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FC: A Few Malihinis 2011

1: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Here's to You, Birthday Boy! January 16, 2011 Another Mele Kalikimaka for us this year meant sand castles and sand men, and more confusion on Zac's part every time we sang about sleighs, snow, and cold. His favorite book all Christmas season was "Snowball Soup." December 24th meant time to watch Santa row into shore. Check out our homeless, er... Hawaiian Santa. Jeff Peterson built another sand castle for all of us to admire (and also made Zac his own to sculpt) while we waited for Santa to arrive and give out leftover Halloween candy.

2: Christmas this year was different for us, as we were not in our own house. Our landlords came back with their family for 12 days, and Rusty and Mandie were kind enough to let us crash at their house with Jake--their 10 year old dog--and Huck--Holly and Mike's dog while they were all on the mainland. Zachary could not have had a better Christmas-time chasing those dogs around. When we drove back to our own place after the stay, he cried and said he didn't want to live here anymore. He wanted to stay at the "doggie's house." Sadly, Jake died just this past Thursday of liver failure. Zac colored a picture for them, and when Brady took him to deliver it, Zachary could not understand why they wouldn't let him in to play with Jake. He was a big dog with a great tolerance for children, and Zachary is just one kid who is going to miss him! Zac asked Santa over and over this season for "cars like Garrett." He got them. His favorite part of this toy is taking the tires off and putting them back on. He also loves to show off to the neighbors his toy from cousin Logan. This little rocket shoots about 100 feet into the sky after you jump on that purple launch. Perfect boy toy. Brady also took Zachary on a jog yesterday, and Zac blared on this harmonica for a good portion of the run. It's hilarious to watch him in action. He also got a Toy Story dish set. He refused to open any more presents until he got to eat his (3rd helping) of cereal in them. Brady's big present was a new camera lens, and mine was a watch. Oh, wait! Mine was a new car. Goodbye Altima, hello Pathfinder. We are now the owners of 2 black cars. Kind of funny. Christmas morning, we went to the Atkins and had a yummy breakfast. Melissa made the kids' plates look like Christmas trees.

3: The waves were pretty choppy, but the boys still had a good time. Here is Brady:

5: I took Kate to the doctor today and she is 90% for both weight and height. Everything is growing except her hair. Someone told me the other day that she is "getting cute." | May 24, 2011

6: There's a million things I want to do that I'm just not getting to: putting photo books together, spring cleaning, teaching Zac how to cut (yikes, I have no idea how to be successful on this one with my leftie boy!), looking up new recipes, finish Les Meserables (I'm only about 200 pages into it, so "finish" is probably the wrong word), and a lot of other non-essentials that keep me from going out of my mind, but don't matter that much. | Our life has definitely been a little slower paced since Kate was born. I can say that I am finally to the point that 1) Zachary watches less TV and plays on the IPad less while I nurse, 2) Zachary gets more attention from me during the day for stories, coloring, play dough, etc., and 3) We are able to go on outings each morning. Combined, this all makes me feel like a great mom (in comparison to the mom I've been lately), although I still feel like I have a little ways to go until we are back to "normal."

7: I've been able to do the things that DO matter a ton to me, including finally getting some surf time in after almost a year off, getting my physical therapy in for my SI joint issue, putting things together for co-op preschool, and going out as a family on a little adventure every Saturday. Brady is getting to basketball again, faithfully running, and back to very busy at work. Overall, I would rate satisfaction with how things are going at a 7.5, and we're continuing to move up the chains. So, yeah, our adventures went from long hikes on steep terrain or entire days at the beach to going to the swimming pool on Saturday afternoon, but it's still good. We went for a "big adventure" on Saturday--a drive to Hanalei for surfing. Kate is a screamer in the car, so this 1.5 hour drive (each way) was a major risk. She only cried about 35 minutes on the way up and less than that on the way back, so...progress. Sadly, the day was not quite what we envisioned when we left our sunny Poipu in the morning. It was windy and rainy the entire time we were there. | We both surfed for a whopping 20 minutes each, and held Kate bundled up and under an umbrella. No one left completely satisfied...except for Zachary. Wind and rain don't really bother toddlers. Really, his 15 minutes running in the rain and once again displaying his sand monster skills made the trip almost worth it!

9: I think this entry makes me sound like I am craving something else. That's true to an extent--I'm ready for a little more activity on the weekends and I'd love to be healthy enough to run for 45 minutes straight, but really, I get a lot of thrill from holding my little babe, hearing new words pop out of Zac's mouth, and watching him suddenly start coloring "in the lines." Not every moment is blog-worthy, but those are the day-to-days and what makes mommy-hood fulfilling. | He still loves bubbles. Someday, he's going to be over them and that will be a sad day for me. | He just discovered popsicles. | A "dog house" he built at naptime.

10: Brady and I were both feeling stir-crazy, so for Memorial Day we booked tickets to Oahu and off we went. The trip started out rough--our flight was delayed by over an hour and a half (annoying because that is three times longer than the flight to Oahu), which was hard with two kids. I kept remembering our 6-hour delay in San Francisco when we came back from Spain, and wondered how anyone with children could handle that much time in the airport. No worries, though. It was my birthday, so we chose my two favorite activities for the day: hiking and surfing. Zachary fell asleep in the car on the way to the hike and got about 10 minutes of shut-eye: enough so that he was very grumpy and emotional when he woke up. We didn't know if we were really going to make it up Diamond Head for our Waikiki views. He cheered up quickly, though, and impressed all the out-of-shapers making the climb by blazing past them the entire way (it was a whopping 1.6 miles, but in all fairness it was steep). | June 1, 2011: Memorial Day at Waikiki

11: Hiking Diamond Head is an easy way to get rich payoffs.

12: Kate's First Hike | That G2 tasted like bubble gum.

