Sunday, October 30, 2016

October in Texas, Riding Horses, Being Bucked, Normal Life...

Days in the Life...

Monday (the beginning of October) we jumped back into normal life in Texas. Just like going to Maui, coming home is (aside from the reality of not being in Maui anymore and the difficult adjustment to the time difference) a relatively seamless transition. We pick up where we left off and keep on keeping on.

Because I could hear pretty much nothing and wasn't feeling so well on my actual birthday we postponed my birthday breakfast with Mom and Dad until Monday morning. For the first time in 5 years I got to pick somewhere to eat for my birthday in Texas. Naturally I chose Seven Mile Cafe.

We had a lovely breakfast and enjoyed visiting and making plans for the following several weeks.

In the afternoon I ran some errands for Dad. On my way out the door I stopped dead in my tracks to take a few seconds and be shocked over the size of this bush! It grew overnight it seemed! Never mind the fact that I had not seen it in almost a month...

That night Gramma and Grandpa came out for dinner to catch up with us and celebrate my birthday. Chloe and Gramma put together a beautiful photo-book for my gift that used pictures Chloe had taken and poetry I had written. I love it!! 

Tuesday was pretty quiet as far as I can remember. We were still not getting up until close to 8:30 or 9:00, but we were pretty close to over our jet-lag for the most part. Gabe's gym schedule changed and he now has practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon/evenings. 

Wednesday it was still 80 degrees outside and hot enough that I wore summer clothes. 

Mia and Ava had their gymnastics class that morning.

In the afternoon I drew a logo for 
the baking business Chloe and I have started. 

Island Time Baking. 

We had our engagement group that night and it was soooooooo good to gather with everyone again. For me it had been over two months since I'd met with our group. Needless to say, it was a special time. 

Thursday morning we got to have breakfast and visit with one of the young moms in our group and her little girls. They had stayed the night next door with Nana and Grandfather instead of driving home so late after dark. We greatly enjoyed playing with the babies. *wink* 

I went to spend time with a friend in the afternoon and Gabe had gym. 

Friday I got to get up at 5:00 am (yes, that pushed me into fully adjusting to the time difference) to be at Kate and Blaire's house by 6:00. It was my first time to go to their house for the day and being there was actually much easier on all three of us. 

They both slept until close to 7:30 so I got to eat and have coffee and spend time reading my Bible before they got up. After that I didn't really get a break, because caring for a two year old and a 3 month old is a full-time occupation. 

Kate being so big, feeding herself breakfast. 

She is seriously the happiest little girl ever!! 

She found my Bible and wanted to read it. 

Blaire is SO peaceful! 

The day went really, really well. The thing I was most nervous about was caring for the two indoor dogs they have, one of which is VERY large. It went just fine, though. I only almost got knocked over once, I think. 

Blaire was on a super easy two hour schedule and Kate took a really good afternoon nap. I was pretty worn out by the time I got home at 6:00 pm, though. 

That night the littles watched "Planes" and the rest of us watches "Courageous." I only cried 7 times... It was really good. 

Saturday was a pretty normal day for everyone as far as I can remember. And church that night was good. 

Sunday we had a normal morning together and made brunch and all that. A little after noon, one of my friends from Summit, Micah, came to take me to way out into the country to spend the afternoon with Jake and Rebecca (also friends from Summit). Rebecca and I had both had birthdays within the past two weeks so we were celebrating together! 

We met up at a Mexican restaurant for lunch because none of the other three had eaten yet. I politely stared at them while they ate. 

From there we went to Jake's house to ride horses! 

The last time I had ridden a horse was last August and that horse was super stubborn and hardly moved at all. It also tried to buck me a little and drug me under a tree. So of course I wanted to ride again! 

Rebecca taught me how to saddle the horse I was going to ride. She had to put the saddle on the horse, though, because, you know, saddles weigh like 50 lbs and horses are tall....

I spent a lot of time petting my horse and talking to it and brushing it down and being really sweet to it because I really wanted this horse to like me. And not buck me. 

Chloe rides horses way more than I do, so on the way home from church the night before she told me some of the things I should do, which was helpful. She was positive they would have a mounting block, but they did not. I was still able to get on by myself, though!

