We Built a Swing Set!

We Built a Swing Set!

This post has been a long time coming.  Life with 2 very mobile and energetic kids just gets busy (which is why I needed an outlet for their energy in the first place).  Throw in several weeks when of 3/4 of us had pneumonia, and the past couple months have flown by.  However, we’ve had plenty of time to test out the new swing set and I can report with confidence it is a winner!

I first started thinking about building a swing set last spring and was beginning to research the idea when Shane broke his leg.  I looked into the Costco sets that you buy ready to assemble, but they were just way out of our budget.  In addition, we had seen some in people’s yards and they just seemed really dinky.  I didn’t want to put forth a lot of money, time, and effort to have the kids outgrow it too quickly!

I looked at complete DIY builds and directions I found via Pinterest and Ana White.  I also looked at other sets that come with pre-cut wood and the hardware and you just assemble it (similar to the Costco sets, but less expensive).  We ultimately decided on the Wrangler set from Swing’n Slide.  The kit included the swings, accessories and the hardware for assembly.  We would just purchase the screws and cut the lumber to size ourselves.

I spent a couple months planning, getting lumber quotes, and figuring out exactly which tools we would need to purchase.  We finally ordered and picked up our lumber mid-November.  By that time, we figured we might as well wait for Black Friday to purchase the other tools that we would need.  We scored pretty big, getting a circular saw, a new drill and several other things for very little money!

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Loading the lumber into a borrowed horse trailer

Shane and I spent a couple mornings cutting the lumber down to size, following the directions included in the Swing’n Slide kit.  That was probably my favorite part of the whole thing! I really like using a saw! I really wanted to get a 12″ compound miter saw, but due to some budget constraints, I had to settle for a circular saw. There were a couple hairy moments trying to contain two little ones while using the saw, but we got that managed without any injuries.

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Still in PJs, Tristan tries to get a piece of the sawing action

Once the lumber was ready to go, we set aside a Saturday when some family members were able to help us out with assembly.  Working until just after sun-down, we managed to get most of the clubhouse part put together.

A couple days later on Shane’s “weekend” (it was a Tuesday), he and I set aside another day to work.  That quickly derailed when we ran out of screws.  We had purchased the poundage of deck screws the Swing’n Slide directions indicated, but that clearly was not enough.  Instead of driving the half hour into town to Home Depot, we decided to just head to the closer Ace Hardware to get what we needed. Naturally, they didn’t have any outdoor 3″ screws at all.  By that time, we had to stop and feed the kids lunch and half the day was already gone.  We flipped ahead in the directions and tried to accomplish everything we could without the 3″ screws.

The goal was to have the swing set completed for Christmas – it was a joint gift to the kids from their grandparents and us.  I left town for a week in December to attend a class, and I was hopeful that Shane would be able to get some work done on the swing set.  This is where we ran into several hiccups.

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Our progress by mid-December, before I left town

The rest of December it just poured and poured and poured rain, stopping any outdoor assembly work.

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The pigs in action

Along with the rain, we had a large family (about 9 or 10) of wild pigs move into our property, completely destroying 90% of our yard.  You have no idea how much damage these darn pigs can do! It was an endless battle of them digging up the grass and me attempting to replace the divots large pieces of sod they twisted and moved (when it wasn’t raining).  They damaged so much of the turf on the side yard, we had to change our plans as to where we were going to place the swing set.  We then had to wait for the availability of extra hands to reorient and move the clubhouse so that we could continue with the assembly.

In the meantime, we went to work on drilling the holes in the beam that would hold the swings.  Enter another problem.  The directions had indicated that we needed a “long” 5/16″ drill bit, but didn’t specify any more than that.  Back on Black Friday, we purchased the longest 5/16″ drill bit that Home Depot had in stock, which was 6″ long.  This was not long enough to drill the necessary holes.  I jumped on Amazon and ordered a 12″ bit, but even with Prime shipping, everything takes longer to get here.

