Palmetto Falls Fourth

We spent the 4th of July at Palmetto Falls Waterpark on Ft. Jackson. It was cloudy so the crowds were light. Ben was just tall enough to go on all the slides and Logan was big enough for the smaller ones, so everyone was happy. Ben probably climbed the stairs to ride the bigger slides a hundred times. Logan refused to wear his puddle jumper and we had to keep a close eye on him.

You might notice that Ben has the brightest neon yellow shirt you’ve ever seen. Best purchase I’ve ever made. He was easy to spot in the ocean, at the pool, and at the waterpark, and I’m sure he’ll be wearing it to the lake here, too.

Gavin got stung by a wasp towards the end of our trip but thankfully had no reaction. In the evening we went to Jeff and Melody’s for more swimming and a BBQ with cousins.

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Just Keep Swimming

Of course it was hot in South Carolina, so we needed a place to swim. Fortunately, Emily and Lauren (formerly) Kamber were at Hunting Creek a lot, so we tagged along. It seems smaller than it did when I was a kid, but it was perfect for my crew. Sometimes Cait and family went with us, sometimes Ethan. Thankfully no injuries like last year.

Ben improved his swimming, and Logan progressed quickly. By the end of our three weeks in South Carolina, he could finally swim a short distance, raising his head to breathe. The last pictures are in the Dryden’s back yard, next door to my parents.

The butterfly picture was at Hunting Creek. A butterfly the exact color as Ben’s swim shirt followed him around for a half hour, continually landing on him. It would fly up in the trees, and then eventually circle the pool until it found Ben. Sadly, the poor creature followed Ben to the car, where it landed on the hot, black dashboard and died immediately.

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Riverbanks Zoo

When my mom had a day off work, we headed to the zoo. I rode with my dad and the kids, Cait and Tim took their car, and Mom and Ethan joined us later. We loved feeding the giraffes, goats, and lorakeets. The big kids did the ropes course and rock wall, while Logan rode the carousel over and over again. I was happy he was old enough to ride by himself so I didn’t have to as well!

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EdVenture

After our week at Fripp, we spent two weeks in Columbia and enjoyed all our usual adventures. One of the first places we headed was EdVenture, one of our favorite children’s museums. We met my cousin Kelly there with her two kids, and ended up staying the entire day. Even Megan and Gavin had fun, and when they got bored I sent them to the library, which is an actual branch of the county library within the museum. Logan had the most fun, I think. It was the longest time we had ever spent there, because no one needed a nap, and we didn’t have a membership so we couldn’t just come back the next day like we have in years past. The three big kids were old enough to go off on their own, so I just kept tabs on Logan.

One day I should make a book of all the cute EdVenture photos I have.

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Charleston

The day we left Fripp, Christopher and I were able to take Megan and Gavin to Charleston for the day. It was an especially moving time to be in the city because it was the week after the massacre at Emanuel AME Church. We were able to have some good talks with the kids about racism, hate, violence, forgiveness, and love. We walked from the Battery to the church, arriving as yet another funeral was beginning. We briefly paid our respects before heading back to our car. I love the history of Charleston and there was a feeling of peace and unity among its residents. In addition to our visit to Emanuel AME, we toured the Market, several waterfront parks, and ate some really great food.

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Fripp 2015

The last day of school (June 18) we flew to South Carolina for a reunion at Fripp. We were there with my parents, grandparents, Caitlin and her family, Olivia and her family, Allison and Eric, Ethan, Ethan’s girlfriend Catherine Lunt and her family, and Carrie Lunt’s sister and her family. We were just missing Devin and his crew, who had just moved to Philadelphia for the start of Devin’s residency. He didn’t realize when we planned the trip that he won’t be allowed to take June or July off for the next three years. Life in the real world. In spite of seriously missing Emma and Owen, we had a blast. Every day for a week we cruised around the island on golf carts, spending the morning at the beach and afternoon at the pool. Without realizing it, we avoided any shark encounters by being in the water at low tide only. We ate a ton of good food, played games, and talked until wee hours.

The house was even better this year. Olivia and Grandma and Earl had their own place, as did the Lunts, but we always spent dinner and the evenings at our house.

