Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tucson Temple Time!

Temple worship is an important part of our faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  For many years, the closest temple to Todd's family in Tucson, Arizona has been in Mesa, Arizona, two and a half hours away.  Todd's parents have been temple workers in the past, but the drive has become prohibitive due to health issues over the last several years.  The Knights, and most of the saints, or church members, in Tucson have been praying for a temple to be built closer to them for a very long time.  When a Tucson temple was announced in October 2012, we knew that it would be an important temple for our family.  Ground was broken for the temple in 2015, and we have followed the construction eagerly.  When dates were announced for the open house, we bought plane tickets so that we could be there and experience it in person.  The day finally arrived!  On June 3 we flew from Seattle to Phoenix.  
 We were a little early for our flight, but there is plenty to see in an airport.
 Sammy actually got mad when we got on our plane because it became impossible to look at other planes when he had his seat belt on.  This was his first flight where he was required to have his own seat.  He was not a fan of sitting solo.
 We picked up a car in Phoenix and drove to Gilbert to see our friends the Broadbents.  They had a family of birds nesting in a wreath on their front door.  I can't imagine that ever happening in our house, where the door swings open and closed about a hundred times a day, but it was over a hundred degrees there, so maybe they keep the door shut more often.  Sammy was hilarious in the heat.  He kept looking at his hands with an expression on his face that said, "What is this feeling?!"
We spent the night at Colette's house, since Annette had just gotten back a week at girls' camp, and needed some uninterrupted sleep.  Sammy didn't settle down well in a new environment, surrounded by excitement, so he was tired on Sunday.  He refused to go to nursery without me, and when he was so clingy that we gave up on nursery, he was too noisy to keep in relief society.  We ended up in the foyer amusing ourselves with selfies and waiting for church to be over.
 We spent some of the afternoon with cousins at Colette and Jacob's house before going to Grandma's house for dinner, and the rest of our sleeps in Tucson.
Every day that we were in Tucson, all of the Knight children were up at the crack of dawn.  We are not used to such early sunlight, I guess.  All of our bedrooms are on the sunset side of our house at home, and even when the sun is peeping out from behind the clouds before 10 a.m. (which is rare), the trees block direct sunlight from reaching our house before about 8 or 9 a.m.  That isn't to say that our kids don't normally get up early.  They do.  Normal early is 6:30.  Tucson early is everyone up before 6.  Oh, well.  This way they all got to enjoy playing outside before the heat became unbearable.  We even made it to the playground at the park a couple of times.  When it got hot, we just played with water on the trampoline,
 Or in the kiddie pool.  Sammy loved the little pool.  He would have stayed there all day.
 We went from yard swimming in the morning to pool swimming in the afternoon.  All of the Tucson pools are free to kids under 18 all summer, and only $2 for each adult.  We met the Campbells and Justin and Marie and their girls, Peyton and McKenzie, at the pool.  Sammy did a lot of spontaneous sleeping on this trip.  Sitting in the shade at 104 degrees is not very cool and restful.  He did wake up and let us swim eventually.
 I have cute nieces and nephews.  Rachel looked like a zombie when she took her goggles off.
 After swimming we went back to Grandma and Grandpa's house for some games.
 I believe that Ryan had turned into some kind of a zombie, too.
 Our big event for Tuesday was a trip to the actual Tucson LDS temple, which was open to all for several weeks before it will be closed to the public, and only open to temple recommend holders who are church members.  This means that kids under age 12 won't be permitted inside the temple.  My kids were very excited to see what the temple is like inside.
Although the Tucson temple is much closer than the Mesa temple, it is on the opposite side of Tucson from where Grandma and Grandpa Knight live, and Tucson is a huge, sprawling city.  It was a significant drive to get there.  We amused ourselves in the back seat with selfies.
 We have way too much fun.
Sammy fell asleep on the way there, and stubbornly refused to wake up until he realized that all of his cousins were there, too.  He is very attached to his "tuzzins."  The temple was beautiful inside and out.  It was a very special experience to be there, and well worth the trip for us.  We didn't get any pictures outside, since it was 104 degrees outside, and we were trying to keep the kids from drying up and blowing away like tumbleweeds, but we did get a family picture next to a print of the temple in the reception area outside of the temple doors, which was cooled slightly by hard working mobile a/c units.  
After the temple we were cooking in the heat, so we went for Eegees.  Eegees is a big part of what makes Tucson tolerable.
At Eegees, Grandma handed out a paper for the kids to write down their memories from this important, long anticipated day.  I'm so glad we got this opportunity to focus on what is really important to us.  In temples, our families can be sealed together for time and all eternity.  There is no parting for us at death if we have been married in the temple. Coincidentally, our Tucson temple day coincided with our eleventh wedding anniversary.  Here are a couple of ancient pictures of me and Todd on the day we were sealed in the Logan, Utah temple.
 Weren't we cute?
 Marrying Todd was the best thing I have ever done.  I am thankful to know that we get more than one lifetime to be together.  Time would never have been enough.

