Friday, May 8, 2015

From Tennessee to the Outer Banks

Our latest trip was to Knoxville to see this our newest grandson blessed by his father at church.  As you can see, he was a good baby for his special day and his Dad gave him a beautiful blessing.

Rob's family drove out for the event and these two little girls had a blast together!  Here they are sitting under a tree as it sprinkled, happy as can be.

Sunday afternoon, the guys decided to introduce our grandsons to the first Star Wars movie.  All but the youngest really liked it.

Sunday morning I tried to get my granddaughter to wear the pink smocked dress as seen above but she refused until her cousin told her she was a princess if she wore this dress, she put it on.  This is how the fashionable girls go walking with their grandfather....crowns, fairy wings and tutu skirts.

On Monday, I left Knoxville with Rob's family for a longer than expected drive to the Outer Banks.  The drive was supposed to take 8 1/2 hours according to Map Quest but it took us a little over 10 hours including three stops. We arrived in the dark and the next morning it was so beautiful.  

We stayed at a beach house a short walk to the beach. Where of course, I proceeded to make sandcastles.  This is the castle my granddaughter requested. She was so proud of the pink plastic she found and that she was able to use to make a flag for the top of her fairy castle. This castle lasted for 3 days before the high tide partially destroyed the side closest to the ocean. So on Thursday, we remade her fairy castle and made it even bigger.

This is the sand bear I built with my grandson.  He was a good helper.

And lastly, this was supposed to be a ended up looking a little prehistoric but this grandchildren liked it!

My grandson build these little sand piles and then would alternately kick the sand as if it was a soccer ball.  He has great athletic skills.

On Wednesday, we drove around and saw a few of the sites.  Like this at Kill Devil Hills:

And this on Bodie Island:  Caution, small children can't go inside this lighthouse for safety issues so we had one very disappointed 3 1/2 year old!  Luckily, I took this photo before we found out the sad news.

On Friday, Rob and Lorena took the two older children on a kayaking adventure. I hung out with their littlest one.  It was such a relaxing adventure not only did my little one fall asleep while I strolled him around but my granddaughter also feel asleep in the kayak.

Our trip to the Outer Banks was my birthday present from my son's family.  I told him it turned out to be so much fun, it could count as my mother's day gift too.   

After we drove back to the D.C. area, I even got to take my granddaughter to the Disney movie "Cinderella".  My grandson declined the offer to go see this movie because he wanted to watch soccer...seriously, that boy loves sports much to the delight of his father and grandfather.  

Memories like this with my family will live a lifetime, I sure love my family!  So grateful to be a wife, mother and grandmother! 

Happy Mother's day everyone especially my daughters & daughter-in-law!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bryce Canyon - Hiking the Hoodoos

Mike has wanted to go to Bryce Canyon for years. Wouldn't you know it, two years ago, I had our trip booked to visit this national park.  Some of you may remember that two years ago, our national government closed all the national parks...yup, that was the week we were going to go to Bryce Canyon.  So, for Mike's Christmas present this past year, I booked this trip again for the first week of April. Happily, we finally made it to this amazing national park.  We got there just as the sun was setting and the moon was full and the views of the hoodoos were amazing!

The next day, we did some serious hiking.  We hiked so much, I could hardly move that night!  Some of the hikes I loved and others, well, just one, not so much because I slipped on a muddy trail and let's just say that slip scared me!


This is how you exit this gorgeous area. We were commenting that now days, no one would allow a hole to be made through our rocks but I'm glad the hole is there and that some of the trails were groomed.  Go to Bryce Canyon, you'll be glad you did.  We both agreed that this is a place not to take young children. The drop offs on many of the hikes are pretty scary!  FYI we stayed at the Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon.  It's the newer Best Western just outside the gates of this national park and we liked it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Our Tennessee Baby

A little over five weeks ago, I flew home from taking care of these little ones while my middle daughter recouped from having our newest grandson.

We've now got 5 grandsons and 4 granddaughters and this week we learned that one more granddaughter will bless our family at the end of the summer. When my daughter told me the news, she said they were just trying to keep our stats even.  How very blessed I'm feeling as I write this update.