We are getting into the sweet spot with our kids. Ben is swimming, Logan is close, and we didn’t have to worry about naps or diapers. Both young boys loved the ocean. The “yes we are a hot mess moment” involved Logan getting tangled in a kite string while the adults were chasing by a runaway tent. In spite of some mild sunburn and itchy bug bites, Fripp is still my happy place.

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May

This has been my longest blogging break since I started in 2006. I would be remiss if I didn’t make note of the major events of this crazy month. It has been a big one. My lack of blog has been exacerbated by a new phone (my main camera), an expiration of my DropBox (picture storage), emotional upheaval (lots of personal growth here), and general busyness.

First, Christopher is leaving Applause to start his own company. It’s happening, people.

We celebrated both our birthdays. Although we did most of our celebrating in Hawaii, we did the dinner and movie thing here. We really enjoyed Tomorrowland. Movies have gotten expensive (our tickets were $17.50 each) and for the first time I think a home theater makes sense, especially as our children move towards adolescence. Christopher feels old at 37. I still feel quite young at 33.

Mother’s Day was lovely. I love that Christopher is such a great cook.

Christopher took the boys to our church’s annual Fathers and Sons campout. It was Logan’s first time and Megan and I loved our relaxing time together. We ate veggie burgers and chocolate and watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

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I was asked to review a historic hotel for Trekaroo, so Megan and I spent a Friday night downtown and Saturday shopping for new clothes, which we both needed. We found cute stuff at Forever 21 (Megan), Zara (both), and surprisingly Old Navy (me).

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Ben’s t-ball season has been in full swing. His last game was Saturday and we celebrated at Ben and Jerry’s.

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The weather is gorgeous and we’ve been outside as much as possible. Climate change is seemingly real and I hate to say we are the beneficiaries. I have heard rumors Seattle is the next Southern California (and California will become Arizona). Meanwhile my sister and her family have endured severe flooding in Texas!

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Sadly, Christopher’s grandfather passed away and he flew to California for the funeral, and was able to spend time with his entire family.

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We celebrated Memorial Day by remembering his grandpa, among others. We started the day at a local cemetery for a short program. Later we went on a hike and found a geocache.

Ben had his end-of-year kindergarten program and Logan and I enjoyed Ben’s singing and classroom tour. My favorite was Ben’s “adjective flower” where he described himself as “kind, cool, sneaky, bold, active, awesome”. Self aware kid.

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Maui

When my dad said he’d come watch my kids for a week and Christopher said he’d take me anywhere in the world, I started looking at fairly exotic places. New Zealand. Greece. Bora Bora. Christopher was even in Berlin the day before we left for Hawaii, so we thought about meeting in Paris. In the end, the ease of travelling on a five-hour nonstop flight to a gorgeous, tropical destination conveniently a US state won out. It was the easiest, most relaxing, most fun vacation ever. And I had never been to Hawaii, so I needed to check it off my list. I have 7-8 states left to go to make it to all 50.

Free first-class upgrade, check:

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We got in late and went to pick up our rental car. We were told there were no convertibles available, and we almost chose another car when Christopher spotted a few convertibles in the back and convinced the guy to let us have one.

We spent the night at a little house we found on AirBNB, Hale Kokomo. It is a 1920s plantation house, nicely update. We took a quick shower and went straight to bed. It’s a little odd staying in someone’s house, but we were only there about six hours. We set our alarm for 3:30 a.m. and left at four to drive to the top of Haleakala Crater to watch the sunrise from 10,000 feet. It was spectacular, of course.

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The drive down was pretty, too. We headed from the National Park to Pa’ia, driving under a full rainbow through the sugar fields of central Maui.

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We stopped at Mana Foods in Pa’ia, the most reasonably priced grocery store in Maui, to grab some food for our road to Hana trip. Driving a convertible made the twisty mountain road through a rainforest so pleasant. We also had an amazing guidebook to show us all the interesting sights. Most places we stopped were vacant. We completely avoided the tour buses and other crowds moving in our direction.

Our first stop was Lower Puohokamoa Falls. We followed a little hiking trail off the road to get this view.

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Ching’s Pond

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Wailua Valley State Wayside. Gorgeous view of the Ko’olau Gap. The valley used to be several thousand feet deeper before lava filled it in. Between us and the ocean was the village of Wailua.

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We crawled through this cave for a few minutes. It was a lava tube with a giant banyan tree and stream at the end.

