Grandparents Gone Wild

I am not sure who is more blessed by Pops and Nana, the kids or Max and me.  My father's parents died when I was a young child and my mother's parents were not a regular part of our lives due to illness and distance.  I always dreamed what it would be like to have those grandparents that you have a close relationship with and could go spend time with in the summer.  I have a pretty active imagination, so I dreamed up the quintessential grandparents.  The kind where, "Yes!" is the answer instead of "No!"  The kind that look forward to playing with you.  The kind that allow you to do stuff mom and dad wouldn't.  The kind that make you feel special.  I am so lucky that we get to see that dream be a reality.
While we were in Maui, the kids had a vacation all their own!  Nearly everyday they got out on the water in kayaks or canoes.

 Max's cousin Alex lives near Nana and Pops and his children Chase and Zoe came to play.  Hank thought Chase was so cool.  He wanted to do everything Chase did.
 Karlie has always wanted to play in the mud when the tide was out.  Remember that part about saying yes instead of no?  :)
You want to roll around in the mud?  Yes!   She and Zoe seem like kindred spirits.
 Nana had lots of fun crafts on hand.  The girls really loved making tissue paper flowers.
 More mess?  Yes!  They made Oobleck, which is like slime.
 You want to start a fire?  Yes!  From what I understand Hank and Karlie have been properly inducted into the pyrotechnician family.  
You want to shoot rockets high in the sky!?  Yes!
Another favorite Nana and Pops meal is individual homemade pizzas.  I have tired and failed twice with the pizza dough at home.  Sometimes, it is just better with Grandma. :)
 I am thinking at this point the kids were hoping we would stay in Hawaii another week.
 Happy kids!
 I don't have many pictures of Hailey because she went up to Chico to visit Aunt Anna and do some big girl crafting, art and eating out while we were gone!
However, while she was at the Villa, Hailey and Pops worked on this giant canvas and painted the galaxy horse.  Such a creative and talented bunch.
 The littles made some camp Nana and Pops shirts.
 They also got to take a trip into Berkeley for Gordos.  Max and I were slightly jealous as we were getting our daily updates.  The beaches in Maui are awesome, but Gordos is a rare and special treat!  Hank managed to take down an entire burrito.
 No trip would be complete without the Nana train and a ride on the carousel.
 On 7-11 they went and got their free slurpee.
 Nana the teacher always manages to teach the kids something about where Mom and Dad are visiting.  They have created beautiful dioramas of Paris, Italy and Mexico.  They have learned to do art work like Michelangelo. 
This time they built a volcano!
 Seriously!  Who are these grandparents?  Pops even put a polyurethane coat on it so it wouldn't fall apart after the first eruption, which allowed the kids to erupt it over and over with different ratios of baking powder and vinegar until they got it just right!
Thank you Nana and Pops for not just being willing to watch the kids but to put your heart and soul into caring for them.  We are all blessed by your love and efforts.

Maui Wowie!

Max's conference chose a rough part of town to meet. ;)
The Hyatt's grounds were gorgeous.
They had African penguins, flamingos, swans and many other birds.
Beautiful flowers surrounded you everywhere you walked.
 This was my view while Max worked.  It was rough at times but with the help of a couple novels and some cold drinks as my companions, I pulled through the week.
 Each afternoon when Max got out of the conference we would try to explore the island.  The first day we went to Black Rock to snorkel and relax on the beach.
 We some cool fish and an eel.

