Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hello Christmas Break

Finals are over. Whew. I only had three exams, but they were big, ugly and challenging exams. So nice to have those out of the way.

I also wrote many major papers that were due a week or so ago.
There was lots of this going on....



I took this picture to try to capture my need for organization. Each highlight color represents a different section of the paper (left side- paper outline), highlighted parts are research findings that support that section of the paper (middle), and the little screen (right) has my actual paper being written.

I counted up all of the papers I did this quarter. By the end, without counting title pages or references, I wrote 90 pages total. (I believe it was something like 113 with title pages and references included). The good news is my professors think our class is really good at writing, twice we were told we wrote the best papers they have ever read by students! I got full points on my 20 (ended up being 23) page paper and that felt really really good.

So now one quarter is over and I am happy. I feel happy with how I did in my classes, I learned so much and have made some really fantastic friends. Starting in January I will be doing group therapy (through a program called why try) with kids in foster homes and I will be meeting clients from the local community in the school's mental health facility. After this break... I know I will be pumped for this. I can't wait to share stories on the blog.

I am already loving being on break; I've only had one day so far. I've been cleaning the apartment and it feels so refreshing. I am trying to get in the spirit of Christmas and really appreciate this time I have off. I am excited for Jon to get home tonight and I am looking forward to a lot of Christmas baking.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Studying...

is what I should be doing. But sometimes my brain can only handle so much. And sometimes my brain just has an off day.

Today is one of those days.

So I finally caved this evening and started working on some stuff I actually wanted to be doing. I figured there was no reason to keep these simple projects to myself.

Feel free to print these out, use them, share them, send them, whatever you want. I would probably print them out on cardstock or another good quality paper. Even if you print them out in black and white, they will probably turn out ok :)

Just click on the image, they are saved as JPEGs so hopefully the sizing is right.

Tis the season for giving! (If you guys have any other ideas for graphic design projects, please let me know!)


This one is a 3 inch by 5 inch card, prints out at 6in by 5in and then you can fold it in half at the gray line.


This is a 5in by 7in single note card (really recommend cardstock for this). Cut along the dashed lines.


I have been putting my graphic design to good use, making and designing some Christmas presents this year. I find it so relaxing. So, use these if you want. Or not. Whatever you would like.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What a Week...

Isn't it funny how sometimes we loose sight of what is positive in our lives? There is this term "eustress," meant to define stress that comes from things that are positive. Sometimes it is harder to be understood when you're experiencing eustress, everyone is so happy and excited for you that you feel guilty being.. well... stressed out.

Case in point: We are so happy Jon got a job. But starting a new job is stressful, especially when it is commission based. I am so happy he got the opportunity to go on a business trip to a new sales area during his first real week of being there. But I have been missing him here at home.
But hearing Jon got his first sale? Totally worth it.

School is amazing, I am so blessed to be in such an amazing program. But getting super sick during the last few weeks of class? Yuck. Having seven pages done for a paper feels amazing, but not so amazing once you realize you have to reach 20 pages until you're done.
But I know that when I am done with this quarter, I will have earned my grades.
Totally worth it.

Attitude is everything- especially when things are looking dim. I know the Lord has been looking out for Jon and I, I know we are in the right place, and goodness we are learning a lot.

Thankfully, with everything that has gone on this week, I had this stuck in my head all day...

Grateful

Its really worth a listen.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving

There is so much to be thankful for. I sort of feel like Jon and I are at a point in life where we have hope, things are getting better, but we don't even know how blessed we are. Someday, maybe 6 months from now, maybe 6 years, we are going to look back at this formative time and say to ourselves, "oh why did we worry so much? It all worked out so well, that time was the start of all our blessings."

We are very excited for Jon's new job but of course we worry about making money and what we should expect from this company. This job has endless potential, we have talked a lot about not being afraid to be successful. We have a good feeling about this gig, so we are hopeful.

