On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photo Shoot

We were supposed to go to the zoo this morning but it was forecasted to be (and actually was) in the 30s so we cancelled. I decided it was a good opportunity to attempt the Portrait Innovations Christmas Photo. What possessed me to think that it would be a good idea, is beyond me right now! I struggled to figure out a time that would work for both kids and finally decided on 10:30 - after Libby's morning nap but enough before lunchtime. In the past, I have always booked my appointments there for first thing in the morning because I had heard horror stories about later appointment times. However, I couldn't see how to make it work any other way. When we arrived (about 5 minutes before our scheduled time), there were still three families in front of us. I knew I was in for a long wait and it would most likely not end well. However, I decided to persevere. Libby was happy and technically did not need to eat until 12:15 or so. Caedmon was excited by the Lego table, the Christmas decorations and the bazillion kids running around. At 11:00, we still had one family in front of us and I was starting to get nervous. Tom called around then to see how it was going and suggested that I leave and reschedule somewhere else, but both kids were doing okay so I decided to hang tough. By 11:15, Libby was starting to fuss. Since she had awakened late this morning, it was getting way too close to nap time. Caedmon was still doing well but he was getting a bit punchy so I knew that the time was running short. At 11:20, I noticed that one of the photo shoot rooms opened up but no one seemed to be making any moves toward inviting us back to get our pictures taken. At this point, I was getting a bit frustrated and really reconsidering Tom's idea of canceling. However, just at the point I was ready to call it quits, the photographer came to get us. Caedmon was really excited to have his picture taken. He was very excited about wearing his "big boy vest and new shoes." He especially liked the vest, because I told him that his friends Sarah & Jayne had given it to him. The shoes are actually hand-me downs, but he was feeling very snazzy in them. His excitement for the photo shoot lasted a VERY short time. Libby's tolerance was even less. The first time I went to PI, they took over 90 photos of Caedmon. At his 2-year session, which I thought was difficult, they got 60. Today, 26. Let's just say that my love affair with Portrait Innovations was waning at Caedmon's 2 year old photo shoot and is now completely over. Next time, I will try some place new. Considering the circumstances, I guess they turned out fairly well. Tom has always said we should just try to get the pictures by ourselves...perhaps we'll try again at home. At the very least, next time I will take along some extra hands...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Love Mama!

Officially, separation anxiety is supposed to begin somewhere around 9 months of age and last for a few months. In Caedmon's case, it has been an ongoing issue. We have always been active and he has been in nursery since 4 months of age. For the first two years of his life, he was in our church nursery at least twice a week for 2 or more hours at a time. Alas, apparently he likes his mama...A LOT...because at age 2 1/2 he is still railing against the notion of being separated from me. I guess that should make me feel good, but it does get rather frustrating at times, especially since we don't have family around so I am on duty 24/7.

At our church, we have been blessed to have two nursery coordinators (one for Sundays and one for Tuesday Bible study) who were willing to go above and beyond to help Caedmon adjust. As long as I was okay with it, they were willing to work through the crying and help him to realize that church nursery is a fun place to be. Unfortunately, we got out of our consistent routine for a number of reasons (moving farther away, Libby's arrival, etc). With the lack of consistency, Caedmon regressed and became even harder to leave.

The one really consistent thing I've done over the past two years is attend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) twice a month at a church closer to our new house. Caedmon has never really warmed up to that experience and it was becoming more of a problem this year since I am in a leadership position for the group.

I have really been struggling with how to help Caedmon overcome this issue. I even had a chance encounter with a child psychologist at a playground one day. She dug herself into a hole when she started commenting on Caedmon's advanced language skills and a few other things she noticed about him. It was the perfect opening for me to ask about his separation issues. She wasn't concerned because of his age and how he acted on the playground but she did try to give me some ideas to help him. I've tried to implement a few but really need to continue trying some others. Ultimately, prayer is what I have been relying on most and I am so thankful to have lots of faithful prayer warriors standing with me on this one.