Jake and Rebecca are pretty much pro-horse-riders and Micah had not ridden in a long time. Like, four years...

We rode on a trail for a little ways and then entered a pasture area and rode around in that for a while and then went back to the trail and back to the barn.

The first five minutes were great! My horse walked very nicely and I wasn't too nervous at all. Okay, I just wasn't death scared yet. I was just nervous.

Because Jake is a pro (and his horse is the most wild and crazy of the four), once we got to a good spot, he took off. That meant Micah's horse followed Jake's (because those two horses like to race a lot). And because Rebecca is also a pro, she took off after the guys. And that meant my horse also started trotting and then cantering and then running because it didn't want to get left behind. Although I would have been just fine with that.

I called out "Umm guys...!" enough times that the others slowed down and the horses started walking again, but not until after my horse dragged me under a tree while running, which caused me to lose both stirrups and the reins. Laughing didn't help me keep my balance either. *wink*

So after ten minutes I'd almost fallen off once, but I thought going fast was kind of fun as long as I was with the others.

Posting is going up and down in rhythm with the motion of the horse. I kind of got it and kind of didn't based on how fast the horse was going. Micah kind of didn't get it at all. Well, I mean, he got the up and down part down perfectly!! Just...not in rhythm with his horse... Jake and Rebecca were very helpful, though, they are great encouragers. "Up and down, guys, go up and down." "With the horse, Micah, with the horse." "I'm going up and down, but not the way you're telling me to!"

Once we got into that pasture area all the horses started all out racing. (At least that's what it felt like to me...maybe they were just cantering...I'm not a very good horse-woman. Obviously. *wink*) Micah's horse turned around, though, and raced back to the trail and disappeared. I was saying "Umm guys..!" and "Whoa!!" and trying not to fall off or laugh too hard. Finally I pulled so hard on the reins that my horse stopped, but by that time I had made her mad.

So she bucked me once.

"Umm guys!!"

She bucked again, a little harder.


She bucked a third time, even harder.

*A very loud scream that Micah heard clearly all the way across the pasture where he was just reappearing*

Jake finally got over to me, grabbed my horse's reins, and made her stop. I asked about three times if I could get down before he realized I was serious. Rebecca was laughing and Micah was finally getting back over to the rest of us. I got down and held Jake's horse while he jumped on mine and whipped her into shape again. She even tried to buck him! But he wouldn't have any of that behavior from her.

Rebecca and I ended up trading horses.

That was after 20 minutes of riding.

This was just after I got off 
my horse and was holding Jake's for him.

After that I was a lot more nervous and horses are extremely smart so my new horse could tell and that made her act weird too, but she at least didn't buck me. 

We rode around in the pasture more and got the horses water before heading back. 

Cowboy Jake. I'm serious, 
he is the true definition of a Texan Cowboy.

Jake and Rebecca.

Me and Micah.
(His horse was HUGE!!)

I don't really remember this part of the ride, but apparently towards the end Jake and Micah's horses ran off and mine and Rebecca's started to run as well. I screamed and our two horses stopped running. When we caught up to the guys a neighbor was asking them if we were okay because he had heard me scream all the way up the trail and inside his house. 

Jake has a bucking barrel to practice on for bull riding at the Rodeo (see, told you, real cowboy), so after we unsaddled all the horses and got them brushed down (I was able to get the saddle off the horse by myself..!), Micah and Jake suggested I ride the bucking barrel. 

I just glared at them. And by "glared" I mean I tried really hard to look stubborn and serious, but really I was trying to not smile because I am horrible at acting mad at people. Rebecca is much braver than I am so she did ride it. After she fell off twice and neither Micah, nor Jake caught her even though they were standing right there, I was really positive I did NOT want to pretend to be bucked. Especially since I had already been bucked for real. And was still shaking from it over an hour later...

All in all, it was a successful ride! Nobody actually fell off a horse and we all laughed plenty and now have fun memories to treasure always. And remind us - er - me, why I am kind of, sort of, scared of riding horses...*wink* 

After that adventure Micah and I went to his house to see his family and get cleaned up to go to dinner with Jake and Rebecca. We were all pretty tired (and some of us were already sore...) but we had a good time and were sad when it was time for us to all head back home. 


