31 December 2015


This was by far one of the best days, ever.   As a military spouse you naturally watch homecoming videos, read blogs, and peruse Pinterest for Homecoming signs.  These always brought tears to my eyes but nothing prepared me for how I would feel for our own homecoming.  I was lucky enough to visit Nic in Perth, and then he came home for two weeks, but nothing compares to seeing the ship coming up and knowing he's home for a quite a bit.

We both got leis for each other.  I made his using plumeria from the tree outside of our home and some orchids.  Making a lei to welcome your heart home was a great way to spend the night before he came home.   Looking on Pinterest and seeing homecoming photos with cute homecoming signs made me want to bring a sign to the pier but the thought of having to carry it deterred me away.  Instead, I made a welcome home flag that we'll be able to have forever.  The girls also had on these adorable "Welcome Home Daddy" bandanas and life was just perfect and complete again.

PS: If you're looking for a photographer on Oahu, I cannot recommend Myria Ann Photography enough. A great friend who took all of these wonderful photos!

21 December 2015


We were lucky enough to spend last weekend in Maui thanks to the Navy (never thought I'd thank them for something like that).  Nic's ship organized a family weekend cruise.  We left early Friday morning and cruised all the way to Maui, spent the weekend there, and came back Monday.  It saved us $300 in airfare and that's quite a big deal.

The trip itself was interesting.  Not all that fun, and it took way longer than anticipated to actually depart the ship once we arrived, which included someone falling overboard and a group of hangry people in Nic's tiny room. . .  It was absurd.  But once we got off the ship we had food and alcohol and life was good again.  On shore we had a fun weekend except where everything that should have been easy was a pain in the ass.  Like renting a car was an ordeal and a half.  But we ended up with a convertible charger for our Road to Hana drive and we can't complain there! 

On the way back we went through a humpback whale sanctuary and were able to see multiple whales -- including one breaching and turning!  There was also a burial at sea which brought me to tears.  And the rest of the day was spent napping in Nic's room watching Elf.  The ride there and back would have been miserable if Nic didn't have a stateroom, but thankfully that wasn't the case.

More on Maui to come! 

20 December 2015

The Cocoon

The second place we stayed was the cutest little "cottage" I found on AirBNB.  I was a little skeptical at first. The idea of AirBNB intrigues me, but it also sounds like it's the perfect chance for a serial killer to lure people in (just being honest here).  Since I would be traveling with Nic and not a group of girls I decided we should give it a try.

We stayed at a place called The Cocoon in Ocean View. It was honestly out of the way of everything, but, we like places like that.  Only running on solar power, an outdoor shower, a hanging bed.  We were honestly set.  Most people seem to get service out there, but I only got it sparingly when I walked to the other side of a hill one morning to take a photo of the sunrise.  For some people that probably sounds like torture but it was exactly what we needed.  Nic coming back from deployment is one of the best things to happen this year.  But I'll admit that I am a terrible sharer. Also have been and probably always will be.  Being somewhere where we could disconnect from the world around us was fantastic.

The second night we were there, we grabbed fire wood, some hot dogs and marshmallows and had a wonderful evening.  We could have stayed there and played scrabble lost in the moment forever, and wish that we would have added a day to our trip just to sit and relax.

If you're visiting the Big Island and looking for somewhere relaxing and off the grid to stay, we couldn't recommend The Cocoon more! Also, use this link to get $20 off your stay!

Greenwell Coffee Farm

One of our favorite tours was Greenwell Coffee  Farm.  We are huge coffee lovers and a few people recommended the tour to us.  We learned quite a few things about Kona coffee. It is only grown on the Kona Coast of the Big Island, and, it's expensive.  Brands can label themselves as Kona Coffee and be cheaper, but when you look at the label you see that it is mixed beans, with a small percentage of Kona.  The tour was free and informative, and if you have an hour to spare and find yourself on the Kona Coast, definitely stop in!

 The four stages of the coffee bean. The beans start on the left, and on the right is what you end up with. Interestingly enough, the red outside of the bean has been made into Kona Red, a cold energy drink that's actually quite good and available in stores! 

 Free samples of all of the coffee varieties. Coffee lovers heaven! We ended up buying their seasonal Harvest blend which was delicious! Hints of nutmeg made it fall in a cup. 
One of the employees wrote a children's book about a chameleon. In Australia we decided to start collecting children's books everywhere we visit for our future littles, and we were so tempted by the book. But it was expensive and we already bought our Big Island book.  After buying our coffee and souvenirs (I needed a hat) we saw this girl on the way to the car.  Needless to say, Nic walked back and snagged a signed copy of the book. 

28 November 2015

Lava Tube Exploring

We were able to go exploring in three separate lava tubes.  We killed some time in the Thurston Lava Tube at the Volcano National Park and weren't really impressed.  It was short and very well taken care of so most people would be able to go inside and explore.  It was significantly shorter than I expected, but still fun!

The other two caves we went into were outside of the National Park and are the Kaumana Caves.  These are in Hilo, so if you find yourself on the Big Island these act as a great stop on a day of driving.  We made these a pit stop on our way from Kona back to Hilo to catch our flight back home.  The Kaumana Caves were created in the 1881 lava flow from Mauna Loa, and are almost entirely different than the Thurston Lava Tubes.  You won't find any lights here and if you don't bring a flash light (or two) you won't be able to go far.  Once you descend the stairs you will find a cave on your left and right.  In order to keep exploring in both caves you have to duck and shimmy past a little ledge.  The pass is closer to the front in the cave on the left.  If you only have time to do one, I would suggest the left.  It was easier to walk in, and once you passed the ledge it really opens up.  The Kaumana Caves had roots growing in from above and water dripping down.  It truly was a step back in time.

13 November 2015

Mauna Kea

One of our favorite places on the Big Island was Mauna Kea.   We almost didn't make it but a cut on Nic's foot eliminated our ability to dive so we were able to spend our last evening driving up the mountain!

Mauna Kea is one of two mountains on the Big Island that reach 14,000 feet.  It is one of the few places where you can go from sea level to the 14,000 feet within 2-3 hours.   The temperature difference is a bit mind boggling.  I thankfully brought a pair of pants and jacket but I still wished I had a hat to block the wind from my ears.  The views of sunset made the frigid air worth it.  Being so high and seeing the clouds roll in under us was magical.   If you're interested in learning more about Mauna Kea, click here.

It's suggested that you only drive from the Visitors Center at 9,500 feet to the top of the mountain at 14,000 with a 4 wheel drive car.  Our guide book said it was possible in your regular car and our friends did it so we figured we'd give it a shot.  Well, there is no way in hell I would have been able to drive that car up so I give Nic kudos for getting us up there.  I wasn't raised driving on hills, or off road (neither was Nic) but my sense of adventure is a bit smaller than his.  But as they say, drive it like it's a rental car?  It was so worth it once we made it to the top.

We stopped at the visitors center on the way down for some hot cocoa and star gazing.  The night sky was so clear.  You could see so much detail in the Milky Way and so many stars that we normally don't get to see.  They set up multiple telescopes and have volunteers for point out specific systems and stars with high powered lasers.  There is something romantic about being cuddled up to the one you love and looking up to see so many stars above you.