Winding up the school year

To wind up the month of May, and most of our school events for the school year, we started with science class and swimming lessons.  
 Sammy discovered that he can fit into the short lockers in the pool locker rooms.  This has only resulted in a few smashed fingers.
 We had a trip to the dentist.  No new cavities, and Eloise has her first loose tooth!  It has a grown up tooth already coming in behind it, so it had better come out soon.
Our Tuesday piano lessons have turned into guided tours of the Nielsons' yard.  There is an abundance of alpine strawberries that are ripe, and Sister Nielson will open the shed and get out her kids' old skateboards for the Knights to play on, if they ask.  
 We got together with another homeschool family who we don't know well to take apart some appliances.  Then we had a picnic lunch and some cookies in their back yard, where they keep goats and chickens, which were Sammy and B's favorite thing about this adventure.
 Sammy never seems to react appropriately to pain.  He came in from outside one day, announcing in a cheerful voice, "Mom! I got hurt!"  I saw that he was still walking, noticed that he had a dirty diaper, and didn't think anything of his proclaimed injury until after I had changed him.  He popped up from the changing mat and told me again, "I got hurt outside!"  and held up his hand.  His thumb was swollen almost to the size of the rest of his hand!  After asking a few of the right questions (not an easy thing to do with a two year old), I managed to understand that he had gotten hurt by a bumblebee, which he had tried to pick up.  The stinger was gone, but he wanted a band aid anyway.  "Bumblebee hurt my pinger!"
We went to a library program about life cycles of butterflies and ladybugs for Dorothy, who is fascinated by ladybugs.  It was fascinating, and age appropriate for my kids.  Most of the audience was in the two and under age group, so I think it went over their heads, but I learned some things.  Our library system is the best.  
 We had a warm, sunny day.  The thermometer crept up to brush against 80 degrees, so we went to the beach park.
 Temperatures stayed warmish, so Todd and most of the kids thought it would be a good time for jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler underneath.  Sammy and I weren't crazy.  It was way too cold and shady for sprinklers.
 Sammy doesn't go down for naps at home anymore, but he frequently takes car naps.  Sometimes he stubbornly stays asleep, even when we are at piano lessons, where he could be playing.
 We wrapped up our history curriculum for the year with a famous person report.
 Jared did Genghis Khan.  He got really into it.  It was fantastic.
 Eloise was King Arthur.  Sammy was her page.
 Dorothy was Mohammed.
And just like that, we were done, sort of.  Some of our school activities go on all year.  We won't be done with swimming lessons for another week, and piano lessons go year round, but our two "school" classes, science and history, are done until fall classes start.  Eloise has finished kindergarten, and Jared is done with second grade.  B recently started reading short words, earning himself a library card, but we probably won't start kindergarten with him until January.

Last day in Hawaii

 Our last day in Hawaii was a Sunday, and we had to be out of our condo pretty early, so we packed up and headed to a park we found called Kepaniwai Park to kill some time before 1:00 church in Wailuku.  This park turned out to be a very good find.  
 Sections of the park were dedicated to people of different nationalities who settled in Maui, or had a big influence on Maui's history.  These included a Portuguese garden, Chinese, Philippine, North American (New England), and native Hawaiian areas.  Sorry about my face in this picture.  I took too many selfies, which caused me to temporarily forget how to smile naturally.
 Most of the people in the park appeared to be local residents there for picnics.  Vegetation covered peaks surrounded the narrow valley, and it was all very picturesque.
 We probably went to church smelling like charcoal from all of the barbecues we passed, but it was a nice place to spend a morning.
 Since it was our last day on Maui, we had to capture some of the ubiquitous features of the island: wild chickens everywhere,
 and stray cats in the most unlikely places.
 We may never have been anywhere so green and lush and tropical.
 We found a quiet place for some scripture study and journaling before church.  Then we had a picnic lunch before getting thoroughly lost on our way to church.  By some miracle we managed to find the church just in time for the first meeting.  It was a really great day for church.
 After church, we had three hours left before we needed to be at the airport for my flight (Annette and Colette didn't leave until 10 p.m.).  We went to Baldwin Beach Park in Paia, just a few minutes from the airport to change our clothes and enjoy our last bit of time relaxing on the beach in Maui.
 The fact that this is apparently the center of the homeless population of Maui, and that one beach away turned out to be a de facto nude beach, did very little to detract from the splendor of this gorgeous spot.
This was the best birthday/ mothers day gift I have ever had.  Even though flying overnight left me as a zombie for my entire first day back in Seattle, I was really refreshed and renewed by a few days in paradise.

