Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

September 30, 2012

September 2012 – Family Updates

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 10:29 pm

September Highlights:

  • Kids start school
  • Luke and I go to Adventure Guides camp at Sequoia Lake and Luke wins an award for catching the biggest fish
  • Lilah starts fall vollyeball
  • Luke starts fall baseball and YMCA basketball
  • Lilah gets first babysitting assignment
  • I am making great progress in my recovery – back to doing all the activities I was doing before without any major discomfort!

Kids School/Activities

I could tell getting a picture of Lilah on the first day of school was going to be difficult this year. She is starting to develop that teenage self-consciousness bug — the one that allows for pictures to be taken in private, but not out in public where all her friends can see. Nonetheless I remained undeterred and brought my camera with me as Cathy and I walked the kids up to their school on the first day. Lilah kept giving me mean looks and whispering “no pictures” as we walked up to her school. I told her I would take the picture fast so not to worry. In the end she agreed to have her picture taken, but there was definitely no smiling. Luke does not have that issue yet, but I’m sure the time will come for him as well.

Despite the complaints about having to start school so soon after our Kauai vacation (the next day after getting back to be exact), both kids seemed to have adjusted well, which basically means they are keeping up with their assignments and diligently completing their homework. Lilah has always been good about finishing her homework and all things related to school, something she reminded me of when she handed me her latest certificate for being on the Gold Honor Roll list (for maintaining a 4.0 GPA), but Luke has never had that same sense of responsibility when it comes to school. This year, however, he is really into completing his homework as fast as he can so that he can have his “own time” to play his favorite video game, Minecraft. I sometimes worry about Luke playing Minecraft too much, but the the reality is that he gets to play it for maybe an hour or two tops (daily) because he knows he must get his homework done first.

In addition, I signed Luke up for fall baseball and YMCA basketball. That may sound like a lot, but they are very low key leagues. Baseball has no mandatory practices and only one game a week, and basketball has one practice and one game. Lilah is also a fan of low-key sports. She is currently playing volleyball which consists of one practice and one game per week.

She may not want sports taking up too much of her time, but my daughter is pretty industrious and always on the lookout for ways to earn more money, so when the opportunity came to babysit two-year old Calan for a couple hours while our friends went out for a date night, she jumped on it. It was a pretty easy first babysitting gig since our friends put Calan to sleep shortly after Lilah arrived at their house. Lilah’s responsibility was to keep an ear tuned to the baby monitor just in case he got up. It turned out to be an uneventful night in that department so Lilah used the time to watch her latest favorite show, Love It or List It, which is a show in which an interior designer and a real estate agent compete for the attention of two homeowners. Typically the homeowners are a husband and wife who feel they have outgrown their current home and are looking for something new. The interior designer is then given the challenge to redesign the home in a way that would suit the couple’s needs, while the real estate agent looks for houses on the market that might also satisfy their requirements. Once the designer finishes her redesign, and the agent has shown his houses, the couple is left with one question at the end of the show: are you going to love it or list it? Love it, means the couple love their remodeled home and have decided to stay there. List it means the couple wants to list their existing home for sale and move to one of the homes shown to them by the agent. Lilah can’t get enough of this show and says she is now interested in being an interior designer. She has already decided that her first project will be her bedroom. Looking forward to that, but probably not until the summer because Lilah wants to do it when she has a big block of time – no rushing (I have no issues with that ;-)).

Adventure Guides Camp at Sequoia Lake

I briefly contemplated not going to the Adventure Guides camp this year because it was only a little more than a week after getting back from our summer vacation. I thought Luke might not want to go so soon after getting back from vacation, but he said going would be fun so we decided to go.