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We drove a few miles off the road through the village of Nahiku, which is really about 10 homes and a pay phone. There is a beautiful view of the coastline at the end. It’s on government land, but the locals don’t like tourists to enjoy it.

Well played, locals. We parked the car and walked over this bridge. Once again, we were alone to enjoy the amazing sights. Christopher cracked open a coconut. Fresh coconut water is not tasty.

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We arrived in Hana and got some lunch from Braddah Hutts BBQ. We were exhausted but still had a few hours to kill before the sunset and we could go to sleep. We visited the red sand beach,

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Then we set up camp at Wai’anapanapa State Park. We pitched out tent and explored the black sand beaches, the trails, and this blowhole:

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After grabbing some pad Thai from a food truck, we went to bed. Early.

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We woke in the middle of the night. It was one a.m. and I was ready to go. “This is what jet lag feels like,” Christopher said. So we walked over to the ocean and watch the stars for a bit in the pitch black. We managed to go back to sleep until the sun was rising outside our tent. So far the trip had been 100% perfect, but if I could do it again I would’ve made sure we caught the sunrise from Waioka aka Venus Pool. Next time.

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We packed up, ate our breakfast of banana bread and apple bananas (sold for 5/$1 on unmanned fruit stands), and started the road PAST Hana, which few people drive. The first stop was Hamoa Beach. It was incredible. We body surfed for a little while before continuing on. If I go back to Maui, I’ll make sure to spend at least a whole day here.

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On the Kipahulu side of Haleakala National Park, we stopped to see ‘Ohe’O Gulch, or the Seven Sacred Pools. Sometimes you can swim in them, but with recent mountain rains they were raging. We couldn’t even walk down towards them.

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We started hiking the Pipiwai Trail, and made it to Makahiku Falls before turning around. This was the single biggest regret of my trip. I didn’t have my trusty guide book with me (seriously, I carried that thing around the whole trip except on this hike), and I didn’t realize what was ahead, including an infinity pool, bamboo forest, and 400-foot waterfall.

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But we still had lots more to see. I wanted to stop at Palapala Ho’omau Church to pay homage to Lindbergh, because I find him fascinating. He was the biggest celebrity of his time, but as a private person, he hated the attention. Eventually he moved to the remote town of Kipahulu on Maui. When he died in 1974, he requested his funeral be on a weekday, and the few attendees (like 15) dress in their work clothes.

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The road around southeast Maui was a bit more treacherous,

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and the landscape was incredible. One minute we were in rainforest, and then we turned a bend and were in a completely different microclimate.

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We continued through the dry, barren desert until another corner brought us to some wetter cattle-grazing land. We stopped at the Ranch Store for brisket before the road headed back north towards the airport. We could see south Maui (Wailea, Makenna), down below as we descended from the upcountry.

Heading back to civilization, we got a bit lost, but without the slight detour we wouldn’t have pulled over to Ho’okipa Lookout to see the windsurfers. We also spotted some sea turtles just below us.

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Eventually we made it down to west Maui. Just before we got to our resort we pulled into Safeway to check out the fresh poke bowls a friend had recommended. They looked amazing and so we got a few and enjoyed our cheap but delicious dinner while watching the boats in Lahaina Harbor.

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The next morning I put on my sneakers and walked the entire Ka’anapali boardwalk. It was fun to check out all the resorts, people watch, and talk to the vendors to figure out the best beaches for snorkeling or body boarding. We figured out the cheapest place to rent equipment was Maui Mike’s Beach House, where we rented two boogie boards, two sets of snorkel gear, two beach chairs and an umbrella. We also got some shave ice and hot dogs while we were there.

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Then we drove up the coast a little to find some waves. D.T. Fleming was flat, and so was Napili Beach, but it was gorgeous and there was an amazing tree to sit under. We enjoyed that beach for a long time.

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After Napili we got cleaned up and had dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate. This place was great because they served lu’au food from the venue next door. The kalua pork was great and I even liked the poi. We sat at the bar and drank a smoothie with fresh bananas from their farm. Our bartender was a super cute local girl who gave us a sack full of bananas to take home when we asked her if we could buy some. Funny enough, we ate there the next night, too, and she was out of bananas. Oops.