We have had two major breakthroughs this week. First, we made it through an entire MOPS meeting without me having to leave. As it turned out, he spent most of the time in the hall chatting with one of the nursery workers. While this isn't the final result I hope to see, at least it is a step in the right direction. The second breakthrough came this morning at church. He talked really bravely the whole way there about going to "church school to see the puppets and learn about Jesus." Once again, the tears came before I even left. The really sweet thing is that Caedmon wants to not cry. He tries so hard to be brave but the closer we get to his classroom the more his lip quivers. These past two times, he has pulled back his shoulders, held his head high and marched into the classroom with tears pouring down his cheeks. It makes me love him all the more to see how hard he tries. I sat through the entire church service waiting to see his number glare at me on the monitor, but alas, no number. My little man bravely made it through the whole service (last week he only made it about 10 minutes!). When I went to retrieve him from his room, he was in the arms of the teacher. However, the eyes, albeit a little red and puffy, were dry. He was so proud of himself that I thought he might burst. He talked about it all day long - staying in "church school" without mommy, sliding down the slide during playtime, seeing the puppets who talked about Jesus, and how proud mommy, daddy and L-girl are of him.

I'm sure our struggle is not completely over...but I think we're heading in the right direction. Thank you to everyone who is praying with us through this. When Caedmon decides to move to Timbuktu someday, remind us of these prayers!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our Kauai Adventure, Part II

During our original trip to Kauai a few Octobers ago to celebrate our anniversary, Tom and I took in as much of the island as we could, but we stayed in the southern part in Poipu. On our travels, we discovered the north part of the island and the fun little town of Hanalei. While all of Kauai is a tourist destination, Hanalei is a bit quieter and not as resort-ish. I think it attracts more of the outdoorsy types who come to surf and hike, especially since hiking access to the Na Pali coast is only available at the end of the road past Hanalei. We really liked it there and on our next trip back, Tom found a great resort and booked one night for us there as an anniversary gift. It was amazing. The actual room was nice enough but the view was priceless. The best units are right on the beach and you can hear the sound of the waves crashing and see the beautiful Kauai coastline. We both fell in love with the place and hoped to return some day. Thus, for this trip, Tom booked the 2nd half of our trip at this resort.

While on the southern part of the island we did some touring, for our northern segment we planned to spend our time at the Hanalei Colony Resort relaxing and playing on the beach. Caedmon was instantly thrilled to see that "God's sandbox" was right outside our door and he would have instant access to play all day. As soon as we settled in to the condo, Caedmon donned his swim trunks and grabbed his pail and shovel. We enjoyed a bit of digging and beach walking before a brief rain shower came. The rain brought with it another treat - a rainbow! Caedmon has been fascinated with rainbows because of the story of Noah's Ark. The last time we saw one in nature instead of a book was way back in February! He still talks about it and will occasionally ask (on a sunny day or a dark moonlit night) if we might see a rainbow "today." It was such a treat to look out our condo windows and see the rainbow spanning across the waters and enjoy the reminder of God's faithful promises that a rainbow is.

We enjoyed the constant sound of the ocean waves crashing against the shore and the beauty of God's creation for the next 3 days and nights. Our days were filled vacationing as a family - passing the time sand digging, ocean wading, tide pool watching, eating the sweetest and freshest papaya and pineapples, book reading and napping. It is amazing how a place with no tv, radio, or in-room internet can make us, who are so "plugged-in", forget that we can be survive without being so wired. I (Lynette) also enjoyed a relaxing 2 hour Lomi Lomi massage on the beach and a 1 hour facial the following day. Our days at the Hanalei Colony resort can best be summed up through pictures...

We did venture out one day for a few hours for a drive back to Kilauea to view the lighthouse, browse through the quaint shops at the Kong Lung Center and enjoy a tasty meal at the Kilauea Fish Market. It was the perfect "outdoor restaurant" for a family with young kids. They had super fresh and delicious fish with healthy sides like brown rice and organic salad. We ordered at a deli counter and ate off paper plates at picnic tables. We enjoyed a wasabi aioli and soy sauce glazed mahi mahi and Caedmon devoured some stir-fry garlic shrimp.

