Seth’s birth-grandma, Gale, got ordained on Pentecost, so we figured it was the perfect opportunity for a visit!

voodoo doughnuts
After food truck lunch in Eugene, we somehow found room for dessert at Voodoo doughnuts

Half of our reason for driving down was so we could stop at Crater Lake for the benefit of our young volcanologist. Little did we realize that there would still be a bunch of snow in mid-May, and that we could only gaze at the lake from afar. It still got a big thumbs up, though:

crater lake

klamath falls
We stayed the night in Klamath Falls, after enjoying the street fair that just happened to be held that night. Our dinner was lame, but breakfast at A Leap of Taste was super yummy.

After two days of driving, we arrived at Aria’s house. Being there was so, so lovely.

magic school bus

park picnic
Hanging out with Ethan’s parents (we missed Ethan by a week – doh!)


curly hair twins

Gale's ordination
Gale’s ordination to Christian ministry – yaaaaay!


Seth had a great time playing with his uncles

On the way back, Todd and I talked up Paul Bunyan at the Trees of Mystery, which Seth has been playing since then. We also stayed the night in a yurt, which was super handy since it started pouring rain in the middle of the night.

on paul bunyan's boot
Lives up to the hype

oregon coast
The Pacific Ocean: also pretty rad, even in the rain

tillamook cheese van
The Tillamook cheese factory: not worth it

Overall, a wonderful trip to see some of our favorite people.

open adoption gets two thumbs up
Open adoption gets two thumbs up!

Day 8: Ethan caught his flight back to Oahu in the wee morning, which left the three of us to bum around the Big Island for one final day. We stopped at Lava Tree State Monument before snorkeling at the Kapoho tide pools. Actually, only Todd snorkeled (and played lost and found with one of his shoes) while Seth and I walked around simply peering into the tide pools, which was just as fun. After a lunch from Uncle Don’s hot dog stand in the middle of nowhere, we had a nice, long swim in Ahalanui thermal pool. We then attempted to hike out to the Kalapana lava flow. We hiked for about an hour before deciding to turn back because it still looked really far away, but it was still an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Sometimes we could hear the ocean waves, but sometimes all we heard was the sound of our boots crunching on the rocks. No cars, no birds. The next day we flew home and landed back in real life.

Overall, our trip to Hawaii was amazing. I see now why people go back over and over again — it’s so gorgeous! And it was nice to get to see two islands as they were very different. The biggest highlight, of course, was getting to visit with Ethan, but we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting.

lava trees
lava trees

Seth the photographer
Seth taking a photo of Mama and Dada

don’t all four year olds love pahoehoe like this one does?

Day 7: We caught our hosts on their way out for the day, and asked what they were up to. They were planning on going to the farmer’s market, then swimming at Carlsmith beach and Richardson beach. We basically did exactly the same thing (along with a stop at Rainbow Falls) with wonderful results. Within minutes of arriving at Carlsmith beach, we “swam with” a giant sea turtle – more like, got out of his way so he didn’t bump into us. Richardson beach has black sand, so kept us occupied all afternoon. A home-cooked meal of burritos filled with farmer’s market veg and mochi ice cream rounded out a great day.

giant sea turtle!!
giant sea turtle!!

open adoption: best thing ever
113 year old banyan tree

black sand beach
at Richardson beach

black sand beach

Day 6: When planning our trip, we knew we had to go to Oahu, because that’s where Ethan is living, but there was no way we were going all the way to Hawaii without visiting the Big Island volcanoes with our budding volcanologist. We spent this entire day exploring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park before a pizza dinner in Pahoa.

kilauea caldera
Kilauea caldera

thurston lava tube
outside the Thurston lava tube

lava rock hike
hiking out to see the petroglyphs

sea arch
Holei sea arch

volcanoes get two thumbs up
volcanoes get two thumbs up

Day 4: a hike up to Manoa Falls – the trees and plants were so beautiful, there needn’t have even been a waterfall at the end. Portugese donuts (malasadas) at Leonard’s bakery. We then planned on getting lunch at Kaka’ako Kitchen but accidentally ended up at Kua’Aina instead. Our burgers were tasty all the same, and filled us up for a whole afternoon of swimming and playing at Waikiki beach. We made our way back to Kaka’ako Kitchen for dinner, and walked back to our hotel at sunset.

manoa falls
I could not get enough of banyan trees

manoa falls
at Manoa Falls

Day 5: we only had the morning left in Honolulu, so spent it driving the Tantalus-Round Top Road for an amazing view of Honolulu, and then a little hike on one of the many Makiki Valley trails. After lunch at Irifune, we hopped on our flight to Hilo. We rendezvoused with Ethan, had dinner at the Hilo Burger Joint, and then headed to our rented flat for a restful night of sle–FROGS FROGS FROGS MAKING NOISE HALF THE NIGHT.

the view from Tantalus Drive

We went to Hawaii at the beginning of March to visit Ethan and to have fun family vacation times.

Day 1: flight from SEA to HNL. By the time we got off the plane, picked up our car and checked into our hotel, we were really hungry. We had taken snacks for the plane, but hadn’t had a real meal in about 12 hours. Aloha Sushi totally hit the spot for food, and a quick splash in the ocean at Ala Moana beach park helped slough off the travel-weariness.

palm tree
saying hello to Hawaii, Seth-style

Day 2: a hike up Diamond Head, lunch at the Mauna Kea food court. Todd and I both got Filipino food, and Seth got sushi for the second time in two days. After lunch, we drove to Byodo-In Temple. It was okay as it was on our way, but it’s definitely not a destination. Kailua beach park was our destination and it was worth it. We spent all afternoon playing in the sand, and then headed back to Honolulu to chow down on pasta at Auntie Pasto’s.

diamond head
the view from Diamond Head

byodo-in temple
Byodo-In Temple

beach time
beach tiiiiime!