13: We checked into our hotel overlooking Waikiki Beach, and headed out with the hundreds of other surfers. Waikiki is awesome for it's long break, as well as how easy it is to rent a board and get out there with them. Be very impressed with these pictures. Brady was holding Kate and entertaining Zac while holding his bulky camera JUST in time to catch me on one of the 5 waves I caught in my surf hour. | Paddling out to surf Waikiki--something I've wanted to do since we moved to HI. | Brady fared better than me and caught tons of waves in his hour. | Brady paddling back in. Impressive picture-taking coordination!

14: That night, we did Cheesecake Factory take-out (oh, I die over that Santa Fe salad), and yes, I do realize that sharing a piece of that enormous chocolate cake does in fact negate all weight loss efforts of the previous weeks! I used to never understand take-out. Why order out when you can sit down and have a nice meal at the restaurant? Answer: children. Eating our food on the balcony of our hotel room while our babes snored away was uniquely romantic. | Kate slept the entire time for Brady's turn in the water. The entire trip, we were really concerned about the sun and keeping her shaded without overheating. We were lucky because the weather was perfect all weekend--sunny and not too hot.

15: Zachary has been a really gentle kiddo these last few weeks, in part because we've been working on a star chart. His star categories each day were chores, obeying, playgroup behavior, and naps. It took four extra days to earn all the stickers, but he did it, and earned his promised train ride. We did the train at Dole Pineapple Plantation, which was a fantastic destination the first time we went (when Zac was exactly the same age as Kate), but kind of lame after living here longer.

16: Touring the gardens | Look closely at the picture above.

17: Finally, the train ride! Zac showed his sticker chart to the conductor, and was super excited. He even smiled for the camera! | The ride took us on a tour of the lush pineapple fields. The fields were "resting" so the scene to the left is as good as it gets.

18: Next stop: the Waikiki Aquarium. When we asked Zachary later which he liked more, the train ride or the aquarium, he answered, "aquarninum." Bottom left: "SHARK!" This pic is included primarily so you can see the shiner I gave him earlier in the day. I opened the car door too quickly and it nailed him on the eye. He still has a nasty black eye. Oh, the guilt!

19: Kate in her swimsuit for the first time | The view from our balcony at the Marriott Waikiki

20: The first place was Hanauma Bay, a protected beach with an entry fee and a required video before you can go out and snorkel. We are not sure what the big hoorah is over this beach, because the coral reef was brown and we saw nothing but fish. The snorkeling was nothing like Big Island and Maui--it was more like Kauai. It was certainly pretty, though. | The second beach took us over an hour to get to, and Kate screamed the entire way. We always think that eventually she will stop, but she has proven us wrong over and over again. We planned to paddle board at Kailua, considered one of the best beaches in the nation, but the water was way too choppy. Instead, we spent the beach day "frolicking." If only we were frolickers... Again, though, Zac loved it here, so the family vacation part of me decided that the day wasn't a wash.

21: Whew! Finally, our adventure itch was scratched and we are all pretty content around here! We were completely surprised by how easy the kids were on the trip, and how quickly they've adjusted back since getting home (that is easily the worst part about traveling to the mainland). I feel spoiled because this is our third year in a row taking a trip over my bday (last year was Big Island and the year before was Maui). I'm thinking we should do this every year.

22: "Baby Kate Awake!" June 15, 2011 Zachary wakes me up almost daily by coming in with Brady and Kate and saying excitedly, "Baby Kate awake! Baby Kate awake!" It is a sweet way to start the day. (We also hear this phrase occasionally when he wakes her up by "scaring her" and then tells us with feigned surprise and enthusiasm that she is awake.) I was lamenting to Brady that 1) I have no good pictures of our kids together and 2) I still don't know how to take pictures with our camera. Brady has been a great sport, and explained to me for the 12th time how to get to the right settings. I am actually putting it to use this time so all my pics don't turn out as dark as the ones in the middle. The hat pictures come from my first morning of attempts, and the pink onesie pics come from another day. Now, you should be able to see why it is not so easy to get great pictures of the kids together. Zachary is not the most cooperative picture-taker. The picture at the bottom of the page is a fairly typical pose for him. The best part is as soon as the camera clicks, he jumps up and asks to see it. Ha! Kate is a drooler. Her clothes get wet to her belly button on a regular basis.

25: Brady showed me up with the ones on these pages. I now finally have my sibling pictures. The two below are my favorite shots ever from Brady.

26: "Rainy Days of June" July 11, 2011 We had one of the rainiest and coldest months of June in Kauai's history. Somehow, we still beat the system and enjoyed ourselves. Here we are out at Kalipaki on June 4th, a day that started out beautiful but ended in tons of rain. At least we got in our couple hours of fun before the clouds nailed us. Brady took the picture on top while I was in the water. There is something eerie about being way out in the ocean when it is dark outside. It feels like a movie set and you are certain something is going to bite your toes. Zachary's favorite thing lately is hiking. He is a little super trooper on the trails. We went up and did the Canyon Trail--one we haven't ventured onto since Zac was bottle-feeding. This time around, he did at least 50% of it on his own (so probably about 3 miles).

27: A clear view of Ni'ihau on the way up to the trail. | Here we are, thankful for our 4WD on the muddy back roads. (Here I am, comforting our poor baby who still hates the car.) | Brady loves this picture of him with his little man. | Middle picture: One of our favorite views on this hike. The blue picnic table where we took a 10 minute nursing break before the storm clouds raked us in.

28: There's nothing like watching a wall of water come towards us when we have two children who are not going to dig the wet way back. We beat most of it, though, and the kids stayed partially dry and happy.

