Saturday, July 30, 2016

Who, what, where, when, Waikiki

Picking up where we left off previously...

Saturday was the day we got to see our house for the first time!! Naturally, the drive there was beautiful and I was staring out the window the entire time. But when we came through the tunnel and around the bend on the other side of the mountain--catching our first glimpse of Kailua--I knew no matter what, we had made the right choice. For our family, there's just something about this part of the island that "feels" right to me!

I won't say much about the house, since I'm saving all that for its own post. But I will say that I had prepared myself for the worst, and was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Living in Hawaii is going to be an adjustment--it already is an adjustment. But I think we're going to be just fine.

He was too excited about his Aloha shirt, er, outfit!

After touring the house and meeting our landlord, there wasn't much else to do there. So we threw a load of laundry into the washer and set off to check out Kailua. We had dinner at what is now one of our new favorite restaurants and then spent some quality time at Target picking up a few things to keep the kids occupied in our empty nest. Like, a skateboard. Because, Hawaii.

We tried to head back to Waikiki at a decent hour, but since there was still a little lingering east coastness in our blood, the kids once again started falling asleep in the car sometime after 6:00. And once again, we had to usher 4 sleeping/crying children into our resort--past the kidless couples rocking on the veranda, past no less than 4 brides (I don't know if they just come here for photos or what, but seriously, Bride Central, people!), past the honeymooners heading out for a quiet dinner... If only I had a shirt to wear that said "This is not our vacation." Instead, I'm sure the family with the 4 [constantly] crying kids was quite the hotel mystery.

We were up bright and early again on Sunday and figured, since we've got all this time before us, let's check out church! Actually, not going to lie here. But after being in such close proximity to my kids (like never being more than a few inches from them even in my sleep) for going on 4 days, I was desperate for a break! We had two different churches that we had checked out online and decided to visit the largest one first.

This is the view from the church parking lot... not bad!
And this is the part where I thank the Lord I have such outgoing kids (even though it is utterly exhausting at other times.) Not one of my offspring balked at walking into a room full of kid-strangers and hanging out there for 2 hours. Nobody even looked back. (Maybe they were as desperate for a break from me as I was from them?) I mean, I STILL remember being PETRIFIED visiting new churches whenever we traveled as a kid. Just thinking about it even now gives me a chill.

But they went willingly and when we came back to pick them up everybody had such glowing reports to give about "the new church." Even Jack loved it. And Jack did not love our previous church. When you ask him why, he says it's because this one gives you snacks. So there you have it folks. The way to a boy's heart, is through his stomach.

Jon and I enjoyed it as well. We've been back several times since our first visit, so I think this may be the one. Although everyone knows, plugging in to a new church is about so much more than just showing up on Sundays. But I'm sure we'll get there eventually!

Afterwards, we visited the Marine Base nearby for lunch and a little shopping at the Exchange. Then we drove around and explored a few options for the beach and other fun, as well as the fancy housing here--since we're working very hard to convince some of our Marine friends that they need to move here next year!

The base was pretty impressive. I love the Coast Guard, but since we're such a small service, we don't have much to offer. So I'm very happy to bum off our Marine neighbors for the next four years!

In an effort to be healthy and to deter from "all this eating out", we decided to grab dinner at Whole Foods. That's right, Kailua has a Target and a Whole Foods. We are living large, people! (Except without Chick-Fil-A.)

As I'm sure you can guess by now, we didn't hit the road until after 6:00 and our kids didn't make it over the mountains without falling asleep. But we were slowly coming out of our EST funk and settling into Hawaii time.

"McGee and Me" --we can watch online through RightNow Media!
Jon started officially working full-time on Monday which meant the kids and I were on our own for the next week. Our days were pretty much the same: we'd wake up, chill out for a little, then get ready for the pool and beach (which took a good hour considering how much effort is involved in getting 4 kids dressed, lathered in sun lotion, and loaded down with water toys.)

