Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More Maui~A Day at Kapalua

On our second full day in Maui, Nick had made arrangements to golf at The Plantation Course at Kapalua. When he golfs on our vacations, I try to join him because it's a fun time to spend together and the views are normally stunning. This time was certainly no different... I think Hubby was pretty excited to check The Plantation Course off of his Golf Bucket List!

The views were gorgeous all the way around...

A fun native Hawaiian bird

Hubby & I with Molokai island in the distance

Oh, didn't I tell you? This is our new beach house...in our dreams!

The ragged cliffs make for some incredible photos!

The typical Hubby pose...legs crossed, arm resting on a club!

With our sunburned bodies we decided it was probably smart for us to not spend the afternoon on the beach, so we had a nice relaxing lunch at The Plantation House before heading out. This is kind of our routine when visiting a world-class golf course, Hubby plays in the morning and then we make it a full experience with lunch at a gorgeous and wonderful restaurant! The view from our table at lunch...doesn't get much better than that!

The Plantation Course...Check!

Hubby & I with another of the gorgeous views!

After lunch we decided to head up the coastline and take in some of the views further up the coast. Oh they were just stunning! The different terrains in Hawaii make the coastlines absolutely stunning and pictures certainly don't do it justice.

Hubby with the waves crashing below...

And a view back the other way...I just loved how the waves would crash and create this stark contrast between the frothy waves and the deep blue water!

Beautiful Honolua Bay~had we been there an extra day this definitely would have been a snorkeling destination! Guess we'll just have to go back to experience it!

We spent the late afternoon underneath a pool cabana and headed back to Lahaina for dinner. We ate at Kimo's were the views were stunning and the food was delicious. My one true fish dinner the entire week. It was wonderful!

Can't beat that view at sunset!

For dessert we tried the famous Ulilanis' Shaved Ice...it definitely lived up to the hype!
Get ready...the road to H*ll, I mean Hana is next in the recap lineup!

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Gloriously Long Weekend!

As I think back over the past few days, I honestly don't know if I could have asked for a better Memorial Day Weekend. Most of the time it seems that we have tons of stuff planned or obligations to attend during this weekend...but not this year. Anything that was planned was of our own doing, and it was absolutely glorious!

We kicked things off Friday night with a dinner celebration for my dad's birthday. We met up with my parents and my brother & sister-in-law for dinner and then finished off the night with cake, ice cream, and presents at our house. We don't all get together that often with just the 6 of us, so it was great to hangout and just be together for the night.

My couldn't-be-any-better family!

Dad's birthday cake...chocolate cake with homemade cream cheese icing...a family favorite!

Saturday was literally a day with no plans. Hubby woke up fairly early for a run and then went out to get donuts for breakfast. We literally spent most of the morning laying in bed watching tv, reading, and just relaxing. I cannot tell you the last time this happened. At least one of us ALWAYS have somewhere we need to be on Saturday. It was wonderful. We spent Saturday afternoon doing odds and ends around the house and then headed out for the evening. We did a little nursery furniture shopping (I think we have it narrowed down to two styles) and then we met up with a couple from church for dinner and dessert. I wish I could have a Saturday like that at least once a month!

Sunday we went to church, had a quick lunch and then went down to my parents' house to spend the afternoon hanging out at the pool. We also wanted to give Bogey a chance to showcase his abilities at our very own "Dock Dogs" ramp!

Wait for it....wait for it....

...and a flying leap into the air...

and the SPLASHDOWN!!!

We had a very relaxing afternoon and finished off the evening with a huge meal of ribs, green beans, potatoes, bread and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Thankfully we also headed out for a quick walk on my family's land to burn off all those calories! I am so incredibly blessed to have my family so nearby and have them so open to us coming down and enjoying the peace and quiet of the country anytime we want. It's such a great getaway for all of us!

Last night when we went to bed we really hadn't decided what today was going to look like, several options were discussed but my phone rang at 6:45 this morning and I knew the decision had been made. Along with my parents, we headed down to Joplin to volunteer a few hours of our time in order to serve in anyway we could.

