Friday, December 31, 2010

end of year extras

I think I managed to blog about the significant events in our family this year. By "significant events", I mean those occasions where I thought about them enough to bring my camera along.

Sometimes I just didn't get enough good photos to post here, or in sitting down to write I realized that I just didn't have much to say. So there are some things we did and some photos I took that I didn't mention yet, and here are a few of those. Mainly, I just liked these particular photos from 2010 for some reason and thought that they were worthy of sharing.
A visit to a miniature train museum:

A tour of the Jelly Belly Factory. Those Ronald Reagan pictures were made entirely of beans. I considered buying one for my friend Trish, who I know would find a place of honor to display them in her home. Sadly, they weren't for sale.

A visit to a renovated small children's park and zoo while Oma and Opa were visiting.

And a surprising, extra-strange thing I noticed when looking through the photos from that day. See the woman with the baby in the background behind Kate? I know her, I've known her for years, yet for the life of me I do not think I noticed her that day and I don't think she noticed us either.

Erin talking with her girl scout leader at their end of year meeting last June:

I take a lot of pictures of the girls on rides, but I don't know why. They almost always turn out terribly, but here is a cute one from a small ride at a street fair we attended over the summer.

Kate and her buddy Jake at school, looking like they're out to make trouble for someone, and they often do.

Relaxing at Uncle Jeff's after swimming.

Kate trying to dodge my camera.

Playing with cousin Tim at home. Another great look for Allison.

And finally, making Christmas cookies with grandma and Uncle Jeff the weekend before we went to Hawaii. Always a favorite activity.

And with that I feel ready to move on to the new year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

hawaii 2.0

We spent the first week of the kids' winter break with John's entire extended family in Kona, on the big island of Hawaii. We stayed at Kona Village, the same place we visited in 2006. John's mom and dad used to visit there at least every other year. I think Dora said this was her 11th stay there. She and Jim visited the other islands too over the years, but nothing they found compared to Kona. John and Jeff and Sue have each been there a number of times as well. I suppose it's the unofficial fergy-19's Hawaiian destination.

It's an amazing place. Each couple or family stays in an individual Hale. There are some along the beaches, some back in the forest, some near the ponds on the property. There are no locks on the doors.

The twins stayed with us in one Hale,

Erin stayed with Grandma in another. The older cousins had Hales for themselves, Sue and Derik and their 3 little girls were in a large one with two rooms.

Everyone eats breakfast and lunch outside on patios adjacent to the beach with a gigantic buffet,

and dinner is outside where we have a choice of two different patio areas also adjacent to the Kona village beach. Life is pretty rough.

We arrived at lunch time on sunday the 19th and as soon as we finished eating the girls wanted to go swimming. The kids' pool area has a large shallow wading pool with a waterfall and a deeper large swimming pool next to it.

Quite a change in attitude from their last trip to the pools there:

This entire side of the big island is covered in black lava rock and that rock was used everywhere in Kona village, from the pools to the ponds to the patios. I don't think there is any other type of plentiful stone to be found.

Cousin Lucy joined the girls in the "turtle pool", the wading pool in the kids' area.

As the kids swam we ordered the first of many pina coladas and everyone was in the Hawaiian spirit.

Right outside our Hale, on our way to dinner the first evening. The weather was nicely warm but intermittently cloudy.

As we sat at dinner we felt occasional rain drops, every now and then, which went on that way for about an hour. Then suddenly it was definitely sprinkling, and then raining hard. We were ushered into a small indoor dining room to finish dinner.

I was really caught off guard by the rain. The weather forecast said mostly sunny for that day and the entire next week, I had last looked at it just a couple of hours before dinner. But 5 minutes after it started raining the forecast changed to hard rain and thunderstorms for the next 3 days. I thought our vacation would turn into a disaster. There is literally nothing to do indoors. Kona Village is set up for exclusively outdoor living. They have very little indoor spaces of any kind and what they have isn't large enough to accommodate everyone at meals. There aren't any indoor activities. The Hales are small and have no TVs, radios, etc.

Fortunately for us, the forecast for rain was about as accurate as the forecast for sun. It did rain for a couple of hours that first evening, and it lightly sprinkled again for about an hour during our luau, but other than that we enjoyed mostly sunny skies.

Kona Village's main beach area:

Always beautiful scenery as you walk along the paths weaving around and through the property.

And we had a great time catching up with the whole family and seeing the big cousins and small cousins spend time together.

Dora with all 8 granddaughters:

Kona Village's beach is well-known for the sea turtles who frequent the waters in the area and also climb up on the beach in the afternoon to rest and snooze for the night. It was never very hard to find some sleepy turtles.

Several more posts on our trip to come...

the luau

Perhaps the biggest event of the week was the big Luau on wednesday evening. Kona village hosts this Luau every week. In preparation for the big event, kids were invited to come make their own grass skirts in the morning. Erin helped Grandma make a skirt when we were here in 2006,

now we had a crew of five young cousins taking part.

I like the look on Allison's face as she studies the instructor's technique.

Skirts completed, kids were then invited to learn a hukilau hula dance. Lucy and my girls tried to learn, Lucy's younger sister Anne Marie (2) sat that part out.

Then that evening we gathered at the Luau and watched them unearth the pig that had been roasting in the ground for the past several hours.

And the kids who practiced the Hula that day got to come on stage and dance for the dinner crowd. Erin decided that the grass skirt-making and hula practice was okay, but going up on stage would be embarrassing, so she skipped it. The twins and Lucy got a kick out of the show and I tried to get a good video but this inconsiderate hula stage mom kept blocking out Kate.