Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Maui Wowie's a month later!

I'm going to jump right in here because it's time to make dinner and I just spent all of my writing time uploading pictures, plus I'm right in the middle of reading a really good book and my Kindle won't read itself. 

It's a rough life.

Here it is, my trip to Maui as Instagrammed by yours truly:

This was my first Maui sunrise. There are no words for this.

There are words for this, though. We drove the famed road to Hana. It is a 50 mile trip which takes an entire day because of all of the food that you have to stop and try along the way. There are also a lot of things to see along this road, like waterfalls and jungles and rainbow eucalyptus trees and these birds:
At the end of the road we hiked through this absolutely breathtaking, spectacular, awe-inspiring, (insert adjective that might seem exaggerated but it's not) bamboo forest which is now among the top 5 places I have ever visited in my entire life.
And this is the only way to exit a convertible when you are 5'10".
 On Saturday Lisa and I ran a half marathon. The runners all piled into school buses which dropped us off at the start line in Iao Valley State Park. It looks like this:
And it RAINED. When the starting conch was blown we were sloshing through about four inches of water on the road and it kept raining - a heavenly, drenching rain that did not let up for the entire 13.1 miles. I loved it. The pain of the run, not so much.
After that the clouds broke we ate some roadside food and crashed on the beach like a couple of hobos.

A day or two later (the whole trip was a blur, really) we drove to the other side of the island to see the Nakalele Blowhole, which, for the record, is not a water park. 
It looks like this:
And this. I told Chancho that this is the birthplace of all heart-shaped rocks. Pretty sure he knew I was full of it.
I love Maui. When days get rough, and I am sure my rough days will come, this is where I will go in my mind:

On my last day in heaven, Lisa and I did a little bit of paddle boarding. Long story short, I fell a lot. One time, in an effort to avoid falling in the ocean, I fell right on top of my board and paddle and knocked the wind out of myself. It was humiliating, BUT I didn't have to get eaten by a stingray. I saw a stingray that could have eaten me, so I know they exist and that they don't like people from the mainland.
Finally, shave ice. I think I tried every flavor. If your future travel plans take you to the islands, be sure to get the haupia ice cream on bottom, the mochi, and the snow cap on top. That's the only way to do it. I even brought a little one home with me and put it on my car. I might have a small addiction. 
Now I am home, reunited with my children and my husband and Texas. I miss my sister. I miss Maui. But I wouldn't trade these guys for a million Maui sunsets or shave ices or bamboo forests:
It's good to be home. :)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lets go to the beach!

Nothing is a testament to the crappiness of February like the silence on this blog. February is the worst, is it not? But now it is over and I have nothing on which to blame my binge eating of Oreo cookies and so I write.

January was a rollercoaster. One Saturday my husband said, "Hey, you wanna do somethin'?"

I said, "Always."

And so he goes, "Let's go to the beach."

To which I will always reply, "Yes! Let's go to the beach!"

So we drove to Corpus Christi, which is an industrial-looking city on the southern coast of the Republic of Texas. I had low expectations. I envisioned oily trash on oily beaches with oily oil rigs looming on the horizon. You know me, always the optimist.

Maybe we were there on a good weekend, but the beach was perfect: silky sand, 72 degrees, and sunny. There were sand dollars, starfish, and hermit crabs to catch. AND it turned out to be one of those fee-free weekends at Padre Island National Seashore, so the whole adventure was FREE! ...if you don't count the gas and hotel and Subway sandwich expenses. 

The weather has fluctuated from 32 to 78 degrees every week since January. We had a bunch of cancelled school days because of ice. And a bunch of toasty warm days when we wore shorts and flip flops and forgot what month it was.

This was one such toasty Saturday:
 We "hiked" "Mount" Bonnell. If it wasn't obvious from the sarcastic quotation marks, I use the terms "hike" and "mount" loosely. It wasn't so much a hike as it was a picturesque walk up some steps. And it was not so much a mount as it was a slight change in elevation which overlooked the Colorado River.
Some time after that I injured my ankle while out running. It is one of those mysterious injuries that makes me walk with a limp and makes my husband think that I am faking it so that I can sit around all day reading books on my kindle, as illustrated by Macey:
Yep. That is how my children see their me - wearing a fake ace bandage so that I can sit on the couch and goof around on my phone.

