Wednesday, December 24, 2008

and a partridge in a pear tree

'Twas the weekend before Christmas, when all through the house

That we decided it was time to decorate the house;

[And yes, my dear friends, I am very aware

That I used the same word to rhyme just there]

The boxes from the attic were stacked on the floor

Full of ornaments, garlands and treasures galore;

So we opened the boxes and started to scratch our heads

Thinking to ourselves, "Man...I hope Lucy doesn't rip everything to shreds"

It was no time to settle down for a long winter's nap,

In a silly little kerchief or nappy old cap,

There was so much to be done, when we heard a loud splatter,

So we sprang from the room to see what was the matter.

In the corner of the kitchen in a big heaping stash,

Was crazy Princess Lucy ravaging the trash.

So we stuck her outside to play in the snow

Just kidding, it was dirt (just rubbing it in a little for those in the North East, you know)

Then we ran back upstairs to resume the tree adorning

Because what we had begun couldn't wait till the morning.

So we hung all the ornaments with care on the tree,

Shiny and precious little relics of holidays past, there for all to see.

When, what to our wondering eyes should appear,

It was Santa with his sleigh, plus a throng of reindeer!

Just kidding. Come on! Santa doesn't fly until Christmas Eve!

What we saw was a tree decorated like you wouldn't believe!!!


More rapid than eagles came Alanna with the angel she made


(Out of paper plates and crayons in either first or second grade)

And she placed it at the very tip top of the tree

And then all we could say was "Oooh," "Ahhh", and "Eeeee!"

And then, in a twinkling, we rushed to the table

To gather the gingerbread and sweets to see if we were able

To make candied houses to leave on display

For our family and friends to see on Christmas Day.

We started by icing all the walls together,

Hoping that the end result would look a whole lot better;

With bowls of different candies and sweets of all kinds,

We were definitely having a lovely, grand time!

The icing was sticky and it was a very tempting feat

To decorate gingerbread houses from such yummy sweets!

But one by one we finished the walls and the roofs

And, in the end, the sweets? Well......we only ate a FEW. :o)

Then we let Lucy back in and patted her little round belly,

That shook (when she sniffed the candy) like a bowlful of jelly.

Then we stopped to relax and enjoy and play

Excited about what was in store for us on Christmas Day.

So we finished our gingerbread houses with care;

And, yes, Joe helped, too! (Just thought I would share).

With the tree all adorned and our ginger houses drying

There was no time for fear, or anger or crying.

It was time to relax and enjoy the time together.

And once Christmas was here (believe it or not), it would be better!

Because we would all be surrounded by family, friends and love -

The gifts sent to us from the Father above.

So during this Christmastime, no matter how near or far,

Just remember how so very special you are.

And to those who are far from us on Christmas Eve

Remember that good comes to all who believe.

And we hope all the best hopes and wishes for you

And, if you believe, they just might come true!

So with Christmas tomorrow and Santa on his sleigh

We will finish this rhyme without further delay

And just say that we hope you are all happy and aware

That we are sending you our thoughts, and love, and care.

And now we say to you all, as we turn off the lights,

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Love lazy Sunday mornings

Today we woke up around 10am, relaxed and played with Lucy for about an hour before we decided to go for a bike ride. Our route lately is to head East on Northern Ave, turn right onto 16th street (south) and ride to the intersection of Glendale Ave where we hop on the Arizona Grand Canal Pathway. Once on the canal paths we head northwest back to Northern Ave , make a U-turn (flip a bitch) and follow the canal path back up on the opposite side of the AZ Grand Canal to 16th Street, make a left, and follow it north back to Northern Ave, make another left onto Northern heading east back to Bella Vista. Here's some shots from this mornings ride. Note the lovely scenery, including the gang related graffiti.















wedding update

Doing the invitations was a very interesting process.

