Independence Day 2011

Our first 4th of July together as a family was a BLAST!

The night before the big day, Jayme and Anthony headed into the kitchen and mixed up 2 batches of ice cream base. Jayme loves to cook and loves to be apart of cooking for the family. Once the ice cream base was in the fridge chilling Joshua took Jayme out to the fireworks store and picked up a little over $50.00 in fireworks. For our holiday weekend, Joshua was our pyrotechnics master and Anthony was cook master.

When the big day came we started cooking our 4th of July feast we had homemade hamburgers (which Jayme helped with), we also had a big batch of hot sweet buttered corn on the cob. YUMMY!

The hardest part of the day was Jayme having to wait. His normal bedtime starts at 7:00pm, but we all decided that he should and would stay up late to see the fireworks at night. We tried unsuccessfully to get him to take a nap. He agreed to the nap and headed to his room, pulled the covers over his head…. and watched a movie on his iPod. This did not go over very well with the Dad’s. We had a hard time not taking away fireworks from him and us.

When the sun was setting we started the fireworks setup. We found a extra floor tile in the garage and wrapped it in tin foil, this served our as flat base for our fireworks. Sam and Anthony gathered up the deck chairs and moved them out to the driveway. Joshua got a bucket of water and ran the hose out to the curb and attached our hand held garden sprayer. Anthony & Joshua then sprayed down all the plants and the roadway that was downwind of our launch area. Yes, we were the over protective parents…

We started out with sparklers, the sales lady told Joshua that they were the old fashion type, the type we “had as kids”. So we were expecting metal rods of hot white Magnesium death, what we got was paper and wood sticks that kinda fizzed… a bit for 10 secs. A big let down for the grown ups, but UBER cool for Jayme and the neighbor kids.

Guess we should explain that last statement, as we started with our sparklers, two kids from down the road came over and started to watch us. First from across the street, then from our driveway. Jayme offered them a sparkler and then they asked us if they could have a sparkler and we made them first go get permission from their parents. They came running back within minutes with the ok, so they joined our family celebration. They quickly took Anthony and Jayme’s seat an Jayme crawled into Uncle Sam’s lap. It wasn’t until about 30 minutes into the show that their dad came over to meet us and see if his kids were safe. (see how fast it took for us to become judgmental parents LOL)

For $50.00 worth of fireworks, we sure had a long show. Joshua lined up the fireworks (small to large) and we set them off  one at a time. Between acts we would hand out the wimpy sparklers to the kids who had a blast with them.

After the last firework was launched and we cleaned up our mess, we said goodbye to our two new friends and headed inside to eat our homemade ice cream. It must have been good as Jayme got in trouble for licking the bowl clean.

 

 

3 Month Update

So it has now been a little over 3 months since Jayme moved in. WOW, what an amazing and busy time it has been.The 3 month mark brings some new security for each of us as we get use to each other and some new transition challenges.

First our current adoption clinician from Boy’s and Girls Aid, who was our replacement Clinician, is leaving. She is going back to school to become a therapist. This was a HUGE shock to us. She will be missed terribly! The silver lining in this storm cloud is our original adoption clinician was being reassigned back to us to see us through to the end (and we love HER!), so this is a real super bittersweet moment for us.

Jayme is still in year round half day school. At this school, his therapist who has worked with him for over 4 years is leaving. This transition was expected but in a different way, as we hope to have Jayme enrolled in mainstream school this fall. But she will be leaving before that transition. This is going to be harder on Jayme then on us, but it’s still a bit of a blow to our new family.

Additionally, the mental health provider from Washington county, who has been on Jayme’s team for years is now leaving as as our case has been transferred to Clackamas county. So out of the original team only a few remain, it made for a kinda emotional team meeting at our July meeting last week. Of course the long term goal is for everyone to fade away and for only the family to be left, but it’s still hard.

Our second big news is Anthony has gone part time at work, so he can be home with Jayme in the afternoons. This means our income is taking a bit of a hit, but so far it has worked out great. Anthony’s boss was very accommodating. Now we have a lot less daycare stress and more Dad time with Jayme. This had allowed Anthony to spend an hour a day with Jayme working on his reading, writing and arithmetic skills.

USS Arizona and Home (Day 12)

We woke early on our last morning aboard. Having put our bags out in the hallway the night before, we showered and dressed in the clothes we had kept out the night before.

We ate our last breakfast at the Aloha Buffet then headed back to our room gathered our carry on bags and headed to the ships theater. We had early bird tickets for the Arizona/Pearl harbor. After arriving we met our group and were exited off the ship and down to our waiting bags, then onto a waiting coach.

The driver/tour guide had pre purchased tickets for the Arizona so all we had to do was kill sometime. So the driver took us on a short Honolulu tour. We visited the Iolani Palace, Aliʻiolani Hale and the King Kamehameha Statue. We had a chance to jump out of the coach and get up close and take some photos, but didn’t get to go into any of the venues.

Next we drove around the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Then our coach headed to battleship row/Pearl harbor. We didn’t know how Jayme would handle visiting the USS Arizona memorial. We knew that years from now when he is studying WWII we would be able to draw from his visit. We did a little prep with him, told him were we where going was like a church and we had to be quiet and respectful.

Once we arrived we had about 20 mins before our tour time started. We walked slowly over to theater and did a stop at the restroom and gift shop. At 9:45am we walked into the theater and watched a 20 min movie about the Pearl Harbor attack. Jayme was pretty quiet for most of the movie. He had a few questions about why things were happening and if this movie was real. Because he is 6 he really liked the explosions…

Once the movie was over we exited the theater and boarded the navy boat which took us out to the memorial. Jayme liked the boat ride and had lots of questions about how the boat worked. It took only a few minutes to reach the memorial. Once we docked we had 15 mins to view the site. Jayme did really good and was very respectful and quiet. We both were very proud of him.

When our 15 mins were up we re-boarded our boat back to the shore. We had a lot of time before our coach took us to the airport so we had time to explore the museums a bit. This proved to be a bit too much for Jayme as there was lots of buttons to push. He must push all buttons at all times or somehow the world will come to an end. So we had to have a little time out to calm our little body.

Back on the bus and right to the airport. Once at the airport, check in was fairly easy. While Anthony checked in Jayme, Joshua rebalanced the weights on our bags, getting us both at 49.99 pounds each (meaning no extra fee). The biggest surprise of the trip happened as we headed into the security check point, Jayme announced in a slightly panicked tone that one of his teeth is falling out.

We had a 2 hour wait for our plane, but that gave us time to buy some food for the long flight home and to pick up some lunch at Burger King. A favorite item was the bottle of Hawaiian water ( Yes folks, for $5 measly dollars you too can have a bottle of Hawaiian Water), which is still in our fridge.The flight home was very easy. Jayme even slept for a bit. We landed on time and Sam met us at the baggage carousel at 11:30 PST.

This was an amazing trip for our new family. The trip was to be all about Joshua and his birthday, but it really turned into an amazing bonding trip for our new family.

If you would like to see some of the 4000 photos from our trip, shoot us an email and will add you to our new family shutterfly account.


Nawiliwili (Day 11)

Friday Morning, our last real day of our cruise and no rental car. After having a nice breakfast we packed out beach bag with Jayme’s $1.00 target sand shovel set, grabbed our beach towels and walked from the ship to the Kalapaki beach in front of the Kauai Marriott. As we walked we noticed the clouds rolling in from the sea into the bay.

We walked through a little shopping area and then down onto the beach. Jayme began digging to china and the Dad’s laid back and started tracking the storm rolling in above us. We were only on the sand for about 15 mins when the first drops started. It was a just a light sea mist to start, none of the other sun bathers seemed to care. But we could tell it was about to open up, must be a Portlander thing.

Dragging Jayme away from his “sandbox” was heart breaking, but it only took a few hard drops to motivate him. We ran some shelter, one of the resorts empty  massage tents. From there, we worked our way back along the boardwalk. But then the heavens opened up. I would call it rain, if rain drops were equal to gallon drops. It took all of 1 second for each of us to be soaked. We dived into a little tourist t-shirt shop and did a little shopping as Noah’s flood fell on Kauai.

We had hoped the rain would let up  a bit, but after 15 mins we decided to make a dash for the larger shopping mall across the street. From there we could get the free shuttle back to the ship. We used our beach towels as make shift umbrellas and worked our way from door way to door way.

Once at the mall we did a little shopping and had a snack. Then we boarded the free bus/trolley back to the ship for lunch.. Of course, though we had been waiting there the longest, we were of course pushed back by other tourists.. Wet cold seats for the three of us..

The rest of the day was dry but much cooler then the past 10 days had been, but it didn’t ruin our day. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in our room and playing onboard. Jayme did swam in the onboard pool and came out like a little ice cube, but he was still all smiles. Today also was his longest visit to the kids club.

The ship pulled out a little after 1:00pm and did a slow drive by the Na’pali coast. It was beautiful, we took WAY too many photos. As the coastline sailed by we packed up the room.

We had a last family dinner together in the skyline and then got Jayme into his pajamas for the kid’s club pajama last night party. We we came back to pick him up he was donned in a huge white kids club t-shirt all covered in autographs from the club councilors and kids, it was too precious.

 

Kauai (Day 10)

We woke as the ship slowly pulled into the Nawiliwili port on our last island Kauai. Kauai is called the garden island, and it is very clear why. Everything is so green. With no rush we we had breakfast topside at the on desk buffet. We then exited the ship and jumped on our last Thrifty shuttle. The airport was a bit further aways, but no issues this time with our rental. We very quickly where jumping into our third Dodge Caliber rental and heading down the road towards a pretty amazing day for Jayme.

First stop was at the Kauai Plantation. We drove in and both Joshua and Anthony played distract the Jayme, we wanted this to be a big surprise (turns out we got the bigger one). So as we drove into the plantaion we told Jayme to look right or left, anything for him not to see the railroad tracks or the train.

The plan was to explore the grounds a bit and take the 10:30 am train, well Anthony blew it. The train departed at 10:00am not 10:30am, so we had to run to get our tickets and by the time we got there all of the good seats in the 2nd open train car were taken. All that was left was seats in the hot enclosed train car. So we decided to make the best of it and sit as close as we could to the train engine, because Jayme is train insane. So boarded and walked all the way up and took the first row seats so Jayme could watch the train driver.

A few moments before the train ride began the tour guide,whose seat was next to ours, boarded the train and looked at Jayme and asked him how old he was. The then asked Jayme if he would like to drive the train today. No need to comment on what Jayme’s response was. Once he had our ok, our son was whisked off the train car and onto the train engine. For 45 mins Jayme rode up front with the train engineer. At one point, the engineer (Bruce) stepped outside of the cab and leaned in the window and put Jayme in the drivers seat and taught him how to run the train. He then took Jayme’s seat and let Jayme drive the train alone.  This was the singular highlight for Jayme for the WHOLE TRIP. Of course the best part for Anthony was Joshua asking him in amazement “How did you arrange this?”

Once the train trip was over and the “Can I drive the train again?” mantra was taken care of, we explored the Plantation. Stopping by the Rum house and buying a few bottles.

Our next destination was Waimea canyon, the Grand canyon of Hawaii. But along the way we had to visit a friend of our, experiment 626. When the Disney artists came to Kauai to do their research they spent a lot of time in Hanapepe. Much of the town an the roads  and hills around Hanapepe ended up being truthfully redrawn into te home town of Lilo and Stitch in the movie Lilo and Stitch. It was pretty cool to see the town and so inspired the artists, in fact while driving we swear we say the road to Nani and Lilo’s house.