29: The next Saturday, we asked Zac what he wanted to do. "HIKING!," was his enthusiastic response, but when we reached the trail head, he was less than excited and expected to be carried. That is a no-go now that this kiddo is a hefty 38 lbs. (I checked out of the carry Zac responsibilities when he hit about 30 lbs, so now it is Brady that has to grit his teeth and take it.) | We've done this East side trail three times now, and the last two times have resulted in semi-disasters. Most recently, we went when I was a couple weeks from delivery, and got rained out. This time, we decided to tough out the rain and clouds, and paid for it by getting rained on no less than 7 times in the 2.25 miles we made it.

30: The following Friday/Saturday, we took our first camping excursion since Kate was born. (No pics.) It was terrific, minus the 3:30am wake-up by Miss Kate. She was ready for the day and refused to go back to bed, which was a little rough considering we went to bed at 2am. Oh well! The next day made up for the headache with perfect boogie boarding waves and a nice, hot day at Polihale. We even tested out our sweet new sun umbrella that stakes into the ground and keeps our maybe-redhead from burning. It passed the test! | Other than that, we built a lot of towers in June. Good times.

31: Pirates, Fireworks, and Sand Monsters: Our 4th of July Weekend July 12, 2011 Zachary had a fling with the show, "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" on the Disney channel. It is a silly little cartoon about three mini-pirates who are trying to resolve problems that Capt Hook creates--all while following their slogan, "Safety First!" and wearing life jackets. It is one of those shows that sort of makes you want to stub your toe rather than sit through the 20 minutes of politically-correct conflict resolution. ...But Zac loved it. One morning, we created a shoebox for a treasure chest, and created "gold dabloons" for it. For the next two weeks, the most effective discipline method was to threaten removal of a gold dabloon. Fantastic. Terrified by stories of older-sibling-beating-up-baby, I have only just started leaving Kate in a room unattended with Zachary. No kidding, I took her everywhere, even if I was stepping out of the room for a minute or two. The very first time I left her was this past weekend. Zac came rushing into the bathroom, saying, "MOM! Kate is Capt Hook!" My only thought was "Oh, no! What did he DO?!!!?" I ran into the living room, and this is what I found: | Besides poor restaurant selection, Kauai is also not famous for fireworks. You could have fooled Zachary. We took the drive out to the military base (which, thanks to a DUI checkpoint, resulted in a 1.5 hour one-way drive) for their beach fireworks on July 1st, and although the fireworks lasted a whopping 6 minutes--MAYBE--we came away thinking that it was terrific. Zac kept screaming, "WHOO-HOO!," "OH, YEAH!!!!," and "DID YOU SEE THAT, MOM?" He was easily the most vocal kiddo on the beach. We couldn't stop laughing at his reactions to each (tiny) explosion.

32: Saturday, we kept it local at Brennecke's. We are becoming a bit disenchanted with this beach (which is .5 miles from our house) due to huge crowds and waves that are less than stellar lately. They usually pick up during the summer, so we'll see if this beach can pull itself back up into our good graces. Pictures: I am in the pink swimsuit bottoms, and Brady is body surfing on the left. Brady is still looking dapper at 32!

33: On the 4th, we went paddleboarding at Kalipaki. I wanted to try waves on a paddleboard, but at best they were ankle-slappers, and at one point, I fell and scratched my tummy on the reef (it was that shallow). I did catch 2 on the paddleboard, but I definitely prefer catching waves with a smaller board. Brady did much better than me, leading me to analyze my performance for about an hour while he patiently listened. I am a sucker for feedback. Pictures: Sand is Zac's element. He insisted we bury him again and again. Kate is such an easy-going baby. She was content to hang out in the shade while we played in the sand. We finished the night off with 4th of July waffles.

34: Happy 10 years to us! Our friend Chase (see pilot above) does helicopter tours of the island, and offered us a great deal. We've been told by many people that this is the best thing they've ever done, so while I was skeptical that it would be that awesome, we were looking forward to it. We strapped into the door-less ride and took off. At first we seemed close to the ground, but right before hitting Waimea Canyon, Chase told us to look down. Suddenly, it was like the ground was taken out from under us as we swooped over the canyon.

35: It was fun to have Chase point out hike after hike that we've done. Page Left: See the kayakers below? They are paddling into the sea caves. We are doing that in ONE WEEK!!! | Here's the famous arch that Harrison Ford flew through in a helicopter. We were bummed that Chase wouldn't fly through, too. | The waterfall at the 6 mile mark on the Kalalau Trail (this is where I got 150 mosquito bites several years ago).

36: The reason I wanted to do a helicopter tour is to see the waterfalls coming down Mt. Waialeale. When the weather is not cooperative (about 50% of the time--it is the wettest spot on earth, after all), they won't take you into the crater. We woke up Sat morning and it was rainy, windy, and cold, so we were completely afraid we wouldn't get to see this. Chase told us at the beginning of the flight that the crater was wide open and we'd definitely get to go in, so we breathed easier and enjoyed the ride. Here we are, coming into the crater: Nothing disappointing about it! There were hundreds of waterfalls.

37: We also got to see the "Jurassic Park" waterfall. The land surrounding this fall is owned by the Robinsons, so you can only stop here if you are on a tour with them. Maybe someday... I made an anniversary book for Brady, full of pics over the past 10 years. In one of the picture books I pulled photos from, I had captioned that our 1st anniversary steaks were "delicious." Brady and I crack up over that, because seriously, that was the worst meal EVER and we will always eat out for anniversaries from now until death-do-us-part. That little experience taught me that it is comical and unnecessary to sugar-coat your memories. So with that in mind... | Brady loved the tour. He loved it, loved it, loved it. I'm not sure where he ranks it in terms of island highlights and must-dos. I liked it. I do not appreciate immediate payoffs nearly as much as when I have to work and sweat for them. I LOVE hiking miles and miles for one view. I've also always had a grudge against helicopters--having them spin overhead after you HAVE hiked miles and miles and you are finally alone on a breathtaking vista is..ugh. I couldn't help thinking about that each time we saw trails. Even though I didn't get off the helicopter thinking, "WOW, that was the best thing ever," I did enjoy it. I'm glad we had the opportunity and now the pictures. This island is gorgeous. Quick story: Our friend Julie was watching Zachary and Kate for us. About 20 minutes after we dropped them off, she left a message on my phone saying, "Zac fell on legos and I can't get it to stop bleeding. I think we are taking him to the ER." Twenty minutes later, she called and said she got the bleeding to stop. My phone was in the car, so we didn't miss the trip or have a chance to worry. Zac still has a bit of a fat lip, but he was fine. Say what I may about no-effort thrills, but going on a helicopter ride is a hundred times better than spending all afternoon at the ER!