Our last big adventure was the wonderful surprise highlight of our time up north. We had a chance to take a tour of Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. I had read about it in our tour book on one of our previous trips and then came across a review of it for kid-friendly things to do on Kauai. The gardens are in a residential area so tours are limited but we were lucky enough to be able to schedule one for our last full day on Kauai. We were on the tour with just one other family (grandparents, parents and an 18 month old little girl). The gardens are beautiful but our favorite part was the end when we were set loose to play in the children's garden. It was a child's paradise - as you entered you were welcomed by a splash fountain with a giant sculpture of "Jack and the Beanstalk" in the center, a wooded forest, multi-tiered fortresses, climbing toys, animal statues, and more. The woman who designed the garden thought of so many wonderful surprises. Caedmon enjoyed it so much that he cried when it was time to leave.

Our travels as a family are only beginning and to experience the beauty and wonder of God's creation through the eyes of our children is a privilege and a blessing we will always treasure.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Our Kauai Adventure, Part I


Tom has been talking vacation for some time now...since before L-girl was born, in fact. He has tossed out ideas ranging from 2 weeks in New Zealand or China to a road trip to visit our Grandmas in celebration of their 90th birthdays. Since L-girl's birth, he has asked me several times about the trip to China, and each time I emphatically said NO! Even before we had a newborn in the house, I knew that when she reached 3 months of age, we would just be starting to reap the benefits of sleep training. There is no way I would mess with her schedule so much as to take her to a time zone with a 12 hour difference. Hawaii was also casually tossed around and I agreed that it was about the biggest time zone I'd be willing to attempt. Tom's vacation time was quickly approaching and we had no plans but lots of ideas. Finally, a few weeks prior, Tom called from the hospital where he was working a 24 hour shift, to inform me that he booked our family on an 8 day trip to Kauai. I was both excited and hesitant.  Instead of renting a jeep for off-roading adventures, we were signing up for 8 days in a minivan with grandma riding along.  What does an island vacation look like with a 29 month old, an almost 4 month old, and a grandma??  We were soon to find out...

We already shared our plane experiences so I'll jump to the good stuff...We arrived on Kauai in the early evening of October 15th and made our way to our condo. Tom's travel plans were that we would spend the first half of the trip on the southern end of the island (Poipu) and the second half of the trip in the north (Haena, which is past Hanalei). This is our 4th trip to Kauai and for all of the past 3 trips, we stayed at the same place (Kiahuna Plantation Gardens). However, this time Tom branched out and we tried new accommodations. This turned out to be a huge blessing as our first condo at The Point at Poipu had air conditioned bedrooms and an in-suite washer/dryer. This was quite an upgrade for us from past trips to Kauai as we never had A/C nor a washer/dryer at the Kiahuna - quite a luxury with 2 little ones in tow.  It also had a nice layout with the two bedrooms being separated by the living area, which gave his mom her privacy.

I must admit that after the first 24 hours in Kauai I was feeling like we had been transported to a torture chamber rather than an island paradise. The kids slept horribly the first night and were awake and ready to go by about 4 am Hawaii time (which, in their defense, was 9 am home time). We kept them at bay until about 6:30 and then decided to walk around the grounds of the resort and try to get a look at the beach. Within the first 5 minutes of our walk, Caedmon had at least 3 melt downs - he didn't want to walk, slipped on wet concrete and hit his head, he wanted to stay by the pool and play in the pool-side sand, etc. As you can imagine, a two-year old tantrum, while never desired, is even less so at 6:30 am in the middle of a resort where many people may be sleeping with open windows. Are we having fun yet? We quickly realized that an empty stomach was just adding to the sleep deprivation and made a bee line for the 7 am hotel buffet breakfast. At which point, Libby decided she had been awake plenty long enough and began to wail. Fortunately, Tom was able to settle her to sleep while carrying her in the Ergo. The rest of our day consisted of a shopping trip to get supplies (Walmart, Costco, the local Star Market grocery store), temper tantrum, playing by the hotel pool, temper tantrum, watching the free weekly hula show at the Poipu shopping center, temper tantrum. By evening, Caedmon and Libby weren't the only one in tears. I was seriously doubting whether we had been struck by a bit of insanity when we made these vacation plans. We all went to bed nice and early and a prayer for a good night of sleep and much brighter days ahead was on my lips as I drifted off to sleep. (Libby slept in a crib provided by the condo. Caedmon slept in our Phil&Ted's travel tent, along with Curious George and Elmo.)