Once had our fill of Disney Magic, we headed out for the canyon.

Waimea Canyon: also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is a large canyon, approximately ten miles (16 km) long and up to 3,000 feet (900 m) deep, located on the western side of Kauaʻi in the Hawaiian Islands. Waimea is Hawaiian for “reddish water,” a reference to the erosion of the canyon’s red soil. The canyon was formed by a deep incision of the Waimea River arising from the extreme rainfall on the island’s central peak,Mount Waiʻaleʻale, among the wettest places on earth. (source wikipedia)

Simply put, it was amazing. We drove along the canyons edge, stopping for pictures and eventually ended up in Kokee state park. There was a nice little resturant that served us a great lunch and a huge green lawn for Jayme to run around and explore. Jayme also had the chance to feed a large flock of wild chicken’s.

We took our time driving back and even stopped at a local coffee plantation. There was a nice little self guided tour on the plantation and it was another chance for Joshua to buy more coffee. We drove back to the airport and dropped off our last rental car with no issues. We had planned to mail a big box of stuff back home, but could not find an open airport. This worried us a bit as we had at least 40 pounds of Rum, T-shirts, sea shells, ect. In the end we decided the overwieght costs for Hawaian airline would be cheaper then trying to Fed EX our stuff.

One back on the ship, we found out that NCL didn’t want us to bring 2 bottles of run on board…. But once we got them checked there was no issue. We headed back to our room for a rest and Jayme headed off to kids club. We loved Kid’s club, perhaps a bit more then Jayme did. For it let the Dad’s to have a nice dinner for 2 alone!

 

Kona (Day 9)

KONA – Land of expensive coffee.

Just like Hilo, Kailua Kona was a one day stop. But unlike Hilo, the ship did not dock, the ship dropped anchor out in the bay and we had to take tender boats to the dock.

This was pretty fun for Jayme, the tender boats are much more like a real boat and had a lot more bounce then a slow moving cruise ship. It was a much different way for him to ride on the ocean.

Once we made it across and on to dry land we whipped out the iPad and started walking to Starbucks. Joshua needed some coffee and wanted to use the free wi-fi to check in with his email. We didn’t know it at the time but while relaxing in Starbucks we were observed by one of the crew from the ship. Later, he introduced himself while working in the Aloha cafe, he thought Jayme was cute and he was “family”.

After our caffeine fix, we walked over to a local grocery store and hit the coffee aisle. We picked up a little over 3 pounds of Kona coffee at the local rate rather then the tourist rate. Of course we did have to pack mule it with us for the day.

Coffee needs met we walked back down to the waterfront and visited the Hulihee Palace, former former vacation home of Hawaiian royalty. It was mostly a tourist trap, but not a bad one.

We then spent the rest of the day wandering and shopping in all the beachside stores. One place we found was Donkey Balls, a store that sells chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Once in the store Jayme made a little friend, the Grandson of the owner. While we shopped and Joshua ordered a tall Kona coffee, Jayme helped the Grandson front face the store. It was UBER cute. He really was trying this whole trip to connect and make friends.

It was here in Kailua Kona that Jayme had his first shaved ice. We ordered a rainbow and all shared it. A shaved ice is like a snow cone, but the ice is finer and more like slivers then ground ice, it is also MUCH MUCH bigger.

On the way back to the ship, Jayme announced that he had to go pee. Which goes like this… “I NEED TO GO PEE… AHHHHH AHHHH AHHHH AHHH” Followed by jumping and dancing. We quickly looked around for the nearest restroom and ran in to a little restaurant. A server walked up as Jayme is doing his dance and holding himself, and Anthony asked if Jayme could use their restroom. She looked at Anthony, then at Jayme and then said… “No.” Without missing a beat Anthony/Nyssa asked her back, “Oh, so it’s ok if he just pee’s on the floor here, Great! Do you have a mop handy?” She just stood there shocked that someone called her on her ignorant actions. Luckily, the restaurant right next door had a great staff and had no issue with helping a 6 year boy out of pee hell.

The boat ride back to the ship was uneventful, but the evenings activities where! Tonight the Captain was going to visit the Kids Club tonight and it was the number one thing Jayme wanted to do. We were a bit nervous about sending him. Kids Club is a no parent zone, but has a large staff to watch the kids. We really didn’t know how Jayme would behave. So we dropped him off and told the staff were to find us. After a nice dinner alone (our first since Jayme moved in) we returned to the kids club only to see Jayme the perfect angel. His face aglowing and you could see how much he wanted to stay with the other kids. So we came back 30 mins later.

 

Hilo (Day 8)

Anthony woke first as usual and climbed over Jayme to hide out on the balcony until the others woke up. One of the cool things on our trip was the iPad had celluar connetions for 97% of our trip, even as we moved between the island. AT&T might suck in Portland, but they seem to have Hawaii covered. So Anthony spend a lot of his mornings waiting for us to wake up, out on the balcony checking us in to all of our destinations via facebook.

Once we all had woken up and showered and dressed we headed down to the Skyline restaurant for breakfast again. We were able to watch the ship dock from our table, it was nice.

Deporting was easy, but the shuttle to the Thrifty car rental sight was NOT. The shuttle arrived and first they announce only the designated drivers could board. So Joshua and Jayme had to wander off and find a place to wait. Once on the shuttle, Anthony got booted off because his name as not on the rental list. So very angry and not wanting to wait, we hailed a cab and drove off to the airport. Once at the airport $20.00 poorer, we get to the Thrifty car line proudly displayed on a the wall was a Special welcome to all our blue chip members, A DeSoren. So they had Anthony’s name for the special check in but not to get on the shuttle (incompetent boobs).

So we get our rental car, another Dodge Caliber, and headed off for the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. We shadowed a big tour bus the whole drive up, amazing how many people choice to take the very pricy tour rather then do the car rental…. perhaps they know how incompetent Thrifty Rent a car in Hilo is, hummmm.

Our first stop once we got to the park was the visitor center. We stopped in, a got a free map and found out what was open and what was closed. We then decided to take a short walk to the caldera rim. There was a nice, paved, easy, flat, smooth, wheelchair accessible, path to the edge. It was on this nice path that Jayme forgot to how to walk. At the time we were baffled by why he could not walk, but looking back in hindsight our guess was he had his sea legs and his little body was still overcompensating for the motion of the boat. If you have ever been on a bumpy cruise you will know what we mean. Regardless of the reason.. Jayme fell down. The first fall was just some scuffed knees, no blood. 10 feet later the second fall brought on a small cut on the palm of his hand and his left knee scrapped and bleeding. The third fall got the other knee.

In hysterical tears and screams we made it back to the visitor centers bathroom, washed out his cuts and scrapes and applied every band aid we had in our emergency kit. Jayme was fine, but acted like he had been given a mortal wound. This play acting came and went all day long depending on how bored or tired he was. Regardless, for the rest of the day he had one of us holding him by the hand. We averted about 15 falls by the end of the day by holding his hand.

Our next stop was the Jaggar Museum, it is higher on the caldera rim and has a nice view of the smoking lava. Inside the museum Jayme got to see different types of lava and even jump up and down and create his own earthquake. We jumped back into the car and decided to head down to the Thurston lava tube. Along the way we stopped off and did a short walk out to some active lava steam vents. It was kinda stinky, but pretty cool. Jayme had a lot of questions about were the steam was coming from.

We followed the Chain of Craters road down to the lava tube. Once parked we had a short uphill then downhill climb before we came to the tube entrance. The first half of the lava tube has been wired with lights, but thats it. The floor is uneven and water drips down from the ceiling, it was neat but not to thrilling. At the midpoint a set of cement stairs rise up back to the jungle and the path back to the car. But we were a bit more brave and prepared. Anthony handed out the flashlights that he and Jayme had purchased several weeks earlier and we detoured the staircase and stepped down in to the darkness.

Once under our own light, the tunnels where much more entertaining. We took small steps and inspected the tunnel carefully, noting the different colors of rock and letting our imaginations run wild. We walked pretty far back and came to a drop off in the floor, the tunnel continued further, but we would have had to lower Jayme down so we decided to turn back. As we did we realized we had a tag along, it was a bit disturbing. Someone who did not bring a flashlight had followed our light down the tunnel and had quietly followed us. Once up out of the darkness we found a restroom for Jayme and then continued down the Chain of craters road.

Our next stop was at the 1974 lava flow. We climbed out of the car and had our first chance to walk across an lava field. Jayme was REALLY excited to be able to get out and touch the lava rock. We really wished we could have shown him flowing lava, but at the time of our visit there was no flowing lava.

We kept driving down and made it all the way to the end of the road, well the road kept going but is kinda burried under a lava flow. We took a long walk to and climbed on the lava river flow that covered the road. Just was we turned back and started the long walk back to the car, we felt little drops of waters. We made a beeline back to the via the Holei Sea Arch and we started the long drive back up.

Unlike our last port, we only had the one day in Hilo with no overnight. So we had to start the drive back to the airport. Once back on the main road and the sky opened up and the rain started to pour down. Thankful to be dry we started to look for someplace to eat, all of us were hungry.

Not wanting to be adventurous with Jayme, who was not milking his boo boos for all they were worth, we ended up in an IHOP. Breakfast is good anytime of the day and Jayme adores pancakes.

After helping the Hilo IHOP economy (yeah it was not cheap). We tanked up the car and headed back to the airport to drop off the car. We found the drop off area, unloaded the car and took the keys and paperwork up to the desk.

“Is your flight today sir?”“No, we are on the Pride of America” “OH… Well, didn’t you get the drop off instructions from the shuttle driver?” “NO! He refused to let us board, didn’t have my name on his list, But I see my name is still on the welcome board right next to you. WE had to PAY for a Cab!” “OH….. well you have to drop the rental car off at a super obscure location….” (FRUSTRATION!!!)

So back in the car….. drove around for another 10 minutes looking for a hidden parking lot. Once we arrived we joined everyone else under a big white tent and waited for the shuttle. Again we got to see the wonderful humanity of our fellow passengers. As the shuttle pulled in everyone shoved their way pass us in a effort to prevent us for cutting in line. Only point was, we didn’t even try to cut. It was so funny to see the everyone think the worst of us.

Well, the first shuttle was full so we had to wait for the next one. So we waited alone under the big white tent. As we waited more people arrived and positoned themselfs so they could get on before us, you know because they where there second and all. So as the next shuttle arrived we found ourselfs behind a bunch of cutters. The driver pulled up with an almost full shuttle and called out “I can only take 3”, so of course the other passengers who came after us stepped aside and allowed us to board, since we had been waiting longer…. wait NO they didn’t. They shoved forward and tried to cut us off. Well, the lot attendant saw what was happening so she called out and said “DeSoren party you have been waiting the longest… please board. The cutters made a path and we stepped forward.

As we walked pass the car lot attendance we called out and pointed to a nice old couple who arrived just after us (now both buried behind the mob) and had been chatting with us and Jayme, “THEY, are next in line”, then we glared at the cutters, all mean like.

 

Maui (day 7)

We all woke up around 9:00am and we all woke up hungry. We dressed and showered then headed up to the Aloha Buffet for breakfast. Becuase we slept in we missed the regular buffet, but the sun deck version was still open so we sat outside and had a simple breakfast.

