Last week, the day after we returned home from The Walk, Lucy and I packed our bags and joined my mom and sister, Kati, on a flight to Oahu! My older sister, Beth, and her hubby, Sean, moved there in January because he's in the Army and is currently stationed at Scholfield Military Base.
I made a short video of our time in Hawaii and it's really the closest thing I can get to telling you how incredible that place is. Unless you've been there, of course, in which case feel free to ignore the video and keep reading.
Beth's daughters, Mary Grace and Laci, along with MG's best friend, Sarah, were already there to visit for the summer, so it was a huge treat to spend a whole week with the beautiful women in my family. Of course - as you might imagine - there was the typical drama that comes along with having seven (well, eight, if you count Lucy) opinionated, strong-willed women together in one house for a whole week, but with drama also comes lots and lots of love. And laughter. And joy.
I'll try to keep this post brief because we were super busy and there is lots to tell. But I can't promise anything.
After we arrived on Thursday afternoon (ten p.m. Georgia time...Lucy was such a trooper!), we went straight through Honolulu and home to Beth and Sean's house to relax. On Friday, we woke up early and got dressed for the beach. Beth took us to the North Shore where we saw sea turtles! The waves were a bit too rough for Lucy to enjoy, but the girls and I swam for a little bit while Lucy sat with my mom in the shade. She played with a coconut for most of our time there. That girl though. I love her. At one point, a turtle popped up behind Mary Grace as I was talking to her. My friend, Jillian, would have died. It was a quick glimpse, but I was really excited to see one in its natural habitat. And five feet away from me, no less!
On Saturday, we were at home for the first part of the day and then my mom watched Lucy while I took Laci, Sarah, Mary Grace, and Kati to Kailua Beach. We didn't know where we were going, really, so Kati just Googled beaches on Oahu and picked one. Those are the best kind of days, aren't they? At one point, we drove under the mountains and came out on the other side to find ourselves staring at the most spectacular scenery. It was breathtaking. Like King Kong and Jurassic Park rolled into one. I kept yelling at Kati to take pictures because I'm sweet like that. And Kailua Beach was the perfect little hideaway. We went back that direction on our last full day to visit Lanikai Beach and eat at a local market. The water was so calm and peaceful! It was paradise.
We also went to the July 4th festival on base for a short time on Saturday. It was blazing hot, so we didn't stay long, but it was nice to get out and enjoy an afternoon with the people who are serving our country. Military bases are intimidating to me - all that pomp and circumstance - but the sense of community is evident. I'm glad we got to spend our fourth there together.
Sunday was my mom's birthday and we drove out to Hanauma Bay. The parking lot there was already completely full, which I know was disappointing for Mom because Hanauma was the one place she really wanted to visit. But we found another beautiful beach just down the way and went snorkeling. We also brought a tent and Lucy's pack-n-play so she could hang out in the shade. It was quite the little set-up! There was a lighthouse overlooking the water and black volcanic rock lining the surf, and I kept looking out over the water thinking about how incredible this God is that we serve. He's such an Artist. Later that evening, we all got dressed up in black and white (totally by accident) and went out to eat in Waikiki. We got a little lost and tempers started to flare, but the food brought us all back to a happy place. There's just really no way to stay mad when you're in a place as beautiful as Hawaii, am I right?
On Monday, we visited Pearl Harbor, which was the highlight of the trip for me. It was kind of difficult to be out of the house touring for the day with a toddler, but Lucy snagged an hour-long nap in the stroller and that was a big help. Have I mentioned that she's a trooper? Because she is. We also met and took pictures with Alfred Benjamin Kameeiamoku Rodrigues, a 95-year old veteran, author, and Pearl Harbor survivor. He was there signing copies of his book and he was super charming. He called Lucy "a doll" and I'm grateful that we got the chance to shake his hand. Men of his generation are truly one-of-a-kind. Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial was certainly a sobering experience, and it was haunting to think about the hundreds of men who are still entombed in the water. They gave a great sacrifice and I'll never forget it.
Tuesday and Wednesday were a little more low-key, with lots of sun and sand, and then we came home on Thursday. Our first flight got in just before our second flight was taking off, and even though we had absolutely zero control over the plane's arrival time, the American Airlines staff were not kind to us. They gave away our seats, told us how lucky we were that they re-opened the gates, and finished off by saying we should just be happy other seats were still available. I don't know if they've ever flown ten hours with a toddler before, but it really helps to have family close by when you do. After boarding, they found us seats together because another girl - a sweet teenager who'd also had her seat given away - let me have her new seat so I could sit next to my sister. Then, to top it all off, the plane had maintenance issues and we all had to get off anyway. It was kind of ridiculous. Thank God for Daniel Tiger, that's all I have to say. Lucy wasn't bothered in the slightest. I can't say the same thing for my back, but that's motherhood. You take the bad with the good...and there is far more good.
By the end of the trip, we missed Pierce so much we could hardly stand it. It was hard to have been away from him for almost two weeks. I saw him on The Walk, but since we were each with our respective groups, it was only here and there during breakfast or sessions. When he pulled up to the curb (at two a.m. after we finally got back into Atlanta), I felt like someone had given me back a piece of myself. I love being able to come home to him. And he was overjoyed to have his Lucy Jane back.
It was really an incredible trip, and I'm so thankful for my mom and sister for making it happen. I love you both so much!
Now I think we're done traveling for awhile. It's been a crazy busy few months! And there's no place like home, or so I've read...