We headed to one of the major volunteer centers, College Heights Baptist Church, and tried to be the hands and feet of Jesus for a few hours. Nick & my dad headed out with another friend to do some work outside and mom & I stayed at the church to help with sorting and organization of all the donations. They had huge tents set up all around the parking lot that were organized into a variety of goods that had been donated. Food, hygiene items, paper goods, baby goods, medical needs, pet supplies, cleaning products, etc., etc., etc. They had an incredible organized way of doing things and we really just helped to make sure the tent was presentable for those in need to come "shop" from everything that had been donated. In addition to the tents, pallets of water were everywhere all over the parking lot. I honestly wouldn't even be able to guess how many volunteers were in this area alone.

Mom & I both got assigned to the baby goods tent, so I have plenty of experience now with sorting all kinds of baby food, diapers, wipes, and a huge variety of other baby products. It was truly incredible to see the quantity of items that were available to those in need. Personal shoppers were assigned to each family came through and they guided them through the tents helping them to determine their needs. The church is in the process of fully moving the "store" outside from inside the church so we didn't get to help a ton of customers....but the area is now ready for the coming weeks when so many families will be visiting to collect necessities for survival.

One row of tent city

One side of our tent...diapers to the ceiling

After a few hours of volunteering, we headed out. We did drive around for a little while just to witness the devastation firsthand and I honestly can't say enough how indescribable it is. It honestly looks like a bomb went off...there truly is NOTHING left. The group leader for my dad & Hubby's group said that in a few weeks they will literally be bulldozing city blocks and hauling away dump trucks full of debris. The quantity of debris is just unbelieveable and I can't imagine how long it will take.

I certainly took some photos, but nothing really that you haven't seen. I honestly just took them for my own memories, the pictures don't do the devastation any sort of justice at all.

So I leave you with this, the flag flying from a crane located in the center of it all...one of only so many signs to show you that hope does exist in this city and that God is certainly showing his love in the face of utter devastation.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Aloha Maui!

I figured after being home for two weeks, it might be time to start getting some of the Maui recap posts going...so here we go!

I can't talk about the day we arrived in Maui without mentioning our first flight out of Southwest Missouri. We were scheduled to take off at 6:00 am and we arrived to the airport just as the rains began to fall. I was of course watching the radar on my phone, hoping the weather would move through before it was time to depart. Well...it moved through all right, the next hour in the air was probably the worst flight of my life. The pilot kept tryign to climb to get out of the storm and as we would climb, the plane would then suddenly drop as the turbulence did its thing. It was the longest hour of my life and by the end I was definitely stressed out & Nick had a horrible case of motion sickness. Thankfully we were both able to relax on our 9 hour flight from Chicago to Maui, but it's definitely not a flight I want to relive anytime soon!

We arrived mid-afternoon, Maui time, rented our Jeep Wrangler and headed to the hotel. I was a little nervous about the quality of our hotel after reading some recent reviews on Trip Advisor, but I shouldn't have worried. We were upgraded to a full ocean view room with a beautiful view of the ocean and pool area. It was paradise.

From our balcony the afternoon of arrival...I wish I could wear a lei all the time in Southwest Missouri, they smell so good!
We waited on our luggage to be brought up, quickly changed our clothes and headed to find something to eat. The Barefoot Bar @ the Hula Grill was our destination and it couldn't have been more perfect after a LONG day of travel!

The view we woke up to each morning...the waterfalls in the background and the tropical birds...can't ask for more!

After dinner we forced ourselves to walk around, knowing that if we went to the room we'd end up going right to bed. And...even with trying to stay up, we were in bed by 7:30 Maui time, which was 12:30 CST. We slept long and hard and spent the entire day on Sunday resting, relaxing, and burning our bodies to a crisp!