The drive to Sequoia Lake was going well. It looked like we had maybe less than an hour or so to go, but that’s before we hit the 220 highway. Never take the 220 highway (a route I ended up taking thanks to Google maps). It is a windy, snaking road that goes on and on for 25 miles or so. The type of road that never allows you to go more than 25 mph at a time and moves you from side to side every few seconds. About half way up the road Luke turned to me and said he was starting to wish he hadn’t decided to go to camp. I told him I was feeling the same way. We stopped a couple of times just to get our bearings and stop the dizziness. We basically added another hour to our trip by taking this route (5 hours total). The only bright part about this story is the dramatic contrast in emotion we felt upon arriving at camp. We had never been so relieved to get out of a car and be done with driving. And we did not get back in the car again until it was time to leave.

Other than being out in nature, the beautiful 80 degree weather, and the chance to hangout with Luke, the highlight of this trip was Luke winning an award for catching the biggest fish. Before he caught the fish, I had caught a Blue Gill on my own and showed it to him. We then took out a boat for 2 hours and he caught his own Blue Gill as well. From then on, all he wanted to do was fish. He also wanted to participate in the fishing competition, which meant getting on another boat. Since I was still recovering from my clavicle injury, I opted to sit out the boat ride and let Luke go out fishing with one of the other dads. That was good for my recovery, but not good in that I did not get to see the fish Luke caught. I did however get to hear him screaming in delight at hauling in a 14-inch bass, and, this time, that was good enough.

In the evening, he received an award for his efforts at the campfire and decided he was glad he had come to camp after all.

More next month…

September 8, 2012

Kauai 2012

Filed under: 2012 Kauai,Vacations/Trips — dave9169 @ 12:30 am

So we finally broke our Lake Tahoe family vacation tradition and went to Kauai instead. This was the first plane trip together as a family. The kids were excited about going to the airport and boarding their first plane. Lilah, as usual, expressed some anxiety about possible things that could go wrong on a plane – namely, crashing — while I did my best to assuage her fears by telling her that we’d be able to land softly in the water if that happened (after all, we were flying over the ocean, right?). The “firstness” of the trip, made it cool in many ways. The kids got to experience the LAX airport and all the little things that go with it. Finding parking, getting on the shuttle buss, rolling their luggage through the airport, passing through the security checkpoint, and, at last, boarding the plane. On the plane I watched as Lilah’s eyes bugged out when we were getting ready to take off. She held her mom’s hand tightly as the plane accelerated down the runway. Luke was okay. I occupied his mind by asking him to tell me when he thought the plane had lifted off the ground. Once the novelty of the take off wore off, it was back to the usual questions — how long will it take to get there? are we almost there? how many hours left? etc.

Poipu Beach

We kicked off our adventure at Poipu beach. It was a beautiful beach with an excellent place to snorkel. I loved seeing Lilah and Luke get so excited as they would spot different types of fish — rainbow fish, angel fish (which we referred to as the Nemo fish), striped fish, translucent fish. With each new sighting they would stick out their finger and point to the spot they were looking at. We communicated our findings with each other by making muffled, high-pitched noises with our snorkel-covered mouths under the water. We spotted sea turtles as well. We also did a little boogie boarding and walked over to the the nearby Waiohai Beach Club Marriott resort where we all had fun swimming in the pool.

Napali Coast Cruise

The next day, we took a 5 hour catamaran ride (through Blue Dolphin Charters) to the Napali coast using . This area of the island is inaccessible by car so taking the cruise is a nice way to see the 16-mile stretch of coastline that features sheer cliffs hundreds of feet high. During the cruise dolphins swam right next to our boat and escorted for a few minutes before peeling off and seeing their next vessel to shadow. In addition, we stopped in some pretty tranquil waters for about an hour which allowed us all to jump off the boat and do some snorkeling. One of the crew members also showed us the right way to canon ball into the water. Essentially you wrap your arms around your legs and right before you hit the water you tilt your trunk back a bit. Luke had fun trying to perfect this technique. In addition to the activities, the cruise also provided a light continental breakfast and deli sandwiches for lunch. The kids seemed to have no problem with motion sickness. Cathy and I did fine for the most part. We remembered that many moons ago we had gone on another snorkeling cruise in Mauai and hadn’t been able to eat because of our unsettled stomachs. This time we had no problems however. Well, not until the way back when the captain cranked up the speed of the boat. The increased speed, combined with the larger swells of the afternoon led to more fun for the kids who insisted on hanging out in the front of the boat which, at times, felt like it completely jumped out of the water when it hit the swell just right. I hung out with them for a little while but then made my way to the back of the boat with Cat where we both closed our eyes and hung on until reaching the shore. We didn’t get really sick, but Cat felt a little out of it and I was starting to get there. We definitely arrived at the harbor just in time.