38: "Losing It" August 5, 2011 | Three weeks ago, I called up Brady and told him that I was going to lose it if we didn't paint our awful walls. The very next day, we started the project, and the last pieces of artwork went onto our beautiful walls just yesterday. While I am not a fan of improving our landlord's house for free and losing 3 weekends, I do think it was worth it. Brady was gracious and took on the "honey do list" without complaint. Watching him paint reminded me of our Colony days. | I also lost my braces. Here's the last pic of me with them. Without the braces, I also lost some of my youthful look. I now look like I'm almost 30 rather than 19. Zachary lost his life jacket the day he started swim lessons! He can now swim across the pool (by that I mean mostly doggie paddle, but face down). This is him with his teacher.

39: You might think Kate is losing her hair, but she's never grown any so no. She's plunged down to the 40 percentile, so she's lost a little on the growth charts. She is the happiest baby I've ever known and totally content to watch Zachary during the day. She's also very patient with him as he dresses her up. Lately, his favorite thing is to put the lid of a contact case on her nose and tell me she is a clown. | I know that she looks more like Brady, but don't you see some of me in the picture above?

40: One week into swim lessons, we were at the pool practicing his new skills. He slipped on the pool's siding and came down on his chin. It bled a bit, but it stopped and he was anxious to get back to swimming. I checked on the wound, and thought maybe it was deep enough to be worried. I called Brady, who left work and then promptly took him to urgent care. It turned out he needed glue and butterfly bandages. He was a brave kiddo and rewarded with his first ice cream from McD's. Since the painting, we've lost time to get out as a family. Instead, we've taken a few separate adventures. We each get an hour to go do whatever we want. Yeah, I know. We sound like one of those couples that ends up vacationing separately in another year, but it has worked out the past couple weeks and helped scratch an itch. We've also still taken the kids to the pool for their entertainment, so we're not that selfish. Here's a couple pics from Brady's biking to Horseshoe Beach. We want to take Karen and Ryan there sometime in the next two weeks. | One of Kate's first times in the water

41: Horseshoe Beach

42: Here is the story of a boy and a girl who did an adventure they've been dying to try since they day they moved to Kauai. It is not a picture book. Why? The camera they brought broke. The camera the other couple brought also broke. It was discovered 5 minutes after getting in the water, but 15 minutes too late to do anything about it. Instead, you will have to imagine enormous sea caves, sparkling waterfalls, sheer cliffs, occasional rough seas and just as often, seas as calm as a lake (but bright blue and beautiful). You are also free to imagine dolphins, whales, and mermaids, but none of those were present during our trip. Ryan and Karen came to visit (!), rounding out the last of the Edwards clan to make it out here. They were excellent and helpful guests, playing with our kids and helping out--but more on that later. Halfway through their vacation, they watched Zachary and Kate so we could do this trip. This gig had a lot to live up to--we've already hiked in (2 years ago) and loved it, and we haven't done anything really adventurous since Kate was born. We went with our friends Chad and Mary, who both went solo in their kayaks, while we pushed along in our double. Chad has been on the coast quite a few times, so he was our official guide. The first day was gorgeous. The ocean was calm enough that we were able to go into sea cave after sea cave. After we got over our irritation of having no camera, it was actually kind of nice to not worry about picture-taking and just breathe it all in. We could not believe the deep blue of the water and the green of the coastline. | Besides getting completely wasted with seasickness, the kayaking was really easy and we got into Kalalau in about 2 hours. We spent the afternoon on the beach, setting up camp (trying out hammocks for the first time), and hiking into the valley's famous waterfall. You can actually slide down the waterfall into the water, but it is not as cool as it sounds (especially when you are are a wimp about the rocks and only go from the halfway point). We ate plenty of guavas, fresh oranges, and passion fruit--yummy. We saw at least a dozen nudists, and may have joined them for a round of skinny dipping that night. We'll let you decide. We were wanna-be hippies for the weekend, and loved it. The next morning, we swam over to our favorite beach on the island--Ho'opu. You can't dock a kayak there and you can't reach it by foot so it is arguably the most remote beach on the island. Fabulous. We had it mostly to ourselves, plus a topless woman wearing a child's floatie. It also has a waterfall you can swim in, but not quite so quaint because the water almost takes your head off when you dare to try it. Lunchtime came, and we were all pretty nervous. We'd seen kayak after kayak get flipped heading out of Kalalau. The swell was up and the conditions were more than a little choppy. Shore-breakers were coming in hard every few minutes, and we knew we couldn't hack it if we got caught up in one of those. We made a game-plan, and retrospectively, it wasn't the best "Plan A" ever thought up by 4 naive kayakers. The boys pushed Mary out first, and she seemed to be out safely. Next, they pushed me--alone at the front of the kayak--and went to push Chad in. Brady planned to swim right out after Chad got in safely. The plan went wrong when Mary was taken by a current and smashed hard into shore. The boys went running down the coast to help her. | Kalalau Kayak Trip Monday, August 22, 2100

