We had a busy Christmas Eve, a quick visit to a friend's open house party, then Christmas Eve mass and then the boys each got to open a present on Christmas eve.  They pretty much couldn't wait, of course.  Dinah, they opened your presents first since they were the biggest, lol!
And they got to stay up a little late trying out the new toys.  I had as much fun as they did putting things together.

Santa came and ate his cookies and drank his milk after the kids were in bed.  He stuffed the stockings and left a couple more presents.  The kids actually didn't get up until 6:30, which is late for them.  I guess they were worn out from the night before.  They were happily playing with the things in their stockings until Dan and I came downstairs to open gifts.  
Adam with the cool book the boys got from sister Amy that reads 'The Night before Christmas' and even has their names in it.  The look on their faces the first time they heard it say their names was priceless!
Dan with his new aloha shirt for work

It was total chaos when all the gifts were opened with wrapping paper and packaging everywhere.  Then it was time for the Christmas cleanup!

Now Adam is still on Christmas break from school and at least the new Christmas gifts are keeping them busy.  A few more days until school starts again.  

And only a couple more days until the huge New Year's fireworks extravaganza in the neighborhood.  This is the last year that arial fireworks will be legal in Hawaii, so I am guessing they are going to go all out this year!

December Misc

A few pictures of what else we've been up to this month:

Adam's school had an advent program early in the month.  They sang a Japanese version of 'Angels we have heard on high'.  Adam is front and center in the picture.
The kids played outside and made Christmas decorations...
The cub scouts had their Christmas party and had a surprise visitor.... Santa!

We also made a gingerbread house and made stained glass tree ornaments...

We also went to see the Honolulu Light Festival for the first time since we've lived here.  It was very pretty, and we went on an evening without much crowds so it was very nice.

I'll have to add a few Christmas day pictures and I'll be ready for the new year of blogging!


Day 4 on Kauai

On the evening of Day 3 it was still pouring rain most of the night and I was starting to get discouraged listening to the rain all night long.  It did stop before morning though and so we got headed out early, checked out of the hotel and went to do the Kiahuna Plantation train ride.  It was still cloudy, but we went out on the train ride and had a good time.  It toured a historic sugar cane plantation that was now being used to test different tree and fruit crops for future commercial use.  Some of the land was also leased by farmers for growing local vegetables.  

Half way through the ride, they had a pen of wild pigs that the kids could stop and feed.  They thought that was great.  The tour guide said there was a pig overpopulation problem on Kauai and they now have an open season all year for the pigs.  There are no natural predators, so pretty much people are the only thing that reduce their population.
The rain held out just long enough.  Just as the train was approaching the store where we started, it started to rain again.  

Next we headed for the North Shore, our last destination for the trip.  It rained all the way up and again, I was starting to wonder if it would ever stop raining.  But before we got to the Kilauea Lighthouse, the rain quit.  I had told Dan not to even bother to stop if it was pouring rain like it had been on the drive up.  So we had quite a bit of luck today with the rain.
I even got to see some nene (Hawaiian goose) at the lighthouse, the only other place I had seen them was at the zoo.
As we drove towards Hanalei, again it was POURING rain.  We drove down into Hanalei Valley, which is supposed to be a gorgeous drive through taro fields, but it was still raining.  We didn't go all the way down the road since it was a small rural road in a valley and the water was coming up from all the rain.  But here is a shot of the taro fields in the rain.
Again we got lucky and it stopped raining shortly after Hanalei.  We got to stop at the Maniniholo dry cave which is a lava tube that you can walk into by the side of the road.  The kids had fun exploring it. It was not very deep, but once you got past the area lit by the entrance, it was kind of creepy even with a flashlight (but it was a little bitty one without much light).
We drove out to the end of the road and then stopped at Limahuli Gardens.  This was a great find, it was a beautiful garden!  It had a 3/4 mile hike so it was perfect for the kids to do and bonus, it wasn't raining!  I think I read that the terracing is from old rice paddies.  
After touring this, I can see why Kauai is called the garden isle.  By the time we finished this, it was time to head towards the airport.  The sun had come out by the time we stopped back through Hanalei, so I got a chance to stop at the Hanalei Valley Overlook, which some say is the most beautiful spot in Hawaii.  This overlook is looking down over the taro fields we drove by in the rain.  It was a gorgeous view, so I was thankful that we got one last beautiful view before we had to leave.
So it wasn't a total washout, but I certainly would have preferred a lot more dry time!  