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Beach Yoga, Jumping off Cliffs, Back to Texas and Another Birthday

Days in the Life...

Monday we were trying really hard not to cry about leaving in three days. Yes, we are horrible about leaving Maui and we know it. I blogged some that morning which was like one of the few times I actually blogged there at all despite my good intentions to do a ton of blogging and that's an obvious statement because we have been home almost three weeks and I am still blogging about being gone and now you have a run on sentence that is completely crossed out and then we all went to the beach.

We had purchased a volleyball the night before so all us kids went out on the burning lava sand to play. Some of us are more coordinated than others. Gabe was especially good at diving saves.

After that I actually picked up my journal and wrote into it for the first time in.........a life time(?). Anyways, that's a whole other rant.

It was nice and quiet that morning because Dad and almost all the other kids swam/snorkeled around Black Rock.

We had a late lunch or whatever we could find and enjoyed the rest of the beautiful day at the beach.

Mom and Dad did some cool yoga (ish) moves.

That night the adults went out to dinner and the rest of us watched "Tammy and the Doctor."

Tuesday was another day at the beach trying not to cry. 

Gabe chilling with his passion fruit juice.

Dad and his baby. 

So, I can't really remember if I have said something about this previously, but on this trip (and some last year as well) Christian and Ava really enjoyed swimming around Black Rock with Mr David and Mr Mike (two beach grandparent-type friends). Christian swam around pretty close to every day and Dad went several times as well. Ava started going with him some. Then one day they came back and announced they had jumped off Black Rock! 

Black Rock is a huge lava formation with boulders and coral and fish and turtles and everything else all around it. If it's a clear day, the snorkeling around it is great! The swim is very long, though, and the rock juts way out of the water. Essentially, they were cliff-diving. Except that they weren't diving, just jumping. 

Every day they asked who else wanted to go with them. So Monday Mia and Gabe went with Dad and Christian and Ava. Finally, I gave in. I was kind of tired of being asked to go and told that I would have so much fun, so I figured if I went ahead and just went I would know if I actually enjoyed it and did want to do it more often, or I would know that it really wasn't fun to me and could tell them to stop asking. 

By the time I agreed to go that afternoon there was a whole group of us going! 

This is Black Rock. Yes, that entire thing, all of it.
It's a very, very long swim around.

Now, that morning when they went it had been calm and clear. But by the time we were setting out the water had gotten very choppy and it wasn't so clear. Some people had flippers and the littles all had flotation devices of some sort. But some of the others of us had....goggles. 

Long story short, the swim was very tiring, one of us may have fallen behind completely and another of us may have tried to keep eyes on the two groups and it's possible someone's swimsuit fell off while they were in the middle of the ocean all alone, but we won't go into any more detail there or name fingers and point out names. (Or however you say that.) 

So we all got around and then the adventurous ones began climbing out of the water onto the rock to then monkey climb up to the ledge where you can jump off. That ledge happens to be very, very small, and about 20 feet above the water. I was NOT going to jump until I asked some friends if they thought jumping off a 20 foot cliff into the ocean sounded like something I would do. When their answers were, "Nope," "Definitely not," and "Not unless you got scared and accidentally fell off," I decided I wanted to prove them wrong. Plus Ava had done it 10 times and loved it. And then Dad did it too, so I was pretty sure it was safe. 

Climbing up onto the rock is one of hardest parts because the waves are hitting the rock and there isn't really a good place to grab it. Once you are on the rock, you kind of just have to crawl up it until you get to the top. Then you squat down and inch over to the ledge. To jump you have to stand up and make sure there are no people in the way in the water. The very hardest part is actually standing up on the ledge. I'm sitting here typing this and shaking just from the memory of what it is like....  

Once you stand up you have to just jump, otherwise you risk standing there looking at the water from so high up and remaining there paralyzed for the rest of your life, or you could slip and fall, because, you know, it's a wet rock with stuff growing on it... One of our friends had a go-pro so they videoed, Christian, Dad, Ava, and I all taking turns jumping. 