More Maui adventures

Our second morning in Maui we got up a little bit later and went to La Parouse Bay, which our kayak tour guide said was a hangout for dolphins in the mornings.  It is also the site of Maui's most recent volcanic eruption, which may have concluded as little as 200 years ago.  What looks like a recently turned over field behind me is actually a vast lava field.  
 We didn't see any dolphins, and the rocks + surf made for inhospitable swimming conditions, so we went back up the road to a sandy beach at Makena Beach State Park.
 We found some boogie boards in our condo, so we decided to try them out.  Right after we got there, a lifeguard went up and down the beach posting signs that said "dangerous shore break."  We ignored the signs, since there were a lot of people in the water.  After we got tumbled by a few waves, we got out of the water.  As we came up the beach, we could hear an announcement being repeated from the lifeguard station. "Stay out of the water, especially if you are beginners.  Common injuries in dangerous shore break include broken arms, broken necks. . . "  Oops.  For some reason the announcement, which had been repeating, stopped as soon as we were a safe distance from the water.  We must have looked pretty terrible.
 After lunch we went ziplining at the Maui Plantation.  Believe it or not, this was Annette's idea.  The island adventure bug really bit her.  When I asked if she was sure she really wanted to go ziplining, she accused me of being unadventurous.
 Of course our legs started to feel weaker and weaker as we climbed up and up and up the first tower.  We all had second thoughts about plummeting along a skinny cable, including the other members of our ziplining group, Gloria, and her father, Shin, from California.
 We did five lines over the plantation, learning about some of Hawaii's plants and exports in the process.  By the end we didn't have any fear about leaving the platform.
 To celebrate our survival of the zipline, Colette took a nap.  She was battling a cold for the whole trip.  Annette and I walked a short distance down the beach to Kihei proper to get some shave ice.
 That evening we drove half an hour to Lahaina for the Old Lahaina Luau.  Before dinner we walked around to see demonstrations of native Hawaiian arts.
 Colette and I learned a hula.
When we sat down at our table for dinner, we found that we were seated at the same table as Gloria and Shin, our friends from ziplining!  Maui is a small island, but not that small.  It was quite a coincidence.  Being seated with them, and another fun couple from Alabama, made our dinner experience much better.  We got to try lots of island foods, and then we enjoyed a performance that told some of the history and mythology of the islands through dance.  
On the way out, Colette found a new boyfriend.  Sorry, Jacob.  Who could resist this guy, though?
 The next morning I was up bright and early again.  I think the trip was too short for me to really adjust to the time difference.  I did wake up later than I had on the previous days.  As a consequence, I had to do part of my morning run in the sun.  Ugh.
I think finding this black sea star on the beach was my consolation for doing my longest run of the trip in daylight.  I think living in Seattle has turned me into part vampire.  
 Based on the recommendation of the other folks at our luau table, we decided to spend most of Saturday driving the famous road to Hana.  The Hana highway has 620 hairpin turns and 59 one lane bridges over 50 miles of road.  After a morning stop in Kahului at the Saturday morning swap meet/souvenir fair/sauna, we hit the road.  After driving the road from the Nakalele blowhole to Kahului, I was pleasantly surprised that the Hana highway seems to have been designed with actual cars in mind.  It was a bit nerve wracking to drive, especially on the way home when the sun was at the worst angle, and I was frequently blinded as we rounded curves, but we made it.  The drive is through rain forest all of the way, and almost all of the bridges we crossed were accompanied by a view of a waterfall.
 We went on a short hike through rain forest before lunch.
 There were lots of places to stop and admire waterfalls.  We made a short side trip into Keanae where Colette found a leaf as big as her whole body.
 The shoreline was made of lava rocks.  The contrasts between the micro-climate zones on Maui are striking.  A very short distance from these rocky beaches are soft, sandy beaches.  A relatively short drive from the rainforest is a dry plain.  Haleakala volcano towers 10,000 feet above sea level on this island that is only 48 miles long and 26 miles wide.
 Keanae is the site of a stone church that was built in 1860.  When the rest of the town was wiped out by a Tsunami, this church remained standing.
 It had a very interesting derelict graveyard.  I thought of Cheyenne and her love for interesting cemeteries when I saw this.
 Here are some of the beautiful Hana Highway waterfalls that we saw.

 When we needed a longer break from the road, we stopped at a wayside park to take a dip.  This water comes down from the mountains, and is much colder than the tropical ocean water on Maui's beaches.  It doesn't have anything on the shocking cold of our Cascade Mountains snow melt streams, but it was hard to get into at first.  Colette and I walked out the waterfall over the slippery rocks, but we decided it would be easier to swim back.
 We ended our drive at Waianapanapa State Park, famed for its black sand beaches.
 We climbed through a lava tube where the ground was made of uniform black stones, rolled smooth by the surf.  At the water's edge the stones had turned to a coarse sand, and, as we went up the beach, the sand turned to pebbles, and then loose rocks.
 Colette and I used our new boogie boarding skills to body surf on the black sand beach for a little while before heading back around the island the way we had come.
This was a fun adventure that I am happy to have done without kids along.  The rental car we had on the island was nothing very impressive, but it definitely got good gas mileage.  We got back to Kihei worn out from a long, interesting day.  We picked up a pizza, watched a movie (thank you previous condo renters, for staying signed in to Netflix on the condo TV), and went to bed.