Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hawaii (Part 1)

Hawaii:  February 18-26, 2013

In February we got to take a DREAM vacation to visit my brother Kyle and his family in Hawaii.  They are super adventurous and awesome and generous and lived there for four months. I think they had visitors 90% of the time that they were there because they invited everyone they knew to come visit.  Take some of our very favorite people and add in a Hawaiian beach and we had the most amazing vacation ever.  They took such good care of us while we were there.  As amazing as it was to be in Hawaii, hands down the best part was spending time with Kyle, Jade, and their gorgeous girls.

View from the lanai of Kyle and Jade's home
They stayed in this beautiful home on a hill in Kona on The Big Island.  The home sat on an orchard and no matter where you were in the home, we had an incredible view of the ocean and skyscape.  The property was gated and huge.  It felt like a jungle as you drove to the house.  There were papaya, starfruit, mandarin oranges, banana, and avocado trees filling the property.  In the mornings we would go out and pick fruit to enjoy for breakfast or for smoothies.  One of my favorite parts of the trip was that the cousins could just run outside barefoot, whenever they pleased, through the jungle.  The biggest danger was that they would skin their knee on lava rock.  I think every kid should get that chance to run free and explore with cousins!  There aren't enough situations where you can safely allow kids to have that kind of freedom these days.  It was good for the soul.  It reminded me of when we were little in New Jersey running wild with our cousins.  The only difference is now I am the old Aunt!  It is mind blowing how fast things turn around.

Beck was in absolute heaven playing with Tayler and Ryenn all day.  He hadn't seen them in over a year but I guess the bond of cousins runs deeper than time.  Wow, that was cheesy. Its true though, it was like they had played together just the day before.

We could have sat at the house staring at the view and let the kids play and it would have been a vacation for the books.  Although we did have plenty of R&R time, we also got in plenty of beach and exploring in!

When we arrived, Kyle and Jade had been living in Hawaii just long enough to have discovered all the best beaches.  We nicknamed each one so we could remember what beach was best for what.  There were beaches that were perfect for the kids because the rocks would make little inlets of shallow water.  Some had perfect waves for body boarding, or others were great for snorkeling and seeing turtles.  Each one was stunning in its own way and I couldn't help but just keep snapping photos.  I would literally just sit on the beach in awe of the breathtaking beauty all around me.  I kept catching myself grinning for no reason except that I was just SO. HAPPY. I love love love the beach. Watching my children experience it for the first time was a special experience.

BTW. none of these photos are edited in any way. natural beauty ya'll
This beach was fun because the kids could explore the shallow water for sea urchins or schools of tiny fish.
Every single night we would witness the most beautiful sunset.   

One of our first days there, we spent most of the day out on the little ocean boat Kyle and Jade shipped out. Sadly, I don't have any pictures because I was worried about dropping my phone/camera in the water.  It was the perfect way to go whale watching, and a provided a different way to experience the ocean. I will admit that even though I grew up with the ocean and am fairly comfortable with it, at first I was nervous to have 4 young children and 4 adults on a 10 ft tube boat surrounded by water.  There is something slightly eerie about being out there all alone with no land in sight- especially when just a few hundred feet away you see a 50 TON, forty foot whale breach the water.  It sure can make you feel really small in a big world fast!

It didn't take long for me to  relax and just enjoy. You can bet that I never relaxed that kung phu grip on my children though! We saw SO many whales on that trip.  Whales travel in pods so sometimes we would sit there quietly gazing across the water, looking for a puff of water to come up, meaning a whale was "blowing".  Usually a blow meant they were preparing to come out of a water for a breach.  When someone would see a blow in the distance we would cruise in that direction as fast as we can to get a better look.  A few times we thought we stopped a few hundred yards away but suddenly realized they were totally surrounding us and we were seeing breaches left and right.  It was so incredible.

One night we went to the Hylton Mega-resort just to walk around.  They have a dolphin reserve so you can stand right above them and watch them play.  It is landscaped beautifully, and they have lots of other exotic animals to see.  It is right on the beach and we happened to be there just before sunset, which is when the whales get really active and jump.  Jade and I were busy snapping pictures of the sunset when we saw a whale breach and we saw the entire tail fin.  I happened to take the photo just as it happened and saw it though my lens.  Even though you can't see it super clearly in the photo, that sunset picture will always remind me of that special memory. 
Look at the little black mark in the water on the right hand side.  That is a part of a fin as it is coming out of the water!

