I know that it's only a matter of time before the memories of our Hawaiian adventure start to fade, and since our minds are already turning toward next summer's plans, I thought I'd better get on it!
We spent the last month of the summer on the North Shore of Oahu. Early on we had the company of our wonderful Santa Cruz friends, the Bartons, as well as our dear, dear Atlanta neighbors, Kaitlyn, Savannah, Mackenzie and Donna. Eric, Brigham, Kaitlyn and Savannah fell seamlessly back into their easy friendship, which was one of the most magical parts of our time in Atlanta, and something I've missed fiercely since we left.
The girls had learned to surf in California the week before we left, so a lot of their time was spent in the ocean together. Kaitlyn and Savannah are the best kind of fun, fearless girls. If I could keep them forever, I would.
This was our first trip to Hawaii, so we relied on the Bartons, who are veterans, to show us how it's done, which they did- with a vengeance. I don't think I could have kept up with them for much longer than a week! They introduced us to the joys of Waimeia Bay, Matsumoto's shave ice, surfing at Chun's Reef, snorkling, poi balls, and that was just the beginning. They also fed us what I've come to refer to as 'crack rice'. I've tried and failed to replicate it, which is probably a good thing for my thighs.
That first week was a whirlwind, and then all at once, everyone left, and it was just our little family. I'd be lying if said that didn't throw me into a mini-depression. Which is why the next time we do this, we want lots of visitors! I dealt with it by convincing my brother to fly out and spend a few days with us toward the end of the trip. And also by having a fit about the state of our second rental house, which Eric heroically remedied by booking a new place, back closer to where we had been at the start of our trip. He says I imprinted on the North Shore because that's where we were with all our friends, and I think he's probably right. I'm not good with change, even on vacation, apparently:).
About two weeks in, the kids were feeling a little 'over-beached', and fortunately for us, we had a local hiking expert at our disposal. Our friend Christian grew up in Hawaii, and we had met his mom, Pam, on several of her visits to Santa Cruz last year. She was kind enough to take us on some truly incredible hikes. We swung on rope swings, jumped from waterfalls, ate wild lilikoi and squeezed awapui onto our heads. Pam has an aura of calmness that envelopes everyone around her, and it was one of the highlights of our trip to get to know her and her family.
Would it be a true Aldrich vacation if some of us didn't go barefoot?
On Hawaiian statehood day, we joined Pam, Christian's brother Adam, and their friends for a bonfire on the beach.
Eric spent a half-day riding along with a cacao consultant, in furtherance of his dream to one day make and sell his own chocolate. He saw real cacao growing on trees, which was a thrill for him. The man loves chocolate.
My brother arrived and we set about dragging him around to all the fun things we'd discovered during our trip so far. It was his first time in Hawaii too, and there was a lot to show him in three days!
The kids could not get enough of him. Eleanor, whose verbal skills exploded on this trip, dubbed him 'Adocado'. The boys took him snorkling and surfing, and generally monopolized every moment they could with him.
I took him to my favorite food place in Haleiwa for an acai bowl. I'm still dreaming about those things. I think I could eat one every day. I know I could.
My days fell into a pattern of long, sweaty runs, splashing around at the beach, and afternoon trips into town with the kids while Eleanor napped and Eric worked.
The warm, humid air felt so good on my skin after a year in cool coastal California.
I thought a lot about mothers and daughters in Hawaii, after our wonderful week with Donna and her three girls, plus the Bartons and their five (!). One day I'll wake Marley and Eleanor up to go for an early-morning run with me. We'll swap clothes the way I used to do with my mom. They'll braid each other's hair and make cookies together after dinner- and clean up! I can't wait for that.
In the meantime, the boys do their best to fill in.... :)
I also thought a lot about families, and the many relationships within them. I've never made a secret of the fact that I'm not much for travelling, but I think it's a good thing to get away together every now and again. All kinds of things come to the surface when there's no-one to look at but each other, and not all of it's good, but in the end, it brings you closer together. Being in Hawaii seemed to magnify the intensities of life with four children- the highs were high and the lows low. Oh my goodness, the screaming in the car- and not all of it coming from the children! But in the end, I think it was worth it. We'll hold onto to the good parts and the bad parts will become faded memories.
Eric and I both noticed that after we got home, the kids seemed to get along together much better. That only lasted for a few weeks, but it's something.
Maybe enough to get us through winter, all the way to next summer.