After such a full day the the day before, we really felt we had done it all. So we took our time getting off the ship and really had no destination in mind. We flipped through the Hawaiian cruise guide book Anthony had and decided to drive up to Iao Valley State Park.

The Iao needle is a big rock, it was also a very nice little park. We walked around and played by the river. Took photos by the rock and then stopped by another little park on the way back. All of us were a bit tired and cranky. None of us wanted to really do anything strenuous.

The little park we found was very nice. It had lots of little streams and rivers with little fishes. Jayme had fun running round the hidden paths and exploring the ponds. It made for a nice morning.

We decided to head back to the ship early. But we stopped off to pick up some bottled waters and snacks. So nice being on a cruise where we can take the food and drink on and off. We found a drugstore and ended up with a big bag full of stuff. We headed back towards the airport, stopped to fill the car and then before we knew it we were on a free shuttle headed back to our ship.

Once on board we headed down to the Cadillac Cafe, a 50’s themed diner. We ordered some milkshakes, which were very good. They came as an extra charge to our meal, but today had been a cheap day so we splurged. The food was…. well gross.

We all were a bit grouchy so we ended back up in our room for a nice LONG nap. We had really been pushing ourselves while on Maui, so we deserved a nice rest. After our nap we hung round the room on the balcony, the ship had not left yet so we spent some time being lazy.

Tonight we also decided to live a bit and had dinner at the onboard Little Italy italian restaurant. Joshua ordered the drinks.. He got himself a amerretto sour and ordered Anthony wine. Now this just shows you how tired Joshua must have been, because nothing else explains why you would order someone who HATES wine, wine. As she brought the drinks to the table, Joshua’s eyes grew big and he looked right at Anthony and said “You hate me now, don’t you?”

 

Maui (day 6 1/2)

Our alarm and wake up call both hit within seconds of each other at 3:00am. We quickly put on the clothing we had laid out; Heavy socks, undershirts, jean pants, sweater pullovers, gloves, scarfs and hats. Tonight we would climb a volcano and meet the sun.

We dragged ourselves off the ship and back to our car. We poured Jayme into the backseat and he was back out before we even left the parking lot. We got on the Hana Highway and then turned on the Haleakala Highway for our surreal 2 hour ascent into sky.

Haleakala (“house of the sun”) is a volcano that rises to 10,023 feet, that is 23 feet above the point in which is “now safe to turn on your personal electronic devices”. The drive to the top was in pitch darkness, no street lights. Just switchback after switchback, and the eerie thought that right off the edge of the road was a UBER scary plummet, thankfully obscured by the pitch black night. We could see the lights of  other cars out in front and above us as they snaked up the switchbacks.

We got to the top with about 45 minutes until sunrise. It was cold, VERY cold. The tempature change was a pretty big shock to us after a week of 80 degree weather. Now it all made sense why Anthony forced everyone to bring their heavy winter coats to Hawaii.

We walked over to a nice spot, found a rock and waited for the sun. Even the view in the predawn light was amazing. We could see the milky way (Anthony’s first time) and some of the planets (Venus, Mercury and Jupiter)quite clearly. Jupiter itself was huge and quite bright. Over the next 45 mins the whole sky transformed, so many colors and hues. Slowly, you could see down into the crater. Then slowly you could see more and more details. Then a tiny pin dot of yellow appeared on the horizon. That dot then grew into a huge ball of fire and light that bathed the whole world in light. Behind us a Hawaiian native began chanting a Hawaiian prayer. It was an amazing sunrise.

Once the sun was up, we looked behind us and a HUGE V shaped shadow spread out behind the Haleakala, this was of course the shadow of the volcano. Very very cool.

We drove down slowly, stopping to see different cinder cones. The weird thing was it took about 15 mins before we even hit the cloud layer (4000 ft.) It was also a bit scary to see how close we had been driving to the edge on the way up and how far the drop down really was..

We had only one stop on the way back to the ship, an emergency bathroom stop for Jayme. We made the stop at the gift shop that serves breakfast and were able to get in right as they were opening. We made it back to the ship and all three of us fell right back into bed.

 

 

Maui (day 6) JOSHUA’S BIRTHDAY

We woke at sunrise and from our balcony we were able to watch the ship slowly drift into our first port, Kahului on the island of Maui.

After each of us showered and dressed. Jayme gave his birthday card to his Dad, IT was a super cute moment. We then headed down for breakfast in the Skyline resturant. On our last cruise we loved eating in “fancy” restaurant for breakfast. This time on the Pride of America, it was not quite as cool, but we still enjoyed it. For Jayme, it was a bit much, he really is use to his food being ready and waiting when he gets to the table.. At least for breakfast. He is still working on the whole order the food, wait for the food and the eat the food.. AKA delayed gratification. We finished our breakfast as the ship came in to port and docked. So once we finished eating we only had to take a slight detour up to our stateroom and then walk off the ship. Once in our stateroom we emptied Jayme’s small suitcase and filled it with all of the dirty laundry and then walked off the ship. At the end of the dock we climbed right on the Thrifty car rental shuttle and within a few minutes we were at the airport car rental location. Renting cars while on the cruise was a lot faster and much more enjoyable (with the exception of Hilo, more on that later). We were given an Dodge Caliber and within 10 mins were driving to our first location, the laundromat. Using our iPad we found several laundromats near the airport, we picked the Kahului Laundromat. We asked the nice lady if they provided full service, which they did. So we handed over Jayme’s suitcase. The review online for the laundromat was less then accurate, everyone was great and it was fairly cheap as well. After dropping off our dirty clothes we turned the car towards the Maui ocean center aka an aquarium. We found the aquarium with no issues and it was a nice drive to the other side of the island. The admission price was steep. Over $70.00 for the 3 of us, not the costliest leg of our vacation, but it was pricy for what they really offered. The aquarium property size looked huge from the outside, but most of the buildings turned out to be part of the dockside mall area and not part of the aquarium itself. The Oregon aquarium, on the coast, by comparison is much larger and cheaper. But what they did have was nice, also it was not very crowded so we had the chance to have some interactions with some staff members who described and talked a bit more about the exhibits as we walked around. Jayme loved the sharks, from the moment we entered that was what he was looking for. We saw some white reef sharks and black reef sharks. Joshua, kinda was camera crazy, within 10 minutes he leaned over to Anthony and said in a concerned voice “I already have taken 250 photos, I only have room for about 300 more…”. We hung around to see the green turtles be fed, but watching turtles eat romaine lettuce is kinda a non-event. Still, Jayme enjoyed the interaction with the other kids and even tried to answer one of the questions the keeper asked. But by the time we made it to the deep sea exhibits, Jayme was started to nod off and wanting to be carried. We sat down and watched the predators get fed and Jayme fell asleep in Anthony’s lap. Anthony carried Jayme out and we headed back to the ship for a bite to eat in the Aloha buffet and a nice nap. After filling up on grub and energy we walked off the ship again, jumped in the car and headed over to laundromat. We stowed our freshly laundered clothing in the trunk and head out to go shopping. We drove from Kahului back to the other side of Maui, past the Ocean center and up Highway 30 to Lahaina. We had dinner reservations at the Old Lahaina luau. But first we wanted to hit some of the Lahaina oceanfront shops and stop by Hilo Hatties. Hilo Hatties sells nothing but expenisive tourist junk, and we had a list of people we wanted to shop for. We also wanted to pick up some cheap Hawaiian shirts to wear to the luau, but this proved problematic. We got to Hilo Hatties, and quickly realized that mostly everything carried a UBER tourist tax markup. Hawaiian shirts started at $80.00. So we picked up only a few little things for workmates and then walked down to the oceanfront stores. After killing some time and spending too much money on some t-shirts for Jayme (Del Sol.. They change color in the sun), we headed back to the car. But before we gave up and drove to dinner, we stopped by a Hawaiian outlet store. This proved to be a good stop, we picked up a Aloha shirt for each of us. Once we got to the car we changed and headed down to the luau. Over a year ago Anthony ordered 3 tickets. One for Josh, one for himself and one child ticket…. just in case. He also paid extra to be at the traditional seating, low tables and pillows for seats. As we approched the luau area, cute hawaian boys in native wear directed traffic. The main lot was full so we have to park over a bit in the overflow parking area. As we got to the check in area, we gave our name and were handed our tickets and two commemorative menus. They directed us over to a long entry line and told us not to worry as all seating was pre-assigned. This didn’t seem to sink in with most of the other guests who cut in line or held spaces for HUGE groups who cut in front of us. But for once, in the many, many times this has happened to us, WE got the last laugh. Because he who books first laughs the last laugh… or something like that. Did we mention Anthony booked over a year in advance? Once we got to the front of the line, we were given fresh flower leis and offered water or a mixed drink (Mai Tai). We then were handed off to our waiter who marched us past everyone and then all the way down to the very front table, dead center and only a few feet from the front of the stage and told us the first 3 seats (nearest the stage) were ours. Because he who books first laughs the last laugh. HA We ordered some free drinks and plopped our flower leis down at our table and started to explore the area. The luau was right on the beach. They had several native demonstrations going on. Tiki carving, grass weaving, and some of the drums that would be used for the music later. Jayme was able to play with a few of the Hawaiian rattles and bang on a few of the small drums. When we were shown to our seats our waiter told us to make sure to get over to the imu (sand roasting pit) early. So we headed over and got a prime spot for the undigging of the pig. It is kinda a non-event watching guys undig a hole, but Jayme liked it. And once the pig was out, it was dinner time. We headed back to our seats and soon were escorted over to the buffet line. We decided that Jayme was going to try everything. So he got a taste of everything they had to offer. Octopus, raw salmon lomi, raw ahi lomi, and squid, crab salad, pork,taro salad and of course, poi. He loved everything but the poi & taro salad. The show was really good. With our front row seats, it felt like we were on stage half of the time. Jayme bounced his legs and shook his little butt during each of the dances, drummed his hands, and BIG smiles for the whole show. The show had a lot of very cute Hawaiian boys, oh and there were some girls too… if your into that sort of thing. It showcased the history of the hula and how it has changed as Hawaii and it’s people have changed. A very good show. The show started right before sunset and it was dark as we left the luau. On our way back to the ship we did get another show. Six cop cars, all with lights flashing  lined the road as we drove back. The quote that immediately ran through our heads “the Gods are angry from all of this celebrating”. We got back to the ship around 10:30pm, Jayme was asleep in the back seat. All of the free parking spots by the ship were gone, so we drove a bit further down and parked in a questionable dirt lot. We didn’t worry about it too much as we were only heading into the ship take a nap….

Pride of America (day 5)

Saturday Morning of our Trip, we woke up with the plan to climb Diamond Head Crater. But no one other then Anthony wanted to get up that early. So we decided to spend the day at the resort rather then try and rush to the top of the crater and then rush back to check out of the hotel.

After our horrible lunch on property the day before we decided to go local rather then tourist. About 3 blocks away was a locals diner called “The Coffee House”. Everything was right out of the 1960’s, from tables to decor. Menu’s were tattered and stained, tables a bit wobbly and sticky. FOOD was great, service personal and attentive. The only issue we had was Anthony’s order was hashbrowns was very over cooked. When the bill came, so did an apology from our server and she had removed it from the check, without us even asking. We loved the Coffee House.

After breakfast we wandered back to the room and packed up our bags, checked out and checked our bags into bag check. Our shuttle was arriving later at 12:00 to take us to our next “hotel”, the Pride of America cruise ship.