Hawaii Part 2

By day 4 of our trip we had already been to at least 5 beaches, snorkeled, whale watched, went boating, and Chase and Kyle even played tour guide for a group of senior citizens that they ran into from Idaho.  They took all six of them on the little tube boat on a private tour to whale watch and snorkel.  Between the bouncing up and down on the tiny boat, to driving 20 minutes past the snorkel site, getting lost, a seasickness incident, and almost running out of gas, the boys were glad to be home.  

One thing I was amazed at on The Big Island is how you could be driving around and see nothing but lava rock for miles, and then suddenly you were on a beachy paradise. There were a few beaches that we went to that we had to drive on an unpaved road with miles of lava rock in all directions.  
It looked like we were on the moon or something.

But then the road would end and you would come up over a hill and this is what you'd see:

It is amazing that a volcano can create such a beautiful island.  

We took one whole day to explore the Island and knock off some bucket list items.
We took a drive around the entire Island.  
We started at the Kona LDS temple on the Kona side and drove all the way to Hilo to the southern-most part of the Island, which is also the Southernmost point of the United States of America.  
We saw a black-sand beach, a beautiful double rainbow, and a water fall.  

The whole group!

Do you see the little plank and cliff behind us in this picture?  Below that blank is a 30(ish) foot ladder that leads down to the ocean.  A few dozen yards out is an extremely strong current that heads all the way to Antartica.  Knowing all of this, there were people still jumping off that cliff for the pride of being able to say they did it. 
One of those people was Kyle!

I like to think that had I had my swimsuit or a towel I would have done it with him.  
But who knows if I actually would have had the courage!
This is the Southernmost point of the United States of America 
 After having fully experienced South Point, the wind, and watching crazy people jump into crazy water, we were on our way to Hilo to see a beautiful waterfall and rainforest.  
Because it had rained recently, it was huge. Apparently normally it is a gentle trickle, haha!

We stopped just long enough to see the waterfall, grab a quick bite to eat, and start driving up the mountain for Mauna Kea.  This was a special request from me.

Anyone who knows me very well knows that I LOVE the sky.  I have always been fascinated by it.  I will never forget when I was 14 and had just moved to Idaho.  I went camping with my friend's family in Eastern Idaho and we got in around midnight.  I remember stepping out of the car and was just completely dumbstruck at how incredibly bright the stars were.  
It made me dizzy they were so bright and it felt like they completely enveloped me.  I just stared and stared.  Since that night, I have always searched for opportunities to experience the night sky like that again.  

Come to find out, Mauna Kea is one of the 5 volcanoes that created The Big Island.  It is the tallest sea mountain in the world, at 14,000  feet above sea level and 36,000 at the base.  At the top of the mountain, they have ice and snow year round.  In fact, you will freeze if you are not dressed in winter gear.  Because this mountain is so tall on the middle of an island, it creates a PERFECT opportunity for star gazing and they have some of the best telescopes in the world for public access at the top.  They even have regulations about what kind of streetlights can be used on the island so that they don't interfere with the stargazing at the top of Mauna Kea. You can imagine my excitement at the prospect of seeing the stars from the top of this volcano, and getting a star tour from an astronomer at the top.  

We realized about 3/4 of the way up the mountain, after hours of driving, that it was a full moon that night.  
The moon was so bright that you could hardly see any stars! 
There were less stars visible then when I step outside of my house.  
Of course I was really disappointed.  
I hoped to cross one of my longest bucket list wishes off the list and this definitely didn't count.
It was still an awesome experience though and looking through the telescopes was still really neat.  
I did feel bad that everyone had come on this adventure to humor me and then it was a little bit of a bust.  
I hope they all enjoyed the adventure of it because I sure did!  
We had a really good laugh about it too!   

Stay tuned for Part 3!

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hawaii (Part 3)

Greyson, making his offering to the sea
  The last two days of our trip we tried to soak in as much time with Kyle, Jade, and the girls as we could.  We hit all of our favorite beaches again, went to this AMAZING gelato place a second time, and took lots and lots of pictures.

Tayler and Ryenn were little beach babes after having lived here for over a month.  You couldn't pull those girls out of the water.  It didn't matter how many times a wave would knock them face down into the sand, they trusted that we would be pulling them up by their life jacket 2 seconds later.