Once the drill bit finally arrived, we were able to finish installing the hardware for the swings.  Shane and I then managed to attach the 12-foot long beam to the A-frame support.  Then by some miracle, just he and I were able to maneuver it from the patio, out to the yard, and ultimately attach it in place.  That was probably our proudest moment! There’s no way 2 people should have been able to do that. In fact, I would advise against it.  At least having a third, if not fourth, person would be much, much better (and safer).

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Whew! Finally securing the swing beam!

To complete our swing set, we installed a cargo net for added climbing fun! Part of the problem with living on an island is we have difficulty getting some things shipped here.  Despite my best efforts, I could not find anyone who would ship a slide here.  At first it was frustrating, but we figured our little monkeys might like an additional climbing element.  So, we simply replaced the slide with the cargo net as an alternative to climbing the ladder to the top of the clubhouse.

We had to purchase a couple more 2″x 6″ boards to build out the frame to secure the cargo net to the clubhouse.  This was pretty easy and straightforward.  However, the directions had a glaring error that I didn’t realize until the boards were already cut.  Those who know me know that I’m very much a color-inside-the-lines, follow-directions-to-a-T type of person. So that’s what I did.  I cut the boards as they specified and when I went to dry-fit them on the frame, realized that the long board they had me cut was 9 inches short of what it should have been! It ended up not being too big of a deal as we just shifted it to fit. It was supposed to run the full length of the clubhouse frame and now it ends awkwardly right below the ladder.

The Swing’n Slide hardware is really great.   We have no worries about swings coming unattached and the bolts and plates used to secure the frame are solid.  That swing set has already withstood a 4.0 earthquake! My only real complaint with the Swing’n Slide kit is their directions.  Mind you, I read the directions front to back about 6 times before we even started building at all.  I found them to be vague (like when they called for a “long” 5/6″ drill bit) and inaccurate in places (as with the lumber measurements for the cargo net). They should have also called for 4 lbs of 3″ deck screws instead of just the 3 lbs listed in the directions.  You’d think a company that makes its money designing and selling these kits could be more accurate in their directions! If things hadn’t been inaccurate or vague, it definitely would’ve saved us time and frustration.

I will say this was a brave undertaking for two DIY novices.  On the other hand, we now feel quite confident we can tackle many other projects around the house!

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Over all we are quite happy with our swing set! The kids have plenty of room to grow into it! In fact, Shane and I are planning on adding a rock climbing wall, and a disc swing on the arm that extends from the top of the clubhouse.  We also have a fourth spot on the swing beam to add something else.  To do that, we will have to order another set of hardware so that we can hang a fourth item. We currently have one regular swing (the kit included 2, the second is in storage), the bar/rings combo, and a Fisher-Price infant/toddler swing for Rosie.

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It’s been really fun to have this in our yard and to not always have to load everybody up in the car to go to the park! I’m so glad we did it!

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Rosie’s 1st Birthday

Rosie’s 1st Birthday

I’m a wee bit behind on this post, seeing as today marks Rosie as 13 months old.  If you haven’t heard, I’ve been pretty ill for the past couple weeks with severe pneumonia.  It finally landed me in the ER a few evenings ago, but I’m happy to say that I’m now on the mend.  Of course, Tristan is now fighting pneumonia as well.  It’s been a rough few weeks, for sure.

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A month ago, however, we were celebrating our little girl’s first birthday! My mom and dad  arrived on Rose’s actual birthday and we were able to have a mini celebration that night, with her first taste of a cupcake.

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We hosted her garden-themed party on the following Saturday at our house.  With a name like Rose, I couldn’t resist.  All in all, it was a simple and sweet DIY party that I seriously could not have pulled off without my mom and dad’s help!

We had tea sandwiches and other pupus (appetizers, for you mainland folks) as well as sweet treats, including Fairy Bites.  Seriously, the fairy bites were my favorite – and addictive.  I strongly recommend checking out the recipe! My mom got fancy and made a watermelon basket for the fruit salad too.