Being our fourth trip to the small island of Kauai, Tom and I have seen most of the major attractions. However, we enjoyed them through new eyes this time since we had Tom's mom and Caedmon with us. We also ventured to a few new places spurred on by having a toddler with us. Before heading to the island this time, I tried to research activities that would be fun for a toddler. One thing that was mentioned several times was a community playground designed by the kids of Kauai. It is located next to a beach that has a kid-friendly swimming area (Lydgate Beach and Kamalani Playground).

Based on our experiences from the day before, we realized that our best strategy would be to start the day early. We fed the kids and got on the road about the time the sun rose. The weather was perfect. It was warm but with a good breeze and there was just enough cloud cover to give us a little extra protection from the sun. Caedmon was awed by the beach! He looked like he hit the jackpot as he LOVES sandboxes and this was the biggest one he had ever seen. I think he would have dug all day if we let him. Once we were able to pry him away from his sandcastle, he realized that the water was fun too. Still, the sand was his favorite. Libby was content to hang out in her stroller or be held by one of us. She felt the water too, and she is definitely a water baby!

After quite a while at the beach, we spent some time at the Kamalani playground. It is a really nice playground with lots of interesting things to climb, swing and slide. I was definitely feeling like there was hope for our trip. After naps, we took everyone to see Spouting Horn and then walked to Brennecke's Beach Broiler for an early dinner. We had a dinner of fish and chips, mussels, calamari and shrimp. And, Tom's mom even shared a pitcher of Mango Margarita with us. We were quite surprised that Caedmon was willing to try eating mussels and even moreso, that he seemed to like them. Better than the food, was the great view of the ocean. The walk to Brennecke's was longer than we anticipated and we were a bit wary of the return trip. However, somehow the return seemed a lot shorter! Day 2 was definitely an encouragement to this weary mama.

After a successful day 2, we decided to brave another big day on day 3. No matter what the day held, an early morning pit stop for coffee to-go from Kalaheo Cafe and Coffee Company would help us get through it. (Tom's one disappointment that they didn't have a t-shirt in his size.  He has wanted one for the last few trips and this time decided to go for it, only to find that the only color they had in his size was neon green).  We headed west to Waimea and planned several stops along the way. First, we stopped in Hanapepe. We always read about the great artist town that Hanapepe is but we never stop there when things are actually open. Our only agenda there is to walk on the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge. Caedmon thought it was really cool to walk on such a long "bouncy" bridge.

Next, we went to Salt Pond Beach. Again, C-boy's highlight was the sand but he also spotted some coconut trees and waded in the ocean. (I often missed out on some minutes of fun since I am nursing Libby and had to spend a bit of the trip sitting in the back of the mini-van nursing her).

When we started our day, Tom and I weren't sure how far we would go.  We had decided to see how the kids were doing. Since everyone was having a good day, we decided to venture further up Waimea to the Grand Canyon of Kauai. Kauai is an amazing island because it has such a unique, diverse landscape. There are, of course, the beautiful beaches but there are also beautiful mountains and this amazing canyon. On our first trip to Kauai, Tom and I drove all the way to the end of the road to Kokee Park which is only 18 total miles but it takes a long time because of the slow speeds and the winding roads. This time, we only drove to the first lookout, which took us about 30 minutes. We've mentioned Caedmon's awe and excitement at experiencing so many firsts, but we were also able to enjoy Tom's mom's similar reaction as this was her first real vacation in all of her 68 years. She really enjoyed taking pictures with her camera and soaking in all of the new experiences.

We also stopped at the Kauai Coffee Plantation. By this point, both kids were fading so we only stayed long enough to take a quick look and buy some coffee. After naps, we began some party planning. It was Tom's mom 68th birthday so we decided we should have some cake to celebrate. Actually, Caedmon decided on the cake. When he hears the word birthday, he automatically asks when he gets to eat cake. We had planned to get an ice cream cake but happened across a bakery and decided maybe we could find something more appropriate for Hawaii. We were rewarded in finding an asian-style white cake with guava icing and the bakery even went all out decorating it for "Nai Nai." Although it was late afternoon, the turkey and cheese sandwich must have worn off for Tom because he was suddenly craving saimin, a Hawaiian noodle soup. We made a stop at one of our favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, Hamura's Saimin Stand. I think it may be the most hole in the wall place I've ever been to. It's usually at least 80% locals and a few brave tourists. You sit at lunch counters on low stools and give your order to one of the ladies that passes by. The ladies take the order by memory and bring you whatever they remember (at least once, they've missed part of our order). The food is good and relatively inexpensive. I am pretty sure it is cash only. It's one of those experiences that makes you feel like you're a part of the Kauaian community. We've even enjoyed an occasional conversation with a local there. Later that evening, Tom made a nice salmon dinner at our condo and we enjoyed singing and eating cake for Nai Nai's birthday. She even donned her new Hawaiian shirt for the celebration.

