Category Archives: Travels & Adventure

Summer vacation, 4th of July

First, let me start with this.

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THAT is the epitome of a Haggard kids’ summer trip to Grandma T’s. It’s their version of magical, and it’s called the WAVE CRASHER. My mom says it’s the best 40 bucks she spends on our kids each year (not surprisingly, it needs to replaced regularly).

This is what the trio did over and over and over again while we were at Cave B. They were probably also eating lots of sugar and watching TV and living the good life. When I say “good life” I  mean themed goody bags, because that’s how Grandma rolls. (Who’s ever turned down a really good goody bag? NO ONE).

When Jason and I reunited with the kids, I noticed I felt refreshed and ready to parent, and in particular to co-parent with Jason. I had a different tone with our kids, and I had the energy to work on “seeing” each one of them. I noticed Jason doing this, too.

My heart felt like it was saying, “Ahhh, this is what it’s supposed to be like. I’ve missed this!” The “this” isn’t that everyone behaves and gets along, but that we are living life together, investing in and seeking to know one another, not just get by. Kids thrive on that. Heck, everyone thrives on that! Like I’ve mentioned, my soul didn’t realize how hungry for connection it really was.

For the next few days we savored 4th of July weekend in small town Coeur d’Alene.

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First, we visited the new carousel (which is actually really old and has a cool story), had a picnic in the park, and caught a live show at the bandshell.

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Lots of older people were sitting out in their folding lawn chairs listening to the music of their era (50s and 60s). Imogen and Beatrice jumped right in with the few that were dancing and made some new friends.

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Next stop was Joy’s pool. We do this every summer visit, and Joy is so gracious every time when we show up, get wet and make lots of noise.

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It was so great to have Jason with us this time.

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Ian probably burned 6,000 calories in the pool that day. I spent a lot of time watching my back, as he’d sneak up on me from underwater; I reciprocated. We had a lot of fun.

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It wasn’t fifteen minutes of pool time and Imogen was confidently jumping off the diving board.

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Joy’s pool is a beautiful color; it feels like dipping into a lake bath, not a chlorinated pool. Horses from her stables graze nearby and a few cats and dogs meander around. Ian gets to pick apples from the orchard (pictured to the right of the pool house). It’s magical.

Next up was the actual 4th celebrations. This will be our second year of hitting the downtown parade, and we have our usual spot, which is both close to the start of the parade and a short walk to the local ice cream joint. Both factors are important in having a pleasant parade experience.

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Grandma is really into holiday outfits, and for some reason every year we end up with at least two 4th of July outfits for each child, if not more. I can’t fit enough time into the season to them wear them all. As you can see they also received accessories this year.

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Imogen got a photo with Mudgie the Moose–he’s a famous character in that neck of the woods. Jason made a point of cheering for my high school’s rival cheerleading squad, just to annoy me. But he also bought me iced coffee, which helped the situation.

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That evening we had burgers, as much corn on the cob as we could eat, and banana splits. Well, Ian ate a banana split since he’s the only one who will eat fruit. We let him go to town, as you can see. There are rewards for having a well-rounded diet.

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Since we were avoiding the crowds, big fireworks, and late night, we picked up a few little sparkly things from the fireworks stand. Ian was proud of himself that he got to light up the “big” ones and Beatrice took hold of a sparkler for the first time.

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The neighbors were probably hugely impressed by our display, and happy our show only lasted about 20 minutes and was over at 8:30pm.

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I don’t have pictures, but Jason and I also got the chance to do some more bike riding. Since the Ironman came to Coeur d’Alene about ten years ago, the city has created and connected so many paved bike trails, so you can ride out in the country, by the lake, in the mountains. It’s amazing . . . and magical.

Second leg of our family vacation complete! Next up is road trippin’ it across Montana to Great Falls for a visit with cousins.

One last goodie–a signature move gone wrong on the WAVE CRASHER!!!

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Summer vacation, Cave B

Well, some changes have been afoot for the Haggards. It’s been a year since the last time I wrote here and since we’re all about the drama, we packed a lot into twelve months. But I’m just going to focus on the last few.

In June, Jason’s job ended somewhat abruptly, and because it had taken up a lot of his physical and emotional energy for quite some time, he needed some major down time–to the tune of at least a month, probably two. With him freed up the summer months suddenly seemed like a world of opportunity for us!

