Christmas as a trio in Pittsburgh

Family Christmas Photo (2016)

This year was Drew’s second Xmas! How quickly time flies. Paul had to work over a majority of the holidays, so we were able to spend Christmas together in Pittsburgh. ¬†We had a relatively low key celebration this year, but we put up the tree, decorated the house and made a few nice dinners. Little did we know it would be our last family Christmas in our first home (more on that later)…

Family night at Kennywood!

Paul found out somehow that it was light up night at Kennywood Park, so we packed up and went out for a family evening. We snuggled the little guy in his stroller and put on our winter coats to see the lights. It was a cute little evening, and you cannot beat free!

The next few days Drew and I played indoors with his trains and animals he got for Xmas. I love a little low key family time, even if it did take me about six months to get it down in print ūüôā

How to sneak in a workout with an active boy! Baby carry!

Recent reads

Here are a few of the books that I had the pleasure of reading or listening to over the past few months.


Sh*t My Dad Says

This was a totally random download from the library. I cannot say that I give it glowing reviews. It seems a bit embellished, and absurd, but slightly entertaining. I wouldn’t go out and buy this book – a library copy will do.

 


The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help, by Amanda Palmer

This was another interesting download. The book is a bit long winded. But her story is an interesting one. She was one of the first artists to use crowd funding to serve her music I believe, well from what I gathered from the book anyway.  She details the many different stages of her life as an artist from being a street statue to becoming a well known artist.  The audiobook has a few songs which were nice to break up the reading/listening. It was a bit outside of my typical book choices, but it was enjoyable.

 


When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

This book. Wow. It takes on a whole new meaning given that I am also in the midst of medical training.  The author grapples with the difficult choices of how to fulfill his remaining time while in neurosurgery residency. It is fascinating. By reading, you  automatically reflect on what you would do given it were you in the situation.  I highly recommend for all those in medical training, and I think there is a lesson for everyone to take away from this book. Best book I have enjoyed in a while.

 


$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America

This was an impulse download from the library. I found the description of life in extreme poverty in America to be an eye opening experience. I have always understood how it is difficult to break away from the vicious cycle of poverty, but this book details the struggles in a way we can relate to. I think it is an excellent book for those interested in community and helping those in need.

 

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer

Pretty standard life comedy by Amy Schumer who is painfully honest, and often over the top. Some of the stories were her style, and totally graphic. I was able to gather a few laughs, and she made my life seem nice, cozy, and boring. All good things. Overall, if you enjoy her outlandish humor, it may be worth the read!

 

 

If you’re interested in Audiobooks, I would recommend Audible. ¬†My car picks up my phone’s bluetooth and every time I jump in the car my book starts playing. It’s a great way to get a little listening in while you drive! As always, be careful – if you’re finding yourself getting too deep into a book, try some tunes or silence so you can focus on the road.

Paul and I used this on our recent road trip back from Wisconsin, we finished a whole book on the way home. After all, sometimes you can only handled 5+ hours of Eagles radio, haha!  The audiobook was a nice break from the radio while we were on the highway for many, many miles.

Do you have any book recommendations? ¬†I have a few in my audiobook queue, but I’m always looking for suggestions from friends and followers! ūüôā

 

Honolulu, Ohau and Pearl Harbor

It’s been a while since posting, but I thought I would continue the updates with old Hawaii photos since they simply have to be shared. After our amazing time in Maui, we took a quick flight to Ohau to visit some of the main attractions of the island. We rented a pick up truck and drove to our hotel which was close to the action on Waikiki Beach. We walked around the area and did some window shopping at a mall that was way out of our league. ¬†It was a nice area, but definitely more of a city feel than the cute, low key areas of Maui.

Hanauma Nature Preserve

The first morning we woke up and went to Hanauma Nature Preserve, it’s a horseshoe bay that is full of coral for snorkeling. Supposedly one of the best snorkeling spots in the area. ¬†We set up a tent and a spot for our little man to sleep. I read a book and Paul ventured out into the waters for some snorkeling. He had a wonderful time and even convinced me to try my hand at snorkeling for a bit. The Hawaiian waters were of course a gorgeous blue and so clear you could see all of the fish below. I unfortunately wasn’t able to see a sea turtle through all of our snorkeling, but I know Paul was able to see a few. ¬†Our day at the beach was wonderful, the weather and breeze were absolutely perfect. The little guy was a champion and took a good nap in the shade.

With Joel at the Pearl Harbor monument, love this picture!

¬†We finished the day down at Duke’s at Waikiki Beach and by some miracle found ourselves a table after waiting awkwardly for a group to pay their check. It seems like a bit of a tourist place, but the appetizers were nice and you cannot beat having food on the beach.

The oil continuing to leak from the vessel, makes it feel like it was just yesterday…

Our last day on Ohau we packed up and went to visit all of the Pearl Harbor monuments. I was at to Pearl Harbor once before with my parents and Joel. It was one of the most intense places I had ever visited. I have one of my favorite pictures with Joel on the deck of the monument.  I am so grateful we had the opportunity to visit together. The second time I visited Pear Harbor was no different. The moment you drive up, you can feel and sense the gravity of Pearl Harbor and all the history that began and remains in this sacred place. I wish everyone had the opportunity to visit this historic monument and honor the heros who served here. There are truly no words for the respect and honor of this place. I want to say thank you again for all those who serve, and all those who support those who serve. Forever grateful.

Triple bunks, just like in Wadsworth at Michigan Tech!