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My dad did an amazing job with the floral arrangements! I had picked up an assortment of flowers at the grocery store and my dad mixed them all up in some mason jars that (no joke) we literally dug up from the yard.  We had found them buried when clearing and leveling the mass of weeds in front of the driveway.  A little washing and drying and they cleaned up perfectly.  I loved my dad’s arrangements so much, I skipped the ribbon I had planned to tie around the jars.  I really wish I had a good picture of the flowers.  I loved putting the jars all throughout my house after the party and enjoying the flowers in several rooms!

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Other decorations consisted of bakers twine strung up by the food tables with a picture of Rosie for each month clothes-pinned to the twine.  We also loaded a digital frame with many, many more pictures of her throughout the year.

Favors consisted of “Thanks A Bunch” wildflower seed packets I ordered from American Meadows.  They were so cute and easy to slip into thank you notes for the folks that weren’t able to make it to the party.

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We (me and my parents) even DIY-ed a “1” piñata for the party.  My dad is a whiz with cardboard construction and my mom helped me with the ombre tissue paper.  We made it as a pull-string piñata, which I figured was more age-appropriate and less dangerous for our little guests.  Every kid grabs a string and we all pull at the same time.  All but 1 or 2 strings just slip through a slit in the bottom of the piñata while the “winning” strings (I had 2) pull open a flap on the bottom and let the treats out – in our case fruit snacks and Annie’s cookies and crackers.  GIF courtesy of our friend Sean.

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After that, there was of course cake!

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Rosie was not shy about digging in and enjoyed everyone singing to her.  Again, GIF courtesy of Sean.

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Other memorable moments included Rosie dancing to her favorite song, “Shut up and Dance with Me” by Walk the Moon.  That girl loves a party!

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We have been so blessed with her addition to our family over the past year 13 months.  I can’t imagine our family any other way.  We love you Rose Pomaikai!

 

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Christmas 2015 – Recap

It’s hard to believe the holidays are just about over. I actually get a little down every year starting December 26. I tend to feel like someone burst my bubble and I’m suddenly back in the real world. I try to hang on to Christmas as long as I can. 

After all, the Twelve Days of Christmas only begin on December 25. I’m totally that weirdo still rocking out to Christmas music. My tree and decorations may come down in the next few days, or I might leave it all up until Three Kings Day, also known as Epihany, which marks the end of the Christmas season on the church calendar. 

Before New Years and it’s suddenly January (!), I wanted to stop in and share a little bit about our Christmas. 

In my last post, I mentioned that the Sunday School Christmas program was the following morning. I’m not sure that I shared that it was a family affair. It’s a pretty small church, so Rosie, Shane and myself were drafted to play Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Tristan played both a scribe to the Wise Men as well as a [wandering] sheep. 

  
The whole thing is on YouTube, if you’re so inclined. It’s about 24 minutes long. There’s two different perspectives available, actually. One of the high school youth wrote the play. It’s a comedy that focuses on the Wise Men and I found it hilarious. 

Tristan’s shining moment as scribe is about 5 or 6 minutes in. 

  
The rest of the week consisted of fudge and pizzelle-making, the crafting of paper snowflakes and a visit or two with some family. 

   
 Shane was working, so I took the kids to church on Christmas Eve. They were adorably excitable throughout the service. It all went well except for the part where Tristan nearly lit Rosie’s hair on fire during Silent Night. Thank you, Jesus, for letting us avoid that disaster!

  
Christmas morning started early, especially early for Shane who worked until midnight Christmas Eve. I’m not sure who was more excited, me or Tristan. He came up to our room about 4:30am, which is typical for him. He’ll usually snuggle in and go back to sleep until 6 or 6:30. 

  
This year, however, he knew to check to see if Santa left gifts. On his way to our room he stopped to check out the gifts under the tree. All were wrapped except for a new play tent, which he started asking about once in bed with us. Shortly after, Rosie woke. Everyone was squirming around and we realized nobody was going back to sleep. Thus, gift opening began at 5am. 