We didn’t go anywhere particularly amazing. In fact, I guess you could technically say we just went to Coeur d’Alene, but really it served as our main hub, from which we did mini-trips or day outings. But here’s the best, greatest part of the whole thing– we were together, all of us. I didn’t realize how much I was starving for family time until we planned, and I waited with anticipation.

On June 29th, the kids were up at the butt crack of dawn, also eager with anticipation. Of course, it was several hours before we left because every year we need to outdo ourselves by packing more gear. This year we added a topper, hitch and 5-bike rack to achieve this goal.

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We eventually pulled out of the driveway and headed east toward Grandma’s–the wind in our hair, the sun shining, and our lovely itinerary before us. First on the agenda was stopping off at the Columbia River Gorge. We met Grams at the interstate and caravaned down to the river. We had a picnic at Frenchman’s Coulee, all the while trying to shield ourselves from the sun, which we hadn’t seen much of at this point in the summer.

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After lunch we drove just a few minutes to Cave B Inn & Winery, where Mom took the kids, headed back to her house and left Jason and I for a couple days. We booked a yurt at the inn, which I can say now by experience is a fantastic place to lay your head at night if you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Cave B is magical. I think I’ll probably use that word a lot to describe a lot of this trip. The  whole dang thing was just so what I needed, in so many ways.

Jason and I spent three days in or near our yurt eating cheese, prosciutto, fresh fruit, wine and chocolate. In between that we meandered through grape vines, dipped into the pool, hiked, drove alongside orchards, and went on a long bike ride together.

Here’s some pics.

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Yes, it’s that magical.

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Here’s us on the first night, sitting outside our yurt filling our bellies and listening to the birds. I totally nailed the cheese selections this time–I’m still bragging to myself about it.

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Eating again, this time at South, along Wentachee’s riverfront. Those stuffed jalapeños were really hot. I kept torturing myself because they were the vehicle for the melted cheese, which was amazing. I am noticing cheese is becoming a theme here. The margarita was also excellent.

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View from the pool, but sparing you images of our skin, which was still pasty white at this point on the trip.

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View out the top of our yurt. Not a cloud in the sky the whole time.

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Of course I have to include bunnies, if I saw them, which I did. What I didn’t get a picture of was the frog who lived outside our yurt and croaked incessantly starting at exactly 10:30pm each night. I was so happy that even he was a bit magical to me. I still went outside and stomped around with a stick to scare him, though. It did not work.

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Hiking trails below the winery. Finally learned about the stinging part of stinging nettles.

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The bike ride down into Frenchman’s Coulee was the piece de resistance of Cave B for me. It was my first big ride of the season and what a place to have it!

Jason took me down a long hill and I swore up and down to him I wasn’t going to make it back up. But I did, and it was great. And I felt exhilarated and confident when it was all over. It really got me itching to do more rides over the course of the trip.

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We do a lot of “best of”s in our family. So as we headed toward Coeur d’Alene, the kids and Grandma, I asked Jason what the best part of Cave B was for him. He said it was during our ride when I told him, “You know I’m really glad I’m doing this with you. Not just this ride, but everything.”

We needed that time together, that little slice of Creation to enjoy, and that hot, hot sun. And the cheese.

There’s more vacation story to tell, because this was an epic one. I’ll continue that in the next installment.

Summer 2014

I know it’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything and summer is starting to slow down and come to an end.  We’ve managed to stay pretty entertained;  here’s a bit (or maybe a lot more) on our happenings.

In June we said goodbye to the Tarters, as they packed up their car and drove back to Michigan.  We miss their fellowship and I know the kids miss Josiah.  We were really blessed to have them in our home for the nine months they were here.

With the changing of tenants, we (Jason) worked on some projects in the MIL unit that we’ve been meaning to get completed.  My favorite update is the new exterior door that is now installed and painted.  I never knew door installation was so much work, but Jason did a great job.  Here is the finished product.

Our new helper, Laurel, moved in mid-June.  She describes herself as a “nester” so it was fun to be able to get the space in a bit better shape and to see her move in and make the place her own.  She is doing a great job with the kids and helping me around the house, and for those things I am very thankful.  And we will welcome her fiance, Jason, into our house come November when they tie the knot.

Next up, we celebrated the 4th of July here at home with the Richards.  I suppose celebrating  holidays with their clan has become a ritual now that we’ve got at least two Christmases under our belt.  Mom was with us, too, and we had a lovely time.  Here’s some great photos I got of our little fireworks show.