Thanksgiving break was well needed and very appreciated. We have such sweet families who love us. Before we left I asked God to help me see all of the blessings we have in our lives. I think our families were all we needed to see.

We left Santa Barbara with a trunk full of food, leftovers, some grocery and gas money, and we even got a vacuum for our sweet Aunt. Our families mean so much to us, it is humbling to see how much they do for us.

It was also nice to see friends over break, enjoy the familiarity of home, see Harry Potter (epic), get some work done, and watch adorable home videos from both our families.

I am also very happy Jon got to see these guys...


We are now totally ready to get the Christmas season started. We are listening to Christmas music this morning and talking about getting some decorations out.

Now we are going to get ready for church, today we are teaching our little kids that Jesus is their Savior. Doesn't get much better than that.

God Bless.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spreading Good Cheer

I know I haven't been a regular on the blogosphere, but I wanted to be sure to spread some good news.

Jon got a full time job! Hooray!

After 6 long months of searching, penny pinching, and frustration- something came up. Despite all of the networking, interviewing, testing and applications Jon had been working on, this job seemed to come out of thin air. He applied Monday, interviewed Tuesday, had a second all-day interview on Wednesday and got offered the job that afternoon. After all of that work to get a job it was almost insulting how quickly it went ;)

Jon's job is with a company called Business Consulting Solutions. They basically maintain smaller business for bigger business. Jon is in sales, he goes around to small businesses, see if they are happy with whatever product the bigger business offers, and then sees if he can find any promotions or discounts for them. If you're going to be in sales, this is probably the best kind, there are no lies or bad deals in the system. Also the company encourages a lot of progression and promotion- that helps mix things up and keep it interesting.

It seems like Jon will really fit in with this group and he is excited to get started. We both think he will be very successful. And we are both incredibly happy that a job has come his way!

I am proud of Jon for being so diligent during these last six months. He has kept himself busy, applied for jobs out of his comfort zone, really put himself out there for networking, and gained a lot of interview skills. Jon and I have learned a lot of lessons through this process. This is the tightest money has ever been for us. We didn't even realize how lucky we were in undergrad. That life seems extravagant now.

We celebrated last night by going to BJ's and fantasizing about what it will be like to not worry about money as intensely as we do right now. These ideas included things like: "maybe we will go to a movie every once in a while," and "maybe we will not be as afraid of strange noises from our car."

Yup. We are thankful Jon got a job.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Halloween and other Crazy Things

Halloween was a treat this year- we thoroughly enjoyed going to church on Saturday for the "trunk or treat." We had a fun time seeing what the kids dressed up as and we sneaked two candies into each of our primary kid's buckets. They were shy on trunk-or-treat night but were hyped up about the experience during our class on Sunday.

I signed up to bring dessert for the dinner held after the festivities and couldn't resist making these owl-cupcakes. So cute!



Last week was incredibly busy for both Jon and I.

Jon had a job interview (yay!) and got called for another interview, which will be next week (yay!). We are praying that one of them comes through, both are exciting opportunities. Jon has also signed up to volunteer with the Ronald McDonald house by the children's hospital, and to be a volunteer at the hospital itself in the child life department. He is currently working on personal statements, the MCAT of course, some work for his dad, and his weekly tutoring (including studying SAT vocab so that he can tutor more subjects). He is definitely keeping himself busy! And he has proved himself to be a jack-of-all-trades.

Last week I had two midterms, a paper, and two quizzes to prepare for. I also had three interviews with clinical placements sites that I will start working with in January. The good news is that I feel I did well on my midterms and quizzes. More good news is that I have been offered placements at all three of the sites I am interested in. The bad (but still good) news is that I have NO idea how to choose, they are all amazing opportunities.

Jon and I are enjoying ourselves this weekend, taking it pretty easy. We are having some friends over for dinner tomorrow and are planning on making some delicious homemade pizzas (of course). We also are hoping that next week we will have some real news regarding work and placement sites. Please pray for us!

