Sunday, December 15, 2013

Maui Day 1

In June, Josef and I spent a week in Maui without the kids. It was absolute heaven!  Mason and Sofia had a blast spending the week at Oma and Poppy's house.

One of my favorite things to do is plan vacations (even if the majority of the ones I plan never come to fruition).  I spent several months scouring the internet for all things Hawaii.  I felt like I was practically a Maui expert by the time we finally got there. Okay not really, but I had definitely done my homework.

We went to the island of Oahu on our honeymoon and vowed that one day we would return and explore another one of the islands that we had fallen in love with.  I have to say Maui is my favorite of the two.  We love the small town feel of the island.  There are no freeways, high rises, or large cites like  Oahu.  Just lots of little towns, locally owned shops and restaurants, friendly interesting people, lush green rainforest, and so many glorious beaches.  The whole time we were there Josef and I were planning and scheming how we could make Maui our home and for several weeks after we got home we continued the fantasy.  Maybe some day in the far, faaaaar future we will make our dream a reality, but until then I have my pictures and my memories.

On the island of Maui there are a large variety of accommodations.  We went back and forth on whether to stay in a hotel/resort or rent a condo.  Josef and I decided to find a condo.  While that meant giving up amenities like manicured grounds, maid service, concierge, resort-style pool, on-site restaurants, etc. A condo provided us with a full kitchen, MUCH closer proximity to the ocean (we were literally 15 steps away), and a huge financial savings.  If you are interested this is where we stayed.

On day one we woke up very early and headed to the airport for a 6 o'clock departure time.  The flight was long (we were in the air a total of 10 hours with a 45 minute layover in LAX) and pretty smooth except for a bumpy and kinda scary descent that had my stomach in my throat.  The poor woman sitting behind us was terrified and whimpered and cried out at each pitch and drop of the plane. Her reaction only made my nervousness grow. Once we landed the lady behind us cried tears of joy and relief and clapped wildly, apologizing to all around her for her emotional response.

As soon as we entered our condo I dug through my suit case, threw on my swim suit and made a beeline for the lanai and the ocean.
Josef took this picture of me while standing at the screen door looking out on our lanai and the communal grassy area of the complex.  Behind me are the stairs that lead down to the ocean and our own little sandy beach.  All the dark bluish stuff in the water is a coral reef where turtles come to feed on a daily basis.  One of our favorite activities was to simply lounge on those chairs behind me, watch the sun slip behind the water, and listen to the waves crashing against the sea wall as the tide came in each night. There are few things in life that I enjoy more then the sound of the ocean.

We had an early dinner at Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina right next to the marina and enjoyed some amazing seafood in honor of our first night in Maui.  When we came back to our condo the sun was setting so we went straight out to our Lanai to get a front row seat.  We noticed a crowd of picture-takers gathering at the seawall directly in front of our lanai, peering down at something on the beach.  Upon investigation this is what we found:
What better way to begin our week in paradise then a visit from Crush the sea turtle! Of course I had to get closer and take lots of pictures, cuz when am I going to have another chance to get this close to a giant turtle?  Sea turtles are sacred and protected in Hawaii and it is strictly forbidden to touch one.

This last picture can give you an idea of how large he was when you compare him to the people on the beach.  Our snorkel guide told us a few days later that you can generally tell how old a turtle is by their size.  While I am no turtle expert, I am guessing this guy was well over 50 years because he was so big and must have weighed a ton.  Unfortunately this was the one and only turtle we saw while in Maui, so I feel lucky that we got to get up-close and personal with one who has lived such a long life. This was a highlight of our vacation.

Now for some dreamy sunset pictures.  You can see the island of Lanai in the background of these next two.

And turning my body 90 degrees I would be looking at the island of Molokai if not for the clouds covering my view.

With the time difference being about six hours behind Texas, we went to bed shortly after I took these pictures.  The following morning we were awake by 5am and ready for the day to start.  Our second day we drove the Road to Hana.  Which deserves its own post, so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This Girl

At the end of January this girl turned 5! My head is still reeling from the fact that she has become so grown up.  It makes my heart ache a little when I think about her going off to Kindergarten in the fall and all the changes that milestone will bring. 