I love these people!

In mid-July Jason, Beatrice, and I took our long-anticipated trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, for Jason’s 20-year high school reunion.  I was apprehensive about this trip mainly due to how hot I hear it is in Florida in the summer.  I was also a bit nervous about how I would handle sleep with the three-hour time difference.

The trip turned out to be very lovely and exceeded all my expectations. God answered my prayer for nice weather (hot, but not humid), we had a great hotel right on the beach, and we all slept well and did fine with the time change.  We even had a nonstop, first class flight on the way there (and on airline miles, too)!

Right off the bat (actually, on the flight), Jason was reading and thinking and had some significant revelations. This seems to be a theme for us– apparently there’s nothing like getting away from the daily grind to start thinking big picture.

First, he decided to resign from his current job and start studying full-time to take the CPA exams.  When he told me he wanted to do this my first response was “Absolutely, of course.”  I really think it’s the right time.  We’re both excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for his career.

Second, Jason told me he wants to climb Mt. Rainier.  I was a bit surprised by that one.  He said it was mainly because he happened to look out the window of the airplane and see it sitting there so majestically and thought “I’ve always wanted to do that!”  I think that will probably be for next year . . . Also, we talked about the potential of him going back to school to get a combined masters in business/engineering, but that’s down the road a ways.

Since all that big life stuff happened on the first day of our trip, the rest of the time we felt a bit relieved and really able to relax. And the whole point of the trip–the reunion–went great. Jason organized it from afar, but it came together very easily and there was a great turnout.  He loved gabbing with everybody (of course) and was able to slip in a round of golf with an old buddy and high school teacher.

Spruce Creek High School IB Class of ’94

And, of course we had beach time.  It was truly glorious.

We came back rested and returned to Mother T and the kiddos in generally good spirits!

In other things . . .

With Jason’s freed up schedule we decided to go to Mom’s house for a week.  I didn’t take any photos, but we got lots of sun time — playing in the backyard, going to Joy’s pool, hanging at the beach and splash pad.  It was nice to have Jason there with us for so long.

Also, about a month ago I went down to the Shoreline library and got myself a King County library card, which I’ve been meaning to do for over a year.  Vacation put a jump start on my reading plans and I’m very pleased with how much I’ve accomplished (and how much time I’m not in front of a screen).

So far I’ve read a mixture of fiction and self-help: Paris in Love, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Who Moved My Cheese?, QBQ, and Boundaries.  I’m also working my way through John Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (which has been fascinating and very helpful).  I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything on this list.

Next up is The Book Thief and Carry on Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed. Jason & I are also going to listen to the audio version of Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat (we feel so lost now that we’ve finished all six seasons of Parks and Rec).

In other healthy life changes, just this last week I went down to our local YMCA and got our family a membership. I am not a gym person, but so many people have raved about our local Y and both of our doctors have told Jason & I we need to incorporate more exercise into our lives (something about stress management . . . ).

Jason’s hoping to do more swimming and I’d like to start taking yoga and go (slowly) from there.  And of course the kids are super excited about the pool and the fun kids area.  The nice lady who helped me enroll gave us a tour of the facility and I just kept thinking “I feel so blessed, this is amazing.”  One more reason why moving up here to Shoreline in this season has been a gift from God to us.

Next up we start homeschooling.  I’ve been a bit in denial about that, but there’s nothing like shopping aisles of school supplies to get me motivated (for anything, really).  BSF will start back up again in a few weeks, too, and both Ian and Imogen are going to try Awana this year at a nearby church.  We’re also excited about a new family Sunday school program starting up at our church come September.

That’s about it, folks.  I hope someone enjoyed this very long recap!

Here’s more photos from June and July.

 

 

Somebody else’s poop

The last few weeks have been a bit out of routine for the Haggard family.  Rebecca, my mother-in-law, had plans to visit her mom and sister in California mid-March and since I still need a babysitter for both myself and my children I decided to take the kids to my mom’s.  Jason would stay at home and decompress and then we would return and he and Ian would head off to New York to see the Franci.

I was on an upward swing mood and energy-wise, and so I felt pretty confident I could handle the day’s drive to my mom’s alone with the kids and the preparation it would take to pull it off.  Rebecca would be around to help me and watch the kids so I could pack the day before.