Turns out that I don't have very good reading comprehension because I read up on exactly how to formally address wedding invitations and even explained the process to Joe and Alanna....and then threw caution to the wind only to realize about 20 invitations into it, that I had been doing them all incorrectly. They looked fine, of course...but were incorrect, nonetheless (according to wedding invitation etiquette).

To those who receive the erroneous invites, you will probably know who you are. And I take full responsibility and admit that Joe and Alanna did everything perfectly. Enough said.

The whole process was a lot of fun, though. And it made me realize how much there still is to do!! My mom, sister and I went to meet with the florist earlier in the week, so that's underway (and I'm SO EXCITED to see what she puts together with our flower choices!!!!). But there are still some things left undone. Once Christmas comes and goes (as it always seems to do so quickly!), then we'll be getting more in gear for the preparations.




I am really looking forward to seeing all the friends and family who are able to join us for our special day. It will be so much fun!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

just checking in...

Greetings everyone!!
  1. To those affected by the crazy weather in the Northeast, you are probably not even able to read this right now because you are without power (if you don't know what I'm talking about, click here). So even though you may not even be able to see this post, just know that our thoughts are with you as you have to deal with the lack of electricity, lack of heat and lack of all other things that are a Northeastern necessity during the winter months. Seriously, for the sake of all that is holy, I pray that the power situation is resolved soon. It's just terrible that this has happened during wintertime. Keep us posted!
  2. I can't resist one more minute gone by without mentioning Twilight. Joe, Alanna and I went to see it on opening day and I wanted to talk about it right away, but wanted to wait. One reason is that I wanted to see the movie a second time, because that first time all I was noticing were the things that were different from the book. So, yes...the dork that I am...went to see it again. Joe actually went, too! I asked him many times if he wanted to see anything else other than Twilight and he just said "no"....only later did I find out that he only went to see it again to be supportive of my crazy obsession. He's so great, isn't he?? Anyway, we saw it again and I really liked it better because I could look at it more objectively. I know a lot of people gave it mixed reviews, but I liked it a lot. I think they did a really good job in selecting the actors and thought that everything they added just made the story really come alive. Yes, I may be crazy and should just stop talking about it already, but I just really enjoyed these books. And I hope that if they make a sequel, it's as well done as the first movie.
  3. My friend, Lindsay, just had baby twins this past Sunday - Boston and Teagan. I am so thankful that everything has been going well for them. Her pregnancy started off a little rocky and there were many health concerns, but all is well. They have even posted some really precious pictures of the little ones, so take a gander if you are so inclined. I am just so happy that the family is finally all together and that mom and babies are doing well. Congratulations, Lindsay and Michael!!
  4. Work is good. It's definitely been an adjustment, learning a new occupation, and I'm not 100% certain how it will all turn out. But for now, it's keeping me busy and keeping our bills paid, which is definitely something that not everyone can say right during this economic time. So, for having a job and roof over my head, I am definitely thankful. And I'm working overtime tomorrow which isn't really the first thing I think of doing on a Saturday morning, but will definitely help us out a little more, especially during the holidays!
  5. The wedding is coming along like the little engine that could. The invitations just came in, so that is our big project for the weekend. Exciting!!! As for everything else, Joe and I are probably the biggest procrastinators in the universe (what a pair!!), so it's all coming together slowly. But it will be perfect. Normally I'm easily stressed out about big things, but right now I'm just excited and happy and I'm sure that everything will come together just fine.
  6. Last, but not least, and update on Joey 3 Kidney Man! The Good News = he's healthy. It's been 2 months (time flies!!) since the transplant and all is well. He's doing fantastic and has never felt better. They are even starting to reduce and get rid of some of his prescriptions because his health keeps improving. And we got each other bikes for Christmas (see pictures here) and have been riding every day, so BOTH of us are more on the health track. The Bad News = Joe has to go back to work on Monday. (although, it's not terrible, because at least he'll be getting a full paycheck again). Plus, we'll be able to share in each other's misery again when we both get home from work every day and vent about how we wish we were independently wealthy and didn't have to go to work every day! (not holding our breath, though)
Hope all is well with everyone. Stay warm and safe this holiday season!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Apache Lake Weekend