For the record, there is something legitimately wrong with my ankle.

Lastly, this:
Sorry about the crummy photography, but is that not the sweetest thing ever? Kids are so funny. They do not think twice about crawling up and sitting on someone's shoulders to get a better view of Phineas and Ferb.

I guess that's all for now. I'll be back in June.

Ha ha ha, just kidding.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Divine permission to chill out

I'm starting 2014 today because this weekend was New Year!

I made resolutions this year. I weeded through a bunch of scriptures from Doctrine and Covenants 88:118-126 and chose one thing to focus on per month. For example, this month's resolution is to "seek learning by study and by faith" and next month is to "organize myself." 

I have a plan for making this happen. I've made a nice long list of them, organized them by month and broken them down into weekly goals. It's all written in detail on my "Tropical Beaches" calendar which hangs in my closet. It was feeling ambitious to the point of delusional, I think. Doesn't it sound exhausting?

One thing that I have figured out is that it is a good idea to pray for guidance as I set goals and to pray when I am done setting goals to make sure that I am not getting way off track. You know, the ol' heavenly stamp of approval?

My resolution-making happened to fall on fast Sunday eve, so I decided to make it a matter of fasting as well (this may seem dramatic, but that is only because you don't know how serious I am about getting my life on track). 

Fast forward to our Relief Society meeting yesterday. My Relief Society president played this video during her lesson, which she prefaced by saying that she hates making resolutions and did not want to give a lesson on making resolutions. Thankfully, she followed the prompting to do so anyway. Here it is:

To me, this video felt like a great, big heavenly "Chill out, Elise." Nothing like a divine voice telling you to calm down, huh?

And it is okay to slow down (as evident by the slow-mo cinematography).

I didn't throw away my resolutions calendar. I will still shoot toward my goals, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'm going to jump on the trampoline with my kids and abandon my schedule sometimes.

It is good to make lofty goals, but it is better to focus on the small things that matter most.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Greetings from Austin


Every time I upload photos to Blogger I think, "No no no, I have to upload them in reverse chronological order because then they will publish in chronological order." 

But then they don't. And I am always too lazy to rearrange them. 

So...yeah. That happened AGAIN. Therefore, here is the last month of our lives. In reverse. 

My husband's sister, Sheree, and her son are visiting us for the holidays. Here we are on one of our treks downtown. Sheree hates this picture because she and DJ are the only ones who actually jumped on three. And of the two of them, she is the only one who jumps fabulously, like Mary Poppins.

They have been here a week and we have eaten Texas barbecue three times. Now we all smell permanently of smoked meat and could probably use a week of salad with a side of angioplasty.

Santa Claus brought a trampoline to my kids for Christmas. They like it, but I LOVE it. I have dominated them at Crack the Egg. It's probably all of the BBQ I have eaten.

Some time before that we stopped at a Christmas tree farm on our way home from Houston where there was this picturesque barn:
And DJ carried our tree to the car. Isn't he cute?
Before that we had to cut down the tree. Believe it or not, I did NOT pose this picture. This is what happens when I give Chancho the saw so that I can take a picture:
Before that, we spent Thanksgiving in Houston with my husband's OTHER sister, Meree, and her family. Here is Chancho's list of thanktitude:
Here are the feasting kiddos:
And (good grief, I did not even manage to upload these photos in perfect reverse chronological order) here we are on one of our barbecue stops, posing. Check out Livie rocking my sunglasses:

The end.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The time we might've eaten cat meat.

Texas is messing with my internal clock.

Here is why: Until recently it was 80 degrees during the day. It was sunny and the leaves hadn't fallen off of the trees. It has only just occurred to me that Thanksgiving is in 27 hours because up until a week ago it felt like September. It can't be Thanksgiving! It is September!

And then a cold front brought in some rainy, 34 degree weather.

It is not September. Here's how I know:

Halloween happened. We had an "Egyptian Lady," and ninja, a Frankie Stein again, a mermaid, and a boring old mom:
We also had a Trunk-or-Treat at church. I love Chancho, the hardcore ninja with royal blue tennis shoes: 

Before that it was my birthday. My husband and kids threw a surprise party for me and gave me that humongous red birthday clock which I had been coveting at Hobby Lobby:
Before that I drove to Houston for my birthday to see the sights with my husband's sisters. We had birthday mochi and regular non-birthday sushi:
That's how I know it isn't September.