The first time I jumped (yes, I said first) I kept my eyes open and screamed all the way until I hit the water. You'd think you would fall faster, but it feels like FOREVER before you hit the water!! 

I came up laughing and sputtering, watched the others jump a few times, and somehow talked myself into doing it again. 

And NO, it was NOT because it was fun the first time. 

I wanted to prove that I could do it again, and this time without screaming. I did that and decided it was definitely still not fun to me. 

Then I realized I had left my goggles up on the rock so I would have to jump again in order to get them. So I jumped a third time and then our group decided to head back to our beach. We ended up being gone well over an hour by the time we swam around and everyone who wanted to jumped. 

By the end of the trip Ava had jumped off the rock 25 times and Christian had lost count. Both of them, as well as Dad, found it really fun. 

I decided I didn't need to swim around or jump again. Possibly ever. We will see. 

Back at the cabana I was ready to read my book and rest. The adventure was definitely a workout. 

Empty cabana.

Worn out me.

Mom and Dad went on a walk that night. 

Wednesday Mom and I went to Island Vintage Coffee for one more breakfast and coffee date together before going home. 

We had a really nice time together and then headed back to start getting ready for our last day at the beach. 

Chloe's and my room.

Living area/where Ava slept.


End of the trip tan.

When girls wash their swimsuits.

Our last day was peaceful and gorgeous. We ignored reality as much as we could and continued making memories. Chloe swam around the rock with the group that went that day, but did not jump, which is totally fine. We stayed down there as long as we could and then headed to the room to take showers, begin packing, and go out to dinner at Cool Cat Cafe. 

Everyone enjoyed their burgers and root beer floats. 

When we girls got back to our room we opened the door and our noses were murdered by the most horrible smell ever! It was so rank and was almost like dirty diapers, but magnified by 18 thousand and throughout our entire room. If I'm exaggerating its only a little bit. We ran to the big sliding doors to air out the condo and tried really hard not to throw up. The gagging was real. 

It ended up coming from something in the trash, so once we got it out of the room we were able to clear the air a little bit and finish packing and getting ready for bed. 

Thursday we got up on the early side (6:15) and wrapped up the last things we had to do in our room. Then we loaded Aunt Cendei's van and headed to Leoda's for breakfast. Mom, Dad, and the other kids soon followed us. 

Driving in Maui is so beautiful. 

My breakfast. 

We all really enjoyed breakfast and had plenty of time to sit around and pout about leaving. Just kidding, we had a nice time and were grateful for the trip and all the fun memories and appropriately dealt with our sadness. 

Everything at the airport went smoothly and we got to our gate in plenty of time. 

He is so stinking cute!

On the plane.

Possibly the most beautiful airplane view I've ever seen.

Our flight to Seattle left about 1:30 and we got in about 9:30 local time. We were so glad we got in before the airport restaurants all closed for the night. 

The sunset from the plane was so pretty!


No one really slept on either flight, despite our best efforts. 

Aunt Sherry and Uncle James met us at the airport at 5:00 am local time Friday with our truck. All our bags made it home safe and sound so we loaded up and drove home. It was still mostly dark when we arrived so we climbed in bed and slept until about noon. Chloe was unable to sleep at all and I had trouble getting to sleep, but I think everyone else was able to get at least 5 hours of good rest before we all dragged ourselves out of bed. 

Some of the kids had minor colds the day we left, and I got a cold on the plane. By the time we were landing in Texas the pressure had completely clogged both my ears so I could barely hear anything. I thought they would clear up when we landed but they did not. At home I hoped sleeping would take care of it. When I woke up it was worse. I decided to get used to it and move on. Having a cold, though was not very fun.

Mom went to Costco and the rest of us worked on unpacking. 

That night we watched "Les Miserables" and went to bed around midnight. 

Gorgeous Texas sunset.

Saturday was my 19th birthday! Mom and Dad and I were going to go to breakfast but since I still couldn't hear and didn't feel very well, we decided to sleep in and go when I felt better. 

I actually woke up at 8:00 and had the quiet house to myself because no one else woke up until almost noon. 