Joe, Lucy Fur and I went camping this past weekend. We decided to go out near Canyon Lake (Tortilla Flat, to be precise), because Joe took a drive out there with his family last month when they were in town. Turns out, the campground near Tortilla Flat was nowhere near the lake. We remember reading that there was a campground on Apache Lake, so we decided to drive a little further to that site. Well, the road ended and we were stuck on a steep and winding dirt road for about 20 miles. It was fun, but looooonnng! I know I'm a wimp and it was probably just a "bumpy road" to some, but I consider it off-roading a little bit. There was one point where we thought maybe we should turn around, but right after we rounded a corner, there it was. And the sites were right on the lake. It was so beautiful. Cold enough at night that you saw your breath when you stepped away from the fire. But it was gorgeous. And Lucy even had fun swimming in the lake. The water was freezing, but she didn't seem to mind. We want to go back!! Here's a little taste of what the weekend was like. Hope you enjoy...



And here's a video of Lucy playing in the water. She LOVED it! Once we got to the beach, she just started going in on her own. Then we threw some sticks in and she went and snatched them and swam back. We had her on a lead so she couldn't go too far, but she loved it! She's our little Beagle Retriever. [oh yeah...and just ignore my annoying voice.]

video

Thursday, November 27, 2008

as promised

Things we are thankful for:











(If your picture isn't on here, that just means we didn't have one of you on our computer, but we're thankful for you, too!)

Happy Thanksgiving to All and to All a Good Night!!!

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving All !! I think it's easy to get caught up in the commercialism and hype of this holiday, but remember what's really important: FAMILY. Also, give thanks for all you have, your life could be much, much worse. Speaking for myself, I have a roof over my head, I have enough money to make ends meet, I'm healthy (now, thanks Jen), I have wonderful caring family that all would have given me a kidney if they could( you may get your chance in 10-20 years), I have a license, I have a car, I have a wonderful Fiancee who humors me even when I have off the wall ideas.

We even have some money for new toys. As early Christmas presents to each other we got new Mountain Bikes. And this weekend we are going camping. If I can emerge from my Tryptophan induced coma, I'll post pics later.

Love you all,
Joe

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Petwalk to benefit homeless animals

Hello! This year, we'll be taking part in PetSmart Charities®' PetWalk, along with thousands of other walkers, as we try to shed some light on the homeless pet problem in Arizona. Pet overpopulation and pet homelessness is a growing problem and local animal welfare groups need your help to combat these issues and help PetSmart Charities find a lifelong loving home for every pet. With much needed education and support, more dogs and cats can be adopted each year and saved from euthanasia but we need your help. Now, more than ever, you can make a crucial difference. Won't you please give to the PetSmart Charities' PetWalk as generously as possible? Together, we can make a difference for these pets!

PetSmart Charities® PetWalk
Tempe Town Lake in Tempe, AZ
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Registration begins at 1:00 pm
Walk Starts at 2:30 pm

To join our team for this event, click HERE and click on "Join My Team".

If that link doesn't bring you to our team page, go to the Petsmart Charities homepage, click on the link in the box for the PetWalk in Phoenix, Arizona. Click on "Register" then click on "Join a Team". In the "Team Name" box, type in Rose Mofford and hit "Search". It should bring up the team listing with me (Joe) as the leader. Select "View" and click on "Join My Team".

PS. If you're wondering what "Rose Mofford Small Dogs" means as our team name, Rose Mofford Sports Complex is the name of the dog park where we always bring Lucy.


Monday, November 17, 2008

it's almost here...

It's almost here. The moment you have all been waiting for.

[bear with me...I'm going to act like a teenager for a minute]

TWILIGHT OPENS IN THEATERS ON FRIDAY!!!!!