And really, once you’ve got the car packed and the children restrained, they can’t do much damage.  I can deal with intermittent crying.  And, as my friend endearingly calls all minivans “rolling studio apartments,” I would be driving in relative ease, with cruise control.

For merely my own entertainment, I would like to go off on a rabbit trail to explain how I view “drives.” There is the leisurely Sunday afternoon scenic type.  There’s the epic road trip, the usual high school “I’m bored, let’s just go drive around” and the unfortunate ambulatory type.  There’s the classic “let’s just keep driving until we resolve this fight and then we’ll go to our scheduled social function” kind.  I understand that all these kinds of “drives” can be necessary for both sound mind and/or body.

But, if you’re driving across the state of Washington, you just want to get there.  Let me rephrase that–I just want to get there.  That’s the “drive” you’re taking (with me). I’m with children, people.  This could take all day (and in my mind it should not).  We must NOT stop unless absolutely necessary.

Yes, I have strong opinions about this.  Ask my mom, who drove back to Seattle with me and made the mistake of having both a coffee and a Coke which caused her to have to pee more frequently that I thought a human being ought to.

(Note: Nursing or potty training children also throws this expectation all off for me.  I know they have to eat and pee, but in my opinion you might as well just not leave your house at all, which is what I, and some other moms tend to do.  Heck, if people love you enough they’ll come visit you.)

Anyway, back to the start of our trip.  Packing went very smoothly the day before.  I got to bed early, and loading the van in the morning by myself was a cinch (I prefer to do this alone anyway, because I am very particular about how it’s done–I think you see the theme that’s developing here).  We were out of our driveway at 9am (that’s a PR for me) and heading out toward 1-90.

We breezed past the outlet mall in North Bend (stopping there is one hypocritical exception I will make, but I figured we’d go there on our way back to Seattle).  We then reached Ellensburg, and then the halfway mark at the Gorge.  This was major progress!

Somewhere past George I started talking to Elysia. Our conversation lasted about an hour and as we got to the end of it, I was hearing Imogen moaning in the back.  We were close to Moses Lake and I had promised Ian we would stop there for lunch.  We pulled up to a Subway/gas station combo and I said goodbye to Elysia.

Feeling extremely good about how things were going and that it was only around noon, I opened up the van doors to free my children.  Unfortunately, what I found was Imogen covered in wet, runny poo.  It had soaked through her clothes and down into the car seat.

This incident only slightly threw me off.  Moms, we’ve been here before; it’s known territory.  You just go with the “flow” so to speak and pun intended.  I got Imogen out, wiped her and her seat down with a million wipes, did my best to contain the poo in all the places it had ended up while keeping her from wiggling out of the van, put fresh clothes on her, and put the changing pad in the car seat to cover the wet areas.

This was, I might add, witnessed by everyone walking in and out of the store since I had parked right in front of the door (for our convenience, of course).

I was hand-sanitized and with children, onto the next potty stop for Ian and myself.  I decided to take with me only what was absolutely necessary, which was my keys and the little wallet that is attached to my key chain which contains my credit cards and driver’s license.

The gas station bathroom was very tolerable and included a handicap stall, which is a must for not only the handicapped, but also those of us with munchkins.

When we entered the stall, it was hard not to notice there were quite large skid marks in the toilet (I warned you with my title this post was going to contain foreign poop, so don’t blame me now for your own imagination).  The term skid marks almost seems to understate the amount of poop that was actually in the toilet, but that is indeed what was in there.

I flushed the toilet, but it was to no avail. We would deal with it–I was not giving up the space this handicap stall afforded me.

Now I will say I also get kinda OCD about public restrooms.  My basic motto with my kids is “Put your hands in your pockets and DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!!!”  I have developed a system with Ian where he can pee and still obey this rule.

With Imogen, I’m just going to have to discuss this with my counselor.  I don’t know how I will emotionally manage seeing her bottom and hands on a public toilet seat.  Shall we move on, please?

Ian had peed, Imogen was remaining mainly in one location and keeping her hands to herself, and so I took a very quick moment to go pee myself.

I completed my deed, thankful the children were not moving from their locations.  But as I pulled my pants up I heard a dreaded “Ker plunk!”

I knew what it was before I turned around–my keys and key chain wallet were in the toilet–WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S POOP.  I had stuck them in my back pocket since I didn’t have my coat on.