We had some time to kill so we walked up into the main drag area of Waikki and then back down into the little village area of our hotel. We got Starbucks and picked up some Izzi sodas. It didn’t take long before Joshua started to get sick, we don’t know if it was the heat, the Izzi sodas or the milk/soy from his coffee, but Joshua started burping like Charlie Bucket on two bottles of fizzing lifting drinks.

It was about this time that we got a call from our shuttle service that he would be late again, so this gave Joshua time to run to the restroom and try and clear out his passage ways (no nice way to say that really).

When our shuttle arrived we all loaded up and in. Within a few minutes, we were at the port and we got into the boarding line. On our last NCL cruise we were met at the curb by porters who took our bags away, well in Honolulu you have to cue up in a long line to place your bags on the scanner beltway. It was a bit annoying, but the line moved fast enough for us.

As we got to the actual cue lines to check in Hawaiian natives in traditional “tourist” garb greeted the crowds. Jayme was given a palm woven headband, which he wanted, but did not want to wear. So as we worked our way though the line it bounced between the dad’s heads.

Before we had departed, Anthony had to get Jayme’s caseworker to sign off on a bunch of forms for NCL that NCL’s website stated we just had to have to board with a minor. Of course, they never asked for any ID or paperwork for Jayme. But other then that waste of time, Check in easy.

Right before we boarded the ship we stopped at the kids club sign in desk and got some information on what Jayme would get to do in the kids club.

Once on board we had to walk over to the customer service desk and pick up a child size life vest. We then started our own self guided tour of the ship. First stop was to the kids club to sign Jayme up and let him see what it was all about. We explained Jayme’s special needs and none of the staff seemed to have any concerns.

After kids club we decided to explore a bit more, but before we got to far then they announced that the rooms were open and ready, so we headed down to our room. Anthony had booked us a portside balcony room. Jayme loved the room and really liked the fact we would all be sleeping together in the same room (something that was hard for him to switch back to when we got home) At first Jayme didn’t really understand that his bed would be pulled out of the sofa every night. We didn’t really understand his level of concern until later that night.

After some quick unpacking, hungry we headed to the Aloha Buffet for some grub. We all had a nice lunch. We did a lot of our meals at the Aloha Buffet as it was easy to feed Jayme. We also started eating a lot of fresh fruit. The golden pineapple was good, but watermelon seemed to be on our plates for each meal.

With hunger vanquished, we started to explore the ship deck by deck. Jayme had questions about everything, from the smoke stacks to how the ship ran. The one questions he asked over and over was ‘When will we start moving?”.

After a day on deck and in the ship exploring and walking, we headed down for dinner at Skyline restaurant. We had a nice dinner as the ship pulled out of the harbor and headed out to open sea. On our last cruise we ran right into a Hurricane, so as we pulled out and the waters got a bit bumpy we started to get concerned that we would be on another “fun” cruise. We talked a bit to our server and he did warn us that Hawaiian waters are bumpy, but the worst night would be on our return sale to Honolulu. So with that to look forward to, we headed back to our stateroom.

As we opened the door Jayme became amazed. Before we left we flipped the turndown marker on our door, so as he entered he found the beds turned down and more importantly he got to see his bed made up. He was THRILLED and started jumping up and down and yelling thank you, thank you, thank you! It was a nice way to end the day.

 

Honolulu and Waikiki (Day 4)

For our last morning on Molokai, Anthony and Jayme got up early (Again with the birds) and watched the sunrise from the Lanai. Anthony then served us everything in the fridge that we had left over. We had hot dogs, fresh oranges, toast, Strawberry Guava Jam and POG.

After a final walk on the beach we spent the 20 mins cleaning the house and packing up all of our stuff. We had intended to run a few loads of laundry the night before, but the laundry room was closed by the time we got back from dinner. It was simply amazing how many dirty clothes we had after only 4 days. We designated Joshua’s bag as the dirty laundry bag and spent some time balancing the bag weights.

Once we all said goodbye to our condo we headed off to the airport but along the way we did 2 stops. The first was to the cemetery again to leave our lai’s on several of the family grave sites. The rest of the family would be arriving within the week with Grandma’s remains, so we wanted to leave something for her from us.

We then drove to the POST A NUT post office. We arrived before the post office opened, so we played around outside of the post office, took photo’s and played chase. Once the post office was open we decorated two unhusked coconuts. One we mailed off to our friend John, who had loaned us his uber camera for the trip, and the other one for Jayme’s classroom. We also took the opportunity to mail back some of our new treasures and souvenirs.

Once back the airport we drove over to the car rental return area. After waiting for long time we got some to come out and help us check our car back in. While doing the return, the check in lady told us she saw an scratch on the car that wasn’t there before (but it was). At this time… Anthony kinda freaked out, this was not a happy moment for him. We had to give them our insurance paperwork and fill out a form. It wasn’t until later while reviewing our photos we noticed that on day one of our trip you can see the scratch in the car. We have yet to hear anything from the car rental company, so perhaps they have figured that out too. But that didn’t stop Anthony from adding the scratch damage plan to each of our following car rentals on each island.

So we checked into our flight… did we mention how SMALL the airport is? One check in desk, one bag scanner for the whole airport and only one gate. Thanks to all of the freak out at the car rental window we only had a few minutes to wait for our flight, yet strangely were were still first to the gate. Right before they opened the gate a whole plane load of people arrived at our small gate and lined up in front of us. So we ended up being last on the plane, yet first to the gate.

Our flight to Honolulu was via Lania City. So we had the chance to see another Hawaiian island. Joshua was able to get a window seat after the plane emptied and got some really great photos of the airport and the island. Jayme was super brave on this trip and used the tiny bathroom onboard without any issues! Both legs of the flight were very short and before we knew it we were landing in Honolulu.

Again our plane landed in the inter-island termaial, we headed to the baggage claim area. They were nice enough to turn the baggage carrousel on for our 3 bags. The carrousel ran for all of 30 seconds, did we mention the smallest factor of this gate? For this leg of our trip we relied on shuttle service rather then car rental. Anthony had booked us with hawaii23 shuttle, which is a private shuttle company. We called the company and the owner who was picking us up apologized as he was running late and offered to let us join other group of people he was picking up and the fare would be no charge. He told us to head to the median and look for a lady named Allison. It was pretty easy to find the other group and alot of fun to walk up and ask if she was Allison (very funny reaction). Mark, the owner, picked us all up a few minutes later and gave us mini tour of Honolulu as he drove us to our hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Rainbow tower.

The shuttle drop off point is a fair walk from our hotel as the Hilton Hawaiian Village is a HUGE resort of 6 different towers. It was like a big downtown Disney shopping area. We got to the check in desk and our room was ready! Oceanfront view with a direct view of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach…. BREATH TAKING!

We got to the room and dumped our stuff. The first thing we headed for was the AC. We really liked our condo on Molokai, but we really needed some AC now. Anthony hit the switch and nothing happened. Everyone was hungry and after being on a plane and a shuttle, we wanted to move. So we decided to worry about the AC later and headed down into the village and wandered around the little shops.

One store we found was the Honolulu cookie company. They sell shortbread, Joshua’s favorite. We then found a row of resturants. Pizza,  Asian noodles and a New York deli that served all day breakfast. The choice was easy for us, we love New York deli food and could eat breakfast for all three meals.

We walked up to to the hostess and told her there were three of us, she told us all she had was indoor seats. That was fine for us so she took us in and then in deeper in to the furtherst table in the back in the BAR area. This was a strange place to put a family with a small child, but we were hungry so we didn’t think to much of it. Menu’s looked great and right away both of us started drooling over the sliced corn beef pictures… We love good corn beef and in a New York deli restaurant this should be pretty good. Jayme ordered pancakes with a tall glass of milk and we decided to split the corn beef eggs Benedict.

After waiting for a pretty long time our waiter came and took our order. Then a long time later our drinks came out. Jayme being Jayme took his drink and started to inhale his beverage. Half way through his first GULP his face turns green and he spits his milk back in to glass and sets it down. His only words are “This milk tastes bad.” The milk had turned, not just turned but was clumpy. We quickly waved over the hostess and complained. The only thing she said was “Oh…. was that regular or skim?” not I am so sorry your child just drank curdled milk or any other type of apology. Anthony asked for orange juice as a replacement and Jayme was happy. She left and just as we expected the manager to come over to our table in outer mongolian to apologize, our food arrived. Jayme had a 2 big pancakes and was in heaven, Our food….. well… dry rubbery poached eggs (how you make dry poached eggs I will never know) on top of CANNED dog food AKA canned corn beef hash slurry on two burnt english muffins, toped with hollandaise sauce with a nice thick skin formed on top. This all became too much for us, between the scratch on the car, spoiled milk being served to our son and now rubbery congealed burnt CANNED DOG FOOD. After Jayme finished his pancakes we paid for Jayme’s food and stormed out. No manager in sight, no one to complain to in sight. This restaurant has no excuse for serving poor food, they are on property of a good hotel chain, where the cost of the rooms per night is not cheap. They should be closed down. Thank heavens for ABC stores as they saved us. After our horrible lunch we popped in and got some cold sandwiches and sodas and retreated to our balcony in our hotel room.

After lunch part two, a very responsive maintenance team and the welcome blast of A/C. We all got into our swimsuits and headed down to the beach. We walked along the sand until we reached the Outrigger Hotel and their concrete dock. At that point we turned around and walked back in the water. It only took 2.3 seconds for Jayme to be soaked from head to toe, he just layed down in the water and started splashing water on his body. Jayme then started dragging Joshua in deeper and deeper. Joshua finally gave in and towed Jayme about 10 feet out to sea and started to toss him around. Jayme was shrieking with delight and loving every minute of it. Anthony headed over and checked out some hotel towels and got to sit and watch the maddness.

After we cleaned up from the beach we walked over to one of the several pools. The one we found had two water tubes and was themed to be cave grotto. Jayme swam for a LONG time.

We headed back to the room and changed for dinner. We walked up Wakiki beach looking for dinner. After a long walk we found the California Pizza Kitchen, Jayme’s favorite. The cool thing was it was our waitress last day as she had just been hired at Disney’s Aulani resort. Also just as we sat down for dinner the police officer’s memorial torch rely started. Ton’s of police cars lights and sirens and then over a thousand people marching poured by our balcony table.

By the time we walked back to our room it was a little after 9pm and we had one tired little boy. He was out as soon as his head hit the pillow and so were we.

Molokai, East Wet Side (Day 3)

We woke up early with our 4am Rooster and various bird wake up call and had another yummy breakfast on our lanai. Josh and Jayme took a early morning walk on the beach and tormented all the ghost crabs.

After breakfast, we headed into town and got some drinks from the Friendly store again and picked up some fresh donuts and pastries from the local bakery. We planned to be out all day, today was our off road adventure.

When Joshua was last on Molokai, he was taken to a special beach and a cave with some petroglyphs. So we found the location on google maps via Anthony’s iPad and headed off. The first road we came to turned off to a long red dirt road. Being VERY brave we turned our Nitro and headed up and down the red dirt roads. After about 15 mins, we pulled off and started to get a bit worried that we where on the wrong road. We seemed to be going along the edges of farm lots and didn’t seem to be getting any closer to the beach, which we could see down the mountain. Some further inspection on the iPad reveled us firmly centered in no man’s land. So we cut back and hunted for the main highway again.

After some further google maps research and another dead end road, we found the correct dirt road to the beach. We drove for about 20 mins before we came to a big steel gate… locked. We utterly failed to find the beach or the caves. So we gave up and headed to the apparent safety of Highway 450.