Tristan was so excited to figure out which present had his Kylo Ren lightsaber. Rosie was just totally content to toddle around holding scraps of wrapping paper. 

Once the much anticipated lightsaber was located, the dueling commenced, using the Anakin/Vader lightsaber he received last year. My kid has a thing for the Dark Side. Much of the morning (and the past week, actually) looked like this:

  
Gifts were pretty simple this year. Apparently Shane and I are of an age where gifts are [mostly] practical and received in advance. We didn’t exchange gifts with each other since we got power tools to build the swing set (post coming soon!)

  
We set a strict budget for gifts for the kids – and lucked out when we scored a few new-to-us items from friends that were moving. Rosie’s big gift from Santa was a sing & learn dog. However, I think she was most excited by the jingle bells in her stocking. 

  
Between coffee, pizzelles, more lightsaber duels, and ripped wrapping paper, we Facetimed with our family on the mainland before heading to brunch with Shane’s dad and Anita. 

  
Shane had to work that afternoon and evening. The kids took a nap when we got home while I assembled one of their gifts – an art easel – and watched Elf. The three of us had a simple dinner and called it an early night. 

  
All in all, it was a great Christmas! Don’t mind me, I’ll be hoarding candy canes to make it through to next Christmas season. 

Christmas Week Begins! 

Christmas Week Begins! 

I’ve been at a training on Oahu for the last week and feel like I hit “pause” on Christmas. I’m so excited to get back home and have some Christmasy activities this week with my two kids! I think there is some fudge and cookie baking in our future!

I am obsessed with Christmas and it is my favorite holiday. I present evidence I am a Christmas nut:

  

(Sadly I did not purchase that hat). 

We decorated the tree a few days before Thanksgiving. I’m usually strict about decorating the day after, but Shane was off work and I knew I was going to be gone for a week. I didn’t want to miss out on the decorations for a whole week, so I did it early! 

  
  

More evidence I’m a little nuts about the holiday:

  

Once the tree was up and decorated I was able to get pictures of the kids!!! It’s a little bit of a lean year for us financially, so we only sent 9 cards. (Thank you coupon code for 10 free cards, Shutterfly). Don’t think we forgot you if you don’t receive a card. They pretty much only went to grandparents. 

I used these two photos on the cards we made. 

   
 It was so fun because both Tristan and Rose are wearing clothes that belonged to me and my brother. My mom actually sewed Rosie’s romper for me on my first Christmas. How fun it is to have my daughter wear it for hers! 

We’ll be kicking off our week with the Sunday School Christmas program tomorrow morning at church. This year it will be a family affair. Rosie, myself and Shane will be playing Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Tristan will be a sheep again. This always makes me think of the Charlie Brown Christmas specials. Haha!
Besides the baking there will be lots of Christmas music and maybe some paper-snowflake-making. What will you be up to this week?

Rose’s Home Birth

Rose’s Home Birth

I can hardly believe that it’s already been a month since we welcomed Rosie earth-side!

I feel compelled to share Rose’s birth story on the blog as it is an incredibly significant event that took place within our home. While Tristan’s birth took place in a hospital, it is certainly no less significant or beautiful – just different – than his sister’s birth.

My experience birthing Tristan in hospital and all that I’ve learned over the past 2 years as an aspiring doula led both me and Shane to home birth as the right thing for our family when welcoming our next little one. I was incredibly excited (although at times a bit apprehensive) throughout the pregnancy for the home birth experience.

We selected a midwife, and her two wonderful assistants, with whom we felt a connection and the relationship only grew over the months of the care they provided. Combined with pre-natal yoga taught by a doula, I was fully prepared for my home birth experience and whatever that would bring.

I decided that January 13 would be the perfect day to meet our little one (visualization is key to achieving your goals!) and even told the midwives so at my 39 week appointment. I even wrote “Give Birth” on the whiteboard calendar in my kitchen under that date.