We decided to splurge on our beach chairs for the few days we needed them. We rented a personal cabana each day to have a view of the ocean! We quickly found out that cabana rental also included our own personal cabana attendant who delivered ice cold lemon water frequently throughout the day & fresh pineapple in the morning...talk about living the life of luxury!

The clouds were fully covering the sun, and I should have been smarter...but both Hubby & I managed to give our bodies a nice tomato tan on the first day!

Our activity on beach days consisted of nothing more than walking down the beach!

For dinner we headed into Lahaina and had dinner at Lahaina Pizza Co....see this expectant momma definitely had to watch her seafood intake on this trip!

Every restaurant we chose HAD to have a view of the ocean...the Lahaina Pizza Company definitely fit this requirement with it's 2nd floor open air dining!

We were in bed again early on Sunday, but not quite the 7:30 from the night before; I don't think our bodies ever fully adjusted to the 5 hour time difference!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Different December

It might seem to be a little early to be talking about December, but for Hubby & I it has been on our minds constantly.

A lack of blogging, not eating much seafood in Maui, walking & not running last week's 5k, and a quick doctor's appointment today....all because...

We're pregnant!! And due December 17, 2011!!

We couldn't be more excited and ready to take on this new challenge God has blessed us with. I am 10 1/2 wks along and for the most part I'm feeling great; tiredness is really the main symptom I've been experiencing. Today we were able to hear the heartbeat for the first time and what precious music it was to this new momma's ears.

I will hopefully find the time to recap all the fun big reveals that we've been able to share with our closest family & friends. It's been such an incredible experience to surprise everyone with our wonderful news!

December will definitely be different for us this year, but I'm so looking forward to what God has planned for little Baby Layman.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hump Day Half-Day

Today is a half-day at work for me. Actually, for the most part, every Wednesday in the future will be a half-day. With a change in some of the work schedules, I now get a half-day each week and my designated day is Wednesday. Can I just say that I AM LOVING THIS!?!?!?

I'm not sure why a half-day in the middle of the week is so liberating but for now I think it's actually making the days go by faster. Work 2 days, work a half-day, work 2 days...WEEKEND!!!

This afternoon I've got a quick dr's appointment, some errands to run, and then I think I'll be headed home to plant myself on the couch with a book...which may or may not result in a nice mid-afternoon nap. There's just something about those extra 4 hours that make me feel super-productive!

Oh...and to make today even better, we had some extra cash saved up and I've called my mom's housecleaner to come give our house a serious cleaning! I'm so excited to come home to a clean house!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Not So Boring Weekend...

Well, as you've all probably heard by now....what started out as a rainy weekend in Southwest Missouri, ended in devastation for many as the town of Joplin, MO was ripped to pieces by a tornado. Hubby & I live about an hour from the devastation and he grew up about 20 min. south of Joplin, so this definitely hit a little too close to home.

So many reports are still coming in, but the photos are almost too difficult to look at and I know from previous tornado experience that the pictures, video, and stories do absolutely no justice to the true devastation being felt by so many.

You can go here to find out how to help...Joplin MO Recovery or here to view so many of the stories and view the devastation...KY3 News.

What adds insult to injury is the fact that more rain & storms have been occurring throughout the day today. We live about an hour from the devastation and have witnessed our own share of tornadic damage in the past. My prayers and thoughts are with all those suffering.

It seems a little calloused to share the rest of the weekend after such horrible tragedy, but Hubby & I actually had a great weekend before dealing with the weather last night!

Friday was really nothing more than a casual night out, I wasn't feeling the greatest so we had dinner at a local pizza place and then came home to watch a movie. It was just what I needed and I definitely felt much better on Saturday!

And it's a good thing...Saturday was the 6th Annual Running of the Squirrels 5k! The name of the race is another story, for another day, but it was a ton of fun! I had good intentions of actually running, but ended up walking with my mom and we had a blast! We all joined in with close to 400 other participants and it was a beautiful morning. Hubby ran the entire thing and was definitely pleased with his time, even with his lack of traning & preparation!