We drove down Highway 450 east, it only took a few turns of the road before the wet side greenery of the island exploded on the mountains and roadside. About 30 mins down the road, the first sign that the road is narrowing appears in the form of a one lane bridge, a few minutes later the road itself becomes a single lane, and shortly after that the roadside looks more like the Indianian Jones ride themed queue line rather than a road that is suppose to accommodate 2 lanes of traffic. But the trip was completely worth it.

The views were unbeliveable, at one point the tiny road drove down to about 3 feet above sea level, right by the crashing blue and white waves and then we climbed to top of the high sea walls and saw amazing views of Maui and Lanai.

At the end of Highway 450 we ended up at Halawa beach park and Halawa bay. It was here that Jayme was baptized in the Hawaiian waters. Jayme has NO fear of water or the ocean, so we had to work pretty hard to keep him from diving head first into the water alone. We told Jayme as we drove that we were going to a special beach just for him and it truly was, again all alone apart from a few locals who lived on the bay.

As we headed back we stopped by 2 of the catholic churches, searching for the church that Grandma and Grandpa got married in. Sadly we didn’t find it because it had burned to the ground just a few years ago.

We stopped for lunch on the way back and had another local lunch. Teri beef, Mac salad, rice and lots of spam. (What is it with Spam and Sorensens?)

After a nap at the condo, Joshua called some of his relatives on the island and within 10 mins we were getting a escorted tour of the Kaunakakai cemetary. This was another bitter sweet moment. Joshua’s Grandmother’s remains were set to arrive a few days after our visit. One of Joshua’s great aunts showed us Joshua’s Great Grandfathers and Great Great Grandfathers grave sites as well as his Grandmothers future grave site. This was an emotionally hard moment for Joshua.

After the visit to the cemetery Jayme got his way and we headed out for a pizza dinner. Molokai Pizza…. ok Hawaiian’s might be able to pull off amazing burgers but pizza… wow. Horrible service, everything was over priced.

The restaurant is right next to the dock were the fishermen come in each morning. So when we saw the fresh fish of the day special we were a bit shocked to get fresh FROZEN fish. It was so bad that after waiting for 20 mins to pay our check we walked up to the counter and paid the take out window and left no tip.

Once we got home we put Jayme to bed and opened a bottle of rum. Coconut rum with POG, our new official family drink (while on Molokai).

 

Molokai, North and West (Day 2)

We were awakened by the sound of the wild.. For once it was not Jayme.. Apparently (Joshua failed to mention this) there are a TON of birds on the island. Roosters, Songbirds, you name it.. Birds. We did awaken to perfect weather and took breakfast on our lanai. Anthony had a spread of fresh oranges, honey buttered multi grain toast, strawberry yogurt and big glasses of ice cold POG.

After a morning walk on our little beach we packed the car and headed to the north side of the island via the Kalae Highway to Pala’ au State Park. Along the way we got to see a bit of Kaunakakai (the big city) of the island in the daylight. There are no stoplights on Molokai and not really any stop signs. Molokai is NOT a tourist island, something that was quickly evident once we got to the Kalaupapa overlook at Pala’ au State Park, we were all alone.

We walked 2 short trails; the first to phallic rock, which is a HUGE stone that looks just like…. well in Jayme’s words like a big turtle. Along the trail Anthony started talking to the birds. He would chirp and the birds would chirp back. It was a true Polgara moment.

The second trail lead to the breath taking scenic overview of historic Kalalupapa. Kalaupapa was once home to banished Hawaiian’s who suffered from Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). You can take a mule ride down the sea cliffs for a short visit. But due to Jayme’s age this was as close as we got.

On our way back into “town” we stopped at an old coffee mill for 2nd breakfast and some island coffee.

Next stop was Purdy’s Natural Macadamia Nuts in Ho’olehua. Again we were the only visitors. We got a private free tour of the small nut farm and learned how the Macadamia nuts grow, harvested and processed. We even got a chance to wack open some Macadamia nuts! We bought two big bags of Macadamian’s and a bottle of Macadamia honey.

It was still pretty early in the morning so we decided to drive over to the dry side of the island. We drove up highway 460 and visited the tiny town of Maunaloa before turning northwest and ending up at Papohaku Beach, One of the longest and finest beaches in the Hawaiian Islands. This beach extends over three miles of coastline and is more than 300 yards wide. Again we were all alone. We searched for shells and played tag in the red/white sand. Our isolation was only broken at the end of our visit by a Hawaian beach bum who wandered by. We did have exciting walk back as we walked barefoot to the car. The sand on the beach was warm and lovely, but the sand on the trail was hotter then a imu! We all yelled, bounced and ran for it.

Everyone was hungry when we made it back to Kaunakakai. We decided to have lunch in a locals place (Auntie Ruby’s). Joshua ordered the Loco Moco, two hamburger patties drowned in brown gravy and 2 scoops of white rice, and mac and potato salad. Anthony had the Teri Beef and Jayme a cheese burger. After lunch, we stopped by the Friendly Grocery Store (that’s it’s name) and picked up fixings for a hot dog and bean dinner.

 

Aloha! (Day One)

Over a year ago  it was decided to give Joshua the best 30th birthday present ever. So for over the course of a year Anthony has been planning, plotting and fretting. Tuesday May 24th, the Phoenix Project AKA surprise the heck out of Joshua sprang into action. For those of you who read our blog you know that back for Christmas, Joshua got a special christmas card letting him know of the upcoming “road trip”. (see post here)

All four of us woke up and had a nice breakfast at home. Anthony and Jayme packed the car with our suitcases for our “Road trip”. Joshua had been told what to pack the night before and complied well with his orders. By 8:00am the car was ready and everyone piled in.

Anthony pointed the car towards I-205 north and off to the airport we headed. Joshua had been told we had to pick up our rental car, since our current car is on it’s last legs. As we turned onto airport way Anthony gave Joshua a fake trip itinerary to keep him off his guard. It was a wonderful tale of a house rental in Longbeach Washington and a cruise to Alaska to pan for gold and visit a fish factory. Joshua began reading and only popped his head up when Anthony missed the turn off and pulled into the arrivals lane. It was at that point Joshua began verbally asking what the heck was going on.

Anthony pulled the car over and clicked on his iPod, Hawaiian Roller Coaster started playing and Anthony announced that the plan might be a wee bit different then what Joshua was currently reading. Jayme and Sam then yelled surprise and Sam started taking pictures.

Jayme was the happiest person in the world at this point as he LOVES airplanes and had voiced his objection to having to take a long car ride. As soon as Anthony told Joshua and him that we would fly rather then drive he was thrilled.

We unloaded the car and did our goodbyes to Uncle Sam and then the three of us walked into the airport. We headed down to the Hawaiian Airlines check in desk and had no issues checking our bags through to our final destination – Molokai. This was the first bittersweet moment for Joshua, having just lost his Hawaiian Grandmother. Molokai was her home island. This would not be the last bitter sweet moment, her recent death haunted our trip.

Unlike our plane trip to Salt Lake city we had plenty of time to kill before our plane started to load. So we loaded up on lots of snacks, water and juices. We also had time to let Jayme run around in an empty gate and burn off some of his abundant energy.

Originally Anthony had booked our seats on row 30 (for Joshua’s 30th) which gave us a window. When Jayme came along we had to give up the window and move to the back of the plane and three center seats. Just for reference, Hawaiian airlines flies 767-300R wide bodies out of Portland. The cabin was clean and open. No seat back video and limited overhead entertainment. You can rent a $15.00 TV device, but we had two iPads, two iPods, one iPhone and one gameboy all stocked with movies, books and games. This also marked start of Jayme’s addiction to angry birds. The flight itself was about 5 1/2 hours and not a bad flight. Jayme did really well and didn’t have any issues, and in fact got a little bored.. He did like the in-flight restrooms however.

We landed in Honolulu a little bit after 1:00pm local time. As we exited the plane, we walked out of the gate area and we were met by a gentleman in a blue hawaiian shirt holding a sign that had each of our names written on it. He had a lei for each of us. Super embarrassing moment for Joshua, totally cool moment for Jayme.

After taking a bunch of photos with our new leis, we tried to figure out where to go next. We had a Island Air flight to Molokai that was flying out of the inter-island terminal. We ended up taking the wiki wiki (hawaiian for quick quick) bus to another terminal. This terminal was hot and crowded so we all took turns running to the restroom to strip off socks and undershirts and throw on shorts. We then had a quick lunch of airport pizza hut pizza (and a mixed drink for Joshua). We then walked down to the inter-island terminal which became our new home for 4 hours.

As we arrived in the inter-island terminal an early flight to Molokai was loading. The gate agent told us that we could take this one or wait the 45 mins for our scheduled flight. But, if we took this flight we would not get our luggage until later. We foolishly decided to wait, but would have done it differently had we known that the next two flights to Molokai were going to be canceled…

Our flight did not start boarding until a little after 6pm. Jayme had a really hard time dealing with this, he ended up having to lay down with his head on one of our jackets and had to work very hard to keep his body from being silly.

The flight to Molokai was a short 25 mins, we spent more time taxiing then flying. Once at the grand Molokai one gate “airport”, our luggage arrived quickly and we walked across the huge airport one lane official parking area to the Alamo car rental building. Joshua requested we upgrade to a bigger car, he had just rented a economy car for his Grandmother funeral and he did not enjoy it. So we got a Dodge Nitro and added the pre-fuel refill at $4.75 a gallon since the main gas station on the island was currently $5.75 a gallon.

We then drove to our new home for 3 nights, the Molokai Shores condominiums. We got in late, and everyone was tired and hungry. So once we had inspected our condo and dropped off our bags we headed back into town to look for some groceries and some dinner.

We stopped in one of the local grocery stores and got bread, some oranges, yogurt, honey butter and a big jug of POG. And then did the drive through at Molokai Burgers.

Back at the condo, we spread out our Molokai Burgers on our lanai table and had a nice dinner over looking the condo grounds and the ocean. Dinner turned out to be fantastic, Anthony is not a burger fan yet even he liked it. Yummy fries and everything was good and fresh. With food in our tummys, everyone started to get tired.

A quick inspection of the bedrooms discovered that the 2nd floor bedroom, up the spiral staircase had the smaller bed, so that became Jayme’s bedroom. But knowing his silly body in the mornings we put him to bed and moved a large chair to block his ability to come down the stairs without help.

Sleep came very easily after our long day and yet, morning and our new chicken friends came very quickly.

 

 

Passing of Grandmother Sorensen

It had just been a few days since our trip to Salt Lake City, when the phones started to ring. We had still not completely unpacked and we still had dirty clothes to wash from the trip. Jayme was still beaming and talking about how cool his trip to Salt Lake City was.

We had just started to get back into the home groove and were starting to get excited about our “Road Trip” vacation planned to begin in less then a week. But the phones started ringing.

It started with a voice mail from Joshua’s father saying to call to call him back. So Joshua immediately called him back and received the news and while on the phone with his father a voicemail came from Mom to call her back.

Joshua’s beloved Grandmother had passed away.

She had taken Grandpa into the hospital for one of this normal treatments, it was a regular day. While waiting for the doctor in the treatment room with Grandpa she fell over out of her chair, the spark of life gone..

No one in the family was prepared for her death. Everyone knew Grandpa’s health was poor and we all knew at Shiloh’s wedding that this might be the last time we would see him. So we all made sure to spend a little extra time with him and to have a goodbye. We even made sure Jayme had some face time with Grandpa who really enjoyed spending time with him. No one in our immediate or extended family had those thoughts about Grandma.