In moments like this you do not think; instead you act (I reached in and grabbed my keys)–and, admittedly, you say a cuss word or two.  At least this is what I do.

But once that’s over, and this is really only a matter of seconds, you start thinking–there’s a small pause–you say another cuss word just to set in stone how you’re feeling in the moment, and then you assess.  You wonder what you should do with the keys dangling from your finger and dripping onto the floor and the poop you can see on the side of your wallet.

And what about the children?!  My solution was to just start yelling “Nobody move! NOBODY MOVE!”

And I still hadn’t pulled my pants up all the way.  Agghh.

With a bit more yelling and frantic toilet paper grabbing I managed to set the keys down on a wad of TP (why I thought I needed to keep them “clean” from the floor germs I do not know).  I tried not to think about how much my nasty hands were touching my undies and pants as I pulled them up.  Any time the kids moved anywhere near the toilet I yelled “DON’T GO OVER THERE! STAY WHERE YOU ARE!”

Did I mention there was someone in the stall next to us?  I bet if she had a button in her purse that said “Mom of the Year” she would have handed it over the stall wall and I would’ve proudly pinned it to the front of my shirt.  But how I would have done this with poop germs on my hands I do not know.

We got ourselves out of the stall and I started frantically dousing the keys, wallet and everything in my wallet with water and soap, while trying to keep one eye on my children, particularly the smaller one who would want to wander back into a stall. My other child was just giving me the evil eye for yelling at him and all kinds of back talk was flying back and forth between he and I.

At a certain point I realized that dousing my key fab in water was probably not a good idea so I stopped that.  And then the lady in the stall came out and I sheepishly looked at her and said “Why don’t you go ahead, we’re going to be a while.”

She turned out to be really nice and told me this long story about how she dropped her iPhone in the toilet once and how she was able to save it.  She didn’t mention any poop was involved.  And then she left.  Sadly, no button, but also no condemnation.

At that point I decided we just needed to get out of Dodge.  We were in a serious danger zone of germs and at least I could take the nasty germs I had with me, leave the rest in there, go out to the van, put a haz mat suit on, and get down to business.

“NO, we will not be stopping for a sandwich at this moment, Ian,” I said as we walked by a wide array of tempting Subway toppings.  The response: more evil eye.

I put the kids in the back of the van and went to work.  No, I didn’t really have a haz mat suit, but now I’m seriously considering getting one.  What I did have were lots of baby wipes, Clorox disinfecting wipes and antibacterial hand stuff, all within hand’s reach.  These are the kind of moments when having OCD tendencies comes quite in handy.

All my cards and wallet (still trying not to think about that wallet) ended up Cloroxed.  My keys were scrubbed down as well and I doused myself and the kids with antibacterial rub.

And now we were going to go back in the store and eat?  Yuck. But, I had promised Ian Subway, which is his all-time favorite.  Plus, it is kinda negligent to not feed your children if they are hungry and if you have the ability to do so.  So, we went inside and got our food to go.  We were getting out of Dodge, remember?

As we got down the road Ian happily sat in the back and ate an entire 6-inch.  I forced myself to eat because I figured part of my emotional state was because I was hangry in the first place.  Imogen was just happy to not be sitting in her own poop.

It took me about ten miles or so down the road to stop being angry.  And then I felt relieved it was over and all I could do was laugh at how disgusting it all was. I figured it was a milestone for me; there would’ve been times in the past where I would’ve stayed mad a lot longer and in the moment of drama acted a lot worse to my children or those around me.

I will say, I was glad Jason was not there.  I don’t think I’m mature enough at this point to not have thrown my wrath on him, for no unexplainable reason or fault of his own.

I will confess that the first thing I did when I got to my mom’s house was to gruffly say to her “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” wipe down the car with more Clorox wipes, put my children in the bath, wash my clothes, and take a shower.

I threw the wallet away.  No amount of soaking it in bleach would erase the memory of seeing someone else’s poop on it.  And it was a nice wallet, too, and kind of sentimental to me.  But now I use my cheap Fred Meyer one because why have nice things if they’re just going to end up in the toilet?  (I acknowledge the irony and/or hypocrisy of this statement since I had left my new iPhone in the van before entering this traumatic scene).