After we toured Pearl Harbor, we went nearby to the USS Missouri. Paul absolutely loves touring old ships, and the USS Missouri was not a disappointment. It is fascinating to see how a whole island of people lived on the water. Close quarters and many more responsibilities to keep the place running. As we were finished with the tour, a random couple was kind enough to give us their extra tickets to a flight hanger, so we were able to take some time to walk around and tour all of the different aircrafts. In just one short day, we were able to get a lot of sight seeing done before our red eye back to the mainland.

So many planes, so fascinating!

Our time in Hawaii came to an end and we were packing up to get on the plane for an all night flight. Little D was a dream and the flight went really well. We had a row to ourselves to sprawl out and try to get some rest. I don’t think I got much more than 20 minutes, but that’s what mom’s do!

Hopefully we can find another opportunity to visit paradise!

Time soaking in Lahaina, Maui

Early morning on our Road to Hana!

We had many activities planned while we were visiting Maui, we walked the streets, went into a few shops and also got a few bites to eat.  A lot of our time was spent pool side, enjoying the weather and watching our little guy splash and enjoy his time playing. We stopped by a cute coffee shop by our hotel and really soaked in some time to ourselves.

Hawaiian waterfall selfie!

Going on a little hike on the side of the road!
Taking the time to hike through the National Park!

One of our longest and most adventurous days we made the trek over to the Road to Hana. This is a classic Maui activity where you start down the road and drive up into the wet side of the island to find waterfalls and other gorgeous views along a winding road. ¬†We stopped at a few overlooks to take pictures and get close the waterfalls. ¬†We of course packed our lunch and had a car full of snacks. We weren’t sure how our little guy was going to handle a whole day in the car, but he did great! Once we drove the whole way to Hana, we weren’t sure what to do next – we want to stop at a fruit stand and kept driving until we found a good one. ¬†In the back country past Hana, we drove past a house waving the Packer flag which was an excellent sign. ¬†So, we continued on to the National Park that housed the Seven Sacred Pools. We went for a hike up the trails to the beginning of the falls, and then followed the path down to the pools. ¬†Paul and the little guy swam around in the pools while I sat nervously and watched others cliff jump from the top pool… Luckily, every time they jumped, they finally surfaced.

Looking down on a few of the lower pools!

All ready for our nature swim!

After our trip to the pools it seemed to me that Google Maps suggested we simply continue around the back side of the island instead of back tracking on the road to Hana. It seemed like the road connected all the way around and I was all for seeing new things. ¬†Well… some of the road was not exactly paved for car¬†traveled. We were in some pretty desolate areas of the islands and would randomly catch a few locals buzzing down the roads at a rapid pace compared to us rental car tourists. We continued to drive for hours without seeing an oncoming car, but we stared in awe of the gorgeous views of the ocean coastline off to our left. ¬†Finally we stumbled along a roadside shack called Bully’s Burgers. We stopped the car and grabbed a bite to eat – we were certainly the only non-native Hawaiians, but the views and food made it feel like home. After refueling with burgers, we continued on home and finally tucked into our hotel – it was a gorgeous day and we were so thankful to make it through the back side of the island!

Back on paved roads – we made it!!
Pit stop at Bully’s Burgers!

In just a few days we did some pretty memorable activities. One of our favorite activities was when we took a Trilogy¬†snorkeling tour. We got on the boat early in the morning to avoid the afternoon sun. We had a wonderful breakfast of sweet rolls and fresh fruit while we were causing out to our snorkel site. ¬†Our son was enjoying the time on the boat and the views of the water – we generally sat on the net on the boat so we could watch the water underneath us. ¬†Once we arrived at the destination, Paul jumped off the boat and snorkeled. I later joined him to snoop around. ¬†We got back on the boat, ate way too much lunch and sailed back to Kaanapali Beach. We spent some the remaining day on that gorgeous beach! I think we all equally enjoyed this day – there’s nothing better than being out on a boat and viewing the Maui coastline from the water!

Snorkeling and floating in the blue water!

During our trip, I¬†talked to Paul about my desire to go horseback riding. I knew it would be impossible to bring the toddler, so my husband¬†let me adventure out on my own. I was so grateful, and Paul was excited to have an excuse to skip the horseback riding that I made him do in Ireland. Tall men and horses don’t necessarily mix. Regardless, the horseback riding was absolutely gorgeous. The horses were generally slow moving and they wouldn’t stop trying to snack on grass on the side of the trail. The trail was also rocky which didn’t allow for fast pace while on horseback. But, the¬†sunset over the ocean was unbelievable and made for breathtaking pictures on horseback, and I had my trusty horse trot a few times for good measure.

Hawaiian horse ride – miss this!
The view doesn’t get much better than this…

On our last day there we decided to get real adventurous and go up in a helicopters around the island of Maui. Paul called around and secured an excellent deal on a helicopter ride, with the catch that we had to fly separately. We even got to bring our little man up in the air, and he went with Paul. He loved it and did surprisingly well with the noise and adventure.  After they got back it was my turn to go up in the air. My flight landed in a field on the side of Maui and stopped for a bit so we could walk around. We also flew over to a neighboring island to view the tallest seat cliffs from the air. I had never been in a helicopter before and it was truly unbelievable. I can totally understand why you would want to become a pilot and see things from the air.

View of the Hawaiian cost from the helicopter!

Our few days in Maui were absolutely wonderful. It made me question whether I was cut out for island life. Paul and I would love to come back to visit and explore the island for all the neat features and gorgeous beaches. It has by far been one of Paul’s favorite vacation spots, and is pretty high up on my list as well. Hopefully we’ll make it back one day, until then, we’ll save up the miles for another ticket!

Can’t believe we actually did this – the little guy too!