This was and continues to be hard on our family and something we are  still dealing with. The Sorensen family is very close and this was the loss of the Matriarch of that tight knit family.

Jayme was home from school and being baby sat by Uncle Sam when Sam got the call. Sam of course lost it and had to try to explain to a six year old with anxiety issues what had just happened and why he was crying. Joshua was at work when dad got in touch with him and called Anthony in tears. Anthony ordered him to go home at once, and then started calling Jayme’s therapist.

It took a day before we heard what the funeral arangements where to be and that next evening we decided that we didn’t want Jayme’s memories of his new family to be of a family in morning, at least not a less then a week after meeting them all for the first time.

So we decided that Anthony and Jayme would stay in Portland. So Joshua quickly paid off a credit card and bought two last minute airline tickets to Salt Lake City for Sam and himself. (Note: Working with American Express and Delta at the same time was amazingly easy.. The Conference call to get the flights arranged went smoothly and everyone was very sympathetic to our plight).

The first thing that Joshua had done after getting the airfare was speak to his Mother about a place to stay for Sam & him. She recommended that we stay with Eve, an old family friend. We quickly got this arranged and are still very grateful to her as she is really close to the family.

The next day Joshua and Sam flew back to Salt Lake to be with the family. Joshua picked up the rental car (first one ever in his name) and drove off to Grandparents house. Once there, they met up with the uncles and aunts and started to help try and put things in order. Joshua arranged to pick up James from the airport due to a midnight arrival time. James’ one request was that there be Cookie Dough Ice Cream waiting for him. Everyone at the house helped to pitch in with dinner and Josh & Sam caught up with their cousins.

The next day was the viewing and rosary. Joshua’s Mom, Carol (Family Friend) and aunts had put together a memory book full of photo’s of Grandma. Grandma’s sister (Aunty Dale) from Hawaii also flew in and Joshua was happy to see her. It had been about 13 years since he last saw her. Joshua and Sam helped out by running errands and just spent time with the family.

Saturday was the day day of the funeral. Lets just leave it at emotionally overwhelming.

Salt Lake City Trip 2011

Several months ago we got a phone call from Shiloh, second eldest Sorensen boy (Joshua being #1). He was planning his May wedding and asked Joshua to be his best man. So after committing to that trip of course, Jayme entered our lives. So this trip quickly became not only a celebration for Shiloh and Taylor but Jayme’s introduction to the Sorensen clan.

All four of us flew out at 7:00am on May 13th, a Friday morning. We got up early at 5:15am and even with all the extra time, getting 3 adults and one child to the airport on time was a chore. We made it to the airplane with time to spare, but not by much.

This was Jayme’s first airplane ride. Because of some of Jayme’s special needs and issues with sounds, there were some well founded concerns that traveling by airplane might be more then he could handle. So for the past month, not only have we been doing the normal welcome to our family stuff, we have also been prepping him for the plane ride. Plane coloring books, airplane bedtime stories, building lego airports and lego jumbo jets. We even took a dry run to the airport the week before the trip.

So when the big day came, it was all smooth sailing, with no issues. As we exited the plane, Sam and Joshua took the lead then Jayme followed by Anthony. As Jayme got to the front of the plane and we were about to walk off, the co-pilot asked if Jayme would like to see the cockpit. As soon as Jayme got the ok from Anthony, he dashed in. As Anthony walked in behind him, Jayme was ensconced in the co-pilot seat pressing all the buttons and firing off question after question to the pilot. The pilot was really good and answered all his questions, and even let Jayme pretend to fly the plane. It was incredibly rewarding to see all at work pay off with this great experience.

We found our rental car and headed to our hotel, Little America, which is a nice hotel. The room had 2 european queen beds, which are really double beds. This is normally not a big deal as we each just take a bed, but with Jayme in the mix, it meant that someone had to share. So none of us really got as good of night’s sleep as we would have liked to. The bathtub was huge and most importantly the toilet was quiet and hence not “scary” for Jayme. After exploring our hotel and Jayme had a chance to bounce on all of the beds we headed over to Shiloh and Taylor’s apartment.

The drive was a short one to the apartment, but it took a while to find the right building as someone in all their brilliance decided that H & I goes before A,B, C. As we walked up to the apartment building, Joshua’s Mother was standing outside. It was our first emotional moment as Grandma and Grandson met for the first time. Jayme instantly liked her, no shyness or issues, almost an instant acceptance that his was HIS Grandmother. We had talked a lot about her and the other family members, we think this helped to take the scary part of meeting new people away.

Once we got into the apartment we got to meet Taylor and Anthony got to meet Shiloh (the last Sorensen) for the first time. Jayme, of course, got to meet his cousin Aspen. The two of them over the course of the weekend, became instant friends. It was an interesting experience as all four of the Sorensen boys were there along with Grandma & Grandpa. Our visit was a short one, as everyone had errands to run and a wedding rehearsal to attend. So after a bit we all made our way over to the church.

After the rehearsal we all headed over to the bowling alley. Back when Joshua was asked to be best man, we had decided to throw Shiloh a bachelor party. Over time that concept had evolved in to a joint bachelor and bachelorette party. Because the rehearsal was running a bit long, Anthony and Jayme decided to head to the bowling alley ahead of everyone to make sure everything was set up. So Grandma gave Anthony directions and sent him in the opiside direction of the bowling alley. Thank goodness for the ipad! Poor Jayme and Anthony were driving around for every trying to find the place only to get a phone call from Josh, from the bowling alley asking where they where.

The party itself was a huge hit. All four Sorensen boys got time to hang out and relax. The kids had a blast bowling!

Wedding day morning we were invited to family breakfast at the Great Grandparents house. Joshua’s Dad cooked up a great breakfast and this was another great opportunity for Jayme to some more face time with his new family. Aspen and Jayme spent a long time playing together and exploring the backyard and gardens.

Once we got back to the hotel, we had a mad dash to get everyone dressed. Sam came with us to fetch his belt. Joshua looked super dapper in his rented tux. Jayme of course looked amazing… if not a little unfinished. In preparation for the trip we had bought him a new suit and new dress shoes. Well, once it came time to dress him up, we had two failures. First – we forgot his dress shoes so we defaulted to his high tops with red flames. We both felt like parental failures but were dealing with it until it was time to put his neck tie on. As we placed it around his neck and began to tighten it up, it dissolved. Total panic now set in for the dads, Jayme could of cared less. We grabbed the sewing kit from our bag and decided we would try and fix it once we got to the church.

As we arrived at the parking lot of the church, Joshua dived out of the car and ran into the church. We were not late, but we where not as early as the best man should be. Anthony sat in the car for 15 mins trying to sew Jayme’s necktie together. Got it around his neck and it looked like a birds nest. So we had to forget about the tie as well. Our new son, who we wanted to show off was not properly dressed for a wedding or for church, but yes, he was still cute.  But it mattered to us.  In the end no one else seem to notice or care, we even had people tell us how much they loved his flame high tops.. Philistines…

The wedding was very nice and so was the post wedding family reception. Jayme did great at both events and the adults had fun as well. The highlight for Jayme was of course.. Trains. Eve (the parties hostess) had a hand carved wooden train set sitting in her window, and she let Jayme take it down and play with it. Her coolness points hit the roof in Jayme’s book of cool adults for sure.

We woke Sunday morning will only one really event we had to attend. And that was the formal dinner reception late that evening. So after two days of boring adult stuff we decided to have Sunday be about Jayme. So we planned a day at the Salt Lake City zoo. We invited a large group of family members and ended up with a good sized group. Sam, Taylor, Aspen, Grandmom, Anthony, Jayme, Joshua and Nova.

We met up with everyone at Shiloh’s favorite place for breakfast, a pizza shop. The brunch was nice but the company was the best part. Jayme was so thrilled to be surrounded by HIS family.

After breakfast we drove up to Hoggle Zoo. First thing on the list was take the train, Jayme is a HUGE train freak. So learning from our mistake of waiting until the end of the visit to the Oregon Zoo train, we correctly choice to do it right away and avoid the “Can we ride the train now?” montra from our son.

It was an amazing visit. Jayme had a blast spending time with his cousin Aspen and both of them loved being the center of attention from so many family members. Sadly the visit to the zoo was cut short because everyone had to run errands before the reception. But we had an amazing time.

Since we didn’t have a clue where the reception was we headed over to (Great)Grandmom and (Great)Grandpa’s house. We changed our clothes into something a bit nicer. Before we left, Jayme started to ask questions about who all the people on the wall were. Jayme’s new Great Grandmother came over and gave him the tour of all the faces, telling him a bit about each of his new cousins and 2nd uncles and great great’s ect. It was a wonderful and moment for Jayme and her and one that would become a bitter sweet memory for all of us before the week was out.

We followed (Great)Grandmom and (Great)Grandpa to the reception which was held in a greek restaurant. The dinner was nice, Anthony had ordered the chicken, which turned out to be a mistake. Jayme had the kids meal, which also turned out to be a mistake. But Grandma saved the day by sharing with Jayme and he ended up eating most of his new Grandmother’s fish dinner.

It was a wonderful reception, but after the gifts were open and speeches and toasts made we had to start to work the room to say our goodbyes.

Right before we left, cousin Nova came over carrying Jayme and she made an announcement. Jayme had asked her to marry him, she of course having good taste had accepted. Anthony warned them both that they had to wait until Jayme was at least 18.

The drive to the airport was quick and the flight home was fast and pretty easy on everyone. Jayme feel asleep and had some ear discomfort as he woke as we descended, but was able to control himself so amazingly well.. SO not the child we had been told to expect…

 

National Train Day

 

Saturday was National train day and Jayme is choo choo crazy. Every morning we watch Chuggington, every day at school he is drawing or playing with his trains and then every night, huge wooden railroads zig zag our hallways and bedrooms.

His teacher sent us an email giving us a heads up about the event and we quickly updated our weekend plans with Jayme.  Joshua for the past week had been having some tooth pain so he had a 8:45am dentist appointment Saturday morning. He got up early and took the MAX to his appointment, then Sam left and headed to work.

After a few hours Joshua called and was ready to be pick up so Jayme and Anthony drove over and picked him. Turned out he did need some dental work and he has a mild infection in his jaw. So Joshua dropped Anthony and Jayme off at the MAX station and the he headed home  to sleep and enjoy the pain meds.

Jayme LOVES taking the MAX, the ride is never long enough. But this time the excitement of seeing new trains over powered his normal MAX excitement. At every stop Jayme’s eyes would get big and he would ask if we where downtown yet. Only to look a bit crestfallen while being told no. But, once we started to cross the steel bridge the payout happened. Choo choo steam clouds could be seen drifting up from the Union station.

We got off the MAX and started our short walk to the train station. Just as we arrived the classic stream train gave a long blast through its whistle. WOOOOOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. If Jayme could have exploded with joy, that would have been the moment. Anthony’s arm was nearly dislocated in the accelerated push to get to the trains.

We then watched the Amtrak Cascades train pull into the station and then headed inside. The train station was jam packed with muggles, so we quickly moved outside to see the trains. There were three lines of people. We got into the first line and ended up onboard a current Amtrak sleeper car. We found a sleepertteand closed our selfs off inside and started to pretend we were on a real train ride. We sat in the seat and opened up the tray table, pressed all the buttons for lights and even pulled down the top bed and Jayme climbed up and pretended to sleep.