43: In the meantime, the current took me for a fast ride along the 1 mile beach, and there was no keeping myself in place. Because I was in front, I was in no position to steer. I also just could not fight that current. The boys got Mary back out, and then Brady got Chad in. By the time Chad was out the water, he didn't realize that Brady was swimming behind him, and he left to make sure we were okay. Brady started getting nervous because he was in open water with no life jacket or flippers, and clearly this current was powerful. He was pretty sure there was no way he could get himself back to shore. He yelled out to Chad, who had to work hard to get back to him. Chad towed Brady to me, and everything was okay minus the fact that the boys were pretty anxious about the ordeal and exhausted from the effort of towing/swimming (and in Brady's case, very nearly losing his swim trunks). For the record, we did have a "Plan B" and even after all that, Brady still didn't put his life jacket on. I was the only one dorking out with my jacket the entire trip. When Brady first related this story to people, I felt like he was exaggerating the danger of the situation. I will state now that I have been corrected and told horror story after horror story about ocean currents (and the difficulty of finding swimmers in the open ocean), and I now realize that we were lucky nothing else went wrong. The best part of the day came when we were facing huge swells. Brady yelled "RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT" and we paddled our hearts out. It was slightly nerve-wrecking, pretty intense, and overall just awesome. I'm glad we didn't flip. | We couldn't go into the famous "Eye of God" sea cave (see my post from a couple weeks ago showing kayakers entering this cave) because the swells were too high. It was wild, though. We turned a corner to head into Polihale, and the seas were calm. The rest of the journey was easy and beautiful. We even ran into a buddy of Chad's who was manning a zodiac, and he threw us some ice cold drinks. We made it into Polihale without crashing, which was impressive considering the big shore-breakers there, too. People keep asking me which I prefer: kayaking or hiking. There are obviously benefits to both, but I will have to go with hiking. It's more hard-core, gritty, and exhausting. I loved it when we hiked into Kalalau so tired we could hardly walk any more. We weren't really tired at any point of this adventure (except the boys after towing/swimming). I would say hiking is at least 3 times harder than kayaking. However, if you only have 2 days, kayaking is the way to go. Also for the record: everyone says that Dramamine doesn't work if you take it when you are already sick. I was pretty darn seasick on day 2, and took another pill about an hour into our journey. Within about 30 min, I was good! (That could be another reason I prefer the hiking...) Who wants to go with us for round 2? Our only requirements are you have to wear a life jacket, and your camera has to work.

45: Family Pictures August 22, 2011 A couple weeks ago, we celebrated the disappearance of my braces by finally getting some family pics taken. I was a little bummed because I screwed up the best one (see head tilt beach shot--the wind was good and blowing!), but what can you do? I love the more candid shots.

48: Sept 6, 2011 "Ryan and Karen" A few weeks ago, Ryan and Karen came to town for two weeks of beach frolicking, boogie boarding, snorkeling, hiking, walks...and 2 days of babysitting. We loved having them here--they were super helpful and on top of that, they were terrific with our kids. Zachary is still praying for them three weeks later, and asks me if Uncle Ryan and Aunt Karen will "come play with me sometime." He's also repeatedly said, "Remember when Uncle Ryan and Aunt Karen played in the sand with me? That was fun. Let's do it again."

49: The first Saturday they were here, we introduced them to Brennecke's, Mahaulepu and Horseshoe Beach, and Keoki's. The following Monday, Brady accompanied them on one of our all-time favorite hikes which goes along the NaPali Coast to Hanakapiai Falls. Karen was 19 weeks pregnant and hung in there like a champ the entire way. That weekend, they watched our kids while we did the Kalalau via kayak. Brady took off work in the middle of the following week, and we headed up to the north shore for snorkeling at Hideaways. I'd spent some time explaining to them that the snorkeling here is not great--the coral isn't vibrant and the only thing you usually see snorkeling are fish. Somehow, we scored a perfect day with bright coral, hundreds of fish, and lots of sunshine. To boot, there was a fire in our neighborhood which required all residents to evacuate for hours, and we missed the whole ordeal. Good timing!

51: Ryan was a great sport and buried Zachary over and over again. Zachary told us he was tired, and next thing we knew, he was sound asleep in the sand. Brady created some shade for the tuckered out kiddo. I wish we had a picture of his sand-imprinted face when he woke up. We will say that the best part for us was talking every night and getting a chance to know Karen better. We're definitely the outliers of the family, and we feel a little more "caught up." Of course we made Ryan do his Seinfeld impressions, too ("First place, second place, dead last").

52: Sept 14, 2011 "End of Summer" How has Labor Day already come and gone? Summer is over! Of course, that means something different here. In Kauai, you know it's fall when the trade winds stop and you sweat more--lots more. If I could have A/C for only 2 months of the year, it would be September and October. End of summer means the start of Co-op Preschool for Zachary. Here he is on Day 1 at our house with his four preschool buddies. Kate is 6 months old in about a week. I can't believe it. Zac's friend Will (see picture above) told me that she "still doesn't look like a girl," so I have ampted up the bows. She is getting great at grabbing items, definitely knows her mommy and daddy (and big brother), and is officially sleep trained.

53: Brady's work hosted a camp-out this year in Koke'e (the "mountains" here). It was nice to have chilly weather for a camp-out, and the scenery was gorgeous. It did put me over the edge with Kate and camp-outs, though. We've been camping 4 times since she was born, and all with the same no-sleep result. We're done for a few months! Kate: "Hi, I had a GREAT time getting rocked and cuddled by Mommy and Daddy all night long." We had to convince Zachary to take a hike with us and leave his friends behind for a little while. He was not happy about it. After we got started, he loved it. As soon as we were finished he asked to go again.

54: This was the greatest weekend for Zachary. He played non-stop, enjoyed creating this cereal necklace, and played in mounds of dirt for hours. He was two steps beyond excited to show us his cereal necklace. | The end of summer also ushered in a big swell. I love the south swells because it sounds like the ocean is just outside our windows at night.