It sounds lovely--hanging out by the pool all day gettin' our tan on. Except it's not like that at all. One downfall to staying in a fancy schmancy resort is that everyone around you is there on vacation. And most people didn't bring their kids. There were a few who did, and my kids would instantly befriend them. But typically they were gone by the next day or two.

For the most part, our fellow resort guests were composed of older couples visiting from Australia and younger couples visiting from Japan. And while I would say our hotel was very family-friendly, it was clear that is not an aspect most of the visitors were there for. And so my time poolside was divided between keeping four children alive and keeping four children from disturbing our fellow guests. "Don't splash. Don't jump. No cannonballs. Watch where you're going." ... you get the idea.

When the only person around to help put sun lotion on your back is a toddler ...

 I only talked to three different people during our entire stay: (1) a lady relaxing next to me, reading a book, who mentioned that she also had 4 kids--but had left them behind. Naturally, I felt terrible that she was seated next to us at the pool. (2) an elderly Australian gentlemen that would greet us every morning on his way to aquacise. Our final day there, he asked if I was the babysitter. Oh no, they're all mine. I do this for free! (3) an Australian lady that was there with her entire family, including teenage kids. I actually had the opportunity to tell her why we were really there. She was so kind and compassionate. And it was during this conversation, the first I had all week, that THE INCIDENT happened.

I'll mention here that my kids are not swimmers. We haven't had much experience with pools in their short lifetime. Naturally, they're picking things up super quick now that we've spent the majority of our summer vacation near water. But still, the skills aren't there. Jack and Jude had quickly made friends with this one other boy that they called TaiTai (or something along those lines, I'm not sure they heard his name correctly.)

Apparently, Jack and TaiTai were having a jumping competition. I was rotating my vision amongst my four little waterlings and when I last glanced at him, he was hanging out and laughing by the edge of the pool. At some point between then and me checking on my other three kids, Jack decided to follow TaiTai into the pool and jumped straight into the deep end. I never saw it happen, but within seconds this timid little boy walked up to me and said, quietly, "um, I think your son needs help." I looked up and could see Jack flailing his arms in the deep end gargling, "help, help!" Thankfully, one of the pool attendants saw him about the same time I did and jumped in to rescue him. Jack ended up being fine, just a little shaken. He laid down on the lounge chair and fell asleep within a few minutes (and stayed that way for the next 2 hours.)

I, on the other hand, was a little more rattled. I resorted to my "new mother" tactics of checking on my sleeping child every 5 minutes to make sure he was still breathing, chastised myself for ever thinking it was okay to start visiting with a fellow hotel guest, and never relaxed poolside again.

Thankfully Jack made a full recovery. And although he wasn't very interested in the pool for the rest of that day, he was right back at it the following day, albeit staying far away from where toes can't touch.

Other poolside fun included taking the girls to the bathroom approximately every 10 minutes (and thus making very stern threats to the boys to STAY OUT OF THE WATER while I'm gone,) rescuing Joci when she fell into the water next to me, and forking out $40-some dollars each day for a "mid-morning snack" at the Tiki Bar.

In case you're wondering why we didn't spend more time at the beach, we did make a few attempts. But the waves were a little rough--Jude had a scary "going under" experience that made him a bit skittish the rest of the week. And the beach was so crowded, I didn't feel comfortable leaving the girls behind to be in the waves with the boys. Then there was the big boats that kept rolling in right next to us. And the fact that there was no potty nearby... So after two visits to the beach, we decided to save that experience for the evenings when Daddy was home.

Our days took on a new rhythm of waking up, eating breakfast in the hotel room (either instant oatmeal cups or yogurt + granola), getting ready for the pool, hanging out there as long as we could stand it, returning to the room to shut the curtains and turn off the lights for "mandatory quiet time" and a movie from VidAngel, and then counting down the hours until Daddy got home.