Waimea Canyon

On day three we took the drive up to Waimea Canyon, which is also known as the grand canyon of the pacific. It’s a beautiful site with large patches of greenbelts decorating the red canyon walls. We didn’t hike all the way down the canyon but we did hike about 3/4 of the way down with the kids. Luke wanted to go to the bottom where the river was, but we were not prepared for that as the descent was pretty steep. So steep that it took us about 20 minutes just to traverse the 3/4 of a mile. Luke didn’t like turning around and held a grudge about it for 10 minutes or so back up the trail, but it was obviously the right call. The weather in Hawaii is wonderful, but I wasn’t about to head down to the bottom of the canyon on an 80 degree day with very little water remaining in our backpack.

Hanalei Bay

During our stay, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on Cocunut Beach. This was an excellent hotel and centrally located on the east side of the island in the town of Kapaa. I liked the location because you were basically the same travel distance from the south (Poipu) or north side (Hanelei) of the island. In addtion, we were walking distance from a Safeway, Subway, McDonalds, Starbucks, Panda Express, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. Sure, these aren’t the epitome of culinary taste, but when you’re traveling to an expensive place with a family, it’s nice to be able to score a few cheap meals in the process. If you are looking for a good deal on accommodations, I would recommend signing up on the Travelzoo website as that is where we received an excellent deal on lodging – $120 per night with a $200 meal credit at a very nice and well kept hotel. The only drawback about the hotel is that the beach it sits on isn’t really conducive to swimming (many Hawaiian beaches aren’t), but Lydgate State beach is right down the road (about a mile away) if you want to snorkel or swim without spending a lot of time driving.

On our fourth day, we took a drive to the North end of the island. The north end is the tropical, wet side and also where our friends Holly and Don live. Hanalei Bay consists of a huge 2.5 mile long horseshoe bay. In the summer months the water is clear and tranquil — perfect for swimming and snorkeling. It is also where many people dock their boats. In the winter time however, the boats disappear as the big winter swells hit and the surfers come from miles around to ride the epic waves of the bay. The kids enjoyed the water at Hanalei Bay and we also had lunch in town at a place called Bubbas Burgers, a pretty well known hangout that’s been visited by all kinds of celebrities, including president Clinton.

After spending part of the day on the beach, we took car ride to the end of Kuhio highway (56), which leads you past several other cool beaches and caves until you get to the end of the road at Ke ‘e beach. After that we backtracked to the town of Kilauea where we had begun our day’s journey by visiting the Kilauea lighthouse. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good picture of the lighthouse because it was surrounded by scaffolding as part of a summer restoration project. Kilauea is also the town where Holly and Don live. We spent our evening hanging out with them and their friends. It was cool hearing about how Don and Holly packed up their things 8 years ago and moved their family to Kauai.  They did this when their kids were roughly around the same age our kids are right now. By all accounts, it looks like their dream is paying off nicely as they live in a wonderful place with two great kids who look like they will also remain in Hawaii.  We thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with them and it was also a great and memorable way to celebrate my birthday. The kids also liked the visit, including the opportunity to do a little archery in the backyard. Lilah got to pretend she was “Katniss” from the Hunger Games which she thought was cool.

Overall we all had an excellent time and would love to go back again. I joked with Lilah and Luke about moving to the island but they were not ready to commit to that. Lilah has her friends and so does Luke. They both agreed Kauai would be good to visit again so we’ll see. For now, it’s back to the reality of work (I start September 10) and school (the kids started the day after they got back from vacation).

Anyway, enjoy the photos. There are three pages worth images.

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