That about sums up what is going on at the Van Wickle's. Happy November!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Past Two Weeks

Here are some highlights from the last two weeks...

Two weeks ago, for my friend Jacqueline's birthday party we were going to carve pumpkins. Jon and I decided to hollow out my pumpkin the night before and have him carve one as well.

Jon's pumpkin...



I love it because it looks happy.



Here are all the girls, all of whom are from my program:



Alex and I attempted to do a pattern that had this cute owl... it proved to be kind of difficult. But we had twin pumpkins.



Jon and my pumpkin outside our door, ready for Halloween!



This past weekend Jon and I were able to go home. It was so nice to get a quick visit in with our parents, Amy, and we even got to see Rory!

I was able to attend Chelsey Neeley's (a life-long fiend) bridal shower. It was so beautifully done and I was glad I could attend- we had a good time laughing over all of the "dirt" we have on each other's families from knowing them for so long.

Jon is still being amazing by studying for the MCAT and is doubling-up by also studying chemistry in order to tutor more kids. He is also studying to tutor SAT prep (he has to re-learn all of that vocab, yuck!). He hopes this will create some more hours for him, also help him in his future test taking and make him more helpful at Merigroup.

I am still plugging away with school- we are already applying for trainee sites, which might start as early as January. That means I will start meeting with clients and attempting to do therapy. We already have midterms next week! The quarter system flies by, it is amazing how fast it is going. But I am loving what I am learning and am growing as a student.

This weekend we get to attend a devotional at one of my professor's homes. It will be about Christian counseling. We will get dinner and are able to bring our families, I am excited to attend.

We will also be going to trunk or treat at the church. I am excited to see our little primary kids all dressed up and having fun.

And then of course, Sunday is Halloween. I don't know if any kids will come to our apartment (there are definitely kids in the complex) but I hope they do!

Happy Halloween to all our families and friends!

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Week

I think it is about time this little blog gets an update. I have a hard time thinking of what to write when things are busy but nothing monumental is occurring. So... I will do my best to let you all know whats new.

I am two weeks into my grad program and am totally loving it. I think one of the greatest aspects of going into a program that requires you to be sensitive and kind is that all of your peers are sensitive and kind. I have made some fantastic friends that truly inspire and encourage me in this field.

It is, of course, a lot of work. I am trying to make myself read all the time. I also should be writing every day- in the course of a ten week quarter I will be writing a minimum of 75 pages in papers. One twenty pager, four ten pagers, and some other smaller ones in the mix. I am actually looking forward to it- I prefer papers to exams anyway. Also, almost everything I read and write is interesting to me (another huge benefit of being in a field you love).

Jon is a super-tutor at Merigroup, he loves this job so much. He has a great time explaining physics to his students and sometimes laments about how he wishes they wanted to accomplish more than just their homework, but actually learn the concepts. Nevertheless he is helping them be successful and get good grades at the same time.

He is also studying everyday for the MCAT (the exam you must take to apply to medical school). He has a detailed timeline written out for when to take his exam, when he should put in applications, etc.

Unfortunately we are still crossing our fingers for a full time job. Jon has taken the CBEST in order to qualify him to be a substitute teacher. He will get his scores in 10 days, and if he passed, then he can apply with the San Bernardino school district. We are really hoping this route works out- he would be able to work full time and still keep his tutoring job on the side.

Meanwhile Jon and I got a calling at church that we are very excited about. We are co-teachers for the 6 year old primary kids. This means we get to be their Sunday school teachers and we get to sit with them during primary, singing songs and trying to keep them reverent. We have TEN kids in our class, which feels like a lot! But I am really excited for Jon and I to do this together. The class is mostly boys so Jon will be a really great influence.