The next day we packed up to head north to our next destination - Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena. We had realized early in our trip that eating out could be a hazardous adventure (the risk of ruining other fellow travelers on their dream Hawaiian vacations with a crying infant or tantruming 2 year old was too great) so we loaded up with lots of lunch meat, bread and cereal and ate in as much as we could tolerate. We also stocked up on a fair amount of fresh fruit. Before we left for Hawaii, we told Caedmon that we would eat lots of fish and fruit there (two of his favorite foods). In fact, when our neighbor asked him what he was going to do in Hawaii, Caedmon answered, "Eat fish." I know there is always a stigma about "big box" stores moving into quaint little towns but the Costco in Kauai has been a blessing to us. We were able to get lots of fresh Hawaiian pineapple and papaya pre-cut and reasonably priced. We even purchased a big cooler so that we could take our food with us when need be. On the morning of our departure from the first condo, we packed everything but the perishables and then headed out for a quick look at Old Koloa Town. We had asked the hotel about their check out policy and they told us to give the front desk a call when we were ready to leave. Koloa was fairly quiet at 8:30 am on a Sunday morning but we enjoyed walking through the town and looking at some of the tourist sites.

By 9 am some of the stores started to open so we browsed a little and returned to our condo before 9:30. Tom and I ran up to get the food while everyone else waited in the car. As we rounded the corner to our room, a mild fear filled me. The cleaning staff was already there and I could see most of our food outside our condo in the garbage bags,  our cooler and unopened wine bottles and unopened food bagged up and set aside by her cleaning cart (her find for the day, so she thought), our bag of ice for the road trip already hot watered down in the sink. UGH! Fortunately, we got there in time to rescue a good bit of our belongings. However, by jumping the gun, the cleaning lady forfeited her tip...unless she dug the peanut butter and jelly from her garbage bag, which we wouldn't have wanted at that point.

After averting near disaster at our condo, we checked out and began our travels north. If you've ever been to Kauai, you know that those travels are not really all that long...maybe 90 minutes of straight travel tops. However, we had hours to wile away so we decided to check out some of the island's beautiful waterfalls. I'm sure that the best ones are seen only after hiking hours on narrow switchbacks, but fortunately for us, there are a few to be seen by driving up to a lookout point. Maybe someday we'll attempt to hike to the Edenic spots in the mountains, but life with kids under 3, dictates a more comfy existence.

After our waterfall viewings, we went to lunch at a restaurant that overlooks Nawiliwili Harbor. There was beautiful breeze so we were able to sit on a shady patio and watch the people surfing and boating. After begrudgingly restocking a few food supplies, we began our trip north and the kids settled in to much needed naps. Driving on Kauai is a treat. You almost can't get lost because there's really only one main road, but interesting enough Tom is always asking me how I know which way to go?!?  The road winds up the coast so the views are spectacular and the speed limit ranges from 25 to 50 so it's always just like you're out for a Sunday drive. Perhaps it would feel different if you lived there, but Tom even commented that he might enjoy being a Fed Ex driver on the island so he could drive around all day - what a gig, he thought! In Kilauea, we stopped briefly to look at the lighthouse but the kiddos were asleep so we decided to come back another day. After frittering away a few extra minutes, we were finally able to check in at the Hanalei Colony Resort (HCR) and settle into our beautiful lodgings by the sea. The HCR is a laid back resort right on the beach. There's no telephone or tv in any of the units and internet access is only available at their restaurant. Our first floor condo had ocean views on two sides and we could walk right out onto the beach. The only sound to be heard was the constant crash of the waves against the shore - which was totally relaxing and actually turned out to be a great muffler for the sounds of a feisty crying infant and a very busy running/jumping toddler from the rest of the guests. We were all excited to spend the next few days there!
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