The only thing I'm concerned about is where to see the film. I'm almost certain that we will be surrounded by a sea of hormonally driven teenagers no matter where we go. It's going to be madness. There's already talk of theaters selling out, people camping out and waiting in long lines, you name it. And parking. I'm almost thinking that this weekend at movie theaters will be akin to the release of The Dark Knight - meaning, I think it may be impossible to find parking anywhere. [Don't remember what I'm referring to? Click HERE]

And I'm worried for Joe, too. Mostly because I know he doesn't wholeheartedly want to go. And also because I know that, once we are waiting for the film to start surrounded by loud, obnoxious (like we all once were) and screaming kids, he will look at me and probably wonder to himself, "who is this crazy person who made me come to this movie?" But he said he definitely wants to go. I know he is faking his enthusiasm, but I love how supportive he is of my mad indulgence in this crazy teen "thing". God, give him strength. And serenity.

Actually, I may need some, too. :o)

Can it be Friday yet???

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

where everybody knows your name...

FIRST...

I have finally started my new job after 6 weeks of training. The first 3 weeks of training were hard. It was like sitting in a classroom all over again, learning and memorizing things from a book all day long. Once I started the "on the job training" 3 weeks later, I felt as if I had to learn one more thing, my brain might literally explode. Well, turns out that I don't give my brain enough credit (sometimes) because I DID have to learn more and more and more and my brain didn't actually explode. Now that the on the job training is over, I'm working on the floor now and it's going okay so far. It's very exhausting, though - I come home really beat at the end of each day. And they don't have my phone working yet (which is kind of hard for a job that requires tons of phone conversations), but overall, it's okay so far. I still have a lot to get used to, but I'll deal. It's just a job, right? Plus...the people are nice and, in an economy where job security is falling by the day, it's nice to have a job that is fairly secure for now.

Now...on to something even MORE exciting....

Within the past 7 months or so, I have taken a stab at learning web design. My skills in web design and html coding is pretty fundamental but, with a little patience and time, I was able to teach myself the basics and have created a couple of rough draft websites. And with my design work for The Hampshire House and Cheers under my belt already, I was approached by a friend and colleague with the company to try to redesign the Cheers website.

And guess what??? It's FINALLY UP AND RUNNING!!!!! Take a look......and be nice to me. Tell me it looks really really awesome even if it doesn't!!!

Check it out here:
Cheers Boston Website

Anyway...I bet ya didn't know I was this cool, did ya?

Monday, October 27, 2008

OMG!!

Twilight like totally premieres in 24 days, man!!!

i looovvve yoooooooooou!

I know this post won't be very substantial, but Alanna passed this along to me and I just HAD to share it...

Friday, October 17, 2008

an update for all y'all

As you can see, posting is becoming few and far between...for which I apologize. Most of that is due to the fact that Joe and Jen had their big surgeries last week as well as the fact that I have started a new job.

All is well so far since the surgery, so that's really good. Joe is healing well and is even able to walk the dog with me now! Not that I don't mind doing it like I usually do, but it's fun to take family walks together. He's still not able to lift anything, really...but don't worry, Joey....you'll be able to help clean again in NO time!! he he he And as for Jen, she and Chris left on Wednesday and, as far as we know, things are healing okay for her. Like I said before, the Mayo Clinic is just really awesome and everything went so smoothly. In fact, I'm going to see if there's an online comment form or something so that I can go say nice things about them.

And as for work, I pretty much feel like this every day...


...so that's another reason postings are getting further apart. I'll try to get updates posted as often as I can, but just for the interim, while I get used to getting up really early and working all day, I pretty much just want to curl up in a ball and veg out whenever I get home so blogging is usually last on my list of things to do each day. Especially since I never get to just veg out when I get home.

What do I do, may you ask?

