Aloha! When talks of moving to China started in earnest, we discussed the possibility of "meeting in the middle" with family for a reunion. We felt like the "middle" happened to be in Hawaii (sorry Alaska)! The week before Easter my mother and Jamie's parents met our family in Honolulu for some sun, fun, sand and grandchildren. The girls and I also happened to meet Jamie in Honolulu...again, I found myself flying with the girls alone (a 9 hour flight this time) to meet Jamie in our vacation destination. He had spent the previous week in the US at the home office and having dinner with all of my friends (and his friends too)!
I want it publicly known that my children were amazing travelers! I don't remember if I've mentioned this before, but for long flights I print out preschool & kindergarten theme-based activity packets from a homeschool website and put them in plastic folders for them. They get so excited now to see what packet they are going to get next! I never pulled out the iPad, LBean didn't use her Leapster, and they didn't watch any movies (we were on a Chinese airline). They entertained themselves, slept, and worked on their packets.
We flew through the night and arrived early in the morning. Jamie came the night before and we were able to meet him at our hotel room. LBean was excited and ready to go, so after Jamie made a quick trip to the medical prompt care clinic (he was treated for strep), they headed to the beach. EBean quickly dressed for the beach too, but like me, succumbed to the jet-lag and we napped most of the morning.
|EBean napping in her swimsuit. Thankfully no one|
got a picture of me napping!
My mom and Jamie's parents arrived later that evening. By that time, the girls and Jamie had already fallen fast asleep, so I went out with the grandparents for dinner and we all turned in early. The next day we walked two blocks to the Honolulu Zoo. The zoo was the perfect size for our girls and we enjoyed walking around in the shade and looking at the animals.
|Renting a double stroller was the best decision of the day!|
|I voted for a Dippin' Dots break, the girls agreed.|
|DiDi and LBean.|
|Me and my girls!|
|Jamie took some really great pictures of the plants|
and animals at the zoo. The hibiscus is the
state flower of Hawaii.
|I think we have another budding photographer.|
|There was a petting zoo too, but LBean elected to|
just take the animals pictures instead.
The next day we took the Honolulu City & Pearl Harbor tour. Our driver took us through Honolulu's Chinatown (as big as a few city blocks). He asked if anyone in the tour group had a Chinatown in their home cities. Jamie and I enthusiastically raised our hands! We stopped at the Honolulu Courthouse and looked at the King Kamehameha statue and used the nice courthouse bathrooms. LBean & EBean reported back that the courthouse had sitter potties. LBean and I liked the two story mailbox that had a mail chute from the second floor that dropped the mail into the mailbox on the first floor.
|Grandma Callie & EBean by the|
King Kamehameha statue.
Our next stop was Pearl Harbor to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. In grade school I was able to participate in a program called "Kid University" at Western Illinois University. One of the "classes" I chose was all about Hawaii. Our teacher was a really great teacher and she told us a story about how one Sunday morning in early December she and her father went out for an early morning drive and stopped high on a hill to take in the view. As they were parked on the hill they saw the Japanese fly in for their attack on Pearl Harbor. It still gives chills when I think about it.
|That anchor is huge!|
|On the boat and approaching the USS Arizona Memorial.|
|A portion of the ship above the water.|
|Still leaking oil after all these years.|
|There were smiles there too.|
|Leaving the memorial.|
After visiting the Arizona memorial, we spent some time touring a submarine, the USS Bowfish, which is docked near the Pearl Harbor memorial. The girls enjoyed crawling through the submarine. After lunch we visited the U.S.S. Missouri (Truman's home state) where the Japanese signed their surrender at the end of World War II.
|This one is for Grandpa Weiser.|
Our family hearts Apple products.
After a few days on Waikiki beach, we headed north to a resort on the beach. We had arranged for each of the girls to receive a new sand bucket filled with goodies. The next morning we walked next door to the Disney Aulani resort for a character breakfast with Mickey and a few of his pals. Now that we've had character breakfasts at three different Disney resorts, I have to say that this was the best breakfast by far. It was very relaxed, not over-crowded and very interactive. "Auntie" entertained all of the diners with Hawaiian songs, taught the children how to make music with coconuts, and led a parade around the restaurant.
|LBean making some music with coconuts.|
|GrandLarry enjoying his morning coffee.|
|A view of the beach at our hotel.|
|Grandma Callie pointing out the rays,|
starfish and sharks in the water at our resort.
|One of my Hawaiian princesses.|
On Saturday night we walked next door for a Hawaiian luau. I took the girls out in a boat. The guy that was helping to paddle was not expecting me to say that we were visiting from China. He said he kew a little Chinese and asked me to say something. Under pressure, the only thing I could think of to say was "Wo ai xing baca", which means "I love Starbucks"!
|LBean getting a tattoo.|
|A different kind of lei bracelet.|
We rented a van on Sunday and took a little drive around the island. We stopped at the Dole Plantation before driving up to the North Shore. Because we had the van all day, we made two trips to Target and Jamie and I had a movie date-night.
|LBean reading the map for us.|
|EBean marking off her card in the pineapple maze.|
|Riding the Pineapple Express|
I think one of the highlights for me happened on the last full day we were at the resort. We spent the morning in a more secluded lagoon near the resort and two sea turtles came into the lagoon. The turtles might have come up on the sand if I didn't keep shrieking "look, look there are sea turtles" and scaring them away. I'm from the midwest, so anything sea-related is very exciting for me!
|We flew China Eastern air, so we were|
allowed 2 checked bags per person. It wasn't
quite as much as Christmas, but very close!
|Two jet-lagged girls.|
Jamie and I also enjoyed running into Target to buy Easter candy, shoes & swimming suits for the girls, and presents for LBean's birthday. We also had fun sneaking off to see the first Hunger Games movie on a Sunday night. I have a strong suspicion that the movie will not make it to China.
Now, it's time to start thinking about where to meet the grandparents next!