Monday, February 28, 2011

Aloha Picture Post

City view from our room on the 32nd floor of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki.
Diamond Head in the background but we didn't know until the morning.
Morning walk on Waikiki
A passerby offered to take this picture for Ryan and the kids.
Nathan and Audrey with Diamond Head in the background.
Good sports taking a short photo shoot outside the Honolulu Zoo.
Incredible Banyan tree!
Mosaic Zoo Mural
Elysse enjoying her ride through the zoo.
Kids enjoyed Honolulu Zoo.
This sums up what Elysse did on our day at the Big Island...
Rainbow Falls Big Island, HI
From the top of the trail looking down into the volcano crater.
Inside the crater.
Lava covered road 2000. Chain of Craters Road
Lava Arch formed off the southern tip of the Big Island.
It started raining so I sent Ryan down for this shot.
Steam vents - if it had been a clear day we would have been able to see glowing lava from this spot.
Paradise Cove Luau canoe ride.
Audrey and Ryan learning the hula - both were given certificates!
Tahitian Fire Dancer
More dancing fun at the luau.

View from a scenic overlook Oahu.
China Man's Hat
Love this Smile!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Audrey was given the opportunity to meet with Make A Wish back in fall of 2010. When asked if she had a wish she told the volunteers that she would like to see a volcano and cookie cutter sharks. A few months later we were contacted and told that Audrey's wish had been approved and they needed dates from us. We wanted to wait until after the holidays and suggested February or March. Correspondence went back and forth over the next few months and we were given dates: February 13-21st. We had one last meeting at Panera just a few days before we were scheduled to leave on Audrey's Make A Wish trip. We were going to Hawaii!

I will work on putting together a Shutterfly book for Audrey to document our time in Hawaii. I did keep notes on our daily activities and we took a lot of pictures!

Arrive Feb 13th 7pm (Hawaii time)
Picked up Avis rental vehicle - Chystler mini van
Made it to Hyatt Regency Hotel on Waikiki (directly across the street from the beach) around 9pm. Stayed in room 3267 of the Diamond Head Tower.

Feb 14th
Ate breakfast at Ciao Mein breakfast buffet
Kids played in hot tub and pool
Ryan, Nathan and Audrey took a walk on Waikiki Beach
All went to Ala Moana Mall
Audrey had her ears pierced
Nathan found the Lego store
Had dinner at the mall Islands Fine Burger and Drinks
Nathan fell asleep early Ryan took Audrey out for ice cream

Feb 15th
Went to Honolulu Zoo
Kids ate lunch at zoo and tried shave ice - neither of them liked it
Spent time in the pool
Walked to dinner Jimmy Buffets
Walked through the international market

Feb 16th
4:30 a.m. wake up to take a flight to the Big Island
Arrive at the Big Island at 8:00 a.m.
Alamo car rental - Lincoln Town Car
Breakfast (after getting lost) Short N Sweet Bakery (Brides Magazine voted 2010 America's Most Beautiful Cakes)
Went to see Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots waterfall
Went to Volcanoes National Park
Kilouea Ike Trail - long and very difficult trail made it to the bottom where we actually walked on the crater. The crater looked smooth from the top of the trail when we made it to the bottom it was amazing to see the different elevations. Began to sprinkle we were grateful to have had so many pictures before the sprinkle turned to rain.
Went to visitors center, bought a few souvenirs and watched a movie.
Lunch at Kiawe Kitchen
Drove to end of Chain of Craters Road where we were able to hike on the latest lava spill which actually covered the road.
Attempted Lava Tubes but kids were sleeping and it was still raining.
Went to Jagger Museum if it had been clear we would have been able to see glowing lava.
Dinner at McDonalds before catching our flight back to Oahu.