No trip would have been complete without burying someone in the sand. 
 Somehow that person is always Chase.  He is such a kid at heart and I love it.

 The time difference between Hawaii and Kansas was 4 hours so each morning we would be up quite early.  It was awesome for a vacation though because we felt like we were sleeping in until eleven but it would only be 7:00am!  We would get out the door pretty early each morning and usually by 9:00 pm we were all dozing off in each other's company.  That is either a sign that we are getting old or that we played really hard!

Greyson wasn't quite walking on this trip and for that I was grateful.  It helped to only have one mobile child on the beach.  He didn't mind the sand one bit though. 
In fact, anytime he thought he needed a snack he would just eat a handful.

 Greyson and Beck's favorite thing to do was throw rocks into the ocean and they did it the entire time we were at the beach.  It took constant vigilance to make sure Tayler and Ryenn weren't in the rock's flight path.  Somehow we made it through the week without anyone getting hit in the face!

Beck and Ryenn are only six months apart.  They were just adorable together.  
Aren't Ryenn's little curls just to die for?!

On our last day we went to the cute little downtown Kona area for brunch

We also went to the beach for some last chance boogie boarding but it was windy and overcast so we didn't last long.  Just before leaving we went to our favorite gelato place one more time-
half macadamia nut and half coconut, yes please.
Then on to a super awesome playground to tire the kids out before our redeye flight home. 

You can see on Beck's face that he completely adores his cousins.  
He talked for WEEKS about going back to Hawaii to see Ryenn and Tayler.  

This trip will honestly be one of my favorite memories of all time.  We loved getting to spend time with the Enzlers, and they couldn't have done a better job of making us feel at home and giving us the trip of a lifetime. I couldn't help but cry as we drove away with those two cute little girls waving to us from behind.  The trip came to an end too soon and I knew it would be way too long before we got to see them again.

It turns out that we had impeccable timing for this trip.  The day after Chase left for Hawaii, Kansas City got a HUGE snow storm.  Schools and businesses were cancelled for  two days.  

Then, the day before we got home, another huge storm hit and everything got shut down again.  
Chase didn't have to feel guilty about missing so much work because he wouldn't have been able to work anyway.  
Last year by February, Spring was in full bloom in Kansas and we had warmish temperatures.  I was not excited to come back to this much winter after being in the tropics.
The snowman pictured below was 15 ft!  

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Lately with Team Taylor

woah. A post. I know, right?! 

I actually write posts in my head daily.  But I just never quite get them written down.  I can't shake this feeling that if I don't get back to blogging, or scrapbooking, or journal-keeping, then I am too quickly going to forget what my sweet life looks like right now.  Its not perfect, there are really hard days at home with the hooligans.  There are days when I am not as productive or patient as I strive to be, when the house is a mess and Beck gets PB & honey for 2/3 meals.  (He actually loves when that happens) But intermixed in the brother-bullys and baby breakdowns, there is lots and lots of joy.  Those  moments when big brother makes a silly noise just to hear little brother laugh, when Greyson stops what he is doing and runs full speed into my arms for a random hug, when Beck asks a question that shows how smart and perceptive he is and I just beam with pride.  When Beck and I are both sitting on the couch and he gets up and moves to my lap instead.  Those little moments that make the sweeping up sticky food 6 times a day worth it.  Those are little moments that I wish I could sear into my brain forever. I hope to do better at recording our little family's history at this moment in time, because as messy as it sometimes feels, it really is special.

So here is the classic Christmas card newsletter updating you on our family.


This year has been an exciting one so far!  I think we are on our way to traveling more this year than any other year in our marriage.  We went took a family trip to visit my brother Kyle and his family in Kona, Hawaii for 7 days in February, Chase and I escaped to Florida WITHOUT kids for 4 days in March, my Mom came and hung out with the kiddos while we were gone and stayed a few days extra with us, we have been down to Oklahoma twice so far, once for (Chase's sister) Abigail and Tyler's wedding, and once to celebrate Preston's graduation and help with tornado cleanup.  Beck and Greyson and I even jogged 3 hours further south to spend a quick night with my brother's Brian and Matt and parents in Dallas.  This past weekend we took our first (just us) Taylor family trip to Branson, Missouri.  We are also planning to visit Utah and Idaho this summer.  It is so fun to get away every now and then!  The plan is to blog about each of these trips...good luck to moi.