Here are some other happenings:

We've been having candlelit Sunday dinners. This was something that my Mom did that I was a teenager that I loved. It is interesting how two 75 cent candles can make a simple meal (with kids eating off of plastic plates) feel like a special occasion. It is one of those mysteries of the universe, like how adding tomatoes and sour cream to a taco makes it "supreme."  
Next, we have been touring the local barbecue joints. I love barbecue. Here we are outside of one of our favorite finds, "It's All Good BBQ." It really is ALL good:
Oh, Texas. I think we're going to be good friends.

Here is a care package from DJ's aunt Val. I mean, seriously. Can't get enough of this Texas stuff:
Last weekend my kids and I roadtripped to Houston to visit some cousins who recently moved there. I cannot understate how comforting it is to have family within a three hour drive. Here they are having some much-needed cousin time:
Speaking of mystery meat, here's a word of warning to you. If it is Saturday and you and your husband are trying to find good barbecue and every place is sold out (this happens - the meat sells out, you shed a tear and move on) do not drive into the ghetto out of desperation - not because driving into the ghetto is a bad idea, but because barbecued meat from the ghetto might actually be barbecued stray cat and you will take three bites and then be faintly queasy for the rest of the day and have to eat a quarter of a Costco pumpkin pie to offset the cat flavor.

That happened. I think we accidentally ate cat.

I came away with a picture of this great mural, though:
The end.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Austin love.

If I have learned anything in my travels it is that surviving in an unfamiliar environment means finding something to love about where you are, no matter where you are.

For example, Seattle: hated the rain, loved the blackberries, the Olympic Peninsula, and the hippies.

I love donuts. I especially love the donuts of Austin.

I have discovered that eating donuts staves off homesickness. Let's hope that shopping for larger pants staves off homesickness as well.

We have been in Austin for two weeks and I have gone on a non-comprehensive donut bakery tour. Our first stop:

Gourdough's Big. Fat. Donuts. truck:
This donut truck serves some seriously heart-stopping masterpieces. For example, the Fat Elvis - a fresh-fried donut with grilled bananas, honey, and honest-to-goodness whole strips of bacon on top. Or what I ordered, the Sara's Joy - a donut with chocolate and coconut cream filling, sprinkled with coconut, and accompanied by choirs of singing angels. Kind of heavenly.
Next up was Round Rock Donuts. Rumor has it this place was on "Man vs Food."

I think this is why:

I have never been one to make sweeping, hyperbolic declarations. Ever. I would never do that.


And not just because there are the size of an innertube. They are everything a donut should be. Warm, soft, fluffy, maybe laced with addictive chemicals. So delicious.

In other news, we have done a little touring of this new city of ours. One of Austin's "things" is food trucks. They are everywhere. And they are kind of like yard sales in their unpredictability. You never know when they're going to be open or if they're going to be any good. But if you see one you have to stop and find out because otherwise the curiosity WILL kill you. 

The following one was not my favorite. You know those yard sales where all they're selling is dusty VHS tapes and mauve yarn? This was the food truck equivalent:
This one isn't a food truck, it's the state capitol building. 
I love the architecture and the fact that it is taller than the United States capitol building. Why, you ask? Because Texas, that's why.

Lastly, I love that our new school is within pleasant walking distance of our new house:

I kinda love this Texas place.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Texas, y'all

About a week ago we loaded all of our worldly possessions into this beast:
And my husband drove it 1200 miles. Twelve hundred long miles across three states, with me following closely behind staring at the butt end of that thing:
After a while it became boring to the point of unflatteringness: 
We listened to three books on CD, sang "There Was a Tree" a few hundred times, and ate a boatload of convenience store candy, until finally we arrived at our new house in Austin, Texas. Tess celebrated our arrival by running in circles around our backyard:
I guess we live in Texas now. 

We have been here almost a week and I haven't even met a real cowboy yet. I'm not sure what that's about, Texas. And this is not like one of our fun-filled, rollercoaster-riding, summer vacation moves. We brought the Lovesac. Crap just got real.

Plus, my kids are going to school here like you do when you're a kid. Here they are on their first morning:
Texas, guys. This is really happening. Oh, and this happened:
It looks like Texas has our number.