It's hard for me to believe that in five short years she went from this:
 To this:

I am just bursting with love for my little lady. She is a light and strength in our family who brings joy and laughter to our lives everyday.

Here are Five Things We Love About Sofia:
1. She is the best big sister.  She loves her little brother fiercely and she is always willing to play with and help him.
2.  She makes friends easily.  She's not afraid to go up to any child she doesn't know and ask them to play with her.  At preschool her teachers tell us that she is friends with and plays with everyone in her class.
3. She always seems to know when I'm having a hard day and is quick to give me a hug and smile.
4. She tries her best to make good choices.
5. She loves to express herself by choosing her own clothes.  She is very insistent that she knows what looks best and I look forward to the colorfully mismatched outfits she chooses each day.

We sure do love you little girl!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

December: 'Tis the Season

December was jam-packed with lots of festive things.  We had planned to be more on the ball with our outdoor decorations this holiday season.  Right after Halloween I started telling Josef how we were going to put lights on our house the Saturday after Turkey day, but one thing or another kept getting in the way and we couldn't find the lights that we wanted.  Apparently other people are not procrastinators like us and purchase their lights before Thanksgiving (like the day after Halloween).  The good lights were hard to come buy when we finally got around to looking. 

Finally we gave up on the idea of putting lights up and bought a couple other decorations to make the outside of our door look nice.  Well those things sat in our living room for a couple weeks until it was Christmas Eve.  I couldn't believe it was Christmas Eve already!  All my family was on their way to spend the evening with us so Josef and I figured we may as well put up the lighted garland around our doorway since we only had one day left.  We finally got it put up about 20 minutes before everyone showed up. 

"Ding-Dong!" I opened the door to welcome my family in, and low and behold that garland that had taken us 3 weeks to put up had fallen on top of my sister's family.  It didn't fall down all the way.  Only half way. 

And their it stayed dangling on the side of our doorway until half way through January. I know, I know. Pathetic. Next year will be better.

The kid's December was filled with sickness.  Mason started with a cough at the end of November that continued. Then he contracted pink eye that spread to both eyes.  A week later the pink eye was gone, but the cough had developed into RSV and croup, and an accompanying ear infection.  Sofia did not escape unscathed.  She picked up a nasty cold around the same time, but lucky for her it passed quickly.

This picture was taken at our church Christmas party which we dragged our kids to even though they were not feeling well.  I had been cooped up in the house with those kids for days and I needed to get out!
That is Little Lamb Sofi in the middle as the primary children acted out the Christmas Story.

We do not have tons of Christmas traditions but we do have a few. Sorry for the terrible picture quality from these cell phone picture.

 We love going to Merry Main Street in downtown Frisco.  They have many booths, fun activities, performances, as well as the largest choreographed Christmas light display in North Texas.  This year it was 70 degrees outside!  We usually walk around and look at the lights, stop by our favorite popcorn store for a treat, see the train display, and head home.  Sofia was happy to have missed the fireworks.  Loud noises scare her.  

Sofia has assumed the responsibility of putting out our nativities.  She takes great pride in carefully arranging all the little people and animals.  Her favorite piece is the baby Jesus.  It is always fun to see what new toy additions will be included in the display throughout the season.

A new tradition we started this year was a Christmas book advent calendar.  I collected books from discount bookstores, preschool book orders, deal sites, and my mom's house.  We all loved this tradition.  It helped to put us in the Christmas spirit and was a pefect way for Sofia to visualize how many days were left until the big day.

Frisbee our family's elf came back to us on December 1st.  He is not an overly creative elf and he doesn't really get into mischief like so many other elves I have seen all over Pinterest.  But he is loved at our house. 

Christmas Eve morning we delivered a big box and bag of donation items, gift cards, and a couple new toys to the homeless shelter in a neighboring town.  Afterward we visited the nearby historic downtown area to get hot chocolate and pastries at a cute little cafe. This was a major highlight of our Christmas and I think we will be making service and hot chocolate a Christmas Eve tradition!