Most of the day was pretty laid back and I started feeling little better, though I still really could hardly hear anything. We did a lot of sitting around talking until it was time to start getting ready for church. 

My friend from Summit, Rebecca, came over a little before I had to leave and we got to visit for a bit. Then she rode with Christian, Ava, and I to church where another friend from Summit, Micah, met us. 

I was still asked to play piano that night and was so glad to be back. Playing piano by faith since you can't hear anything is rather interesting. It seemed to go just fine, though. 

It was my birthday as well as one of our pastor's birthday so they had a cake with our names on it for after the service. It was so good to see everyone and get to catch up from being gone. We love our church family so, so much. 

At home we were all still wide awake of course so we sat around talking in the living room and Nana and Grandfather came over to see us for a bit. We were able to go to sleep around 1:00 am. 

Sunday we made our yummy brunch meal and had a restful afternoon. 

Then Nana, Grandfather, Aunt Lauren, and Uncle Phil all came over to celebrate my birthday and catch up with us since we'd been gone. It was so much fun. 

After they left we watched "The Phantom of the Opera." By then I was finally able to hear a little better.

And then we experienced the hardest "coming home night," the third night. Most people took a long time to fall asleep, but Chloe and I had the record. 

Still awake at 3:00 am. 

That Moment When...

You cut your fingers on a cardboard box.

The Herd: Quoted 

"Can we just stay another mon- 3 mont- 9 months please?" -Mia

"Happy birthday!" -Mom to me.
"Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot about that." -Dad who had been talking to me for the past 10 minutes before anyone else was up.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Gecko Infested Foliage and What Else We Did in Maui

Days in the Life...

Monday morning we got up a little on the early side so that we could head back to "our side of the island." First, though, we had a lovely breakfast and got to help with some cleaning and laundry.

Aunt Cendei took all the other kids in her van and they turned on some good music and settled down for the drive back.

Mom, Dad, and I made a stop at Costco and then had lunch at "Leoda's". They have the best bread and pie for sale on the island, so of course their lunch sandwiches are pretty amazing, too. The fresh tuna salad sandwiches have completely ruined Dad and me for tuna forever. No more canned stuff for us.

The airport in the valley.

The mountain was so green from all the rain!

We were all pretty worn out by the time we got back to our rooms so I think about half of us actually laid down and took naps! The rest of the afternoon some people went to the beach for a little while and the rest of us continued resting. I know Chloe had school deadlines to work on. 

The porch outside of our bedroom. 

Two week tan.

That night we ate dinner in the room and watched "God's Not Dead 2". One of my speakers from Summit, Dr. J Warner Wallace, was featured in the movie so that was really cool! 

Tuesday morning Mom and I went to breakfast and coffee at Island Vintage Coffee. We shared the amazing peanut butter mango sandwich that is so good it "saves puppies from burning buildings" according to Uncle Phil. And of course there were lattes as well. *Wink* 

My hair got a little sun-bleached. 

We met everyone else down at the beach for one of the most beautiful days yet! The water was so crystal clear and everything was lovely.

Gabe is so strong! 

Playing football with a friend.

It was a little windy so my attempts to draw on the beach didn't work so well... 

We usually see at least one rainbow every day there.

For dinner that night we went to an Italian place. Dad and the other kids walked around Front Street for a while after we ate and Mom, Aunt Cendei, and I went back to the rooms. 

Gorgeous as always. 

Wednesday the others headed to the beach and Mom and I went shopping. We were going to go to the mall, but after having so much fun at Old Navy we decided we could go back. 

We got down to the beach in time to have lunch with the others. Most days lunch was leftovers from restaurants, or sandwiches, or snack-y foods, or all of the above. We were very laid back about it for the most part. 

Unfortunately, Mom and I missed seeing the huge sea turtle that came up onto the beach that morning, but we did get to see the dolphins that came in really close to shore that afternoon! 

Dad took a picture. 

We stayed late at the beach pretty much every day that week, enjoying the beautiful weather, quiet cabana, and the friends from around the world that were there with us at the same time. Since we go to Maui around the same time every year we know several other couples/families who do the same. Not everyone was able to make it this year, but we enjoyed Mr. David and Mrs. Pat from Canada and the Bartlett family from Australia.