There’s really no good way to end this story except to say that though awful, I’m growing up a bit.  Even in the craziness that is my current emotional troubles, on a good day, we did okay with something unexpected.  I did not curl up into a ball, burst into tears and let my children wander aimlessly through a gas station convenience store (or play in a public toilet).  In fact, everything else about the drive was enjoyable both before and after the incident–and we made record time, too!

This just proves in a small way that God gives you what you need exactly when you need it. For me right now this isn’t a picture perfect response in a troubling situation.  I’m just asking for a sound mind–and that’s what He gave me.

Our Hawaii vacation

I know it’s pretty pathetic that we’ve been back from Hawaii for almost two months and I still haven’t blogged about it.  Especially since I went on and on about it for a year before we actually went.

Then again, I guess it’s good timing because the bliss one gets from such a fun, warm, restful vacation has surely worn off after a couple months living in a Seattle winter.  And today is the perfect day to share about it since it’s been such a gray, wet day.

So, without further a due, here is the 2011 Haggard Hawaiian vacation!

We left Seattle on December 13th and with one stop in Bellingham, arrived in Honolulu late that night.  After re-cooping at Jared and Rosheila’s house for a day, we checked into the Hale Koa on Waikiki and spent three days there.

One of my favorite memories was waking up that first morning in our hotel room. Because we hadn’t been anywhere near the ocean or even seen it since our arrival, I was so excited to pull back the curtains, step out onto our balcony and bask in the glee that we were actually in paradise.

When that moment came, here is what I saw:

Yes, it was truly glee.  We were finally in Hawaii! Imogen and I promptly put our sunglasses on and took a photo to remember it by.

As for our time in Waikiki, though it was an enjoyable experience, Jason & I agree it’s not really our thing.  There were a lot of people, the beach itself was nothing to brag about, and the downtown area was filled with high-end retail (surprise, surprise, the Haggards don’t shop at Louis Vuitton).

What we did really enjoy was the Hale Koa.  Our room was really nice and spacious, the lanai (balcony) was big and as you can tell we had a great view. Even putting all four Haggards in the same room to sleep worked out surprisingly well (turns out the closet was the perfect spot for Imogen).

But the best part of the Hale Koa was the pool. If you have kids (or really, if you ever were a kid) you understand this.  The pool is where it’s at.  This particular pool was quite big, right off the beach, and uncrowded.  It was so convenient to stroll down there in between naps, without the huge ordeal of getting all packed up for a big outing.

The other best part about the Hale Koa was that it was amazingly inexpensive due to the fact that it was a military recreation center. AF Tech Sgt Haggard aka Aunt Rosheila made that possible for us.  Thank you, Rosheila!

After Waikiki we moved ourselves to the Barbers Point military beach cottages, which are located on the southwest side of the island.  We were there for the remaining ten days of our trip, staying with the Franci and Grandma T.

I think we would all agree this was also a great choice for accommodations. Our cottage had two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a beautiful, quiet beach right out our front door.

We filled much of this time sleeping in, relaxing between the cottage and the beach, and hanging out with the Franci.  I would wander around at times (in between diaper changing or child discipline or nursing) and think “Hmm, do I want to take a dip in the ocean now or should just lay on the beach and soak up the sun?   That is my kind of vacation, my friends.

For the sake of simplicity, I think the best way to describe the rest of the trip is by high points and low points (come on, this wouldn’t be a blog by Elisabeth if there weren’t low points).

The High Points:

Family dinners.  My very favorite times were when the Haggard-Franci-Cox clan were all sitting around the table having dinner at the cottage.  Candymom is on a whole-foods, anti-cancer diet managed and prepared by Elysia, so we ate what Candy ate (which really wasn’t all that different than what we eat at home).  The food was delicious, and it was so good to be together, talking away into the night (or maybe just until 8pm, but still), hearing the ocean through the open windows.

Surfing. Jordan took Jason out for his first time and after a few runs, he was up on the board.  He told me it was addicting and after I tried it myself, I agreed (especially since Jason paddled me out so I didn’t have to do the hard work).  And even I got up on the board once.

Jason thinks this picture makes him look like a pathetic surfer because the wave is so small

Ko Olina.  This was an awesome place, especially for families.  It’s a resort-y area on the southwest side of the island with manmade lagoons that are perfect for swimming with kids.  The grounds around the area are beautiful, the parking is free, and there are permanent umbrellas to set up camp under.  Jason and I said if we ever did come back to Oahu, we’d like to stay in this area.