In the afternoon on Christmas Eve my family came for dinner.  Afterward the grand kids acted out the nativity while I read from Luke at record speed.  Later we exchanged presents and ate yummy treats.  Of course we had to take our traditional family portrait where Dad sets up his camera on a tripod along with fancy lights.  My mom, my sister, and I just smile as he frantically tests the lighting over and over, frames the shot,  and impatiently poses wiggly family members.  The set up is tense and Dad is frustrated.  Once everyone is in place we have to take several shots because the flash doesn't go off, eyes are closed, and children are not smiling.  This is a scene that is well known to our family.  The faces in the picture may be more aged and we have little additions to our family, but the Knight Family portrait process is always the same. And I hope it stays that way.

Sorry for the terrible picture quality again...

When everyone left Josef (with very little help from me) set to work putting together Santa's big gift to the kids.  It was a long labor of love, but the kids loved the surprise waiting for them in the garage the next morning.

I did not take one picture Christmas morning!  After we opened presents, ate a delicious breakfast, and Mason took a nap, we headed over to Oma and Poppy's house to celebrate with Josef's family.  These are the only two pictures I have Christmas with the Lucas Family. Stolen from Amy.

6 out of 7 grandchildren

Our festivities were cut short by the weather.  We had a White Christmas! Of course the snow was exciting, but we were also aware that the fluffy white powder that was quickly accumulating would make the roads treacherous as the temperatures began to plummet.  Not wanting to risk driving home in the dark, we packed up and left a few hours early.  This picture above is my view from the passenger's seat.  I am so grateful to be married to a man who spent two frigid winters in Austria driving on roads much worse then this.  I hate driving on ice.
It always seems that I head into each December with all these grand plans and visions of the amazing and numerous festive activities and adventures in which we will we partake. Oh and don't forget the decadently decorated home that is imagined, dreamed, and "pinned" about.  These things never quite come to fruition. The demands and realities of life set in, priorities are reevaluated, and when all is said and done our Christmas is always magical and memorable as we have capitalized on simple opportunities to teach our children about the true spirit of CHRISTmas!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Autumn Leaves

Our little maple tree finally lost its leaves at the beginning of December. I took my sick cooped-up kids in the backyard, raked the leaves into a small pile, and then they attacked.  It was a fun afternoon! And now for some picture overload:

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Sofia and I both started school this fall.  For her its was Pre-k and for me it was an online statistics class.  She has really been growing and thriving in her preschool.  Between her two teachers, whom she absolutely adores, they have more then thirty years of experience.  The school has a curriculum that is called Land of the Letter People. Each letter has a person with unique characteristics beginning with that letter.  For instance, Mr. Z loves zippers, Mr. I likes to measure in inches, and Ms. F likes the forest.  With each letter person the students get a book to take home and read.  It's fantastic!

I did really well in my statistics class.  My final grade was an A, so I was happy about that.  I was blessed to be able to study and concentrate despite noisy distracting circumsctances.  One afternoon I was desperately trying to study for a test. Sofia was at school and Mason was bored, clingy, and sick.  The only way I could study was standing at the countertop in the kitchen (he wouldn't tollerate me sitting down at the computer) and letting him do this at my feet:
Miraculously those precious fifteen minutes were all I needed to ace my test.

This semester I unfortunately have to take a break while I sort out some mysterious college credits floating around in California.

SOMEDAY I will graduate from college.  But I don't know when that SOMEDAY will be.  It is an uphill battle as a stay at home mom.  For now I am enjoying (or trying to enjoy) being an eternal student.

November in the Mountains

The weekend before Thanksgiving we stayed in a cabin with Josef's family in Beavers Bend, Oklahoma. It was our second time this year going there and we just love it! The "mountains", the tall tall trees, winding roads, the vibrant fall foliage. It is a nice little retreat just three hours north of Dallas. We spent our evenings playing games and enjoying time together as a family, and during the day we hiked and explored, played at the state park, and picnicked. We had a great time with (most) of the Lucas Clan!