The next line was a bit longer, and as we worked our way towards the next rail car to explore a large modern Amtrak train growled and hissed by us. Jayme is not big on loud sounds but handled the loud scary noises pretty well.

After exploring an old dining car and climbing through a big yellow caboose we came to the last line. The last line was to look into the control cab of the HUGE steam train. But as the weather started to change and sprinkles started to fall we did a quick walk by and headed to a little utility engine that was open for kids to climb into. Jayme had a lot of fun pulling the leavers and pressing the buttons.

We then did a tour of Union Station on the inside. There were lots of tables, but the one that really captured Jayme’s attention was the huge lego train set.

For lunch, the plan was to dine in our old stomping grounds on Stark street at the Roxy,where Uncle Sam works. We walked up into the pearl district and hopped on a streetcar and zoomed over to the glamor district. For those counting that was our 2nd train ride of the day, well at least as Jayme was concerned.

Once at the Roxy we found the best table (one that we could watch Sam work from) and had a great little lunch, well breakfast for lunch that is. Jayme ordered a HUGE pancake and ate every last bite of it. Anthony had a cheese omelet and toast. Jayme really liked the Roxy, and was very talkative to our waiter. He did not understand why that guy was nailed on the wall.

After lunch we said our goodbyes to Sam and our new friends and walked over to Powells books. Jayme has also developed a fondness for Berenstain bear books. We wandered down to the children’s area and found 4 new Berenstain bear books. Jayme then wanted to explore the HUGE book store so we started to look for some new model train books. We did this by walking all the way to the top of Powells and then all the way down. We then we headed back up to the travel section picked up something for our secret family road trip later this month.

The final treat for the day was taking the MAX all the way home and getting off at “Anthony’s Stop”.

Death of the Easter Bunny

Our first Easter as a family as come and gone. And WOW, what a weekend.

First we should start with the passing of the Easter bunny. This took place Friday evening shortly after our dinner. A large red tail hawk swooped down from the sky and snatched up one of the many brown rabbits that live in the briar patch by our home. He then landed and proceeded to eat his dinner… all of this was watched by us and our six year old from the comfort of our home.

Jayme had a lot of questions about what was happening. We decided not to try and hide it but let him learn about what he had already seen. The whole event turned into a very good nature lesson. He was not grossed out, scared or upset. Not quite sure if he fully understood the fate of Mr. Brer Rabbit, but he loved watching the huge Hawk and keep making hawk sounds, trying to talk with the hawk outside. After Jayme’s interest waned, Joshua then took a shovel and tossed brer rabbit back into the briar patch….. “Time to be turning around”.

Easter Saturday’s weather was amazing. After breakfast we took Jayme shopping. 2 new light jackets, 4 new pairs of jeans, 4 pairs of shorts, 4 new t-shirts, some fun light up sandals and a pair of black dress shoes for our upcoming trip to Salt Lake City for Shiloh’s wedding. We then had to pick up some presents for uncle Sam, who’s birthday was the next day on Easter.

After our shopping trip we had a quick lunch at Chipotle and then had to go home to change clothes. Oh, no one was messy – we all were too HOT in pants and winter clothes. We then headed up to Powell Butte and did the mile mountain view loop. At first Jayme was not having a very good time, he informed us that his feet were broken. This of course changed once we got to the top and we got to see the cascade range and got to pet some horses that were out for a walk on the trail. On the way home we stopped off at Lent’s park to play in the playground. The weather was just amazing, it was the first really really nice day of 2011.

Once we got home Anthony and Jayme started to make Uncle Sam’s birthday cake, which they made from scratch not from a box. This confused Jayme a bit, as cakes come from cardboard boxes and all you have to add is oil, water and eggs.

Easter morning was a lot of fun. Jayme woke up and the first thing we did was look around the house to see if the Easter bunny was in the house. The weather outside had done a 360 and the rain was pouring, way to wet for any real egg hunting. Jayme searched his room, the bathroom, the laundry room, our room, even his own room. He then started down the stairs to the main floor, a the halfway mark  he started yelling excitedly

‘The EASTER BUNNY has been here!  LOOK LOOK!”

On the dinning room table a big basket of goodies was waiting for Jayme. His Grandmother (who he is so excited to meet in May) sent him some Thomas Train toys, candy and a green frog. The Easter bunny left a big pink (Jayme’s favorite color) basket filled with Hot wheel cars, candy and an egg coloring kit.

Because the weather so do yucky, we had an indoor day. We watched a lot of Disney Movies, played Wii and had some fun lego time. We also finished making Sam’s birthday cake. Jayme picked strawberry for the filling and we make some yummy chocolate buttercream frosting.

At 4:00pm Josh drove downtown and once Sam was home we had a nice Easter/Birthday dinner at home. Anthony made a pot roast with candied sweet potatoes and fresh veggies.

Now that was all the good. There was also a lot of not so good this weekend. Jayme had a very hard time hearing our words all weekend long. Because of that, we had a heavy parenting weekend. A lot of redirection, a lot of hands on time needed with him. Easter dinner took a pretty big detour as Jayme’s table manners and lack of hearing our words came to a head.

He is not a picky eater but has started to become one, from everything we have read and been told it is to test us and test the boundaries of his new world. Dinner times consist of us both constantly reminding him not eat with his hand, not to spit food on the table, not to drink all his juice at once to not and to please finish his veggies that he loves but now “hates”.

We are using all the love and logic tricks we know &  the threat that only empty plates get desert added to them. This has been working most of the time, but Easter was the breaking point for all of us. After getting several warnings and an escalating negative behavior Jayme got dismissed from the table and sent to his room, without desert and the birthday candle lighting ceremony that come with it.

It took two walk backs, and a long conversation in his room about why he was in his room. But it only took about 20 minute for Jayme to calm down, be ready to hear our words and us his good table manners. Once back at the table, it was like we had a brand new kid. Of course for poor Sam this caused a 25 minute pause in his birthday dinner, he was pretty understanding about the whole thing. He even commented that his dad would be proud of us.

We really feel if we can get over the meal time issues with Jayme, we will have turned a big corner in the road to progress for our family. We will see if last night’s line in the sand at dinner time helps or not.

Seaside Rendezvous

Yesterday, Sunday the  17th, we took Jayme for his first visit to the beach.

To prep we had watched some You-Tube videos of the ocean. Having Jayme see where we are going before we go is really proving to be a HUGE help for us and for him.

We hit the road about 8:00am and drove down Hywy 26 to Canon Beach. Along the way we stopped at a lumberjack themed breakfast house. Jayme loved all of the old train equipment and the antique fire truck they had decorating their yard. The food was ok, nothing to write about.

We did not tell Jayme where we were going. Only that it would be a surprise for him. We parked in the Canon Beach parking lot and we walked (Jayme via piggyback on Anthony) to the beach. He was so excited and keep asking over and over where his surprise was. We turned the corner and started the approach to the beach which was obscured by a large wall. It was not until we were about 10 feet away that he saw the ocean for the first time. “IT”S THE OCEAN!!! AND A ITS HUGE SANDBOX FOR ME!!!!”

Jayme had a wonderful time digging and burying himself in the sand. We just wish it was a bit warmer so we could have stayed longer for him to play. He loves playing in the sand. He even asked if we could spend the night at the beach. We told him that we would work on a plan to do that soon.

After digging up half of Canon beach, we walked over the candy store and got some Salt Water taffy. Jayme got a small bag with at least one of every flavor.

Our next stop was down the coast a bit. Joshua brought his kites so we were looking for a beach with a bit more wind. We found a little beach that was all stones (our favorite type of beach) and spent 10 mins throwing rocks and small stones into the sea with Jayme.  Transitioning from events is pretty hard for Jayme at times so we had a small meltdown on the way back to the car. Jayme got very upset and started to cry because he did not want to leave the beach and go home. He didn’t think there was anymore to see and was very upset to have to leave.

Our next stop was an the overlook on Hywy 101 right before Manzanita. It proved to be a good stop as once again, Jayme could see where we were going (Manzanita beach).

Manzanita, proved to be very windy. So getting the kite up was a snap, in fact it was so windy all you had to do was hold it. This proved to be a bit too dull for Jayme who had found a hole with water in it, which he decided needed to be filled with sand at once! So as the adults held on to the kite Jayme played in the sand.

We then headed to our final destination Tillamook. But before we hit the factory the Dad’s needed some lunch.  So we stopped by the local subway for some simple sandwiches. First we had to DE-Sand the Jayme, who was bouncing all over the seats with happiness. We were so focused on Jayme no one noticed that as we entered restaurant the car lights where on.

After a ok lunch we all piled back into the car. Got all buckled in and started the car…. and started the car…. ahh started the….. car? The battery was dead.

So just to recap, we are at the coast, don’t have any jumper cables, we are not car guys oh and we have our new son whom the state has trusted with his care and protection. Two super dads felt like two horrible fathers in about 3 turns of a car key.

So as Anthony stayed in the car with Jayme, who was remarkably calm about the issue, Joshua headed out to find help. And help he did find. He found the ONLY gay in the village. As Jayme and Anthony keep looking for Joshua to return… what do our eye behold but Josh in a passanger seat of  a big truck with Dolce and Gabbana logo in the rear window. Within 2 minutes our car is running and our homo in shiny armor is driving back to the feed store where Joshua found him.

We drove around for 20 minutes to recharge the battery a bit and then hit the Tillamook cheese factory. 2 ice cream cones, 2 bags of squeaky cheese and some fun cheeses for the dad’s and uncle later and we are back on the road for home.

The First Family Crisis

Mid morning Jayme’s school called. There had been a small accident at school. Jayme was running in his classroom and fallen down and whacked his mouth on a table on the way down. According to his teacher, there was some bleeding, which seemed to have stopped and he was complaining about a lot of pain.

Locating parental panic circuits…. parental panic circuits engaged….. begin PANIC!!!!

We had a noon meeting with Jayme’s team scheduled for later that day at Jayme’s school so we decided to hold back the urge to drive over at once and just pick him up together after the meeting. When arrived at the school we looked into Jayme’s classroom and saw him eating… so his teeth seemed ok.

But we still took him to see the dentist that afternoon after school. He of course didn’t want to see the dentist but they took really good care of him and there were no issues.. He thought it was really cool that he could see his adult teeth coming in on the x-ray and asked how soon he would see them.  The dentist (who specializes in small children) explained everything for him and even should him what various tools were used for.  All in all a very good trip..

Our first weekend together

Our first weekend as a family was a pretty good one. We are starting to get in to a rhythm now and the post placement behavioral honeymoon seems to still be in effect.

Friday was our civil anniversary so once Anthony got home from work, we all headed out to the Old Spaghetti Factory for our anniversary dinner. (Jayme is not quite ready for a fancy dinner yet.) We had a great dinner, Jayme did had some issues with waiting. He didn’t understand why we had to wait for our food, why it was not served to him at once.

So the first half of the meal was, “Where is my food?” He also did not seem to understand why he had to wait for everyone to finish eating before the ice cream came. Second half of the meal was all about reminding us that he wanted ice cream for desert and then prompting everyone to eat faster so he could get his ice cream. Joshua has started to mildly enforce table manors.  Jayme has a long way to go, but every day is getting a bit better.

Saturday was a big day for us. We took Jayme to the Mall to go shopping for some new clothes. We Jayme moved in he only had 3 pairs of socks, so Joshua and Sam did a emergency trip without Jayme to Target to get him some socks. What they came back with should have fit, but where kindof a bit  big for him. So not only did we need to get a new wardrobe we really needed socks that fit.