55: Kate officially eats better than her older brother. All of her food with no battles! She's also ready for sleeping by 6:30pm every night. It's weird to have my nights back. (Zac likes dressing her up "like a clown.") The pictures below are proof that I also take pictures of my son. Most of the pics, however, look like the one on the left, although occasionally he doesn't pull a face. Uncle Doug, Aunt Teresa, and their daughter Holly came out to visit this past weekend. We had a few beautiful beach days with them. Holly will be attending BYU-H, so we hope to see her again soon. We forgot our camera, but Doug snagged a couple shots of us boogie boarding at Kealia. Zac fell in love with our visitors as he always does! Holly was awesome to play with him in the sand. We also enjoyed a gorgeous day at Polihale on Labor Day, a few surf outings, and plenty of trips to the pool. Our big news is that Zachary is officially swimming in the ocean now! He's been nervous since about age 2, and stayed mostly away from ocean water (but not sand!). He's suddenly jumping through waves and dipping his head under like it's no biggie. A little peer pressure goes a long with this kiddo!

56: "I Put a Spell on You" November 6, 2011 Two years ago, I bought a Jim Shore Witch Figurine and it's our favorite Halloween decoration. By "our," I mean Brady's and mine--not Zachary's. We have it placed on our bar counter, and since we broke it out, he refuses to sit at the bar. Admittedly, the witch looks a little cynical, but the truth is, Zac hates Halloween. We took a few photos just before Halloween, and I had to bribe him to put his costume on. He got tears in his eyes trying it on, but toughed it out so he could earn his 25 cent piece of junk from the WalMart coin machines. Look at the painful expression in his eyes.

57: My favorite line from him, all choked up: "Mom, I don't want to be Robin Hood for Halloween. I just want to be your sweet, little boy." Kate was happy to oblige me with picture after picture. I know that I post too many pictures of her, but I figure she's going to start running away and scowling at the camera soon, too. Plus, I got this costume for her a full 2 months ago, and was DYING to see her in it. Baby girls are fun to dress! | Zac's preschool did a performance of Halloween songs for the Moms and Dads, and one song was about a "Mean Old Witch." Zachary was a little confused by this, because, "Baby Kate isn't mean. Why is she a witch?" Seriously, this little gal really did put a spell on us! Friday night before Halloween was our Ward Trunk R Treat. I was in charge with the Primary again this year. Last year, we had 330 people show up. Our building is smaller than most, so that's about as big as it can get. This year was a success, too, but smaller numbers--probably about 75 less. I'm glad it's over, although I do get a kick out of planning these things. Our Frankenstein backdrop barely survived the night and is now at the dump.

58: Saturday morning, we busted out the door early so we could get back in time for another Halloween gig that night. We went up the canyon, where it was dumping rain. Somehow, we missed every bit of rain on our hike and it was sunny and beautiful at the lookout. | When I pack up to go somewhere with the kids, I don't seem to forget a thing. When Brady and I both pack up, we almost forget the kids. This time, it was a spoon, bib, and diaper (that we didn't need...whew), which we packed in the car but not the hiking bag. For the record, feeding an entire jar of pureed food with a carrot takes a lot longer than using a spoon. | We've tested Zachary on hikes several times now, and we were confident he could at least hike 3 miles. Now that we've been on island for 4.5 years, we feel too cool for the guidebook and overly confident in our knowledge of hikes. We "knew," for instance, that the lookout was about 2 miles, maybe 2.25 miles from the start of the hike. We passed the 2 mile marker, then the 2.25, then...we finally reached the 3.25 mile marker at the lookout. Eek. Zac seemed to be fine, but going back was completely uphill and we sweated it out a little wondering if he could make it. I fed Kate at the lookout while Zac and Brady got a head start. I finally caught up to them over a mile later when they had taken a 10 min break, worried about me! I wasn't hiking slowly, either. That was a good sign, but we were still a little nervous about him making it to the end. It turns out that "beating Mommy to the car" is all the motivation he needed. He booked it the entire way back, including running the last .5 mile. I am serious when I say that Brady and I have never been so proud! 6.5 miles for our 3 year old!!

60: Finish Halloween post

62: Dec 3, 2011: "Give Thanks" November seems like an abbreviated month--another February. Really, there were 30 days in November? Hard to believe. I wish we had pictures of our first weekend in November. We left early on Saturday morning and booked it up to Hanalei to hit the surfboard swap meet, held the first weekend of every month. We tried this before, but I didn't like the selection and we went home empty handed. We got there and it was dumping rain. There was a small tent with about 45 people crammed underneath, and we all still got soaked. We kept thinking the rain would let up, and it didn't. We were standing in a field full of water. Finally, the kids had to get out of the car (the drive is an hour and a half), so they came and squeezed in under the tent, too. In the meantime, we eyed a few boards, looked up some reviews on Brady's phone, called our surf buddies, and finally got the one we wanted. | When it rains hard here, the water turns into chocolate milk. It's a recipe for an ear infection, but I did not care. Had to try the new board. We went to Kalipaki on the way home and I surfed in the dirtiest water I've ever experienced. Worth it? Yes. I've been out on it about 5 or 6 times since then, and I like the board more each time. | The second weekend was the Koloa Sugar Mill 10 Mile Race. Brady sprained his ankle playing basketball a few weeks before the race, so he was on kid duty while I ran. With the SI injury still plaguing me on and off, I had not been able to pull my mile times for distance runs below an 8:24, and that was absolutely cruising for me. The weeks before the race, I was upset because the joint was bugging me, and my heel had started to hurt, too. (Yay.) I went in expecting to run 8:30s, and hoping that I could achieve 8:15s. I couldn't believe it when I pulled in 7:34s. Obviously not a PR, but almost a minute a mile faster than my best training runs. I seriously felt like yelling, "I'M BACK!" It gave me a 4th place overall finish (for women), and first place in my age division (which doesn't mean a lot because only 100 people ran this race). It was super to race again--I missed the adrenaline, nerves, and excitement!