That sums up our week in the Van Wickle home. We are loving Redlands and know that we are meant to be here. We also feel incredibly blessed to be affiliated with Loma Linda- they are such a positive, Christian community. It really is an amazing school, I didn't know half of why it was so great when I chose to come here. So all in all, we are very happy. We are hopeful for the future (especially regarding a job!) and look forward to many new adventures.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In Loving Memory

Willard Richards Tate
June 24, 1925 - September 28, 2010



What a great grandpa I had, I never heard him speak an ill word or have a single moment of contention. He raised 7 fantastic children who then gave him 46 grandchildren. He has left a positive imprint on the world with his posterity and with his life. He lived the gospel through and through and was a true follower of Christ.

It is such a blessing to know that families are forever.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I have been MIA in the blogosphere. Sorry to my friends, I still love reading about you life and seeing what you have been up to. My one week intensive class for my program sucked up my time, my sleep, and my knowledge of the outside world. But it was oh-so-worth it.

My one week, 8am-4pm, case presentation class allowed me to get to know the other students in my class as well as the instructors, learn all about ethics, culture, spirituality and the field of psychology, and get information on how the next two years of my life will be. We listened to lectures in the morning, got in small groups in the afternoons and spent our evenings trying to do all our reading and assignments.

But it was more than just normal school. In our afternoon sessions we started doing faux-therapy sessions with our class mates. Sometimes the issues were real (yet benign) and other times they were our friend's problems or things we made up. We practiced being the client and being the therapist. We listened and learned to "join" with our clients. By the end of the week we were being video recorded and doing 20 minute sessions with our delightful "clients."

This was far more than I ever would have expected out of one week of class. It took me far out of my comfort zone. And yet, there is only one quarter until we will actually meet with our first real client. So I guess my comfort zone has been long forgotten. That comfort zone hasn't been seen since last Monday so I don't expect it to come back now.

I feel quite official, being registered for fall and given access to the behavioral health clinic. This is my new ID:



And of course, my first owned copy of the DSM. The book with every mental illness and diagnosis currently recognized by the American Psychological Association. Sometimes I open up this book just to see if I have heard of the disorder:



And while I have been at class, Jon has been working incessantly to find a full time job. He has so many different things going it is hard to keep track of everything he has applied for. But he is a trooper, and is thoroughly enjoying working as a tutor. He is also developing a great method for studying and prepping for the MCAT.

He has been an excellent support while I have been at class. I would come home tired and worn out and he would listen to all of the things I've learned. He will probably have earned a degree in MFT by the time I am done- with how much I tell him about everything.

Now I have one week off- my plan is to read Mockingjay, swim, get some sun, enjoy my freedom and then get to work. I am excited for this new experience to begin- I am looking forward to more school and more learning. I feel like a different person (in a good way) from only one week of instruction and I am curious to see who I am at the end of these two years. Hopefully Jon will still like me (ha ha).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010



I have a really nice mother in law who gave us this table.

I also have a really nice husband who bought me these flowers, just because.

Which comes back to my really nice mother in law who bought us a gift card to trader joes and said we should buy some flowers for our table...

which ultimately lead to my really nice husband doing exactly what his mom said.


So really, I am thankful for a really nice mother in law who raised a really nice boy.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moving Moving Moving

Here are some pictures from our recent moving adventures- I know there are some anxious family members out there who want to know how things are going. We are not totally moved in yet, but some rooms are getting settled into. We have some small additions to add here and there, but you will get the gist of things. So here you go!

Jon and Dad were fantastic movers! All of our belongings in a 10 foot truck... (minus a box or two unknowingly left at home, oops!)



This is our little kitchen [dishwasher not shown], I love it already.



This is the start of us organizing the closet. We bought 80 hangers and are still in need of more- luckily there is a lot more space for us to utilize.



One side of our living room.... please note the cute shelves Jon put up. It took a few tries and patches, and was originally very discouraging, but now we are so glad we have them up. We will be adding some color to this beige room, it looks a little bare right now.