First stop was Macy’s for the sale. We found that size 4T fit, but the neck holes are too tight for him, so we got several cool shirts in size 5T. 4T pants are great on length but slip right off him, so we got him a cool belt. All in all we got about 8 new shirts, two pairs of shorts, NEW SOCKS, a belt and once pair of cool cargo pants.

We also had our first post placement interaction with outside people on this trip, well… people who opening commented and asked questions. We had a older sales lady who tried to help us and even followed us into the changing room. While checking out she asked in a kinda prying tone if all these new clothes where for his birthday or…..

Joshua was very blunt (no shock there 🙂 ) and told her we had just adopted Jayme. She wasn’t judgmental or anything. But it was kinda weird having someone ask about our family.

Jayme did really well with his shopping trip so we stopped at Jamba Juice for a snack and then stopped by Barnes and Noble for a new book. The children’s section proved to be too much for him and we had some pouting. So we quickly headed out.

Sunday, we took Jayme to the park and have a good time getting muddy and playing and running around the park. After lunch Jayme and Anthony looked at kid haircut photos and tried to find one that Jayme might like. As we looked Jayme describe a Mohawk….  so Anthony smartly typed in Faux hawk and even then Jayme wanted the most pointy and extreme version. Well after both dads told him that he needed a kid hairdo not an adult one, we had a meltdown. Full fake tears and screaming. After a quick 10 count head down and a small conversation about kid things and adult things he was able to sit back down and look at some kid appropriate haircuts. After a few minutes he found one he liked. We then talked to Jayme about what would happen at the salon. Joshua got down his clippers and put the blank guard on and let Jayme hear what they sound like and would feel like on his head. It took a few minutes for him to be ok with the sounds and he told us he wanted to get his haircut now. So Anthony and Jayme jumped in the car and headed to Supercuts.

We had been told that the reason Jayme’s hair was so long and oddly shaped was because of his sensory issues and his refusal to sit long enough for a full haircut. We had been told that going to a salon would out of the question for him as he would become way to distracted. Well, all of that might still be true, but today he was amazing. No crying or fidgeting. he even was ok with the clippers. He did an amazing job and when his hair cut was over he looked like a totally new kid!

When we got back home Joshua had a surprise for Jayme. After several days of unsuccessfully trying to play child appropriate Playstation 3 games that were just to advanced for him. Joshua bought Jayme a Wii…..

Ok I know what you are all going to say, we are spoiling this child. But if you could just see his face each time his little world gets a bit better, a bit more normal, you would too.

“And the evening and the morning were the first day”

First big announcement: This is no longer our adoption blog, it is now our official family blog!

Yesterday Jayme officially moved in and it was one of the happiest days in our lives.
Joshua had taken the day off to ensure that everything was prepared and Anthony headed into work for the morning. At 12:30pm Joshua picked Anthony up and we drove out towards Jayme’s school. Josh though the pickup was at 1:00pm but it was really at 1:30pm so we had time for lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. After a great lunch we headed over to Jayme’s school where we were to met him for the hand off.  We got there about 10 minutes early so we waited in the office.

About 20 minutes later (running on Jayme time) he arrived with his therapist and his caseworker. All five us met in the hallway and Jayme stated he wanted to get into our car now and go to his new home right away. So the three of us piled in the car and the others followed with all of his stuff.

We parked outside and entered the house together through the front door. He very quickly started exploring until he found his room. At which point he started his own inventory of his room.

A few minutes later his Caseworker and Therapist arrived with his stuff and Anthony headed out to help them bring it all in. Some of this stuff had been stored in the foster parent’s garage and needed inspecting as some of it had a small hint of mold on them. He hadn’t been there long enough for them to unpack him completely.

After a short tour of the house, Jayme told his caseworker and therapist that they should leave now. So they did, pretty quickly. This came as a bit of a shock to us as  we had expected them to want to watch and supervise for a while.

As Jayme played with his new toys, Joshua and Anthony unpacked all of Jayme’s stuff.
We decided to wash and inventory his clothing first. Most of his clothing was dirty (well kid dirty) and for some reason he only had 3 pairs of very dirty socks.
So as the clothing washed, Sam and Joshua did a quick trip to Target and picked up some new underwear and socks! A much bigger clothing shopping trip will happen this weekend for sure.

We had pizza for dinner, as this was part of the plan we had made with Jayme the day before.
Dinner with Jayme was short, he quickly inhaled 2 small slices and announced he was all done and wanted to play upstairs with his toys. About 5 minutes later he came back as he remembered we were going to have cookies for dessert.
Then about 30 minutes later he was hungry again, which came as a shock to no one but him.

We then watched an episode of Chuggington (Jayme LOVES trains) then headed upstairs for bath time.
Anthony started the bathtub and soon we had a naked little boy running round getting very excited about taking a bubble bath.

Bedtime was a bit of struggle for Jayme. He was just so hyper and excited about the move and the excitement held all the way until bedtime.
At first he was very excited to get into his new Thomas the Train pajamas and rushed to climb up to the top of his new bunk bed. But once under the covers, the reality that the day was over became a bit much for him. Anthony said goodnight and gave him a hug and kiss and Josh stayed and read him two bedtime stories.

A few minutes later Jayme came out of his bedroom, afraid to be alone. So Anthony grabbed his iPad and took the bottom bunk. In all it took about 30-40 minutes and several failed attempts for Jayme to make it to sleep.

Then at 2:00am we had a little visitor crawling into our bed between us. He had a nightmare and was scared. Very neat bonding experience and shows us that he trusts us completely to meet his needs.

Meeting our son

Today was a BIG day for us. Today we met our son for the first time.

We arrived at his school and headed to the office and signed in. Since we decided we wanted to be on time… we got there about 15 minutes early. So we had to wait… Waiting is very hard when nervous and anxious..This was a very nervous and anxious 15 minute wait. But soon his therapist came, collected us and we headed to his classroom. Along the way she told us how this first meeting would  work and how it had been planned out with Jayme. We stopped by her therapy playroom and picked up some toys that our son had asked for. He really wanted to show us how well he can play drums.

We got to his classroom, his therapist asked us to wait outside while she checked to see if the room was clear of the other kids. She walked in and we heard her say, to Jayme that Joshua and Anthony were here. About 3 nano-seconds later we heard a high pitch giggle and then saw his face dart out from behind the door to see us, before it  retreated back into the safety of the classroom. We waited until we got the all clear and headed in.

Jayme was all dressed up in a waterproof apron and was playing at the water table. He was a bit playful shy to start, but with some prompting assigned us both places to sit near him while he played.

He had gifts for us. First gift was a drawing he had done for us. It was a picture of hairy dinosaurs (see the above masterpiece), the second gift was 2 sponge dinosaurs pills. They are  little pellets that devolve in water to make small sponge dinosaurs. This of course meant he had to use them in the water table to make them for us. Anthony was presented with a green sponge dino and Joshua a blue one.

After we all finished with the water table and put it all away. It was music time. All four of us moved over to a carpeted area and sat down and played some music. Jayme likes to set up several different pieces and create a makeshift mini drum kit setup. He then bangs away.. Josh wasn’t prepared for his strength and almost lost the piece he was holding. We all had instruments, two guitars (0ne with only one string), one child’s xylophone and several drums. We sang a few songs with him and even perplexed him when we asked if we could sing Frere Jaques in french (he only seemed to know the english version). He seemed shock and asked “What’s french?” The thought of “Just wait until your grandparents & uncle get ahold of you, you will find out” did cross our minds.

After music time was over we watched a little video on Joshua’s iPad. The night before we took our camera and did a short 4 minute movie touring the house. He loved it, we watched it about 3 times before our time ran out. He had lots of questions about everything he saw.

As we all headed out into the hallway and started getting ready for the goodbyes. Jayme turned and asked us if he could refer to each of us as Dad. We both said that would be ok.

It was a great first visit.

As the dust settles…

 

We are still both still in a weird state of calm shock.

We found out officially at around 3:30pm Monday. Our adoption clinician called from her cell phone, a Boston area code, which confused Joshua, he let it go to voicemail rather than answer it, which is funny as he was trying to keep the phone line open for her call!  Once Joshua called her back we were able to do a quick conference call with all three of us; our adoption clinician in her car, Joshua at home and Anthony at work.

She told us the committee loved us and it was “a slam dunk”. They were very impressed with the prep we had done for our kid and loved that we had taken the 3 day FASCETS workshop. She also told us that she had big old stack of info for us that our son’s caseworker sent over for us and she would get it to us.

Once Anthony got home from work we had dinner. Anthony had cooked up a fresh back of beans the night before. We of course didn’t know if it would be good or bad news, so we figured a yummy easy comfort food dinner would be best. Homemade bean and cheese burritos with homemade guacamole, chips and salsa….. Super yummy!  OH and one bottle of chilled champagne!  Or as Anthony described as bubbly rotten grapes (he had Sprite). Before dinner was cleaned up we figured we should tell the world so we posted our “it’s a boy” blog.

After dinner our doorbell rang, it was our first adoption clinician; she lives nearby and volunteered to deliver the big old stack of paperwork to us. She was unable to come in and celebrate as her car broke down and she had to have her family come and rescue her. So a quick congratulations and we were alone again, but this time with 7 inches of double sided paperwork.

None of the paperwork was signing rights to us or anything like that. It was just a lot more detailed information on our kid. Everything we have seen up to this point was like the “readers digest” version; this was the full long form information. Some of what we got was revisiting of what we had already seen, with the exception that none of the names were blacked out.  We read through all of his hospital birth records with all the doctors’ notes and lab tests. Read about how he came in to custody of the state and learned more of his birth families back-story. We knew most of this information, at least the summary version of it. We were very lucky to have good people representing our son who were very forthright with information about him.

Now the funniest part of the paperwork happened this morning. After about 2 hours of reading Anthony headed up to bed, intending to finish in the morning before work, Joshua of course kept going and had some sort of OCD moment. When Anthony came down stairs in the early morning hours, what did he find? But all of the new paperwork with new handmade post-it tabs ordered in to chronological order and Marked with more post-its by chapter and subject heading. It was the funniest sight ever and also made Anthony cry, but in a good way.

For the next 7 days we are in a kind of  blackout period.  7 days for us to review the information and allow us to back out if we see something new that we are uncomfortable with or learn something big that we were not told. It also gives a small group of official’s time to appeal the committee’s decision if they feel the committee has made a error (Will not happen in our case). Also, our son will also not be told about us until the 7 days have lapsed.

We sent an E-Mail to our new son’s caseworker this morning saying we had finished the paperwork and we did not see any reason to not move forward with him. What a great feeling to get back a one word response…. “YAY!!!!” We really have this great feeling that we are joining a great team of people all there for our son and us.

Thursday we are meeting that great team for the first time. We also get to see the school he is currently attending. We will also find out Thursday what the transition schedule is going to look like and get a better idea of when we will meet our son for the first time.

Overnight a literal flood of well wishes have hit both of our Facebook accounts, a ton of text messages from out of state friends and relatives, lots of personal E-Mails and more voicemail then we have had in a year. The love we are getting from everyone is staggering and overwhelming! Even more staggering is hearing how moved people have been, several mentioning being brought to tears at the news. We are so lucky to have such great people in our lives, we love you all! But of course, you all know this mean we know where to find you for babysitting duty.