63: Had to include this picture because I've given Kev and Scott a hard time about pulling a "Nufer face"--the hanging mouth and expressionless eyes more typically seen when staring at a computer or TV screen. Here I display it at the finish. (By the way, all the people around me are 10K/5K finishers, not 10 milers.) | So many young families have moved here recently that hosting a huge gathering for Thanksgiving wasn't going to work this year. Instead, we split up into a few small groups. It meant more cooking assignments, but the food was great and for the first time in years, we had leftovers. Zachary and I made little turkey cups for the chocolate covered blueberries. I decided that I am not nearly as anti-craft as I thought. Making crafts with your kids is unbelievably fun. | Saying "Hi!" to the kids:

64: Zac helped me with everything. Here he is breaking up the pretzels for our Edwards-style Raspberry Pretzel Salad. This "salad" cracks me up because it was the only thing I was ever assigned at Edwards family dinners for about 2 years of our marriage. Haha! No blame or anything...I could barely cook a baked potato at the time. Let me tell you, all that practice paid off: this thing turned out perfectly. | I'm always surprised by how easy things are to cook that I've been intimidated by for years. For instance: stuffing. I've always (mistakenly) believed that store-bought stuffing was just as good as from-scratch stuffing. Heidi was mortified that I was going to cheat, and offered to take on yet another assignment with her brand new baby. Of course that couldn't happen, so I went for it and now realize that it's the easiest thing to make for Thanksgiving dinner except for maybe the green beans. Heidi cooked up sweet potatoes, apple pie, blueberry mini-pies, and perfect crescent rolls. She also brought along Mr. Turkey Tate. Chad got up at 5am to start smoking this turkey. We called it our Hawaiian turkey--it looks toasted by the sun. It was delicious, and we abused our leftover rules (3 days and it's OUT) and had turkey in some form or another on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, AND Wednesday.

65: Kate slept through the entire meal, which would have made me feel bad on child #1, but on child #2, I loved having free hands. She ate plenty when she woke up. We've wanted to go to the beach on Thanksgiving since we moved here, and it's never worked. out. This year, the weather aligned and we had a gorgeous afternoon at Poipu Beach with one of the other Thanksgiving groups. Next pages: Nic was the cool dad tugging the kids along on boogie boards. Notice Kate's drool progression. Chad buried Zac and Olivia to look like sharks (see the fin?). Check out his shark imitation.

68: We caught the sunset, then went to the Kalaheo pool to eat pies and sit in the hot tub. I think there was one pie per adult. Very nice conclusion to the day!

69: Friday morning, we put out all our Christmas decorations. Each year, it is more and more fun to do this with Zachary. He remembers them and gets super excited with each box. We started an advent calendar and "Elf on the Shelf" this year, and he's loved the new additions. We had to start early, because we leave for Utah on the 16th. That afternoon, we went to a new beach on the west side and had a bonfire. Shawn brought his paddle board and we all had a go on it. The conditions were perfect, again, leading me to claim that this is the best Thanksgiving weather we've had in 5 years.

71: Zac played with Will and Porter for 2 hours straight without any adult intervention. I'm finally, finally becoming less of a helicopter parent. I love boys and their sand games. | Which sunset shots are better? Thursday (at Poipu) or these?

72: Saturday was windy and chilly. We stayed out late on Friday roasting dinner and s'mores, so we gave our kids a break and went out individually. I went surfing and Brady went on a bike ride to Horseshoe Beach.

74: January 8, 2012: "Mele Kalikimaka 2011" Christmas lasted extra-long this year. We started the decorations the day after Thanksgiving because we were leaving for Utah on Dec 16th. From then on, it was non-stop parties, crafts, advent calendars, and songs about Jesus and Santa. Unlike Halloween, I completely embrace the one-day holiday that has become a full season. Kate's December was a little rough. I remember looking at babies before I ever had one and thinking that my child would never be the one with snot hanging out of her nose. Ew, and clearly bad parenting leaving a nose un-wiped. Sadly, my poor baby had a faucet runny nose for all of December. Lick, lick, lick.

75: Kauai had a gorgeous December. We spent a ton of time on the green belt, checking out whales, fish, and rocks, and playing canal tag.

76: Picture: Zachary knew what we wanted for Christmas since October. It made Santa's job easy, especially since the gifts were easily transported via suitcase. Besides all the parties, we did get down the business and finished learning the alphabet just before our trip. Zachary is a little shaky with lower case letters, but confident with upper case. | I love co-op preschool. I love the preparation, the crafts, and the contagious enthusiasm of 3 and 4-year-olds. Our field trip with the kids was to sing carols at a nursing home. One grandma took the kids back to her bedroom and opened up a bag of cookies. Zac had 2, and I told him he was done. She told him that grandmas come first and he should definitely eat more. Ha! I couldn't argue with an 89-year-old.

77: When Zachary gets excited, he turns into the most affectionate little boy. We made a gingerbread house one night, and we heard, "Mom, I love you so much!" and "Dad, you are such a nice, nice boy," about 50 times throughout, of course accompanied by a hug and kiss. It made the hours-long process completely worth it!

78: We took the house to the work Christmas party, where it won for the "Most Traditional." I wish we had a better picture of the houses--there were some sweet Hawaiian gingerbread houses, as well as a clever Rapunzel house. | Love this Santa picture. I remember Zac crying just like Kate, and it seems like a blink ago. Zachary very eagerly told Santa (the 3 Santas he saw this year--I know, excessive!) about his sock monkey and dinosaur requests.

80: Brady took a bunch of family pictures for people this year. Most of them turned out really well. One night, I asked if we could get a few snapped of us as well. Z was not very cooperative, so we didn't get much.