Other side of our living room- I love this mantel and fireplace. And the temple picture looks so good up there! Once we get our missing box I will put a wedding picture or two on that mantel. (PS we made those name blocks, we are pretty proud of them)



This is our ikea desk that we bought and put together. We think it is pretty fantastic. It is currently in our bedroom and that seems to be just the spot for it. It is a nice big size (to us) and will be perfect for studying.



Well, thats all that is finished at the moment. More pictures to come later, and hopefully updates of small improvements along the way.

Thanks for taking our tour. Hope you enjoyed it!

Power of Prayer

As we've gone through this recent move one main thought has occurred to me over and over again. Mainly, that it took many small miracles to get us where we are right now. Those small miracles were direct answers to our prayers and have been tender mercies of the Lord.

Today as I pondered what I was going to write about, it felt very clear what I should share- first, as a record for myself, and second as a testament to others. The power of prayer is real. It can change, influence, and improve our lives.

Here is a small prayer journal- some things small, some big, that have occurred in the last few months, weeks and days.

Prayer #1: Please help us appreciate our time at home and make the best of it.

I was so concerned about moving home- I was afraid that we would become bad company too quickly, our families would tire of us or we would tire of them, that there would be conflict or concern where there shouldn't be. I thought that Jon and I would get lost trying to balance two loving families at the same time.

What I discovered was that being home at this point in our lives was a gift from our Heavenly Father. It came into my mind that this opportunity may never come again, especially not at the same time that Jon's brothers were home for the summer. Jon and I grew closer to each other's families, we understood each other better, and we created a strong foundation for our future relationships. My mom mentioned that she always thought I left home too early- being only 17 when I left for college. She thought this time at home made up for that loss.

Prayer = Answered

Prayer #2: Please help us find a job.

This one has been difficult and still is difficult. But Jon has found a job, and while it is part time we are so incredibly grateful for this opportunity. It has been a humbling experience and has taught us to rely more fully in God.

Prayer = Answered

Prayer #3: Please help us find a place to live.

Jon and I went apartment hunting a few weeks ago. It took all day, was incredibly hot, and it became very tiring. All of the apartments we looked at seemed to mush together and it didn't seem there was anything that was terrible, but there also wasn't anything great.

The next day Jon went to an all day employment workshop and I was going to continue apartment hunting on my own. I don't know why, but I was really nervous about this. I felt I seemed vulnerable, people wouldn't take me as seriously on my own or I wouldn't know the right questions to ask. I popped in a CD of hymns as I drove around looking- it calmed my nerves and I felt as though the Savior himself was nearby as I searched for a home for us.

Of course, we found an apartment we are very happy with. It took a lot of paper work, a lot more prayers, and we were crossing our fingers that Jon would get the job so that we could also get our apartment. It worked out perfectly, and in a timely manner.

Prayer = Answered

Prayer #4: Please help us find a way to furnish our apartment without spending all of our savings.

The answer to this prayer comes in many parts.

A. We were able to sell our furniture in Utah due to a small miracle- we planned on reusing that money for our new furniture.

B. I searched craigslist endlessly, and felt guided to not to respond to reasonable ads, and to take a certain interest in some that I may not have due to the influence of the spirit.

C. I saw an ad for some couches that looked decent, upon arrival the man selling them asked what we felt comfortable paying, I offered the price that we had gotten for our furniture in Utah. He offered us $50 less. It was a blessing.

D. We needed a bed but were not finding anything that was working out, and one of our offers fell through. The day of our move we found a bed that we could buy at the very same price that we had sold ours.

We came out even with the furniture we sold and bought.

Prayer = Answered


These things may seem small, or maybe coincidental rather than small miracles, but to us they are very very real.

We have done our best to establish our relationship on good principles and making our home a place that reflected those principles has been very important to me. We are ready for our new start and our new way of life.

