Monday, March 30, 2009

Blast From the Past — My Favorite Picture

When we went to the Big Island in 2005 we snorkeled several times. We had a couple of underwater cameras that we took pictures with. They turned out about as well as underwater pictures can turn out.

One day we rented kayaks and kayaked across Kealakekua Bay to snorkel. (Pronounced Kee-a-lah-kay-ku-a.)

(thank you Katie for having the presence of mind to take pictures of the snorkel spot!)

Alisyn forgot to put sunscreen on her legs and got a bad sunburn, and Ken learned the hard way not to tow a boogie board behind his kayak. Other than that, the day was perfect. We snorkeled till we were cold, warmed up while we ate, and then snorkeled again. We took pictures of each couple with the underwater camera, and at some point had the idea that we really wanted a snorkel picture with all of us together. We picked out a snorkeler nearby and asked if he could take a picture of the six of us together. We sure picked the right guy--he was great! He dove way down, then rolled over on his back and took a picture of our group from underneath. We were amazed at his snorkel/picture taking ability. He dove again and took another picture because he wasn't sure he'd gotten everyone.

When the pictures came back I was both excited and disappointed.

The color was beautiful. The sunlight in the water was amazing. But neither picture had all 6 of us in it.

After I had wallowed in my disappointment for a while, I started thinking. I looked at the picures long enough to figure out who was who. I pulled them both into my photo editing program and started messing with them. I made one of them bigger. I made one of them lighter. I rotated and resized and cropped. And in the end, I had a picture with all 6 of us. It wasn't perfect, but it was really cool and sort of artsy.

I think this is my favorite picture of the trip. Partly because in this picture if I'm having a bad hair day or someone wasn't quite ready for the picture to be taken, you really can't tell. But also because it brings back all of the fun of the moment. The adventure of kayaking, being in the wonderful ocean looking at beautiful fish, and having fun together as friends.

This picture says it all.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blast from the Past — Sunset Rituals

Blogging today about sunset on top of Haleakala has reminded me of my trip with Cindy Lynn. She and I also went up to the top of Haleakala, watched the sunset, and then stayed long enough to look at the amazing display of stars. (While listening to Josh Groban...what a memory!)

We saw this group of people facing the direction of the setting sun. We weren't sure what they were doing, but we sure enjoyed watching them!

Later Cindy Lynn did her own sunset dance on the beach. I know I'm prejudiced, but I think she's beautiful!

Hawaii: Rainbows and Volcanoes

It was raining the morning of our second whale watch, and there was a rainbow in the sky as we drove to the harbor in Lahaina. Sometimes we could see a faint second rainbow. (Sorry about the bugs on the windshield!)

When we got to the harbor we could still see the rainbow.

In fact it soon became obvious to us that the fabled pot of gold
must be on a boat!Here's something you don't often see in the same picture — a whale tail and a rainbow!Here's a great picture from Susan's wider angle lens--she was able to get the entire rainbow.

One afternoon we drove up to the top of the volcano, Haleakala. (Go ahead and say it. Holly-ah-kah-la. You know you want to!) It was drizzling as we started up the mountain, and the whole way there was a rainbow in front of us. But as fast as we drove, we never caught up to it. Not that we drove fast...the road had far too many hairpin turns for that.

Much to our surprise, we were still able to see a rainbow of sorts at the top of the volcano.

The sun was behind us, and the crater in front of us was filled with clouds. The sunlight on the clouds made something like a rainbow. What was really cool was that we realized the sun was casting our shadows on the clouds and there was a small rainbow around our shadows.

We had lots of fun making shadow creatures on the clouds. Later we read that the ancient Hawaiians believed that if they saw their shadow on a rainbow they were seeing their soul.

After we were done having fun with our shadows, Russ & I decided to hike down into the crater a little. Ok. I decided to hike down into the crater, and Russ was kind enough to go with me. It takes several hours to hike all of the way down, so we just went a little way.

Russ said he was pretty lightheaded because of the altitude.