Snorkeling allows you to be a part of another world for a little while.
I had looked into upgrading our car to a convertible before we left and they wanted two hundred dollars a day more.  Obviously that wasn't going to happen.  When we got to the rental place I thought I would just ask if they had any at a better price.  She offered us an upgrade for a convertible Camero for fifteen a day more and then nonchalantly said she had one Corvette left for 30 dollars a day more.  Sold!!
 I thought Max could get his midlife crisis fix and we could move on from the sports car lust.  However, it backfired a bit because he LOVED driving it.  I drove it too and must say it is pretty fun.
 Nothing like driving up a curvy, winding road from sea level to 10,000 feet in an hour and a half to make you feel like a Nascar driver. :)  The second day was really fun as we drove around with the wind in our hair and music blasting.  The views were pretty impressive and we were really happy we were able to experience it in a convertible!
 The peak of Haleakala, an extinct volcano, is 10,023 feet and it looks like you are on top of the world.  You literally are above the clouds.  It was breathtaking.  When we got back to the hotel we tried Maui Blanc, which is pineapple wine.  It was really sweet, kinda like our ride and our day.

 The next day we snorkeled at Kapalua Bay, which is where we had the most success.
 After we snorkeled and were warming up on the beach we heard people exclaim a turtle was near the shore!  
  Not even knee deep there was a giant Sea Turtle eating the algae off the coral!!
 He was at my feet!  At one point the surf crashed and washed him into me!  It was amazing to watch him eat and care less that he had an audience of humans.
 Max continued to follow him for 45 minutes after he was done eating and was surprised how graceful and beautiful this huge turtle was as he swam.
We decided to have one special dinner and went to Japengo.  It was without a doubt one of the all around best dinning experiences we have ever had.
It is impossible to beat the ambiance, as you are sitting on ridge above the beach hearing the waves crash as you eat.  Max and I both like to cook and often leave a restaurant feeling like we could have made it better at home for a fraction of the price.  We couldn't come close to cooking the meal that came out of this place.  Exceptional!  
Our last day in paradise was also National Pina Colada day.  Where better to have one than in paradise!?  We soaked up the beach and pool until dark.
Wow is the best word that comes to mind for Maui.  I feel blessed to have stored up so many visual treasures while there.  It is even more beautiful in person because you are feeling the beauty with the soft breeze caressing your skin, smelling the salty air, hearing the gentle waves crash and feeling sand between your toes.  It is an all senses kind of beauty.  Hopefully it won't be 16 years until we get a chance to go back again.


Max had to go to Maui for work the next week.  I was so excited to be able to accompany him thanks to Nana and Pops being willing to wrangle four kids for the week!
We went to Kauai for our honeymoon and have never made it back to Hawaii since.  We were thrilled at the opportunity to go back.  It was going to be rough working conditions, but together we figured he could pull through.
 Blue water and white beaches were going to be in our future!
The hotel greeted us with leis.

 The hotel was along the Kaanapali beach and had a mile long path connecting with the other hotels to Black Rock.  I was able to run along here in the mornings.  I haven't been able to run outside in AZ since May, so this was heavenly!
 Almost as heavenly as being in paradise with my love.
Aloha indeed!

Family in The City

 My sister Chrysti and her family moved to Redding, CA in the middle of June.  One of the things they all were looking forward to doing was visiting San Francisco.  We planned to meet in the city and play for the day.
It was cool and foggy.  As it has been said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Fransico."
This desert dwelling crew was so cold we needed hot chocolate to warm us up.  The cousins had a blast running around together.  We were disappointed to find out the seals are away for mating season, but the views of Alcatraz were great.  There is so much see in the city and only so much time, one of these trips we will make it over to see it up close.  We did walk through China town.
Well, some of us walked and others got carried around like a Prince.
 Riding the cable cars has eluded us on every prior trip, so it was the priority this time.  After waiting in a long line, we finally got on.  All aboard!
 It was worth the wait.  The kids loved it and we had fun seeing the sights of the city.  The conductor was really nice and offered Titus a chance to ring the bell!
Another must to do while in San Fran is Ghiradelli square and clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.
The kids demolished their clam chowder.  Luckily Nana remember to send Oreos and marshmallows for Hank because he couldn't eat anything at Ghiradelli due to his peanut allergy. :(  He was pretty satisfied with an Oreo marshmallow cookie.
Of course the adults had to sample some California beers.
It was such a treat to explore the city with family and get to hang out together one more time.  Until next time San Francisco!