Monday, August 23, 2010

ReStart

I am having such mixed feelings with this upcoming move. Sometimes I am sure it could not come soon enough, other days I wonder why I was so anxious to leave. The truth is I am sad to move further away from our families, I have genuinely enjoyed having such easy access to them. At the same time- I am ready to start something new, to progress and move forward.

When I think about it I am not sure there will ever be another time that we will be so close to our families for so long (and with no little kiddos around). It has been really special to strengthen the bonds we have with our own families as well as with each others- I feel closer to the Van Wickle's than ever and I know Jon feels the same about the Tate's. I also want to note that this was the perfect summer to be at home- with Jake and Rory in-between school as well. Jon's brothers are his best friends, no one can make him laugh like they do (including me) and I totally love seeing them all together.

So, tomorrow we make sure everything is packed up, we had our goodbyes with my family tonight and we have them tomorrow night with the VW's. And then Wednesday we move on out. New start, new home, new life. I am so incredibly glad I am doing this with my best friend. He is the one that motivated me to be better in the first place and I know I can do anything with him by my side.

Pictures and new adventures to come...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Success!

Finally we have some news so we can update the blog!

Our trip to Loma Linda proved to be successful. Jon got a job as a tutor- they have specifically requested that he work with students in AP classes and in SAT prep. His main demographic will be high school students but he may work with younger ones for things like basic math.

We are excited about this job opportunity and we think Jon will do well with this particular company. Jon wont be starting out at 40 hours a week- he has to build up his clientèle, but it is possible for him to get up to 40 hours a week. We are planning on "feeling out" the job to decide if he should get a full time job and do this on the side, or work to build up hours with this company.

Either way- we are excited!

While down in Loma Linda we were also able to go apartment hunting. And a-hunting we went. All day long. It took us a couple of days to get a feel for the area and the prices, but I am glad we took our time. I truly feel like I know the area now and can find my way to campus... which will probably be important. Also, we found a great apartment for a fair price. I am so so so excited to have our own place again and make it home.

Here are the perks of our new place:
-it is 3 miles from campus and there are bike paths all around for transportation
-it is right across the street from the behavioral health building where I will be spending much of my time
-the apartment complex borders a 550 acre park that we will have access too (yay!)
-our apartment has a large patio area where I plan on having an outdoor table and chairs
-our specific apartment is right next to a grassy area and one of the pools
-we have a dishwasher and a washer and dryer (hallelujah!)

Needless to say, we've been looking forward to this.

We have had an excellent time at home this last little while and I am not looking forward to leaving our families. It has been great to be so close to the ones we love, sharing so much of our lives together, etc. But I know new adventures await and I know we are making the right move.

We officially move into our new home on August 25th and Jon will start his job shortly thereafter.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Continuing the Job Hunt

Not much has changed since we have been home from our fantastic Hawaii trip. We are continuing the job search and have found some possible leads. Jon is working incredibly hard to find a job and I am proud of him.

He does have an interview this Monday, which is great news! It is not full time but it is a good opportunity and it seems like it would be very enjoyable. Also, interviewing is always good practice, even if the job doesn't work out.

We are getting anxious to start our new life in Loma Linda, but for the time being we are enjoying Goleta. It is so beautiful at this time of year, especially once the early-morning fog burns off.

This past weekend my mom and dad invited Jon, Amy and her friend Mike, and myself on their annual bike ride. They typically do this trip on their anniversary but decided to do it this weekend, inviting all of us. We drove to Carpinteria and rode our bikes a little over 12 miles to Ventura. The ride was nice and flat and right next to the beach. We had lunch in Ventura, wandered around the shops and even spotted some dolphins swimming near shore. Then we hopped back on our bikes and rode back to the car, totaling 25 miles total. It is probably one of my favorite things that we have done since being home.

This week we have enjoyed cooking for our families, continuing some good books and praying for more job opportunities.

Jon and I will go down to Loma Linda this Saturday or Sunday in order to attend church in the ward we plan to be in. Jon will have his interview on Monday and we will also start looking at possible places to live. We also hope to talk to people about jobs while are down there- there is something different about handing someone your resume as opposed to emailing it to them.