One of my favorite things about the top of the volcano is the bathrooms. When Cindy Lynn and I were there we just about died laughing at these signs:

We went up to the top of the volcano to watch the sun set. Gary and Susan had a romantic moment,
and Russ had an off-balance moment.

Don't worry, though. Russ & I had some romance too.

We knew that it wasn't going to be a magnificent sunset because there weren't a lot of clouds, but it was still fun to watch. When you're that close to the equator you can literally see the sun dropping over the horizon. Susan caught the best sunset picture.

Our drive back down the volcano was more of an adventure than we'd planned. It takes several hours to drive the 38 miles up to the top of Haleakala. (Although I just read something that said that the road to the Haleakala summit holds the record for climbing to the highest elevation in the shortest distance. I'm not entirely sure I wanted to know that!) When we were about 3/4 of the way up Haleakala, Russ told us that he was worried about how much gas we had. We had started the trip with 1/4 of a tank, and he assumed that would be enough. But at 3/4 of the way up the fuel gauge was showing that we had only 1/16 of a tank left, and there was no gas available on the volcano. When we started back down the volcano after the sunset, Russ's goal was to not have to use any gas on the way down. I think he only touched the accelerator two times in the 38 miles! And when we got down we still had 1/16 of a tank of gas, which we decided was a wonderful tender mercy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Noteworthy News

I spent most of my week at the hospital with Jason, who had surgery. (I may blog about that later. If I do, I am required to tell you that under no circumstances are you allowed to talk to him about his surgery. Apparently he was scarred by one of my first blog posts, which might have mentioned something about him hanging around with the teen aged girls at our ward campout....)

I love it that hospitals now will let you onto their wireless networks. But for some reason UNC's network and my e-mail provider were not compatible. Every time I tried to send an e-mail it immediately bounced back to me as undeliverable. After the 5th or 6th returned e-mail I had the bright idea of trying to send from the earthlink webmail page, and sure enough, that worked. So any e-mail that got sent this week got sent via webmail, and I spent a lot more time on the webmail site than I normally do.

In my normal life the only news that I hear/see is what's on NPR in the car and the headline of the day from the New York Times, which comes to my e-mail. Having to use earthlink's webmail changed that pattern. Every time I logged onto the webmail page, there were the top national and international headlines. Every time I logged on I would scan them to see if anything interesting was happening in the nation/world. I am happy to be able to tell you that there were a few noteworthy things this week.

First, a story of intrigue and dishwashing detergent in Spokane.

Next, an article by an author who has obviously read the recent articles on trends in Swiss hiking and thinks that there is a valuable idea there for a country in a recession.

Lastly, a really funny video clip sent by a friend. (Be warned--there is a printed profanity in the video and also a mumbled one. )

Sunday Update: Here's another entry in the strange news category--an article on mercy killing of poisonous toads in the land down under.

What's the best news story you've seen lately???

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Adventurer in Me

Do you know what? I love adventures.

I didn't always understand this about myself. Most of the time I live a pretty unexciting life. I stay home, homeschool my kids, spend as little time as possible cleaning, hope I have time for a little sewing or scrapbooking or frame making or blogging. I'm very happy to be home.

On the other hand, I've always enjoyed traveling. BT (before triplets) the 3 older kids and I used to travel a lot. We'd go visit my parents, our cousins in Atlanta, our friends in Charleston, and my sisters in Utah.

Edisto Island, SC---- Cypress Gardens near Charleston, SC (our favorite place to look for alligators from a boat)---- excitement about late spring snow in Park City, UT.

When things started getting easier with the triplets one of the first things I was determined to reclaim about my old life was the traveling with just the kids. (I should explain here. My goal in traveling without Russ was not to be able to get away from him--just to be able to travel without being limited by his available vacation days.) First we took a day trip to the beach, and it went well.

A day trip to Surf City, NC. The kids' favorite thing about day trips to the beach is that they start with a quick stop at the grocery store where I buy lots of car treats and snacks for the beach that we wouldn't normally get.

Then we went to Atlanta for several days, and we all survived that.