That's Jason on the rocks, he's holding Ian as they search for crabs

USS Arizona.  Jason and Mother T did the tour.  I can’t report much on this in detail, except that Jason particularly like the museum, calling it very “thought-provoking.”

Pacific Aviation Museum.  This was a last-minute choice towards the end of the trip.  Ian was starting to bounce off the walls of the cottage (hey, you can only fill up your buckets of sand so many times).

It was not the Museum of Flight, but it was pretty darn good.  And Ian’s still talking about the Sikorsky Sea King he got to take a personal tour of (they only have a Sikorsky Sea Guard at the M of F and you can’t go inside it because it’s hanging from the ceiling).  Ian will tell you all about this if you ask him.

The Red Snapper at Alan Wong’s.  There was one thing that Jason & I both agreed we wanted to drop a sizeable amount of cash on during our trip: dinner. As we did our research we learned that Hawaii is not really known for a lot of culinary sophistication.  But I wanted to experience whatever the best was, something where they serve quintessentially Hawaiian fusion.

Turns out the place to go is Alan Wong’s.  And if you do go there, we heard you were practically obligated to get the leg of lamb because it’s so good.  Well, we did get the lamb and it was fine, but it had nothing on the Red Snapper we also ordered.  It was perfectly cooked and was sitting in a pool of miso and other yummy things I can’t remember.  I just remember how amazing it was to eat it.

Before the food came we agreed we were sharing, but when we realized how amazing the snapper was, I thought it a bit too convenient that it was on Jason's side of the table. He made no attempts to swap plates mid-meal.

Our beachside family photos.  Okay, so this could also be included in the low points because it took some major cajoling/threatening of a certain three-year-old.  But once we got past that, it was fun.  Plus the results were fabulous! This was partly due to Jeff Cox’s photography skills and partly due to the rockin’ Hawaiian garb we were all wearing (care of seamstress Grandma Becky).

(I must also note this probably means I’ve officially assimilated into the Haggard family since this is like the third or fourth family photo where we’re fully coordinated.  I have succumbed, in the happiest of ways).

Other fun adventures include the a dad/son date at the North Shore, seeing the Muppet Movie with the Franci, mother/daughter outlet mall shopping, a visit to Trinity Church, and the Diamondhead Farmer’s Market.

And then there were the Low Points:

The first one that stands out is getting up at the crack of dawn to go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.  We were all cranky, the snorkeling was a bit of a disappointment, there were crowds to deal with, and the sand was blowing so hard it was pelting us in the face.  Oh yes, and I didn’t get to see the sea turtle I was dreaming of.

But, I did get about 15 minutes of snorkeling with my husband before we returned to the beach where Grandma T was trying to calm down our screaming children.

The traffic.  If we wanted to travel to another part of Oahu after about 7am, we could expect to sit in an hour or more of traffic (hence the early morning snorkeling).  For this reason, once we got to Barbers Point we didn’t do a lot of activities away from the cottage.  I would’ve liked to travel and see more of the island, but oh well.

It didn’t feel like Christmas.  I kept having to remind myself that when we went home it wouldn’t be summer there.  The weather really did have an affect on my mindfulness of celebrating Christmas.  Our festivities were very minimal with almost no gifts or decorations.  We did have a family meal which was wonderful, but all in all, I don’t think I would travel to somewhere warm for Christmas again.

The length of our trip.  Don’t get me wrong, I was very sad to leave.  I am still sad I left.  But I don’t think Ian was.  He was ready to be home with some routine and normalcy.  By the end of the trip he was his own personal version of Lightning McQueen–careening out of control, refusing pit stops and on the verge of blowing all four tires at once. Too much fun for too long makes one crazy kid.

In conclusion and to come full circle, I must say that what I was thinking about as we embarked on this adventure was truly a help to me.  Yes, there were some low points understandably not mentioned (some having to do with necessary attitude adjustments, a lack of sleep, and/or unmet expectations) but that is life and it could’ve been (and has been) a whole lot worse.

And I can say that I came back refreshed and ready for life.  That’s quite amazing for going on a big vacation with two little kids.  But it’s true, and I am thankful.

Also, thank you to everyone who was excited for us and prayed for our time, I think it truly added so much to our trip!

Check out all our Hawaii photos.

Revelations on vacation

We are on our way to the sunshine island of Oahu.  In fact, we are currently sitting in the Bellingham airport waiting for our second plane.