Today, I'll get the privilege of seeing this baby blessed in church surrounded by his father, grandfather and uncle. What a blessing the church is in my life and airlines, yes, airlines because without them, I'd have a harder time being so far away for these cute little ones.  I'm so grateful that this modern machine can fly me to all the places my loved ones live!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Food Okinawa Style

Food in Japan was really delicious.  The restaurant below is right outside Chatan and is called Four Seasons. It reminds me of Benihana Restaurant‎ in Salt Lake because they cook all your food on a hot grill right in front of your group.  This type of cooking even entertained our three year old grandson. We sampled each others entree and the chicken dish was a favorite.

Gajumaru otherwise known as The Treehouse Restaurant in Naha was also a fun place to eat. The tree shape isn't from lumber but from a lot of concrete which is what most of this island's architecture is made out of.  The views from the top floor of this restaurant are of the Naha harbor and are pretty amazing.  We each had a good lunch starting with a Japanese salad bar and all you could drink basic beverages. 

Sam's By-The-Sea has a view of The Nakagusuku Bay (1-41-15 AwaseOkinawa 904-2172Okinawa Prefecture) had really good food.  One of our favorite things was the curry soup.  This crazy skull head was given to our grandson filled with his drink from the children's menu.  I personally thought it was creepy.

One restaurant not far from Kadena my daughter and I enjoyed was really unique. You ordered your meal from a vending machine located at the entrance and then the meal was brought to your table. My husband didn't like it because he said it was soup and it was really deluxe ramen and delicious!

One word of advice before you go to Japan is to learn to eat with chop sticks.  My husband and I have never eaten with those hand tools and our meals out were quite a challenge! The only restaurant that had silverware was Sam's By-the-Sea.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Okinawa Adventure

In January, Mike and I went to Okinawa to visit our daughter's family.  It was a long, long trip but worth the visit.  

One activity that's totally free was going on the roller slides.  They were a blast but get a roller slide shovel from all all a Yen store (the Japanese version of All a Dollar).  It'll save you posterior!  My niece said they use to use hardboard to sit on which would work too.

Here are more photos from that trip.  Besides the roller slides and the grandchildren, see if you can guess where our favorite places to visit were on that island.

Butterfly Garden next to the Peace Memorial Park

Zakimi Castle Ruins

Manza Point is the rock that looks like an elephant's head.

Great rock formations:

Kayaking in the ocean.

Beautiful Sunsets

The caves like my grandson is sitting in were so tempting to explore.

Okinawa has great beaches and an amazing amount of unique sea shells and sea glass and even pottery that washes up onto their shores. 

Mike and I have been talking about our favorite five things to do on Okinawa.  Here's some of the things that Mike liked best that was different from my list:
  • Former Navy Headquarters in Naha - I thought this place was historically interesting but very dark feeling.  The tunnels themselves weren't dark but the feeling I had in them was gloomy and sad.  Over 2,500 soldiers killed themselves in these tunnels when the American forces finally captured this island during World War II.
  • Checking out the different airplanes on base.
Here's what I liked:
  • Coral dying class next to Shuri Castle (Shuri Castle was pretty amazing too!)
  • Beach combing - exploring new beaches like sea glass beach.  
  • Paddling a kayak in the ocean.  My son-in-law rented the kayak at the marina across from Kadena Air Force Base.  This is were we tried out our kayaking skills. The water was clear and blue.
  • The Ferris wheel ride right at dusk because the views were amazing and afterwards eating authentic Japanese food at the American Village.
  • Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu - this was the best aquarium I've ever been to and I couldn't even read any of the signs!  They had a great eatery next to their huge aquarium where we ate and watched three whale sharks and a lot of other fish swimming.
The plane flight and the cost associated with this visit were expensive but we are planning on going again.  I can't even imagine having to wait another two years, 5 months more to see these darling grandchildren, our daughter or her husband. Nope, if I can help it, we'll be taking those long flights again.