Playing in the Chattahoochee River with cousin Sarah and Uncle Larry.

The final part of my plan to reclaim my life was a trip to Utah. But not just any trip to Utah. My plan was that with Cindy Lynn's help, the kids and I would drive to Utah (about 2500 miles) without Russ. I figured if we could manage that then we were ready for anything, even with triplets!

Behind the Nauvoo temple right before going to see the new Nauvoo pageant.

The trip to Utah was really a fantastic experience--so much so that we decided to do it again the next year.

But I still don't think I realized how much I enjoy adventure.

And then we took our trip to Hawaii in 2005. It was then that a new facet of my personality emerged. We like to call her "Julie, the Cruise Director."

Who knew I would like planning a vacation so much--but I really did. I read all of the relevant books, spent time on an internet message board finding out what activities were worth it and which were a waste of precious vacation time. We had a great trip filled with lots of fun.

For a couple of weeks after of the trip we discussed and analyzed what things had worked well (carry protein around for Cindy) and what things we would have done differently. (carry still more protein for Cindy!) It was interesting to realize how I felt about the different parts of the trip after all of the dust had settled. Sure, there were parts I would have done differently. I had never planned a big trip like that before, and I learned a lot.

What I ended up realizing was that I loved the adventure of it all. I loved going to new places, seeing exciting things, being surprised and amazed. When we went to Hawaii in 1998 with Russ's family, my most wonderful sister in law said that she just wanted to relax and sit on the beach for the week. I knew I didn't want to sit on the beach, but I assumed that was because I had never been to Hawaii before and she'd been there 3 or 4 times already. But the recent trip to Maui was my 2nd to Maui and my 4th to Hawaii, and I still didn't want to sit on the beach much. I wanted to snorkel, and hike, and go to interesting places to see interesting things. And then I wanted to do it all again the next day.

In the next few days I'm going to blog about more of our adventures in Maui. I hope you'll enjoy reading about them as much as we enjoyed living them!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just in Case You Have Wondered...

Recently I bought a 4 lb. bag of trail mix from Costco. It was gone in a matter of hours days. And it was pretty short on the m&m's.

Russ and I started wondering if we would be better off making our own trail mix. On my next trip to the store I bought:

I very scientifically measured out the ingredients and mixed them in a bowl,

then into individual baggies.


1.5 lbs

$ 6.00


2.0 lbs

$ 3.60


3.0 lbs

$ 8.00

Mixed nuts

1.5 lbs

$ 6.00


8.0 lbs

$ 23.50

Our trail mix ended up costing us about $3.00/lb. If I remember right, the Costco trail mix was $10.99 for 4 lbs, or $2.75/lb.

Russ pointed out that if we would be a little pickier like him and only eat peanuts, we could make our own trail mix for closer to $2.50/lb. I reminded him that if he would eat half peanuts and half mixed nuts like the rest of us he would be getting all of those good for you fats. Good thing we made "his" and "ours" trail mix.

P.S. Our home made trail mix is lots tastier than the Costco stuff. Now we just have to see if it holds up well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

One of a Kind Fortunes

I'm sure you remember these — fortune tellers. I don't remember what I wrote on mine, but I sure do remember the feeling of moving the fortune teller back and forth, back and forth.

There are fortune tellers all over the house these days. Some are fancy, some are more utilitarian. The one thing they have in common is the creative bent of all of the fortunes. I'm glad these kids can't really predict my future!

You will tirn in to a pootl in one yere.

Your haws will birn dawn in half a awr.

Your hose will growe flawrs awt of it.

Win you ete you will tirn in to a ogre.

You will have nitemerse.

Win you get old you will trn into a hippy.

Win you trn 15 you will tirn into a tode.

A bottle of rootbere will spill on you in 5 secets.

p.s. I love invented spelling. LOVE it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hawaii — Snorkel Heaven

The main reason Russ & I chose Maui as our vacation destination was the snorkeling. We love to snorkel, and I knew from my trip with Cindy Lynn that Maui has fantastic snorkeling right from the shore. (Instead of having to pay for a boat trip to a snorkel location.)