Day 3 on Kauai

And again the evening of Day 2 it rained and rained.  This was a pretty wet day, it really outright rained quite a bit of the time.  I had really wanted to visit Lydgate Beach Park, so we brought our beach stuff and headed out.  We would get wet anyways, so might as well head to the beach.  This beach park has a natural breakwater and a shallow lagoon that is great for kids to swim and snorkel.  But, due to the storms, the surf was high and lots of driftwood and debris had been pushed into the lagoon.  You had to wade out past the sticks and stuff to get out to more open water.  The beach was covered with driftwood and sticks too.  You can see all the debris on the beach in the pic below.
I went out and checked out the snorkeling and there were lots of fish out in the lagoon.  So I brought Adam out and a half a bagel and we had tons of fish around us.  Amazingly, Adam didn't freak out.  Normally he is afraid of fish by him (again, I'm not sure who's kid this is).  But he had a good time with the fish.  All you had to do was bend over and put your face in the water and they were everywhere.

We took a drive up to 'Opaeka'a Falls and it stopped raining just long enough for me to get out and snap some pictures.  

I had planned on going to visit Kamokila Hawaiian Village but their gate was closed.  It is supposed to be a recreation Hawaiian village.  Not sure if they are just closed on Mondays or if they were closed because of all the rain.  

But here's a shot looking out over the Hawaiian Village down in the valley.  (On the bottom right where the palm trees are growing)

Then we tried to drive up to the Keahua Arboretum, but we got most of the way up there and then there was a swift stream crossing the road and I didn't want to try to cross it.  I figured if we went in, we might not be able to get back out the way it had been raining.  

I had also wanted to do the Fern Grotto boat tour and hike, but with all the rain I decided to just call it a day.  So this day was a bit of a bummer.  :(

Day 2 on Kauai

By the evening of Day 1 it started to rain.  And rain.  And rain.  All night long it poured rain.  At least by the morning things were lightening up a little to go explore the grounds at the hotel.  We were at the Sheraton in Poipu, normally sunny Poipu...
So we walked around and checked out the grounds at the beach and by the pool.  On our way back, we happened to walk by the valet lot and saw these cars stranded in the rising floodwaters.  Oops!  Apparently the guys got the rest of the cars out in time, but clearly these cars were a little damp inside...  I imagine there was a lot of apologizing to those folks with cars in that lot.  I'm sure they were probably all rentals, hope they got the optional insurance!

Since it was rainy anyways, we spent the morning at the pool and the beach at the Sheraton.  It was a little chilly in the pool, so we'd go back and forth from the pool to the hot tub.  There was hardly anyone else out, so we had the place to ourselves.  

On the way back to the hotel after our swim, Cole and Dan found some fish that had been washed out of the pond and were now stranded on the lawn in a shrinking pool of water.  So Cole started rescuing fish and putting them back in the pond.  There was a heron who came later too who thought this was great, like an all you can eat buffet.
Later in the day we drove to Spouting Horn, a lava tube by the ocean that shoots water in the air.  The surf was pretty high that day so it was really spouting quite high.
It was still raining on and off the entire day.  We drove up to the windward side to the huge playground there and the kids played for a while.  Thankfully the rain held off while they played.
And Cole found yet another friend (so far on this trip:  chickens, fish, and now toads).  I know who he takes after, since I was always picking up animals and dragging them home as a kid.  I have no idea who's child Adam is because he would not dream of picking up a toad.
So all in all, a wet, but still fun day.