5 miles to the summit of West Tiger 3. True to its name, an old cable line is occasionally visible in ground as hikers trudge to the top."

I don't think I had been working out a whole lot leading up to this so I pretty much wanted to vomit the entire way up--don't think I ate enough before starting either:(.

That's okay though because we were just happy to get the workout in!

And of course make it to the top of another beautiful Washington trail. 

all hallows eve 2014

I don't have a ton of pics for Halloween 2014--which is kinda a good thing, since I'm trying to keep my blogging quick;). 

Most of them are actually from our traditional family pumpkin carving!

And for the final product ... plus chocolate chip pumpkin bread for dessert!!

And now just a few of our also-traditional church Halloween carnival/trunk-or-treat ...

These two helped me set up the picture backdrop--made by our amazing and very artistic YW (young womens) group. Looks like James is getting into character as a tough-guy football player;). In case it's not obvious, Mae's an 80s chick. 

You can't tell it from the picture, but this little cutie Transformer (Optimus Prime to be specific) thinks Halloween is pretty darn awesome!

And for a couple of family pictures before the evening ends ... 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

stop growing up! (mae 10th b-day, october 2014)

Right around the corner from Porter entering teenage-hood we celebrated Mae in double digits--the big 10. These kids just won't stop growing up:/. It's definitely exciting and scary at the same time!!

It was Mae's "family party" year. Lucky for her she has a pretty fantastically amazing family so the whole birthday thing kinda rocked;). 

She had an amazing time baking her own birthday cake with Grandma Dueck.

 And was excited to learn to make marshmallow fondant!!

Gracie got to come over and join in on the fun, which made for a pretty amazing birthday right from the start. 

They decorated the cake with polka dots and Pepperidge Farm cookies--yum!

Soon it was time to open some presents!!

Or at least Joseph thought so!

She got a new mirror for her room.

Yet another stuffed giraffe.

A cute new (high-low) skirt.

And her very own KitchenAid mixer in one of her favorite colors--aqua!

We were all having fun visiting and watching Miss M enjoy her prizes! 

The boys were of course entertaining themselves by acting kinda goofy;). 

Grandma Loo was definitely in attendance!

As were these proud parents.

What a blessing this cute girl is in our family!!!

Oh, and there was one final super surprise present--an electric shaver for the poor, dark-haired girl to shave her beautiful legs:-)!! Does she look a little embarrassed?? Joseph on the other hand looks completely unimpressed.

After presents, we enjoyed the amazing cake adorned with mini Star Wars figures--I'm guessing that was an addition meant to satisfy her little brother. I love how she's so easy-going about things!

Love this amazing chica!

After all the visitors had gone home, the evening was finished with the boys all crowding in the bathroom watching Mae shave her legs for the first time. Man, it's tough being the only girl in a house full of boys;). 

 It's sad to see her grow up so fast, but I'm so happy to watch this beautiful girl (inside and out) develop into an amazing woman!

Love you to pieces my little Bella:). 

Monday, March 28, 2016

teenager in the house--yikes! (september 2014)

Okay, so the weekend we returned from Hawaii, this amazing fantastic kid turned the big 13!! Meaning we officially now had a TEENAGER in the house. I don't know if this is way super exciting or entirely terrifying--but I guess I'll go with both:-). 

We had an especially fun time celebrating as, in addition to the grandmas and auntie Jill's family,  Grandpa Jacobs happened to be up from Portland and Aunt Carrie was visiting from Japan!! Woohoo!!

It was awesome to be together celebrating this great day:).

The new teenager got some fun b-day gifts--crazy teeth, a cool book, a magnetic toy that K and I brought back from Hawaii, a Seahawks hat, and more!

We also had a tasty time eating a very thoughtful cake that the other kiddos made for him--in case it's not obvious, it's a book cake. Perfect for Porter!!

After the indoor fun, the kids all had a wacky and wild time out on the trampoline--must have been a beautiful Fall day. 

And then some of us hung out at the park for a bit, staying warm in our blankies and watching one of the girls' theatrical/sporty performances.

Fun fun times being together and celebrating a great b-day for a great kid!!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hawaii one-5

Okay, where to start, where to start??! September 2014 Kevin and I decided to venture to the big island of Hawaii in celebration of our 15th anniversary. I know I need to keep this brief, but I can't do this post without explaining that my amazing, wonderful, ambitious, hard-working husband is not the type to lay out on a beach for days on end. Not even hours on end in fact. Minutes could be pushing it. This guy likes to be moving and going! If I wasn't aware of that fact before, I certainly became aware during our week in a tropical paradise. 

We stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort which was very nice, well-maintained, and super relaxing. The only drawback to this place is that, while the property is amazing and happens to have it's own fun little lagoon, there is no actual beachside access directly from the resort (at least none that includes soft warm Hawaiian sand).

Pics of our hotel room and view from balcony.

There are however a couple of "white sand" beaches not too far away from the resort--maybe a 10-minute drive. The lovely Hapuna beach being one of them!