If you're wondering what snorkeling is like, let me show you some pictures. Here is a turtle that we saw from a boat one day.

It's exciting to see the turtle, and the water in Hawaii is quite clear and so you can see it pretty well.

But here is what it is like to swim with the same turtle while snorkeling. (This is a postcard, because it's really hard to take good underwater pictures without better equipment than we have.)

And while this is not a picture of us, it could have been. By the end of the week we had named Russ the Turtle Whisperer. He was amazing. When we snorkeled on the Big Island Russ had snorkeled for a while near a turtle and never forgotten it. He was determined that if there were turtles to be found, we would find them, and find them we did. Sometimes we found turtles that were just sitting on the bottom and not moving, but several times we found turtles that were swimming up for air, and we swam along with them. The turtles are so ponderous on land — and amazingly graceful in the water, and swimming alongside them (never too close, of course!) is an amazing feeling.

Here is another postcard that is a good depiction of what snorkeling is like.

When you put your face under the water with the mask on it is like being in a different world. The water is so clear around Maui that you can see really far--all sorts of coral, lava formations, and of course fish. The yellow fish on the postcard are all kinds that we saw while snorkeling.

By far the star of the underworld show is the parrot fish. They are spectacular--almost neon! Every time I saw one was amazing. Here's a fun fact about parrot fish. They eat coral, and then poop sand. Seriously. (Where did you think it came from???)

The first day that we snorkeled we went near our condo, and later a couple of miles south of there. The next day we snorkeled at the southwest tip of the island in a nature preserve. The area is surrounded by the most recent lava flow on Maui (300 years old), and is pretty harsh.

It was really windy for the rest of the week, and we ended coming back to this area to snorkel every day. This was our favorite place to snorkel--it's called "Dumps." I kid you not.

On our last day of snorkeling we were sitting in the sun to warm up so that we could go in again, and a couple came up to the entry area and asked us what we'd seen that day. They told us that they snorkel at Dumps every day. Russ & I were SO JEALOUS! They said that they think Dumps has the best snorkeling on Maui (we felt very affirmed) and that a couple of weeks ago a whale came up near them while they were snorkeling. (We were again jealous.) I did notice that when we got out deep there we could really hear the whale songs while we were snorkeling. That was awesome.

On our first whale watch trip the captain had a hydrophone (an underwater microphone) that he put in so that we could hear the whale songs. Don't watch the video (it might make you sea-sick) but listen to the whale songs. Only the male humpbacks "sing," and all of the whales in a geographical area sing the same "song." Scientists don't know why they sing, but it sure is entertaining!



Now some more stuff about the area where we were snorkeling. As we were driving around, we noticed a flexible black pipe going across the lava. We finally figured out that these pipes must take the utility cables to the remote estates along here. What a place to live!!

Most of the properties have high walls around them and loads of vegetation so that passers-by can't see anything at all. When we walked by one property the gate was I took some pictures.

And here is a glimpse of someone's "back yard" as seen from a public bay.

Walk right out and snorkel--that's my idea of a back yard!

Here was another sweet setup. There's a little beach called "Secret Beach." You enter from a small opening in the stone walls.

And tucked away inside is a beautiful little beach, probably 100 yards long at the most.

It was just lovely. Fabulous sand, terrific colors, crashing waves, tide pools. This little beach had it all. And some lucky family has their own door from their yard to this paradise--this was on the far end of it.

So there you have it. All about snorkeling on Maui. Well not entirely all of it...there was the bit about how we almost drowned Susan (a novice snorkeler) by taking her to snorkel at a place where there were too many waves because of the wind...that wasn't too great. Fortunately we had the wisdom to abandon that beach and go back to Dumps, which was a roaring success. And there was the morning when an entire marine biology class from BYU-Hawaii was snorkeling and scuba diving at Dumps--we thought we should have taken that class when we were in college! And I'm sure you're all interested to know that my sinuses are much happier when I snorkel every day.

Basically all of me is happier when I snorkel every day....too bad there's not much snorkeling in Bahama...