Every evening we had to go out to eat. I say "had" because eating out gets very old, very fast with 4 kids. Especially in Waikiki. We did visit a grocery store in a very "interesting" part of town one evening and got enough hotel-friendly food to last about 2 days, but those prices were shockingly high as well. Apparently there's a fabulous restaurant with a world-famous chef at our resort, which we obviously did not eat at. But we did enjoy a few dinners on the terrace where, in addition to one free kid's meal per adult meal purchase (#winning), they also served up live music and hula dancing.

By Thursday, we needed a change. I decided a trip to the zoo was in order--and we would walk there. According to Google Maps, it appeared about 6 blocks away from our hotel. Surely we could manage that? (Sidenote: somehow we completely forgot to set aside our stroller and Ergo for this trip and they ended up getting packed with the rest of our household goods.) And we did. We made it all the way to the zoo. I may have included two pep talks along the lines of "If we do this, no one is allowed to complain ..." and apparently it worked. Certain parts of the zoo were a tad disappointing. We made the mistake of going left first and that led us through all the birds. Maybe I'm just not a bird person. I'm pretty sure my kids aren't. So having a 1/3 of a zoo composed entirely of birds just wasn't doing it for me.

Then we came across a playground and I couldn't get my kids to leave. I was like, "Children, I did not just spend all this money for you to play on a playground all day!" I think their other favorite part was the farmyard--because we haven't seen enough cows and chickens in our lives! And the biggest hit of all was the koi pond. I should explain here that there are koi ponds EVERYWHERE in Hawaii. Numerous hotels and business establishments have them simply for the pleasure of their patrons. We've seen lots of koi ponds since moving here. But THIS koi pond was the best of all koi ponds because it had a clear tube that allowed kids to crawl inside the pond and peer up through the top. Also, these fish were clearly of a performing background because there were numerous times when they would "swim" vertically over the top of the water around the pond. Even I thought it was pretty cool.

 So by the time we made it through the birds, out of the farmyard, and away from the snack bar, over half our day was over. I was a little disappointed that the lions never showed, the hippo exhibit was closed, the gorilla slept as far out of view as possible, and the rhino only gave us a view of his backside. But the zebras and were on point and the giraffes and elephants were enough of a boost to finish off the final leg of the zoo well.

Of course, by the time we were all reasonably exhausted from walking around the zoo ... it was time to walk home. Thankfully, there's a Starbucks across the street where we could all get sufficiently refueled. And the kind barista gave us a free cinnamon roll. Which reminds me--everyone in Hawaii is SO NICE! I mean, it may have been the whole four kids thing, but people were always giving us free food. Nancy at the snack bar felt so bad for me being at the pool on my own each day that at lunch she gave me my two free kids' meals WITHOUT the purchase of an adult one. And every time a family was leaving the resort for good, they donated their water toys to us. By the time we left the hotel, we had 3 boogie boards, 2 inner tubes, and a raft.

Hotel living with 4 kids was quite the experience. Living in downtown Waikiki with 4 kids was quite the experience. We had fun, but after a week, we were ready for a change. Our reservations ended on Friday and we were supposed to move to a 2-bedroom suite at a different resort closer to our house. We drove to check it out one evening and I nearly missed it--nestled amongst the houses near the bay. It didn't look very kid-friendly, and there was no beach within walking distance. It was also a good 15 minutes farther for Jon to travel for work. So I would've been trapped there with the kids for even longer days, and with little to keep us occupied.

After thinking it over, Jon decided the best route would be to just move into our empty house and camp out there until our stuff arrived. Our Advanced Shipment was arriving that Friday (with all our camping gear) and at least we'd have a yard with a few toys, and a driveway with bikes, and more than one or two rooms to hang out in. I was initially opposed because once we started spending the night in our home, it would mean giving up our room and board allowances. But honestly, we were having a hard time staying within the food budget anyway. And living in the house would give me a little more flexibility in the kitchen.