Day 3: drove up to the North Shore via H-3 – super beautiful drive. Spent the rest of the morning watching surfers and one lone turtle (that stayed 20 feet out from shore) at Turtle Beach. Had our first taste of shave ice at Aoki’s, and lunch at a set of food trucks in Kahuku, including Giovanni’s shrimp truck. I wish I remember the name of the shrimp truck right next to Giovanni’s because it was even better. We then needed a place to hang out for a while before meeting Ethan for dinner, so went to Foster Botanical Garden with low expectations. It ended up being really cool, and even had a “prehistoric” garden, which was a big hit with someone we know. Met up with Ethan for a yummy poke dinner at Ono Seafood and waffle cakes at Whatcha Fillin’ for dessert. (Note to self/others: next time you’re in Honolulu, no need to look up restaurant ideas–just drive along Kapahulu Drive until something sounds good.)

shave ice
shave ice FTW

shrimp truck
Seth wrote his name on the side of the shrimp truck (see the flickr photo note of where it is)

baobab tree
man, baobab trees. totally awesome.

seth & ethan
man, seeing Ethan. totally awesome.

ethan & seth

We finished our fast at the beginning of last week, and wanted to reflect on it a bit. The plan was to make $327.60 (the average food stamps benefit in Washington for a family of three) last for all of our food purchases for 40 days. I’m happily surprised to say that we did it – with $6 to spare! I should admit, though, that I cheated by purchasing 60 pounds of apples outside of that food budget, and then we ended up eating a number of those apples and applesauce…

As the days passed on our fast, I quickly learned that our pantry and freezer are broad and deep. The freezer provided pretty much all of our meat for the 40 days (I think I bought about 2 meat items the whole time), and we only made a minor dent in how much we still have. This is good news for my vegetarian sympathist side, but may also explain why Seth has been waking up every morning lately asking to have “meat for breakfast.”

Also in regards to our pantry: with a week left to go, I discovered that we had flour beetles. Into the trash went the nearly full box of organic cornstarch, the bag of vital wheat gluten (you know, for making homemade seitan…someday), among many other things.

Overall, our actual meals were about the same as usual. If anything, they were sometimes more ambitious (see: Todd’s homemade sopes, tamales and Caribbean oxtail soup). So did the fast have any effect on us? Well, Todd can write down his thoughts, but speaking as the primary grocery shopper, every single grocery shopping trip was a lesson. As the stack of paper bills in my wallet shrank, and as my shopping list grew more austere (for us), God was showing me how I often take my blessings for granted, and letting me walk, in this small way, in the shoes of someone who lives in poverty. You better believe that leftovers got eaten, the $3 lemongrass “splurge” got discussed and analyzed, and we got stretched to have more-with-less.

I read the book A Place at the Table throughout our fast, and while the short essays were okay, what I found really helpful were the suggestions to pray for specific people in specific communities around the world.

Since we did stay within our budget, Todd asked if we were boxing ourselves into that every month. I said no, as did my Costco receipt the day after our fast ended. But I hope to remember and use what we have learned through these last five weeks.

…just kidding! We’re actually going to start our fast on Sept 27 (Yom Kippur, not Rosh Hashanah), so there’s still time to join us! We think that instead of eating the staples from a particular country, we are going to stick to a strict budget. Our budget is going to be the average monthly food stamps benefit for Washington households ($245.70 – as found here. Actually it will be $327.60 since it’s 40 days). We normally spend, um, much more than that per month. Foods already in our freezer and pantry are fare game. Continuing to cook whole, nutritious foods will help a lot, I think.

I recently started reading A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor because it sounded interesting, only to discover that it’s set up like a devotional for 40 days of “fasting.” Seay encourages people to fast, either by eating the staple foods available to a poor person in a particular developing country, or spending only as much money on food as a family in our area would receive in food stamps. Then all the extra money you save for the 40 days can be given to a charity directly serving the poor. I laid the book aside, but Todd and I are going to begin in earnest on 9/17 – during the middle of Rosh Hashanah, as Seay suggests. I bring this up not to brag, but to invite you to join us! We don’t know yet what our fast will look like – I will keep you posted. Seth will of course still be eating his regular diet. A weekly intentional rice & beans dinner will probably be on the menu, but that’s what he eats every time we go out for Mexican food anyway…

Last week we tried going screen-free for Screen Free Week. Todd obviously couldn’t while at work, but at home he humored me and we went (nearly) the whole week without tv or computer time. Each of us ended up “cheating” one day. Seth’s day to cheat was when Elise and Luke came over – he gets to watch some Busytown Mysteries while the other kids nap — the only way to keep him quiet and occupied while I put the others down!. I cheated on Thursday to look at furniture on Craigslist. And Todd watched some tv on Friday night with a bowl of popcorn, as is his usual ritual. Boy, we’re boring. I have to say, though, that while it was hard to stay off the computer, and I accrued some library fines because I didn’t get the e-mailed courtesy notices, overall it was Just. Fine. I read a bunch instead of watching tv, and we also found creative ways for Seth to spend his siestas. During my shower time, when Seth often watches a Busytown, he either played with toys (oh my goodness this never happens) or took a shower with me. History will decide who gets scarred worse, me or him, to hear him say, “I like your nipples.”

We’re back to screening it up, but hopefully I remember my lesson of how much time I had on my hands to do actually useful things! Like quieting my mind, slowing down, and savoring all that life (minus facebook) is.

flower child

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