Jason has, of course, befriended someone.  He’s an older gentlemen and they are swapping military stories.   Ian is taking advantage of all the racing spaces in this empty place for his cars and trains.  And Imogen is sleeping in the stroller (yes!).

And, as you can tell, I am taking advantage of the free wi-fi.

But back to the trip at hand.  As many of you know we’ve been anticipating it for a year now.  Which means I’ve had A LOT of time to imagine it.  Sometimes it is a pleasant dream.  And sometimes it’s a total nightmare.

But recently I have made some personal revelations, which I’d like to share.  This mainly for my own sake.  So, here goes.

This trip is NOT about:

  • Me FINALLY getting the vacation I deserve.  This is a lie.  Repeat, THIS IS A LIE.
  • Me (or my family) remaining rested and healthy.  If both of these things happen that will be wonderful, but I’m not going to hold my breath.  We are going to roll with the punches (figuratively speaking.  I really hope no one is punching anyone during this trip).
  • Me looking all tan and svelte on the beach.  Thankfully, I’ve got two cute kids to show for the battle scars my body has accrued over the last few years, so I’ve decided I’m okay with how I look.  Plus, my husband still thinks I’m hot.
  • ME, ME, ME (you can see a theme developing here).

This trip IS about:

  • God’s pure generosity.
  • Connecting with my husband.  A few days ago we decided that most mornings we’re going to try to get up and walk the beach together (thanks in advance, Mom, for the childcare).
  • Playing and exploring with my kids.  They will get to do big things like ride in an airplane, build sand castles, and stand in awe of the ocean.  What a privilege to get to be there with them!
  • Supporting and encouraging our friends, the Franci, who really need love right now.
  • Christmas!  I am trying not to forget this, even though we’re not at home this year.

Wish us luck.  Or rather, may the grace of God (and the prayers of many kind friends) be with us!

Snow adventures

It’s a bit odd to say that last weekend was all about snowbumming seeing as how there is no snow to be found here in Seattle.  In fact, it was about two weeks ago that I started feeling a bit silly wearing my furry boots out and about.  And I just noticed this morning that the trees down our street are blooming a vibrant shade of pink.  That’s supposed to happen the end of March.

We went to North Idaho because surely we would find snow there.  Nope.  No snow.  No flowers blooming, mind you, but still much warmer than usual and definitely no winter white.

As you can see we eventually found it.  But we had to drive several thousand feet up two different mountains to get to it.

The first trek was to Mt. Spokane for some skiing & snowboarding.  Shell is offering B1G1 lift tickets at select ski resorts and Mt. Spokane was one of them.  Cheap is very motivating, so away we went.

I was the lone skier, everyone else snowboarded. I was very impressed by Jason’s skills, seeing as how he said he wasn’t very good at all.  We cruised along at the same speed, which was very nice.

Then my hands turned to stinging burning blocks of ice.  That wasn’t so fun.  To me cold = misery.  But that was toward the end and as you can see, I recovered in time for this photo.

Our second adventure was snowshoeing at Lookout Pass. I love snowshoeing because it doesn’t require much skill and you can make it as easy or as rigorous as you want to.  Plus, Ian can go along now that we have a kid pack (thanks Tiff & Ash).

This was both Ian and Mother T’s first time snowshoeing and I think they were in agreement that it was a good experience.  Mom even said she wanted to go again sometime.  That means it was a major success.

We started out on the Hiawatha trail, which is the location of an old rail line, so it’s wide and flat.  As you’ll see, Jason is sharing with Ian everything he needs to know about snowshoeing.

You can surmise from the video that we ended up in the woods.  The Hiawatha got a bit boring so Jason took us off and uphill where we traipsed around for about an hour with a stop for snacks.  By the time we made it back to the trail the sun was shining and we were very pleased with our adventure.

Jordan brought his sled and after we got back to the car he and Jason wanted to take Ian for a little ride so they headed for the lodge and the bunny hill.  I don’t need to say much more than that, since the video captures it well.

Moments of elation very soon followed by the depths of despair.  Such is the life of a toddler.

When we weren’t out in the snow we were mainly sitting around eating and watching the Olympics.  We also got a chance to visit Chad & Keisha in their new home in Spokane which was so nice.

The combination of all these things made for a great mini-vacation.

See more photos here.