I was already starting to see Jon's point of view, but it wasn't until Thursday, after one week of hotel living, that I was convinced we needed to move on to greener pastures ... or bigger pastures. Whatever it took to give me a little more space from these four little crazies!

So much energy, so little space.
So Friday morning we rose with the sun, packed up our bags, and said our final farewell to the honeymoon suite we called our first home in Hawaii. The kids and I dropped Daddy off at work and then I gave everyone a stern talk about being super-duper quiet for the next 20 minutes because (a) this was my first time driving in Hawaii and (b) any kind of city driving makes me nervous in my old age.

We made it out of the city in one piece, dipped in and out of mountains on the way to the east coast, and craned our necks for views of our new home as we rounded the final bend. We'd finally arrived. The journey had seemed so long up to this point, but the adventure was far from over. Now would begin a new chapter of living in an empty house!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Like a second honeymoon, only with kids

This is the part of our journey that gets very, very hazy. I was going on about 20 hours of no sleep (give or take a 5 minute power nap here and there) and was strugglin' to keep it together. I vaguely remember Jon going off to collect our luggage and me reminding the kids over and over not to jump off this random ledge they kept jumping off of. Also, I forgot to mention that while Jon and I received traditional Hawaiian leis, the kids were of the candy variety. So not only were they severely jet-lagged and finally getting a chance to stretch their legs after 13 hours of traveling, but they were chewing their way through a sugar-laden lei.

We finally gathered up our things and headed out to meet the shuttle. They decided to squeeze our entire family (and our luggage) into the last 6 seats remaining of one van. Three minutes after we situated ourselves, they changed their minds, had us disembark, and then wait for a second shuttle that would apparently be a more direct route. I think they took one look at our kids and decided we needed to get to our hotel ASAP.

The drive to the hotel is a bit of a blur. Our first taste of our new home state was the outskirts of Honolulu, and that's not exactly it's best side. Two children fell asleep instantly (and were extremely difficult to awaken once we got to the hotel.) But after what seemed like a very long trip, we finally pulled into our resort. And while I don't remember much, I do remember thinking "Wow, this is niiiiice!!!"

So, the government gives us a stipend to cover our room and board while we're waiting to move into our home. It's based on a whole bunch of things--rank, location, number of dependents, whether or not you have a kitchenette in your room, etc. Our responsibility is just to find a hotel that offers this "government rate." Naturally, there are quite a few options in Hawaii. But because of RIMPAC this year (a biannual military event that brings in over 25,000 additional people to the island) most places were booked up.

We knew that Jon would begin working right away and I'd be stuck in our hotel with the kids on my own, so Jon made it a priority to stay at a place right on the beach to make it more convenient for me. So when he told me, after quite an effort, that he'd finally found a place that not only offered a government rate, but also let our entire family stay in one room, I was quite relieved. Never mind that it was one of the "older hotels." I was just happy to be on the beach.

Well, it turns out it's not just "one of the older hotels," but it was the very first hotel to open in Waikiki in 1901. And you guys, it was positively charming!

Those are luggage stickers all over his shirt...

Check out the detailing on that veranda!
So we roll up to this beautiful Victorian building, stumble past rows of guests relaxing on rocking chairs on the veranda (I'm fairly certain Jack was sleepwalking at this point), step through the lobby where a pianist was providing live music, just barely dodge a bride and groom racing their way down the hall, and plant ourselves on the couches in front of the check-in desk--where Jack promptly falls asleep while the rest of us wait for Jon to get our room.

Jack is obviously super-duper tired at this point. We all are. But we're also pretty hungry--like ravenously hungry. It was a very strange marriage of sensations, and I'm not sure I've ever felt that way before. In fact, there were a few instances where I had to catch myself from stumbling while we walked from our room to the outdoor eating area.

It was late and crowded, but a kind couple that was just about to leave offered us their table. We sat down to glance at menus and Jack fell right back to sleep again. I mean, literally sitting up at the table sleeping. He eventually settled into lying on his [metal] chair, but never woke up again the entire meal. The waitress just laughed and put his food in a box. Meanwhile the rest of us hurried through dinner so we could shuffle off to bed.