We enjoyed lu’au food AND a show because our resort hosted a lu’au on the grass lawn outside our room. I watched the fire dancer and the hula dancers and I was good.

On Thursday Christopher was eager to catch some waves so we drove down to South Maui to check out Kamaole III Beach Park. Lots of locals. I body boarded a bit but spent most of the time reading.

South Maui was a lot of fun. Kihei is a fun beach town. We got amazing fish tacos from a food truck. Found some good frozen yogurt. Plus, South Maui has some amazing resorts, and we walked the boardwalk at sunset. The Grand Wailea is especially beautiful.

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Friday we returned our beach gear, packed up, and headed around the west and northern most part of the island. We enjoyed the views and stopped at the Nakalele Blowhole (but didn’t get close!) and Julia’s Banana Bread. We ended up in Pa’ia around dinner time and ate at the Fish Market, which was a highlight. We sat next to a 69-year-old distance swimmer who spent his days with his girlfriend swimming with the dolphins, gardening, and golfing. He gave us a great big hug when we parted and it was the 50th time I wanted to move to Hawaii during our trip. After getting gelato across the street, we headed to the airport.

The kids were happy to see us but they had a great week with Poppy and Uncle Ethan. I was so thankful to them for giving us a chance to get away because we needed the break!

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Ben’s First Game Day

Ben woke up Wednesday morning and said, “I have a funny feeling in my stomach. It’s about my baseball game.” I told him, “That feeling is called Game Day!” Ben was so excited he wore his uniform to school and invited his teacher to the game (she couldn’t make it). The weather was perfect.

Ben’s team batted first, and he hit a rocket on his first swing. He ran to second without a thought. Unfortunately, the coaches made him go back to first. In fact, they only let each kid advance one base on each hit. We both thought it was lame. He just wanted to run. After running multiple bases on each hit and being sent back each time, he finally just strolled into home in slow, deliberate steps.

His first defensive position was first base. He was quick enough to get multiple kids out (and yell, “You’re out!”), but every time he did, someone said, “Oh no, they’re safe.” Ben was thoroughly confused and frustrated. He was also throwing rockets back home every time he needed to get the ball back, and they told him he was throwing too hard and made him roll the ball underhand back home.

Finally, after 20 minutes of that, right before the end of the first inning, he walked off the field and good naturedly said, “I’m done. That was a fun first game.”

I managed to convince him to take his second inning at-bat, but he would not go back into the field at the bottom of the second. It was 6:15, Logan was being awful, and we left.

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Spring Break

Just six weeks after our mid-winter break, we have spring break. You know I love to travel, and would have liked to join all the families who flew away to warmer or more exotic locations, but I think we made the best of our family time, Seattle weather and all. There was some boredom. But I’m learning to embrace it. Boredom is healthy. Boredom lets us think, and gives us time to create. There were walks around the neighborhood. A visit to a park with a huge, empty soccer field. A trip to Ballard to buy a keyboard off craigslist, followed by a stop at the Locks to see the ships. Our very first Chick-Fil-A opened Thursday, and I would like to say we visited, but after circling the insane crowds and lines of people and cars for 10 minutes or so and getting rude looks from multiple police directing traffic, I gave up and we got hot dogs and ice cream from Costco. Gavin cried. After a few days of sunshine, the rain moved in Friday, but that didn’t stop Christopher from taking the three bigs camping. Logan and I stayed warm, slept well, and I cleaned the whole house AND learned the basic operation of my new keyboard. It’s amazing what I can accomplish with 75% fewer children. I attended a funeral Saturday afternoon for a friend’s husband. Cancer sucks. 56 years old. The eulogy was funny and sweet, though, and the whole funeral was a beautiful tribute. Afterwards Christopher and I headed to Seattle to meet with a couple he knows professionally who wanted to get together. It was an interesting and fun few hours we spent with them, and they LOVE Christopher. I think we made some new friends.

First day of shorts weather. March 26!

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Ben claimed he was bored. I have since donated 1/3 of the toys in this playroom, and Ben spent a good hour playing this afternoon. Less is more!

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Double date with Holly and Jan

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Spring break antics

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Ballard Locks

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Camping with Dad

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Ben’s first game of Settlers of Catan. He has the Richins competitive spirit and the Carroll poker face. Dangerous combination!

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