I am on a never ending quest to find the best for my kids. Most times it is simply checking prices and ingredient lists at the grocery store, sometimes its hunting via online and in store for the cutest (in my opinion) matching Easter clothes, but every once in a while I get a bee in my bonnet about their education. Although we bought our house based on the school district, there are a few areas where I feel the school is lacking. There are many many more areas that make me beyond happy with their school, but occasionally I start the hunt for a better school. My poor husband stands by and allows me to spin my wheels, gather information, talk to parents and usually go on a school tour - mostly because stopping me would just annoy me. In the end we always come to the same conclusion. Most of the schools in the area are approximately $5,000 per year. It comes down to a simple question, does this new school provide $5,000 of education that the public school doesn't provide? Can we spend that $5,000 in a way that would educate/benefit our children and their educational future? The answer is always the same for $5,000 we can take a fabulous vacation and expose the children to hundreds of new experiences which would very much benefit their education and be tons of fun.
So this year we did exactly that. On a last minute whim we decided to go to Hawaii, specifically Kihei on the island of Maui for you island hopping buffs. We spent 6 glorious days in the tropics while our mountain back home burned (Station Fire of 2009). Writing about all the fabulous things the children did and saw would take multiple blog posts, and I may get around to it in the coming days. But I want to quickly touch on the highlights.
The kids saw many, many new things. Hawaii is very rural compared to where we live, just seeing chickens roaming the streets and no freeways was pretty new for them. We also saw quite a bit of different foliage including plumaria trees. The children walked around town collecting coral, plumaria flowers, and macademia nuts off the trees and keeping them in their collection.
[caption id="attachment_423" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="The early version of their collection, later they added shells and seed pods"][/caption]
We saw quite a bit of wildlife too, some dead some alive, but all very interesting. William, who was afraid of the plane, the sand, the ocean, the wind, everything, found a dead gecko and carried around for a good part of the day. Although I wanted to squeal at the sight of it I remained calm enough to snap a picture and then reminded them that nature needed to stay outside.
[caption id="attachment_424" align="alignnone" width="270" caption="William and his dead gecko"][/caption]
The next day after playing a round of putt putt on the condo we found an alive gecko.
[caption id="attachment_425" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Another gecko"][/caption]
We spent mornings at the beach while the sun was still low and the wind was still. The kids dug in the sand, boogey boarded, ate ice cream and Alexander napped in his baby boat.
[caption id="attachment_427" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Alexander napping in the ocean"][/caption]
Midday was spent eating sandwiches on the lanai and convincing the children to rest and watch a movie. They would protest that they weren't tired and they wanted to swim. But this happened.
[caption id="attachment_426" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="\"I never fell asleep\" proclaimed the older kids. Good thing I have evidence."][/caption]
The afternoons were spent exploring the island, making leis or swimming in the pool. We saw sea turtles, climbed on lava rocks, climbed to the top of Iao Needle, fed parrot fish at the preserve, went to the plantation to see sugar cane and other foliage up close, sampled mango and pineapple sherbert.
[caption id="attachment_428" align="alignnone" width="270" caption="Showing off their handiwork "][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_438" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="At the Portuguese gardens near Iao Needle"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_439" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Mommy and Alexander at the gardens"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_429" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Exploring on a lava beach"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_430" align="alignnone" width="270" caption="Lava rocks taste yummy!"][/caption]
On our last night there we did the touristy thing and went to a lua. I had decided it was worth the expense because Lainy Ann really likes dance and Connor would love watching the men dance with fire. However, I was surprised by the 2 littlest ones who also loved it. William sat slack jawed watching all the dancing and Alexander joined in on the dancing. He spent the entire show hooting and throwing his hands in the air and bouncing. That alone was worth the price and effort in going.
[caption id="attachment_432" align="alignnone" width="281" caption="Alexander imitating the dancers"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_431" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="The kids and the Lua dancers"][/caption]
The kids saw so many new and exciting things in Hawaii. My favorite part was we went with my mother and step-dad who did all the cooking and dishes and laundry while we were there, so I got to vacation too! The condo where we stayed has 'the closet' in which other guests donate their beach gear at the end of their stay. I sadly said good-bye to our baby boat that was originally purchased 4 years ago for Connor while we floated the lazy river in Las Vegas. All three boys have used that baby boat and I think a few friends have borrowed it too. It was left in Kihei for the next set of beach-goers.
[caption id="attachment_434" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="The baby boat that we left behind"][/caption]