Well, usually I have to make dinner (although Joe has done the past couple nights....SO GOOD!!!), then I walk the dog for about 2 miles since she doesn't get exercise during the day, and that is usually followed by a trip to the dog park (since 2 miles hardly tires out a little beagle) and, by the time I get a chance to sit down and down and do nothing it's already time for bed. Craziness, I tell you.

And, on top of all of that, the new job is a little crazy. All the people are really really REALLY awesome...but I'm not quite sure if it's a good fit for me yet. So that uncertainty is really weighing down on me as well.

And, yes, to answer the question in your head, I AM just complaining right now and will definitely get over it especially since, in the grand scheme of things, life could be so much MORE crazy than it is. But sometimes it's just nice to vent, eh?

But everything else is just awesome! Lucy is getting so much smarter (and sometimes dumber) every day. Having Jen and Chris here, besides the life-giving nature of the visit, was really really nice. And Ma McGowan is still here and she's helping keep everything together and epsecially helping Joe while I'm at work. We've got health, life, love, family, friends, food on the table and roofs over our heads. PLUS......::drum roll please::......the new Cheers website will be up soon, so I will let you know as soon as it's up and running so you can take a look at my first big website design job. YAY!!!!!! So all in all, the fall has gotten off to a great start.

I'll definitely have Joe post next time so that he can tell you his side of the story but, until then, thanks again Jen (and Chris), thanks for everything Ma McGowan, and I hope everyone has a really nice weekend! I know I will...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

the wait is over



Doesn't seem like there's a new kidney in there, does it?? Well....there is! See...



UPDATE:
  • The surgery on Tuesday went smoothly and took WAY less time than they originally estimated.
  • They let Jen go the next day (which, by our consensus, we think they could have at least kept her there longer).
  • Joe was up and starting to get around a little the next day, too. With pain, of course, but he still got up to walk a little.
  • Joe's surgeon (a nice little Indian man) was just awesome and said that Joe was doing so well with everything.
  • They released Joe on Friday.
Now, Joe and Jen are home and healthy. Still in pain, but all is well. And some good news = no more dialysis!!!

All in all, I am so very much impressed by the Mayo Clinic. They were just very informative with everything, always there for any need whatsoever, and they were just very on top of things. Since I just started training for a new job (that is pretty inflexible with missing work for a kidney transplant), so it was really hard to be gone for 10+ hours each day while Joe was in the hospital. But everyone is home now and on the road to recovery. It's hard to believe it has already come and gone. Thanks to EVERYONE for all of your prayers and support for Jen and Joe. It has really paid off!!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm home

I don't feel like typing a whole lot right now, but I am home. Everything went excellent, my new kidney is working very well. I'm still very sore and I'm not supposed to lift more than 5 pounds for like a month. More updates and maybe a pic of my incision later. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers people !

Sunday, October 5, 2008

1 day, 9 hrs, 1 min, 30 scds, 29 scds, 28 scds...

FIRSTLY:

Here's a little PR for my friend, Lindsay.

Besides being an amazing woman (who has the most wonderful friends and family!!!)...she is having twins this December. Identical twins. And she's also (fairly) newly married! What an exciting year, huh??

Her tale has been rather taxing and there have definitely been some scary moments during her pregnancy, but all is well for her, she is looking beautiful as ever, and she has an awesome support network and a husband who will, without a doubt, be the best father to these special little girls! Thank you, Lindsay, for letting me be part of your journey to parenthood!



LASTLY (but definitely NOT leastly):

This is Joe before his transplant (he is reading some mail in this picture because I interrupted him to snap this photo).

If I had a picture of Jen right now, I'd put that up, too...but I don't. I'll take some pictures over the next week, though, and will keep you all posted on everything that's going on.

I can't believe how quickly time has passed. And, while I know that this is major surgery for both Joe and his sister, I know that the outcome will be wondrous.

There is this booklet that Joe picked up once when he was at the Mayo Clinic for testing and it tells a bunch of different stories of people who have had transplants of all kinds - even the story about an artificial heart transplant that lasted for 13 days before the woman was able to get an actual heart transplanted in her. AMAZING!! These folks at the Mayo Clinic are first class and I'm just so happy that, of all places, Joe and Jen are in their hands.