Except it felt wrong, so wrong, to just go to sleep in Hawaii without having seen the ocean. So the non-sleeping kids and I made a quick detour to the beach just for one quick peek and, wow. It was everything I hoped Hawaii would be.

Does it not just feel peaceful and serene?
We sank our feet in the sand, dipped our toes in the water, enjoyed the final light of day, and then headed back up to our room where we could finally, finally give in to the exhaustion of the day. It was 8pm Hawaii time (2am EST). You never saw four kids (or their parents) fall asleep so fast! And we all stayed that way for the next 9 hours.

Jon was up bright and early the next morning so he could catch a cab to pick up our vehicle that we shipped early, and then head to the Coast Guard base to check in. He didn't think it would take all day, so the kids and I decided to lay low in the hotel room and attempt to recover from the previous days adventures. Ha.ha.ha. Four kids. In a hotel room. Laying low. Hardly.

The lanai barely fit the 6 of us, but at least we could get some fresh air. 
I guess this would be a good time to mention that our hotel room had a bidet. Or, as my kids called it, a "toilet shower." I won't go into too much detail, but I will say that we may have devoted our entire first morning in Hawaii to "testing out" the bidet. So fun.

We had the city behind us and the ocean before us!

Practicing those hula skills ... again.

I don't remember what's going on here. All I know is I can never get just a nice, normal picture from my children.
Everybody was more than ready to hit the town when Daddy returned. We decided to visit Hale Koa, a military resort, just a few blocks up from our hotel. We did a little shopping in the Commissary, grabbed dinner, and let the kids play at the park. We thought about staying for fireworks but didn't think the kids would make it that long.

Instead, Jon started driving up the coast. He and I enjoyed the views and the kids fell asleep before we even made it out of Honolulu. What they say is true, Hawaii is absolutely gorgeous. The beaches, the coastline, and the mountains. I just can't get over the mountains. I didn't make it out of Waikiki very much that first week we were on the island, but whenever I did, I just couldn't stop staring at the mountains. I'm not sure they'll ever get old!

View from the other side of Diamond Head.

Hawaii has lots of places to pull off the road and enjoy the views. Thank you, Hawaii!

There's nothing graceful about jet lag.
The nice part about our little drive that evening was that the kids slept. The bad part about our drive that evening was that the kids slept. Because the parking garage for our hotel is about 2 blocks away. And our actual room is 8 floors up. And it wasn't like this was a little afternoon siesta. We had four kids OUT for the night.

In case you're wondering how this hotel living thing all went down--Jon and I had one bed, the three younger kids slept horizontally on another, and Jack had a trundle bed.
Jon dropped me and the crew off at the door while he parked the car. And I ushered four half-sleeping, half-crying children into the hotel, past the lovely live pianist, and into the elevator. Yet again, easiest night putting the kids to sleep ever (once we got everyone in the room.)

To be continued ...

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Jon’s alarm went off at 3:15am and it hurt! I roused the kids one by one and got them dressed, saving Jack for last since he’s my deepest sleeper. Joci never even woke up while I changed her and Jude fell right back to sleep before I could put his shoes on. Once we finally got Jack fully awake his excitement was enough to stir the others and within a few minutes everyone was up and at ‘em—oozing with the excitement of their first flight!

Packing was a bit of a challenge for this leg of our journey. We were actually allowed two checked bags per person at no-charge, since we were military traveling on orders. But we didn’t think we could handle all that luggage plus kids in the airport. So although it would have been nice to bring along some extras, we narrowed it down to one checked bag and one carry-on per person, and one extra bag for Jon with all his uniforms since he’d be starting work right away.

This was obviously within the first two minutes because I don't think she carried her suitcase ever again that day!