Get a REALLY good look! This may be the only time you ever see Kevin relaxing while on vacation. I think this lasted all of 5 minutes before he had to go do some swimming/snorkeling in the water. 
In fact, the bottom pic shows the reality--before too long we were hiking along the beach and over some nearby rocks to another beach that was hiding on the other side of the bay. 

Okay, and after one (partial) day on the beach, we were off and going. 
The cool thing about the big island is that there are a ton of options for exploring, and Kevin (oops, I mean we) were certainly not going to miss out on that! We got up early in the morning, and set out for a full day of fun--trekking around pretty much the entire island of Hawaii.

Our first stop was Akaka Falls state park. It's really just a quick 1/2 mile (maybe not even that) nature walk, but the beauty of the falls and lush vegetation made it well worth the look. 

We decided that the nearby Botanical Gardens were not fast-paced enough for our adventurous appetite;), but we did walk down to Onomea Bay for a moment to get splashed on a bit and take a couple of quick pictures. 

Next stop was a little shanky FOR SURE! Kevin had read about this crazy off-the-beaten-path trail named Pu'u Oo that was at the heart of the June 2014 volcano eruption. With our September arrival (just three months after the initial eruption) lava was literally still flowing--in fact threatening the nearby town of Pahoa. 

Naturally, Kevin decided this was the perfect hike for us;). 

That said, once we arrived and (I) saw how seriously the hike was marked as "closed", we (that is, I) decided that it was a little too iffy--if not for the big red "Trail Closed" sign (with bullet holes in it) or the metal fence, but then for some of the reasons we had read about online, like these ones that I found on a review in trip advisor ... 

"Its not even tended by anyone except for hunters, so don't expect a smooth trail. In fact, if you want to learn what spider webs taste like then this one is for you."

"It's dangerous - fissures in the terrain open so wide and go so deep if you fall in you'll never be seen again"

"If you smell sulfur, turn around immediately and know that there was no choice, unless you don't mind dying. Sulfur dioxide is a silent killer, so pay attention to wind direction. If it blows in your face you're in danger."

"You don't want someone to send a chopper if you don't need it, because it'll cost you, and you might end up in trouble with the law. This path is marked by signage that states it is illegal to be there."

Poor K was a bit sad about having to skip out on the awesome crazy hike, but that's okay, because he got out his frustration by planking on the pretty rental car, and then we were on our way to the next stop. 

So instead of the sketchy hike (that probably would have been pretty incredible in a lot of ways), we made a beeline for Volcano National Park and did a quick jaunt (about three easy miles) through the Kilauea Iki Trail/Crater. 

And then we were on our way to Punalu'u (Black Sand) Beach to check out the cool sand ("made of basalt and created by lava flowing into the ocean which explodes as it reaches the ocean and cools"--thanks Wikipedia) and catch a glimpse of a few green basking sea turtles--which Kevin LOVED!

After maybe 30 minutes or less observing the black sand and sleepy turtles, we jumped back into the car and headed for Ka Lae (South Point) Beach (the southernmost point of Hawaii, as well as the US). Our arrival to that part of the island was breathtaking. As we drove toward the coastline, it felt like we were approaching the edge of the world. The ocean was beautiful and immense in front of us. 

From South Point, we drove over just a few minutes or so to Papakolea, famous for its "green" sand. You can't actually drive to Green Sand beach; well, technically you can but have to be an experienced off road driver (and have a vehicle intended for that purpose). Most people pay for a driver to take them the 2 1/2 miles to the actual beachfront--there are quite a few drivers/vehicles hanging out waiting to shuttle tourists over. In fact, if I remember right, there was even a food vender there selling meals and drinks. 

Of course, being interested in a little more adventure and physical activity, we opted to trek over on our own legs. Admittedly, there's not exactly a set trail and the "hike" got a bit long and dusty/windy. It was pretty late in the day at this point, and I started to wonder if we somehow missed it and should turn back. Sure enough, though, the green sand (well olivine really) finally popped into view.

I guess we didn't get any pictures of us actually on the green sand beach, but it was a pretty cool site. It's a bit of a steep climb getting down and when we were there the current was very strong. We did wade out a little ways though before trekking back the 2 1/2 miles to the car. I'm pretty sure we were the last tourists to visit that day. 

By the time we returned to our rental car the sun was beginning to set. We stopped for a quick bite, and tiredly made our way back to Kona. Since we were passing through anyway, we decided to check out the LDS Kona Temple. It was tucked away on a very quiet little street and was a beautiful finish to an amazing day!

I really don't remember exactly the order in which we did things during our week-long stay. We did spend some of the time enjoying the beauty of the Waikoloa Resort. 

Kevin found more wildlife to observe ... 

We walked the many paths and checked out the on-site dolphins. 

Enjoyed the slow-paced atmosphere. 

And then we were off again. This time on a guided kayaking trip ...

To a popular snorkeling spot--Captain Cook's cove. As the sign says, it's actually the spot where Mr. Captain James Cook met his death (in fact had his heart cut out--yikes!)

Snorkeling was pretty awesome, albeit a bit chilly--it happened to be a cloudy day and without the sun to warm us, the water (although amazingly warm in comparison to the Washington coast) proved to be a little cold for my taste.