Once again, I'll keep everyone posted as soon as I have details (and as soon as I'm able to actually sit down at the computer). So until then...hats off to Joe, Jen and the doctors. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

nails

I've been doing SO WELL since last December and for the past 10+ months have had the best and longest nails I've ever had in my life. For those who don't know: I've been a nail biter since in the womb. AWFUL habit. I know, I know. But for the past (almost) year, I've been having awesome and fairly healthy looking nails (see image here, from my post about our engagement).

But I just bit about half of them and now I'm sad and angry with myself.

Can this week just be over already? Oh wait...it hasn't even started yet!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

laparoscopic donor nephrectomy and renal transplant

Yeah. You heard me right. Laparoscopic Donor Nephrectomy and Renal Transplant. Now say it 10 times fast!

Joe and Jen's surgery is taking place next Tuesday...can you believe it? That's less than 5 days from now. Tuesday! I can't believe how quickly time has passed. For those who will be cheering on Joe, Jen and the doctors from afar, here's a sneak peek at what will be happening...

JEN

Laparoscopic
Donor Nephrectomy
  • This operation is performed by using a "scope" to peer into the abdomen through a small incision. This approach makes it possible to locate, secure, and remove the kidney through a surprisingly small wound. This "minimally invasive" surgery allows for a faster recovery than with the traditional operation. Donors are generally able to leave the hospital one or two days after the surgery and can often resume work within two to three weeks.
  • source: Mayo Clinic
On surgery day, once the kidney is safely removed from Jen, Joe gets wheeled into his OR for the next part of the transplant...

JOE

Renal Transplant:
  • During kidney transplant surgery, an incision is made in the transplant recipient's abdomen, usually on the lower right side near the "hip bone." The donor kidney is placed near the bladder on the right side of the recipient's pelvis. Surgeons usually attach the donor ureter to the recipient's bladder, allowing urine from the new kidney to flow normally. Surgeons restore blood supply to the donor kidney by connecting it to blood vessels supplying the recipient's legs.
  • The patient's own kidneys are usually not removed. In some cases, such as when the kidneys have been a lingering cause of high blood pressure, one or both kidneys are removed during the transplant or at a later operation.
  • Transplant typically takes about three hours. The recipient usually gets out of bed and takes a short walk the day after surgery. Liquids can be sipped the day of surgery, and a normal diet is usually resumed within two to three days. During recovery, most patients gradually experience less discomfort in the incision, a greater ability to move around, and return to normal activities. The donor kidney should begin to function immediately, and patients typically remain in the hospital for three to five days.
  • source: Mayo Clinic
PICTORIAL DISPLAY

From Jen to Joe.



Where Joe's battle wound will be.



How Joe will get hooked up.



When all is said and done...

seriously...don't watch this

Monday, September 22, 2008

being back on the mainland = bittersweet

Well, everyone...you can rest peacefully now because we are back home, safe and sound, from our vacation in Hawaii. Anyway, it would be near impossible and just ridiculous to load all of our 600+ photos into one blog, so I made some collages from our different island experiences. Enjoy!


OAHU

We flew into Honolulu last Friday (9/12) and stayed in a hotel on Waikiki Beach there. Honolulu was crazy and, if I may be so bold to say, the traffic there rivals that of Boston on it's WORST day. While Joe was at dialysis on Friday night, my family and I ventured to the Punchbowl (which is a national cemetery where a lot of veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam were buried). We were even fortunate enough to find the grave of my mother's uncle (my grandma's brother) who died in WWII and was buried there. It was a beautiful way to start our vacation. The trees were amazing and it was so green there. Saturday morning we had breakfast on the beach and then we hiked the Diamondhead Crater Trail, which is an extinct volcano that offers amazing views of the Oahu coast. We had enough time to relax and explore a little of the Honolulu area before boarding our ship, the Pride of America, Saturday night.