The two days or so before Rose was born I knew the birth was close. No food was sitting well in my stomach and I was having a few, although irregular, contractions. My parents came into town on the morning of the 12th. We went out to lunch and spent the afternoon at the beach (unfortunately at low-tide). We enjoyed a steak dinner and a few rounds of Rummikub that night before heading to bed.

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Around 4 or 4:30am I woke up and realized “this is it – I’m meeting my baby today.” I just stayed in bed, reminding myself to relax and loosen my muscles during each contraction. When Shane woke I shared the news with him. About 6, I went downstairs and told my parents that I was definitely in labor. After that I texted the midwives “today is a great day to have a baby!”

My spirits were high and I was already so relaxed. We all enjoyed breakfast together – me eating what I could. The intensity started to pick up a bit where I needed someone to rub my back during contractions. Shane, my mom, and even Tristan all helped with this. My parents readied Tristan to head out for the morning. I wasn’t sure if I just wasn’t that far along or if I was handling labor well. I let the midwives know that I didn’t need all of them just yet, but one of them would be good to have around just so Shane wasn’t on his own.

After my parents and Tristan left, around 9am, Shane and I headed into our birth suite (aka the master bedroom) to settle in for the labor. I opted to not turn on the music we had just downloaded the night before. Instead, I sat soaking in our jacuzzi tub in the sunshine listening to the birds and our windchime out the window. It was so peaceful.

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The assistant midwife arrived a little after 10am. Her and Shane formed an amazing support team, anticipating my needs before I even needed to vocalize those needs. She would provide counter-pressure on my back and Shane let me rest my head in his lap. At some point I got out of the tub and moved to my bed. Everything was still so calm. I was sleeping – even dreaming – between contractions. I’m still amazed by how completely relaxed and loose I was. If my shoulders started to tense all it took was a hand on my shoulder to remind me to relax. While I was still in the bed, the rest of the birth team arrived and were bustling around getting things ready. (I later learned that this was only about an hour before the birth). I was thinking, “I must be close since they’re so busy.” I still was able to completely let go after each contraction, even though they were really close together at this point, and relaxed right back into sleep.

The tub was refilled and I moved back into the wonderfully warm water. I started to push with encouragement from my support team. Pushing was so completely satisfying. I could finally do something instead of just relaxing into the contractions. I never really felt the satisfaction that came with pushing during Tristan’s birth because of the epidural. It was so primal and so amazing that I had the power to bring my baby into the world.

My waters broke at this point, and it wasn’t long after that we met Rose for the first time at 1:58pm. It was such a gentle birth in the water. Gazing at our daughter for the first time my heart was (and still is) so full I thought it would simply burst.

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Not even five minutes later, I heard my parents pull in the driveway. They had taken Tristan to the zoo and out to lunch. They weren’t expecting the baby to be here just yet, but were tickled when we were able to announce “It’s a Girl!”

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We celebrated later that night with a birthday cake and balloons for Rose!

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One of the best parts of the home birth was that I was able to take a shower and sleep in my own bed right away. I was comfortable in my own home and surrounded by my family. I was even able to read bedtime stories to Tristan (and Rose).

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A month later and I’m still on a high from such a blissful birth!

Vacation Bible School and Starting to Feel Settled

Vacation Bible School and Starting to Feel Settled

I spent the past week volunteering at our church’s Vacation Bible School program. I’m pretty sure I will have the songs from our “Gangway to Galilee” theme stuck in my head for a long time – especially since they sent us home with a DVD/CD and songbook of all the music we learned!

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The thing about moving is that if you ever want to feel settled and make new friends it seems like you’re constantly having to put yourself out there. After awhile, at least for me, you start to feel like you’re permanently outside your comfort zone. A week ago, I was seriously questioning why I volunteered to help at VBS. After all I didn’t really know anybody at church and it was going to completely throw off Tristan’s bedtime routine for an entire week (any parent of a toddler knows that could make the whole week difficult). I was feeling downright negative and anxious about the entire commitment.