One thing we almost skipped during our trip (and I'm really glad we didn't) was a nighttime adventure up to Mt. Mauna Kea. If you didn't know (I certainly didn't), in Hawaiian mythology Hawaii's mountains are considered sacred, with Mauna Kea being considered the most so. When measured from oceanic base it is 33,000 ft tall, which happens to be 10,000 taller than Mount Everest.

Kevin is pretty fascinated by astronomy so getting to visit the summit of Mauna Kea and view the amazing stars, with the naked eye as well as through telescopes, was a very cool experience! Fortunately we had brought some of our packable coats (it was certainly NOT warm up there). 
I won't go into detail about the entire evening--particularly the almost running out of gas on a mostly-deserted highway;)--but it was certainly eventful all around. 

Since it may not be obvious, I should probably point out that K is eating a Milky Way under the Milky Way (get it??;)

And what would a trip to Hawaii be without a traditional Luau?! We attended the Luau onsite at the resort and definitely enjoyed the yummy food, but especially had fun viewing the good entertainment!

And for the finale to our trip, the absolutely gorgeous but totally grueling hike that almost ended our 15 years of marriage;). Well, not exactly, but close. 

Kevin likes to hike. A lot. I'm guessing I have already made that clear?? I actually really do like to hike as well, I just like to try and enjoy the hike and make sure I don't kill myself while doing it. That said, Kevin got into his head that it would be so amazing to hike over to this beautiful place called Waimanu Valley. Only problem is, at over 16 rigorous miles, it is usually considered an overnight hike (which we hadn't brought gear for). No worries though. We decided (or at least I thought we did) that we would simply hike in a bit and observe the beauty of the trail and then hike back out once we were tired. 

Oh, how sweet. Here I am smiling in our resort room before setting out. So naive! Little did I know, I would be wanting to cry and scream in just a few short hours. 

These other pics are of Waipio Valley which was once the capital and permanent residence of many early Hawaiian kings (thanks again, Wikipedia). To get to Waimanu Valley, you first have to walk down a very steep road into Waipio Valley, and cross along the beautiful seashore and over a riverbed before arriving at the trail head.
This is the beautiful view of Waipio from our initial ascent up huge thick stone steps headed for Waimanu. 
Still smiling you'll notice. Although admittedly it was a hot day and we had already hiked a ways so I was actually feeling quite worn out--not a great way to begin a VERY long day of hiking:-).  

There were some beautiful sites along the way, like this gorgeous and humongous tree trunk!
The site of this emergency helipad #1 (yes there would be more to come) was not so beautiful or promising--other than the hope that it offered in the case of possible cardiac arrest.  

So what actually happened during the hike was that Kevin kept us trekking up and down ridges all day long, repeating the notion that Waimanu Valley would surely just be one more ridge away. 
Of course, here I am smiling again so I guess I did enjoy the hike somewhat despite all my grumbling:).

At last we did in fact reach the descent into Waimanu Valley. We could practically see the wild little bores staring up at us. Too bad at that point we knew we had to high tail it out quickly if we wanted to avoid the dark of night, so all we could spare was a brief glance and a couple of quick pictures. 

Keep in mind that this is not exactly the end of the story. Since we had hiked all the way in, we still had to hike all the way out. AND, since the hike was made of up ridges the trip back would really just be more of the same (lots of downs but also lots of ups). ALSO keep in mind that since the hike had begun with giant stone steps, our hike would end (at our greatest point of exhaustion and sore legs) hammering back down those same steps, one aching knee at a time:-). 
But finally here we are at the bottom of the hike back down in Waipio Valley. I think the top two pictures say it all: Kevin's is the hand hanging loose, mine is the one covering my very tired (and maybe a tad bit angry) face. The bottom picture is completely false happiness;). Oh, and should I add the reminder that to get to our vehicle we would still have to hike back out of Waipio Valley and up a very steep road that gains 800 vertical feet in .6 miles. Yep, that's right. It just happens to be the steepest road of its length in the US and possibly the world ( Wow, could this get any better??! I think by the end of the day we figured we had actually hiked around 20 miles. 
I can't help but add these fitting comments I just found about the hike 
(again from ...

"this is one of the most difficult places to reach by foot on the Big Island." 
"many more people have viewed Waimanu Valley from a helicopter than on foot." 
and this one is definitely my favorite ... 
"This is an extremely difficult day hike and should only be attempted the most fit and experienced outdoorspeople with a penchant for suffering and a self-masochistic streak."

Oh, and I guess I lied about that being the finale. Of course, I'm too exhausted just thinking (blogging) about that grueling hike to actually blog anymore for today;), but here's a quick conclusion ... 
We did enjoy a tiny bit more time at the resort. 
Since our on-site lagoon was actually fed by ocean water the tide would come in and out, sometimes causing beach chairs to float out to sea:-).

Here we are in the lagoon doing some paddle boarding and snorkeling. 

And some final relaxing before heading back home to the kiddos ... 

What an incredible trip, but man, just thinking/blogging about it makes me need another vacation:-)!