Punchbowl National Cemetery

Breakfast on the Beach, Waikiki-style

Diamondhead Crater Hike

The Pride of America


MAUI

On Sunday morning, we arrived in Maui - which was the first destination of the cruise and, after the craziness of Honolulu, became the favorite island of pretty much ALL of us. We drove around the coast a little and found Hookipa Beach, which is world famous for surfing, windsurfing, etc. It was so gorgeous and BLUE there! We even saw a monk seal taking a nap on the rocks. After Hookipa, we went back to the ship to get ready for the night time entertainment - a REAL Hawaiian luau!! We drove out to Lahaina and saw the United States's largest banyan tree before heading over to the Old Lahaina Luau. The luau was one of the greatest nights to date. On Monday morning, Joe had to head over to dialysis in Maui and, afterwards, we spent some more time at the beach before heading back to the ship to sail on to our next destination.

Hookipa Beach, Hana Coast

Old Lahaina Luau

Morning at the Beach, Maui


HAWAII

We anchored in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii, on Tuesday morning and had a big day in store for us there. We took a wonderful tour of some very "Hawaiian" things. We got to tour Rainbow Falls (which earlier in the year flows faster), the Mauna Loa (macadamia) Nut Factory, and Volcano National Park where we saw Kilauea Crater (which has been erupting since 1983), Devastation Trail and even walked through an actual lava tube! On our way out of Hilo on the boat that night, we got to see (from a distance, of course) actual lava flowing into the Pacific Ocean. My snapshot of the lava flow isn't the greatest since we had to zoom way in, but just imagine orangy-hotness oozing from the earth and splattering hot lava into the ocean, creating an enormous cloud of sulphuric smoke. We even used my dad's binoculars to take a closer look and actually saw the lava splashing up into the air. Words can not describe how cool it was! The next morning we arrived in Kailua-Kona (the other side of the Big Island). My family went on a snorkel and raft excursion while Joe and I spent the day walking around the little town and snorkeling on Turtle Beach. The only turtle we saw was out of the water on a rock, but we also saw some really amazing fish.

Rainbow Falls/Macadamia Nut Factory/Orchid Gardens, near Hilo

Hawaiian Volcanic Action

Turtle Beach, Kona


KAUAI

Our final island on the cruise was Kauai. On Thursday, we took a drive out to Poipu Beach, where the water was blue and a monk seal swam within a couple feet of my mother. So freakin' cool!! Joe even thought I was joking when I said, "Hey! There's a seal!" After Poipu, my family went on a zipline excursion while Joe and I hung out at Kalapaki Beach before his dialysis that evening. The next day, we spent our finaly beach hours at Kalapaki Beach again, before sailing out of Kauai and back to Oahu to disembark. On the cruise out of Kauai, though, the captain steered the boat along the breathtaking NaPali Coast before sailing back to Honolulu - an awesome way to end our time at sea.

Poipu Beach, Kauai

Kalapaki Beach + Cruising by the NaPali Coast, Kauai


Once I upload all of our photos to a gallery, I'll let you know the link so that you can see all of the fun we had on our trip. Joe and I were half-heartedly discussing "accidentally" missing the last sail out of Kauai and just staying there. But we had to get home to our little Lucy (who we missed so FREAKIN MUCH!!!) and, plus, housing prices are pretty astronomical there. So we thought better and decided to come home. Still thinking about going back someday but, for now, responsibility and Joe's upcoming transplant prevent us from becoming a Hawaiian at this moment. But don't just take our word for it - GO THERE! Besides being a backdrop for some of Hollywood's most popular films (From Here to Eternity, King Kong, Blue Hawaii, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Waterworld, 6 Days 7 Nights, 50 First Dates, Jurassic Park - to name a few), Hawaii is just an amazingly beautiful place. So just go. In fact, GO NOW!!
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