82: Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 "Not-Quite-White Christmas" Two years ago, I went to Ohio with Zachary the day after Christmas. The trip was shockingly cold for Zachary. To combat the same issues I faced there, I decided to prep Zac well in advance for our trip to Utah. We talked about coats, boots, mittens, gloves, and (gasp) socks. We read book after book about snowmen and cold temperatures. Finally, he was ready. ...Until he walked out the door at the airport terminal and the 19-degree wind hit him in the face. He wouldn't leave the doorway. Fortunately, he handled the cold well, but we were all a bit disappointed with the lace of snow. Oh, well. Next year?!? First stop: Emily and Matt's house in Riverton. Zac was excited to play with his first round of cousins. The kids played their hearts out in the basement, we visited with Kevin, Kirsten, and Allie, and we saw Scott for the first time in 3 years. We had a nice dinner and stayed home from church to see if we couldn't get over our nasty colds. Aunts do nails. That's ajob description.

83: We next headed to Cory and Kristen's house in Highland. Cory stopped in the hills to make a snow angel with Zac, which turned out to be a real highlight for Mr. Z. They also introduced us to a trampoline house (owned by infamous Bentley of "Bachelorette," spotted by Brady), Smashburger, a jalepeno/cream cheese doughnut (I dare you to find something more awful), Starbucks hot chocolate (...or so delicious), another trampoline, and plenty of good chats and good foot. Pictures: Foam pit at the trampoline house; Waiting to get the bounce from Uncle Cory; Love that Ellie girl

84: Monday night, we met up with Erin at Thanksgiving Point. We explored the dinosaur museum and Zac was reacquainted with her. At the end of our visit, he melted our hearts with this explanation: Zac: "Hey, guess what?" Erin, kneeling down next to him: "What?" Zac: "Baby Kate came out of Mommy's tummy and I came out of your tummy." Zac, immediately after: "Any my toe hurts." Knowing Zac's interest in dinosaurs, Erin got him an excavation kit. He and his cousins got to work making a mess, er, digging it out. Sorry about that, Cory and Kristen!

85: Tuesday night, we drove up to Heber to ride the Polar Express. Zac cried on tn the way up, because "I just want to play with Ellie!" We should have listened to him and skipped the train, but you learn these lessons through experience, I suppose. My caption for Zac: "Mom, it's going to get better than this, right?" At one point during the high school-provided entertainment, they asked passengers to come tell jokes. Zac ran up to the front (uh-oh), and spoke clearly into the microphone, saying, "I want a sock monkey and dinosaurs." Side note: Another classic Santa shot. Next year, I resolve to have fewer encounters with the white, bearded man.

86: The next day, Kevin and Kristen met us in Orem after a mishap on the freeway--their window was hit by a rock and caved in on Kristen! We hope Cafe Rio was worth it! That night, we went to Hale Canter Theater's production of "The Christmas Carol." We loved it, but unfortunately, Kate earned her reputation as a Mommy's girl. | Thursday, the boys all moved Scott and Natalie to Heber. The girls and kids hung out at Angela's house, and later McD's where we watched a kid throw up all over the play equipment. Yeah, 2 days before Christmas. We escaped that bug and learned our lesson. Picture: Scott, a few days after the move. | Friday, Brady bowed out of skiing with me (due to sweet, clingy girl) and watched our kids so I could go with Kristen, Bryson, and Tanner. They were all nice to me, but I was terrible. I don't remember being such a wuss in the past. At one point, I got tears in my eyes staring down a blue hill. Kristen had to walk me through it--and I do mean that literally. The rest of the day, I coasted down green hills and decided that was good enough for me.

87: You may notice that I include many pictures of our daughter--not crying--while being held by others. I am trying to brainwash the family into remembering her as a content baby. You know, a baby like Walker (10 hours younger than Kate). Kate went to Cory the first second she saw him. She could only tell Brady and Cory apart when they were standing together, and she looked from one to another before picking Brady correctly.

88: Christmas Eve involved bowling, cookies for Santa, a lasagna dinner, and a nativity production. We really hoped Santa liked sprinkles and peanut M&Ms. | It appears that he took care of business, or at least took them to the elves.

89: Zachary with his cousin, Logan. He's been working on his "l" sounds for speech, and loves to say Logan over and over again for practice. Christmas morning, we opened gifts from Santa prior to getting serenaded by Angela and Paul's unbelievably good ward choir. When Zac finally opened his dinosaur, this was his reaction. Hand's down the best moment of Christmas. He also exclaimed, "FOR ME?" when he heard Santa included him in a letter to the C/K Edwards family. Ah! Christmas gets better every year!

90: Pictures: Rachel helping with the kids on Christmas. Cory took some family photos after church. We had a yummy brunch at Angela's and a turkey dinner at Mom's to finish off the family-filled day. No surfing this year, but hanging out with family was every bit as satisfying.

92: Monday, we were able to visit with Grandma and Grandpa Nufer, my cousins Michael and Michelle and family, with Robin and Rick, and finished off the night with an always-delicious meal at Kathie and Lee's house. We only took one picture of the entire day but had plenty of fun chats. | Tuesday was spent at the outlets, and then a BYU basketball game with the Ritchie boys and Natalie/Scott's family. It was awesome to scream inside the Marriott Center again. We followed the night up watching Jimmer during the King's game. | Wednesday, Mom watched the kids at Cory and Kristen's house while we went to the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. Thursday, we decided to give skiing another go. I felt redeemed after my lousy first performance, skiing only 1 green run. We had a blast together. | Friday, we spent the day with Emily and her kids in Provo, and later with Grandpa Richards and JaNae. It was nice to catch up, and to see Emily one last time. Saturday, we spent the day packing our bags, eating at Dairy King, and partying at Ang/Paul's. Yummy food, fun games, and ringing in the new year at the actual midnight with our kids.

93: It is always hard to come home after the holidays, but Brady came home to his Christmas present, a Taylor custom guitar, which eased the holiday blues. Our kids were super heroes on the flight home, leading them to believe that we can do this again sometime!

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