Anyway, wish us luck! We are looking forward to the changes that are coming. I will try to do better with my blogging :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hawaii Day 6 and 7: Kauai

Kauai was our favorite island, perhaps because we got to see so much of it. It is more rural than the other islands and is incredibly lush.

This was the only island where we did an excursion- it was a half-day full of kayaking, hiking, and swimming. Amy, Dad, Jon and I all went on the same excursion while the rest of the group headed for the beach.

To start out we kayaked up the river about one or two miles. It was leisurely and beautiful. The tour guides pointed out some movie sites along the way, and told us some history about the island.



We then "parked" our kayaks and hiked to the falls. We could swim around in this pool, climb part way up the falls and jump. The falls were incredibly powerful, it was kind of scary to be under them.



We then hiked back, to the van. It was neat because the property we were on for this section of the hike and the falls is owned by the owner of AOL. The land was private, and felt untouched (besides the trails we were hiking on)



Remember how I said Kauai was very rural? There were chickens and roosters everywhere! Apparently they had a hurricane a couple of years ago that spread them all around the island and they can't be contained. It was weird to be on the beach or driving the car and randomly hearing a rooster crow.



After we got back from our excursion everyone told us they had been to an excellent beach. Jon and I were eager to get some more beach time, so those of us who had gone on the excursion, as well as mom, headed to Poipu beach.

Sunset was so beautiful:





There was good snorkeling, we saw a sea lion lying out in the sun and even found a big sea turtle rolling around in the surf. It was totally what you imagine a Hawaiian beach to look like.

We had a ton of activity that day and knew we only had a half day on the island on the second day.

We kept it simple and enjoyed a beach there within walking distance and did some shopping around town. It was rainy but the water was warmer than the rain, so it was nice to play around.





Once we got back on the boat we enjoyed one last show and a dinner with the family. It had been a picture perfect vacation, and it was soo nice to spend so much time with my siblings and parents. I know my parents arrange vacations like this so that we can make lasting memories. They are so generous to care so much about us and provide such amazing vacations. They truly succeeded this time around- it was so much fun and I love all of them so much!

And that sums up our Hawaii vacation.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hawaii Day 5: Kona, Hawaii

Be honest, are you sick of hearing about our vacation yet?
Its OK if you are, I am getting kind of sick of writing about it. But I know I will love that I did this ten years from now. I'll try to keep it simple folks- with lots of pictures.

In Kona we finally got our beach day- Jon and I headed out extra early to be sure we had enough time to enjoy the beach.

It was a black sand beach, it was nice because it had waves far off to the right, and a breakwater that made it ideal for snorkeling to the left.



Jon rented a surf board which ended up being lightly used. We are glad we got it through, we were able to go further into the water for snorkeling. And Joe was able to use it for a little while as well.



The snorkeling at this beach was great! So many beautiful fish. I am glad we bought an underwater camera, it made for a really fun beach day.



Under water kiss.



This was the coolest fish we came across on our entire vacation...



(love you mom!)

Since this was just a beach day I didn't take a ton of photos. But it was still super fun, and well needed. We all got just enough sun to keep us crispy, but not get terrible burns.

We had to be on the boat fairly early most days, but for those of you who don't know, cruise boats are not boring. During our trip we were able to see a Polynesian dance show, a magician, a hilarious comedian, and a fantastic singing group. Different nights had different entertainers, and most of them did not disappoint. We also enjoyed a lot of hot tubbing, eating (of course), and just hanging out. I didn't take as many pictures around the boat, but it was seriously fun to hang out after our beach day was over.

Tomorrow, my favorite island from the whole trip, Kauai!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hawaii Day 4: Hilo, Hawaii

On day four we visited the volcanic side of the Big Island.