Hubby, myself, & my momma before the big race!

At the starting line...

Hubby, hot & tired! He finished in right at 28 minutes! Of course, it was a little humbling for him when the top runner in his age group was at 17:04! Man, that's fast...

My cousin & his girlfriend after the race...these 2 also ran and did a great job!

My mom & I sprinting to the finish line...

...ok, well maybe not sprinting, but we sure made our finish look good!

Our company is actually the title sponsor of the event, so my dad got to participate in handing out some prizes!

After the morning fun, I headed to work and then spent the rest of the afternoon working around the house and relaxing in the warm sunshine on our deck! It was perfect.

Saturday night Hubby & I had date night with dinner at a local Mexican place along with a showing of Water for Elephants. LOVED this movie! Certainly some changes from the book, but nothing that totally ruined the original story.

Sunday was another jam-packed day. We headed to the early church service with my parents and I joined them in singing on stage for one song. We used to sing as a family quite frequently when I was living at home and it was actually really nice to be back up there singing with them. It was a special occasion for me to attend church back home, my grandma celebrated her 75th birthday on Wednesday and we thought it would be a nice gift to all sing together once again.

After church it was time for party-prep. My parents' hosted the gathering at their house and thankfully all of my grandma's siblings were able to attend. She is the oldest of 8 with 6 still living and it was great to see some of my distant family that I only see every once in awhile. I think she had a great time and it was fun to see everyone come together to celebrate her life!

The tablescape...

Our immediate family: Hubby & I, Mom & Dad, Grandma & Grandpa, & my brother & his wife Millie

Her yummy cake

All the girls...what a beautiful group of godly women!

And the sibling shot...sort of from oldest to youngest going up the stairs...

And then after the party, Hubby & I headed to our final small group gathering of the year. We had originally planned on a cook-out at a local park, but decided last minute to move it to a house with plenty of room...and a basement. We were all eating and having a great time when the reports started coming in that all hell had broken loose and it was headed our way. Thankfully, the majority of the storm went south & decreased in intensity as it continue on across Southwest Missouri...but certainly not before causing a lot of stressful situations.

However, once again...in the calm AFTER the storm, God sent his reminder of how good He is, all the time.

A rainbow filled the eery sky...

..and not just one rainbow, but two! It was beautiful, but definitely a little creepy as lightning flashed in the background!

And the clouds were even more strange as the sun began to set...

...another reminder of how powerful weather can be and how things can change so quickly!

I was definitely a little more thankful for my safety, my home, and electricity last night as I thought & prayed for all those in Joplin who had no where to go. This storm will go down as the deadliest storm in Missouri history, and the city of Joplin will certainly never be the same. Hubby & I have already briefly discussed what we can do to help...I think I know where all those clothes are going that we had left over after the garage sale...

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Casual Celebration

Hubby & I made the decision that with our big vacation in our recent past, we'd spend a casual evening at home to celebrate our 4 years of marriage. We had plenty of incredible meals while in Maui, two of which even included dessert with Happy Anniversary written in Hawaiian on the plate in chocolate!

Dessert from the luau

Our chocolate purse from Merriman's @ Kapalua...I can guarantee that was devoured in about 2 seconds!

So...for last night we had filet mignon from a local butcher, oven roasted asparagus, grilled french bread, & twice baked potatoes...aka heaven! We finished off the evening with homemade chocolate covered strawberries. It was so wonderful to have a relaxing evening at home, complete with a nice walk with Bogey and catching up on The Biggest Loser on the dvr.

We truly did decide on no gifts this year, and Hubby mainly kept to his promise...He walked in the door from work with these! Of course I might have hinted that flowers didn't technically count as a gift! ha!

It's a gorgeous Spring bouquet and I just loved walking into the kitchen this morning and seeing them!

I couldn't have asked for a better anniversary, even it was an extremely casual celebration! Tonight is dinner at one of our favorite pizza joints and dessert at Orange Leaf! yum!