So tired, so chill.
That ended up being more than enough since the girls especially struggled with pulling their suitcases and the rest of us shouldered their load. We had to drop the rental car off by 4am and then wait for a shuttle to take us to the airport. The shuttle was jam-packed and the lines at the airport were long as well—surprising for so early a weekday morning! It was right around this time that the lack of sleep started to hit Joci. When Joci is overtired she gets in one of her angry moods (something we’ve seen a lot of these past few weeks) where she fights being held, but makes a run for it the second her feet hit the ground. So while Jon was checking in our family, I was alternately chasing a toddler throughout the airport or securing her to my lap with the straightjacket hold.

The toddler tries to make a run for it!

That moment when you DON'T enjoy being held by your mom!

Then there's this girl, so happy to be moving to Hoo-why-wee!
The TSA line was long too. Phase 2 of an overtired Joci is when she finally settles down and just wants to be held. So that’s what I did the entire time we waited in line. Thankfully, we got in the fast check line and didn’t have to take off and put on the kids’ shoes!

Then began the long trek to our gate where the girls and I parked ourselves while waiting for the boys to purchase coffee and breakfast. We had arrived just in time to view our final Maryland sunrise. Between that and all the airport traffic, the kids were constantly entertained!

Last Maryland sunrise!
Jon had reserved us 3 seats in a row/one row in front of the other (conveniently located near the restrooms), so we could all stick together. He sat with the boys and I sat with the girls. Taking off and the flight itself were pretty anti-climactic. Nobody screamed or cried … or were ovely excited for that matter. I think the trip to Knoebels earlier in the week helped. Apparently taking off in an airplane is no big deal compared to rollercoaster rides!

She was highly entertained by the seat remote.

The kids did pretty well and our backpack “fun bags” kept them entertained for the whole flight. The biggest challenge was sleep. Julia slept over half the flight (Jack got a decent nap in at the end as well), but Jude and Joci were wide-awake the entire time. And since my toddler’s attention was held by each item for approximately 5 minutes, I literally spent the whole flight taking new things out of her backpack and putting old things away … every 5 minutes.

Alphabet cookies from the Dollar Store.

Sticky letters from the Target Dollar Spot.

Stupid plastic tea set from the Dollar Store that she picked out and (surprise, surprise) it was her favorite toy on the trip!

Lots of movie watching going on in the seat behind us.

Paw Patrol AquaDoodle mat from Target Clearance endocarp!

Frozen puzzle--4/$1 at the Dollar Store!

Sleeping child--priceless!

Coming in for a landing!
We were supposed to have a one-hour layover in San Francisco before our second flight to Honolulu. Joci fell asleep almost at the same moment the wheels hit the runway. And then we sat on the tarmac for almost an hour. We had a small delay leaving Baltimore and now an even longer delay waiting to pull into our gate. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking on our second flight.

The captain asked that those who did not have a tight connection allow those that did to exit the plane first. But after the long wait, nobody let anyone off first. Which did not bode well for those of us at the back of the plane.

Joci continued to nap while the other kids started whining that they had to go potty. But they weren’t letting anyone out of their seats. When we finally disembarked (me carrying a sleeping toddler plus carry-ons) we made a run for our next gate promising the kids we could take a potty-break once we arrived. We reached our gate 4 minutes after the slated departure time and the plane was nowhere in sight. We had officially missed our flight.

By now, all the running and jostling had roused Joci, who was not happy. The kids were all weary of carrying luggage. And we still desperately needed a potty break. As we started seeking out the customer service desk to try and change our flight, I couldn’t carry Joci another step. Naturally, she threw herself onto the floor screaming that she couldn’t walk. So I started following the rest of the group, hoping that the fact that the rest of the family was moving on would encourage her to get to her feet. It did, but not in the way that I hoped. Our little runner jumped up and made a dash in the opposite direction with her little ladybug backpack bouncing behind her. Clearly, all my worst fears about traveling with small children were going to come true at the same time.