That morning, by chance, Jon and I were both semi-awake around 5:30am. We knew sunrise would be at 5:45 from the itinerary we had been receiving so we decided- why not? And went out to see the sunrise.

It was totally worth it. And totally gorgeous.



We even saw dolphins. But from the top of the boat they looked so small, like little fish. Unfortunately there are no pictures of them for that reason.



Later that day we headed to Volcanoes National Park. We saw steam vents...



A huge crater...



And took a lovely little hike, seeing gorgeous plants everywhere...



Then we went inside lava tubes, which were incredibly cool...





Amy and Dad did a lot of spelunking in this park, but the rest of us were quite happy with the amount of time and education we received on our "mini" tour of the park. By day four we were dying for more beach time- so that's what we get tomorrow!

Coming up: Kona, Hawaii.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hawaii Day 3: Maui

For our second day on Maui, Amy set us up with a great discount on a submarine tour! A big thank you to her friends from making that happen- I am totally glad we got to do it.

The place where we went to start the sub ride was actually the same city on Maui that I was in when I first went to Hawaii, the city of Lahina. It was so fun to recognize parts of the island and feel like I knew my way around town a little bit.

There is this fantastic Banyan tree in the center of town that is ideal for pictures. We had fun waiting for our time to go on the sub.



This is probably one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip. I love these boys.



The girls! What a good looking group.



After our fun at the tree we hopped on a little boat and headed to the middle of the ocean. Maui looked beautiful from the ocean.



We got to watch the sub come up with the last group that was on it. This was one of the coolest parts of the entire experience with the sub- it was so stealth-like and so fast.



We then boarded the sub, which looked pretty cool inside.





And watched the show- fishies, ship wrecks, and more fishies. We got down to about 107 feet- further than divers usually go. The tour guide had all the couples kiss and told us that would be the deepest kiss we would ever have. Corny, but I can't deny that logic.



The sub ride was a great activity to do with the whole family. And since no one had done this before it was completely novel, which was really great for our group.

We had to get back to the ship a little earlier than normal this day, so after stopping for lunch we went back to the ship and enjoyed some entertainment and relaxation.

Next: Hilo, Hawaii.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hawaii Day 2: Maui

We were in Maui on a Sunday, so we took it fairly easy. We went to church in the morning, it was so nice to worship with the local Hawaiians. I think they are used to tourists being there, and I think I recognized a few people from the cruise boat. I have to wonder how many tourists they get each week.

After church, coming back to the boat:



We decided to lie out and read for a bit until we knew what was coming next. It was so relaxing. Jon finished the second Hunger Game book, Catching Fire, and I finished book number five of Percy Jackson, completing the series (which was fantastic, by the way).



Mom, Dad, Amy, Jon and I decided to drive part of the Road to Hana. It was a beautiful drive, and we had a book with us indicating what certain beaches were and what stops were fun. We decided to make a stop at a place they said had a short hike and pretty water falls. I am so glad we ended up taking this stop, it was one of my favorite things on the trip.

Jon hiking the beautiful trail.



My favorite picture of mom and dad from the entire trip, they're so adventurous!



The vegetation, ponds and sites on this hike were seriously beautiful.



Amy and Jon walking across the path, unfortunately the same one my dad tried to jump across and fell into the water- in his church clothes. Oops! This hike was a little more intense than we initially realized.



You even had to walk knee-high in water to get to the falls at the end (go mom!)



But it ended up being totally worth it...



Lovely Amy took pictures and videos while Jon and I tried out the rope swing. I wasn't very good at it but it was fun! There were also crazy boys jumping from the top of the falls... we decided we were ok without that much adventure.



Sisters



Jon and I.



What it is like to drive the Hana Highway...
it was short lived after the falls. It started turning a lot, and making us a little car sick.



So we got out, took some pictures of the beautiful road, and turned around.



We ended the day in my parent's cabin comparing photos with the other siblings who had gone elsewhere that day.

Tomorrow, Maui part 2!