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Now, on the other side of VBS week, I couldn’t be more happy that I honored my commitment and helped out. Not only was I able to develop some friendships with both adults and kids, I had the pleasure of witnessing Tristan’s joy as he experienced the magic of VBS for himself!

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That boy was the youngest kid there, but had all the adults and big kids wrapped around his finger.

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There’s no question that he’s a Hanley; he was the life of the party. The first night was a little bit difficult (on him and me) as he had a hard time sitting through the introduction and Bible lesson. Luckily, he warmed up quickly and by the last night had everyone cracking up with his sheer excitement at seeing Rusty the Cat (the puppet) and dancing and singing to the music.

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The week held some really positive moments for me as well. I was especially flattered after teaching the Preschool lesson on Friday that one little boy wanted me to keep playing with him after the other kids moved on to crafts and games. We pretended to be the disciples out fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Afterwards, he couldn’t believe that I “worked” there. It felt really great to make such a great connection with another child.

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I also felt a huge difference at church this morning. Volunteering at VBS this past week gave me a sense of ownership over my church community and I felt a whole new sense of connection and communion with the folks I worship with every week. I even feel like I made a couple friends (one who doesn’t even attend our church) and that’s always a victory to be celebrated when you’re still new in town. It even gave me the confidence to start pursuing some other things I’ve put on hold while waiting to feel settled.

Another great moment from the last week was when Tristan recited (unprompted and completely on his own) one of the memory verses we learned:

I have called you by name and you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

How cool that he now has a little bit more of God’s Word stored in his heart!

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Of course nothing could beat roasting marshmallows and eating s’mores with my son!

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May Highlights

May Highlights

Can somebody please tell me how it is already mid-June? Gosh, time keeps sneaking by me!

I had a few post ideas for May and obviously never got around to writing them. I figure I’ll just share the highlights with you guys and bring everybody up to speed.

We had some pretty heavy rain at the beginning of the month, followed by a little over 3 week dry spell. We took advantage of the heavy rain one day and checked out a couple of the local waterfalls. It was my and Tristan’s first time to see them and they were just pumping with all of the extra water! (The heavy rain is why the water is quite brown in the first photo).
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Peʻepeʻe Falls

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Rainbow Falls (I actually think this photo is from when we went back the second time).

Tristan loved the waterfalls! He’s asked nearly everyday since if we were going to see the waterfalls again. We made a quick trip to Rainbow Falls again on another day just to humor him.

Mid-month we booked kind of a last-minute trip to Honolulu for a quick getaway. It dawned on us that with Tristan’s approaching birthday it was going to get more expensive to travel (Infants 2 and under fly free) so we decided to go for it while we only had to pay for 2 airline tickets. We met up with a college friend and spent a nice day in Kailua and were able to spend some quality time with Shane’s grandpa.

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Tristan getting comfortable waiting to board the plane in Hilo

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Tristan and one of his Great-Grandpas

The weekend after we returned, we got a truckload of gravel delivered for our mud pit of a driveway (See Heavy Rains, above). Boy was I thankful for family nearby! It was several hours of effort of raking and moving gravel to fill in low spots and get it where the truck was unable to dump the rock.

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The truck was probably the coolest part of the day!

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Even Tristan and his cousin helped out with the raking.

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The end result is a much nicer driveway. Even Tristan’s dump truck approves!

We got our driveway just in time for hosting a party. The BIGGEST highlight of May is that our little guy turned 2! Remember how I said time keeps getting away from me? I’m really not sure how it happened but suddenly I have a two-year-old. To celebrate we threw a party at our house (the first time we really had anybody over since we moved) on Memorial Day.

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It was mostly family and a few friends with kids Tristan’s age. We grilled out, blew bubbles, drew with chalk, played a lot of bocce and of course ate cupcakes! It was a great time!

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That was our May in a nutshell. Hopefully I’ll be more on-the-ball this month. (Yeah right, it’s already mid-June).

Aloha for now!