Late afternoon. 

*Heart eyes* 

Mom and Dad went out for a while in the evening (Mom actually got pulled into a hula show and danced on the stage for a few minutes while Dad declined on account of he had to hold the cinnamon rolls that they had purchased). The rest of us ate and watched "Fiddler of the Roof". 

Thursday morning Dad made us a yummy breakfast to go with the cinnamon rolls they bought the night before. Everything tastes better when he makes it, even eggs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

The kids enjoying their food. 
(The boys slept on that pull-out couch and 
Mia slept on the couch cushions on the floor.)

Mom and Dad's room. And yes, they each had their own bed.

We enjoyed another lovely day at the beach and then cleaned up to go to Lahaina Pizza Company for dinner, with live music and the best deep-dish pizza ever. After that we got gelato and listened to the waves crashing below the raised deck where we sat under the stars. 

Friday I can't remember anything interesting taking place... 

Usually the kids would spend quite a bit of time down in the water looking for sea glass and shells. Chloe is still the best at finding the most, highest "quality" pieces. Never mind the fact that she needs glasses and can't wear them in the water.... They also enjoyed boogie boarding on the waves and playing in the sand. When they got tired they would come in to play "Scrabble" or a card game of some sort. Mia was the usual winner. No, nobody helped her. Mom and I spent a lot of time sitting in the sun reading and talking. 

That night, after a long day at the beach, we watched "Pirates of the Caribbean" and ate key lime pie. (Yes, we had eaten our dinner already. *wink*) 

Saturday the Hodges joined us at our beach again for the day. 

Two older couples watched all the kids on the beach and approached Dad to tell him how impressed they were with our family and how good the kids are (something that happened almost daily while we were there). We don't stand out quite as much in Texas (though we do some), but we really stand out in Maui. They offered us the use of their two stand-up paddle boards as much as we would like that day.  

Gabe, Caeley, me.

Me and Ava.

Dad and me.

(I'm sorry, the other pictures 
with more people did not make it onto my phone.)

Almost everyone got on at some point for a turn. 

I got on one and was immediately joined by three other kids, which sank the board and made us all fall off. So one child left. Eventually we all got on it and I stood up to paddle. 

As long as the others were still and let me tip the board back and forth to keep my balance we were okay, but if I tipped too far and they tried to counter-balance we all fell off. Then of course someone else wanted to paddle and I kept falling off the back head over heels. So I got off eventually and swam back to the beach. 

In the process of falling and swimming my bun came out. So then when I attempted to gather it up and get out of the water the weight of my wet hair knocked me off balance and back into the waves. Yes. I know, I'm a mess.

After a while I got a turn by myself and that made it much easier. I'm telling you, though, its a workout! My legs were probably shaking for an hour after I got off.

We stayed at the beach for a long time and then some of the kids went to the pool. Chloe and I went back to our room and FaceTimed some friends.

So pretty...

That night Mia was running a fever so she and Mom stayed home, but the rest of us went to dinner with the Hodges at Aloha Mixed Plate. 

Other pictures from the beach. 

And another of the sunset.

Sunday some of the kids weren't feeling well/were worn out, so just Mom, Chloe, and I went to church on the beach. 

We got coffee on our way.

Our view from church.

We had a lovely time together and the service was very special. 

When we got back the kids were a little more lively and we all sat on the porch to visit and talk about the trip. 

After a lunch of whatever we could find, we settled down to watch "Pride and Prejudice." Mia's commentary was especially hilarious. 

After that some people went to the beach and others went to their rooms to rest some more. 

That night we went to Cheeseburger in Paradise for dinner. 

Brooks Mcquire has been singing to us for 16 years at that restaurant. 

The Herd: Quoted 

"I'm so glad you don't wear a white wig and tights, Dad." -Me while watching "Pride and Prejudice" 
"That can be arranged...your wedding, how 'period' do you want it to be?" -Dad  

"Maybe we can have him for dinner!" -Chloe 
"Have him for dinner? That's not very nice..." -Ava  

"I don't mind placing my foot down in gecko infested foliage but..." -Chloe