Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Back home

I kept them well for 2 full months. One week back in our regularly schedule programming (MOPS, Awana, BSF), and they are both sick now. As much as it stinks to be stuck at home this week, I'm so thankful that I get to be the one home with them this week giving them a few extra snuggles. 

Octopus hot dogs makes it all better
We made some valentines hearts...

Keaton calls this his spiderweb heart.
getting a glimpse of the outside world...
This is his new smile...
I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt because he's sick, but

it's gotta go.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Return to Oahu

After we returned from the Big Island, my parents only had a couple of days left of their visit. 
We spent their last 48 hours in Hawaii visiting our favorite Oahu sites and eats. 
Dig Brumbra!
I held good on my promise to get my dad some doughnuts at Regal Bakery
Next stop: the ZOO! 
Mark's new obsession is giraffes. As soon as we enter the zoo, he no patience for other animal. "See JAFFS, Mama! See JAFFS!"
oh those freckles!
Papa's birthday dinner at Kona!
Birthday cake to celebrate Daddy and Papa's birthday.
What a fun and memorable time we had with Brumbra and Papa! We miss them!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Part 4: Star gazing and Manta Rays!

Thanks to my parents, Scott and I were able to escape for two separate evenings together without the boys, which is such a rare treat for us! On Saturday night, we had dinner at a yummy restaurant right on Hilo Bay, Cafe Pesto. After dinner, we drove up to Mauna Kea (Hawaii's highest peak) to the star observatory. Mauna Kea's altitude and isolation in the middle of the Pacific ocean make it an ideal location for astronomical observation. Astronomers from all over the world travel to Mauna Kea to star gaze. It was a clear and beautiful night, and we had fun learning about constellations on the star tour. FYI: excellent people watching too! (Picture: Star Trek convention) :-)

On Monday night, we signed up for a night snorkel with a professional diving company. The adventure started with a 30 minute boat ride down the coast to "Manta Heaven," an area near the Kona airport where manta rays are often spotted feeding at dusk. We admired the beautiful sunset along the way. We saw whales in the distance and even some spinner dolphins swimming alongside our boat!

It was such a beautiful evening!
Once it was dark and we got our instructions, we suited up and jumped in the dark water, hoping to see some mantas!
For those of you who know me well, you know that I'm not a huge fan of open water, large sea creatures, or snorkeling for that matter. This was a big deal for me. So thankful for friends and a husband that challenge me to try things out of my comfort zone!
Scott and I are in the top left corner of this picture. We swam holding on to a surfboard with lights in the middle. The plankton in the water is attracted to the light, and the mantas are attracted to the plankton. The manta rays (some over 10ft in width!) literally swim straight for the surf board and do a  back flip right when they get to us, scooping the plankton into their open mouths. It was a little bit scary at first, I have to admit.
That's me on the right looking straight down in the mouth of a giant manta ray. I learned on this trip that manta rays are extremely peaceful and friendly creatures. They have no teeth (so they can't bite!) and unlike sting rays and eagle rays, they have no barb or stinger, so they could not hurt us.
That's Scott.  The mantas were close enough that we had to really concentrate NOT to touch them.
Our guide told us that on average, they see 5-6 mantas per night. We saw over 20!
I can easily say our time in the water with these animals was one of the most unique and thrilling 45 minutes of my life! If you come to Hawaii, don't miss this! We used Kona Diving Company. Our guide and boat captain were super friendly and helpful. We highly recommend them! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Part 3: Hilton Waikaloa Village

We spent our last three nights at the Hilton Waikaloa Village on the northwest coast of the island. Most of these pictures speak for themselves. This place was crazy awesome. It is Hilton's largest resort in the world. I'm pretty sure all of us could have forgotten our life back home and stayed here forever.

There was this amazing lagoon in the middle of the resort full of tropical fish and all kinds sea creatures. You could snorkle, paddle boat, paddle board... or just admire from the bank, which is what we did most of the time.
Is that an eel?
Yes! Ewwwww!
And then there was the pool...
With waterfalls!
With hot tubs under the waterfalls!
And water slides...
In the the words of Keaton, "I'm going to do this all day. No lunch. No dinner..."
In the words of Mark, "Waterslide AGAIN!!!"
And a dolphin tank!
And sea turtles!
Pina Coladas and smoothies by the pool!

Brain freeze.
Also not pictured (except in our expanding waistlines): the BIG ISLAND BREAKFAST. Every morning, Keaton would choose a bowl of fruit loops, a muffin, a donut, and some fruit. Oh yeah, and don't forget the chocolate milk!
Beautiful sunset on our last evening
"Mom, can we move to the Big Island?"