Feb 17th
Breakfast at a muffin shop
Ryan, Nathan and Audrey had pool time
Lunch at Cheesecake Factory
Luau at Paradise Cove

Feb 18th
Kids breakfast at same muffin shop
Ryan and Tonya opted for Crepe House
Despite the fact that Tonya was very sick (later determined she had the flu) we went on our own island tour stopping at scenic overlook, blow hole, lunch at McDonalds, Kualoa State Park where we could see China Man's Hat, Laie Temple, North Shore, Motsumotos (shave ice shack)
Pizza delivered by room service

Feb 19th
Woke up to a symphony of coughs
Breakfast at Caio Mein breakfast buffet
Walked to Waikiki Aquarium
Ryan, Nathan and Audrey spent afternoon at Waikiki Beach
Dinner delivered by room service
Nathan and Audrey sleeping by 7:30
Ryan and Tonya had Haagen Dazs treat

Feb 20th
Tonya and Nathan walk to McDonalds brought back breakfast to the room
Packed for leaving Hawaii
Went to Dole Plantation
Met friends George Butler and family went back to their house and had dinner stayed until time to go to the airport.
Flight left Hawaii 11:00 p.m.

Feb 21st
Arrived at Charlotte Airport 3:20 p.m.
Back in Asheville 6:00 p.m.

First thing in the morning on the 22nd took all kids to the pediatrician confirmed Nathan and Audrey had flu - Elysse well on her way. Tonya went to dr. in the afternoon and discovered Tonya's flu had turned into bronchial pneumonia.

Glad to be home. Glad to have pictures to remember our vacation.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Rant on Health Insurance

Last year I would have said that I was so glad to have health insurance. I was (and still am) so grateful that we were not responsible for all of Audrey's chemo drugs, hospital stays, doctors visits and everything else that goes on with having cancer. Last year our out of pocket expenses were met the second week of January.

This year we have probably reached out of pocket expenses but I am not as grateful for my insurance company this year. When you look at the amount of money we make and start crunching numbers...well it is absurd that we are required to pay $3,000 out of pocket each year and then most but not all is covered. I am sorry $3,000 is a lot of money! And we can't travel away from our "network area" or out of pocket expenses jump to $8,000.

Apparently our insurance company caps the amount of money they will spend on immunizations we were responsible for $700 of Elysse's immunizations last year. And we are suppose to be happy that we have health insurance?

I don't care who you are, namely what political party you belong to, vote for or believe in...we have a problem here. This nation has a health care crisis!

We took all three kids to the doctor's office today. They all have the flu (glad we spent so much money on their required flu shots) the medicine to help them "possibly get over the flu faster" was $184. I want to throw up and not because I have the flu. I probably wouldn't have even taken them (or myself later this afternoon) except that people have been getting the flu then it turns to pneumonia and a couple of people in our area have died from it. Bet they didn't want to go to the doctor either because they didn't want to pay for it either!

What did we spend our tax refund on this year? Oh you know, meeting our out of pocket health insurance...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Saving Money II

In November 2010 I began my post "Saving Money" and told you about some of the things we do to save money. Since then I have continued my couponing. A comment on the last post asked me to tell my secrets.

1. I get the Sunday paper (from the quarter machine that way I am not causing anyone to work on Sunday!)
2. I cut out all of the coupons and keep the ones I will use. Then I share my left overs with Sandy, a friend from church and the moms at gymnastics.
3. I keep a binder with card protectors where I organize the coupons I plan to use.
4. This is probably the most important: I use a website called Southern Savers. Jenny (the author) posts weekly adds for several stores and pharmacies. What she does is match sales with coupons. She also references printable coupons for the sale items as well. I have also heard another good website to use is this one you have to pay for (that is why I don't use it - the whole point is to save money not spend it. Though the users claim they save way more by using it).5. If an item seems to never be on sale and there aren't coupons for them I usually buy them from Wal-Mart once per month (otherwise I never go in the store).

Sure it is work but it is rewarding and I have fun doing it.