Our Grey Grey is still a tiny thing.  At his 1 year check up he was only in the 4th percentile for weight.  This was an improvement because at his 9 month he was in the "Less than 3 percentile" group! He may be small in stature, but he makes up for it in personality.  He loves to tease, play peekaboo, run, and although he pretends to be a little bit naughty when you are watching, ie smirks at you and continues to do what you asked him not to, I often see him make a good choice when he doesn't know I watch him.  Let me tell you, those moments when you see their ball roll into the street and they run full speed and hit the brakes right at the edge of the sure makes you swell with pride.  Its good to know they ARE learning and listening, even if they try not to let you know it. He is such a good talker, whether he is using real words or having a conversation with his own little babble.  Since he was 8 or 9 months he has been an excellent mimic-er.  He will often copy words that we say almost perfectly.  His first word was basketball or "ba-ke-ball" and he has consistently said it all day everyday for about two months now.  The boy takes after his brother at this age and is COMPLETELY obsessed with anything that resembles a ball.  We sure love this little boy of ours!

Our Beckster boy is so much fun.  I keep hearing that age three is a lot harder than age two.  I am SERIOUSLY hoping this isn't true.  So far, it has proven false for Beck.  It seems like the day he turned three he just got easier.  He is my little buddy and loves to chat my ear off all day.  He has such an inquisitive little mind asks lots and lots of questions.  Usually its "What does this say, Mom?" In April he conquered the potty and is now a complete potty training pro-day and night.  Beck is still the most snuggly, cuddly, sweetest little man.  He has so much love for his family and is constantly "showing" it to Greyson in his own little way-whether its welcomed or not. Beck starts his very first baseball team tomorrow so you can bet we will have lots of pictures to come of that.  Because lets be honest, thats the whole reason I am doing it at an age where he is going to be clueless about what is going on ;)


My Chase.  I just love this man so much.  He is such a wonderful Dad to our precious boys and I thank God every day that I have him as my teammate.  This year work has been a little crazy.  His company made some changes at the beginning of the year that dramatically affected his ability to be successful.  Because of that he had a lot of long hours and a few stressful months.  Luckily, management adapted quickly and fixed the system and all is well on that front again.  In May we did the Warrior Dash together.  (And when I say together, I mean we started at the same time and he ditched me a half mile in)  I guess I can't blame him.  He is competitive and I am pretty slow ;)  It was a blast though, and he has been working out before work to train for the Tough Mudder, which is 10 miles and 25 obstacles.

As for me, my number one job is still raising two human beings-which is such a hard job.  It seems I am always a few steps away from being the momma/wife/homemaker that I want to be, but I think what is most important is that I am doing my best and striving for better.  Besides that, I have been extra appreciative of a healthy body lately, and have enjoyed attending the gym regularly.  I had a blast doing the Warrior Dash in May, and have been doing a couple 5k's with friends.  I still hate running, but love the feeling when I'm done and love the way my body feels when I exercise.  I have gotten really good at making plans for house projects.  The problem is I am not so good at the executing part!  I am really new to the whole "DIY" thing so I am a bit chicken when it comes to my house.   Hopefully in the near future I will have some fun "Before and After" projects to show you!

 This past weekend, our family waited, and prayed, and fasted for my cousin Jen as she endured a very serious surgery due to placenta previa and placenta percutta with the pregnancy of her eighth child.  I am not sure why it takes watching someone you love go through something so dangerous and life threatening to remind you how precious and fragile life really is.  Jen is my oldest cousin on my mom's side and I have always admired her as a mother and woman of God.  I have learned so much from her and from how she has handled this experience. Although she is not out of the water and has a hard path of recovery ahead of her, I am grateful for the strengthening of faith she has given me throughout this experience.  Here is her blog, if anyone is curious or wants to read a story of miracles.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year

Christmas cards just didn't happen this year
but thanks to the internet its pretty easy to send holiday greetings to those I love.
Happy New Year everyone! 
I hope 2013 brings you deeper happiness, the love of family,strengthened faith , and a little adventure!
Chase, Leah, Beck and Greyson

Thanks to my amazingly talented and generous sisters Kaela for the newsletter design and Jalene for the photo!