In the end, I chased down my tiny escapee, Jon booked tickets for the next flight to Honolulu (which was departing only 1.5 hours later), everyone got a potty break, and we even had a chance to sit down and eat lunch after 9 hours of traveling. What was initially a disaster turned out to be a much-needed rest before embarking on yet another 6 hour flight.

Not a happy traveler!

Waiting for our second flight.
The downside to being squeezed on the next flight out was that we couldn’t all sit together. This was a much bigger plane with 5 seats in the middle and 2 on each side.  Jon and the boys sat near the front and the girls and I were towards the back, meshed between a kindly, older gentlemen from our previous flight and a young, former Coastguardsman. In other words, neither were accustomed to children. But both were very kind and gracious.

(Random sidenote about the older gentlemen sitting next to Julia crocheting a washcloth for the son he was visiting in Kailua. Today (3 weeks later), a yard crew showed up to do some work on our plants. I was telling the one guy our story--how we're Coast Guard, just arrived, are camping out in the house--he stopped me and asked where we had flown in from. When I told him BWI, he said that his dad was the sweet man that sat next to us. Apparently, he had told his son about the Coastie family he flew in with and their move to Hawaii!)

We were in the front of the section, which meant lots of leg room but no small space to sequester wriggly children. And Joci was getting very wriggly at this point. Unfortunately, this was also the point where we started to experience a lot of turbulence and girlfriend here just WOULD NOT let me buckle her seat belt. So I put her in my own death grip and hoped the flight attendants would let it slide. Then the good Lord had mercy on my weary mama soul because within minutes she grew tired and limp and soon was out completely. I held her for a while, enjoying those rare moments when a toddler is actually still, until Lia had to use the restroom. Then I nestled Joci in a chair and she slept there for around 3 hours soooo … hallelujah!

*praise hands*
Lia spent most of the flight enjoying her free snacks and beverages and playing with her Kindle and backpack toys. I tried to take a nap a few times, but was unsuccessful since my 4YO required my assistance or attention at least every 5 minutes. But with Joci sleeping, the flight was already 75% easier! And I finished my book, so yay!

"Roots and Sky" by Christie Purifoy
I LOVED this book. It's all about a family's move to a 100-year-old farmhouse in Pennsylvania and their first year (and four seasons) in their new home. It reminded me so much of my parents' old brick house back in PA and also inspired me as we set out to make our own new home here in HI.
This has nothing to do with the story, but I follow the author on Instagram, as well as her sister, who is the wife of one of the 12 Marines that died in the helicopter crash off Oahu this winter. It was a heartbreaking event that hits close to home since we're now living just a few blocks from their former house. But her IG account is full of God's peace and promise--I admire her so much!
The only other thing I remember about this flight was the potty breaks. My girls found the teeny, tiny toilets so fascinating that, once they had made one visit, they suddenly had to go potty much more frequently than usual. I don’t even know how to describe trying to squeeze into an airplane restroom with a kid (and helping them put on and take off their pants with no room to bend.) So I’ll just let your imagination take over with this one.

Joci woke up with about 2.5 hours remaining in the flight, so the rest of the trip was spent with me simply trying to keep my two girls from annoying the people next to us. I think I was mildly successful. My one disappointment was we didn’t have a window seat. My first views of our new home were craning my neck over several fellow passengers and glimpsing a few peaks of the mountains that would very soon capture my heart!

We arrived. We disembarked. We garnered lots of stares ushering our 4 small children through the airport and towards the baggage claim. (Is it just me or are tiny children weighed down by big backpacks the cutest thing ever?!?) In Honolulu, the trek from the gate to baggage claim is all outdoors. So we got our first taste of Hawaii warmth meandering through a maze of travelers and walkways.

We arrived at the baggage claim and saw our first familiar sight—a Coast Guard uniform. But even better, this one was worn by a co-worker bearing leis for the whole family. Aloha kids, welcome to Hawaii. Welcome home!
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