Another money saver is using less laundry detergent than "suggested." Ryan came home and referenced an article he read in the New York Times. We read the article together and it said we should use 1/4 the recommended amount of laundry detergent between loads. It suggests that the detergent builds up and that also contributes to the fading issue. Shortly after reading the article we put the suggestion to a test and sure enough our clothes are clean and smell good.

I have actually been making my own baby food. This is something I never thought I would do because of the amount of time required and since I didn't know anything about it I had to do a lot of reading too. I read that I was going to need a steamer and a food processor - this started to discourage me a bit because I didn't want to have to purchase those items just to make baby food for 6-9 months. So, I decided to steam the old fashioned way - in a pot, on the stove. I then used my handy little chopper (a gift from years ago cost $10). Taaadaaaa homemade baby food. Guess what, Elysse prefers mine to Gerber! (I do buy peas, beans and prunes those are hard to do without a food processor.)

I can hardly believe I am about to say this last part.... I am considering buying and using cloth diapers. I have a stock of diapers for the time being so I don't have to make a decision too quickly. Before Nathan was born I decided cloth was the way to go. I bought a bunch and was ready to go. He was born and the darn things were so big there was NO way they would work for him. Well, cloth diapers have come a long way in the past 6 years. I have friends that use and prefer cloth diapers (for cost and environmental reasons) and they make it look simple. There are a few reasons I am on the fence #1 should I really make the switch for the last child? #2 isn't it going to be inconvenient? #3 is it going to make the house stink...yes, I know there are special wet bags for this kind of thing but it just seems like it is going to stink #4 how much money am I really going to save? Right now I am thinking that I will do it but when the diaper stock begins to dwindle I may chicken out.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pictures from Rosie

Rosie ended up getting the same camera I did for Christmas only she ordered one that came with two lenses. I had this idea that I would send her my SD card of pictures that I took while I was there and she could then send the pictures she took back to me as well. Here are two of Rosie's pictures that I will share...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just Thinking

Okay I think I have scared away all of my readers. I haven't been posting much lately and all of our "big" news about Audrey is over so perhaps this blog isn't as important as it once was. I do enjoy blogging. I don't seem to have much time for it. I should make time because it is something I do really enjoy and it is all for me. I absolutely love comments though. So if you have taken time lately to post a comment - thank you. I also check the stats every time I open the blog just to see how many people have viewed the blog (regardless if a comment was left or not). Today when I checked the stats there was a big 0. Oh well.

I have been feeling very down lately. It all started last Monday evening. When people I love and care about are not happy - that translates to me. I am not depressed, just down.

Our house is all about Legos lately. Nathan is obsessed and Audrey wants to be part of the action. I bought Nathan a set of "creative" Legos to have fun with - his was a reward for working hard on something I asked him to. Audrey was constantly being told that she couldn't take part so I bought some for her so she could have her own. Somehow Nathan managed to figure out how to play with hers more than his own.

Last Sunday I actually had a chance to listen to the talks during Sacrament meeting. It was the 5th Sunday which means our Sacrament meeting revolves around missionary work. Both of our Elders spoke. The first missionary wanted to speak about missionary work with an eternal perspective. He went on to tell about his dad passing away when he was 5. He didn't like attending primary when he was little because so much of what we learn has to do with families (which always includes a dad). He also didn't like Father's Day because well - he didn't have a dad. He has quite a few siblings and he is the youngest. As each of his siblings were married in the temple (he wasn't able to attend because he had not yet been able to attend the temple for himself) the seat beside his mom sat empty. After each marriage in the temple his mom and siblings would then relate to him about the empty chair and tell him that his dad was there. With tears in his eyes he then spoke of what he hope the future would hold for him. He awaits the opportunity to also be married in the temple and feel the presence of his dad in the room. Families are eternal. We have the opportunity here on this earth to be sealed for time and all eternity to our spouses and our children to us as well. For this elder it is heartbreaking when those investigating the church turn away or when he sees members fall away as he holds to the truth of eternal life and families being together for eternity.