Mar 2009

The Post Where I Pretend I am Pioneer Woman

I am not sure if I have ever mentioned how much I admire Ree, aka Pioneer Woman, and her photography. Not that it really *needs* to be mentioned, seeing as this is all like a universal truth or something and who *really* needs to mention a universal truth, right? Well, I kinda feel like I do since 1) I got the opportunity to meet Ree at SXSW and she was pretty much what you get when you look “nice” up in the dictionary, and 2) I use some of her Photoshop actions regularly, and 3) I went on a horse-drawn sleigh ride today and took a bunch of horse photos and felt like an uber-impostor.

So, with all that out of the way, I can actually show you the impostor photos from our sleigh ride in Winter Park today and we all know that *I* know they are nowhere near as nice as Ree’s but I still really enjoyed taking them, proving to the cosmos that you actually *can* take this city girl out into the woods – especially when the trip includes hot cocoa and roasted marshmallows. Yeah, that’s the kind of ranch life I can handle.






Rest of Sleigh Ride set is here.

Back to the city tomorrow.

Um, if we can make it through all that SNOW.

Jan 2008

Maui Day 7 (Last Day)

And here we are. The end of our trip. As Sizzle mentioned, I *am* feeling a bit sad all over again. But it’s been fun sharing this with you, thanks for being so enthusiastic.

OK, ready?

As we packed, Declan was thrilled with all the seashell necklaces he had acquired over the week. Of course, all four of us pawned every one we received off on him, so it was pretty easy for him to load up.

Early in the morning, Jeff and Danielle took off for one more snorkeling adventure up the beach and we lounged around the pool.

When they got back, we all checked out and lost our shit over our bill (seeing as we had been charging everything to the room all week). But seriously, it was worth it. Hawaii is magical. Even if Declan may have to take out some student loans for college. At least he can say he went to Hawaii when he was 5, right?

And after lunch, it started to cloud up a bit. Really, the first semi-not-so-fabulous weather we had all week. It was like Maui knew we were leaving and was trying to make it easier for us.

So we just hung out in the hot tub rather than the pool. No big whoop.

And starting saying goodbyes.

To the swim-up bar.

And the kiddie pool.

And the hordes of people with too little sunscreen on.

But one little boy had the time of his life. (Oh, and the red stuff all over his face? That’s cherries. So, he had the time of his life – AND cherries.)

Bryan had some fun too.

OK, we all did.

Goodbye, Hawaii. Mahalo.

Jan 2008

Maui Day 6 (Christmas)

Our day started out just like any other Christmas day. Except we were in a hotel room. In Hawaii.

We had only brought a few gifts for Declan, and he understood that Santa was making a minor drop there in Maui, and the rest of his presents would be waiting for him back in Denver.

But not to worry. He got the one thing he REALLY wanted. The one thing he had been asking for over and over again. And over.

A happy birthday sign. A $1.99 string of happy birthday letters from Target. I threw in the Shrek so at least he’d have something warm and cuddly for Christmas to go with his cardboard letters.

And what is Christmas in Hawaii without a cheap bottle of champagne (my favorite) to make mimosas with? Except we made ours with guava juice instead of orange juice. Nanny nanny boo boo!

And here is the gratuitous “Aimee and Danielle With Drinks in Their Hands” photo. Please, all my family members, do not fret. I do not have a drinking problem. I have a “Here, Take A Photo of Me While I Am Drinking” problem.

And before we headed out for the day, we had a lovely rainbow from our balcony. What a nice Christmas present.

And then we headed into Lahaina for our whale watching excursion with the Pacific Whale Foundation. Declan promptly declared he was feeling sick, and tired, and fell asleep on the cushions below. For the entire trip. The kid did not see one whale. And him being below limited Bryan’s whale sitings too – so he definitely gets the Good Dad Award for the day.

But the rest of us? We saw two ginormous whales playing with a dozen dolphins for about a half hour. And not just one kind of dolphins, – but two. The bottlenose dolphin we are used to but also the spinner dolphin – which leaps into the air… and well, spins. Our guide said that she had never, ever, seen whales frolicking with that many dolphins before.

I made an animated gif of all my pics (below) and pulled out some of the really good ones separately so you could see them more closeup. It was seriously beyond cool.

[click any image for a larger version]

The dolphins also swam up right next to the boat. I about fell overboard in my excitement.

We were also treated to a second rainbow that day – one floating right over Lahaina.

Another cool thing that the guides did was stop the boat and put an aquatic microphone into the water, so we could hear the whales singing to each other. They also told us about a website, – where you can hear whales from Maui singing.

And then we headed back to shore, over rough seas, and we all tried to hold on to our lunch. Not everyone aboard accomplished that feat.

Of course, Declan woke up about 5 minutes before we docked – refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, nothing’s cuter than catching two boys in bed reading before we go out for the night.

We went out for a special Christmas dinner to IO’s. And I have to say, this was the only meal we were disappointed with during the whole trip. Well, it was pretty good. But not worth the $460 tab, that’s for sure. Obviously they had inflated their prices for Christmas, and the service was lacking, but who really wants to work on Christmas anyway? – so we sucked it up and enjoyed the ocean breeze, and the company, and figured, what the heck? It was better than room service. But seriously – four. hundred. and. sixty. dollars – not. including. tip. And one of us was 5 years old.

Afterwards, though – Declan got his groove on with the wooden whale. Seeing as he missed all the REAL whales.

Overall, a wonderful day. And really, the best Christmas present of all is spending the holiday in paradise with people that you love.

And alas, tomorrow is my last recap.

What will I write about THEN?

Jan 2008

Maui Day 4 (Snorkeling)

And here we resume the Hawaii recaps! I know you are all relieved annoyed.

Day 4 was our big snorkeling trip. But no snorkeling trip is complete without a concert first, especially starring a nekked little kid playing a blue ukulele.

Have I mentioned I forgot one important thing while packing for Hawaii? My contacts. The things that would allow me to snorkel in the place I flew halfway around the world to go snorkeling in? Luckily I have most excellent coworkers. Erika broke into my house (with a key) and grabbed some of my contacts and then Jill overnighted them to me. The photos below are made possible by them. Thanks, ladies!

We took a catamaran ride out to the south side of the island. It was a seriously nice boat. And nice friends to hang with, of course.

Bryan likes to see how deep he can go. Boom chika wow. I, on the other hand, was fairly waterlogged by the harsh waves. It was completely calm the whole boat ride, and when we go to our snorkel spot, the sea erupted all over us. Declan refused to get in. Err, more like screamed and wailed not to get in. So we took turns hanging out with him in the boat.

Somehow I managed to take a picture of the ladder on my way out. What the??? I told you it was choppy.

And Bryan likes to go deep.

OK, so, no disrespect to Japanese tourists, but WHAT is the deal with the peace signs in all their photos? Jeff and Danielle have also seen them doing it all over the globe. Personally I think they will look back at those photos and cringe, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make fun of them NOW, does it?

We had really clear water, even with the choppy waves. We saw a bunch of fish, several sea turtles and Bryan even saw an octopus!

I cannot believe the nice photos I got from the cheapie underwater camera.

The boat was the Kapalua Kai, and I highly recommend them if you go to Lahaina! Great crew, nice food… and we had lovely POG + vodka drinks after the snorkeling! No photo with the drinks for once, though. I have been told by my mother-in-law that all the photos of me have alcoholic beverages in my hands. Doh!

I got really far away from the boat. And nearly pooped my pants when I looked back and realized how far I was going to have to swim.

Declan made a little friend on board. Well, not “little” precisely, since he was 8 years old – but the two of them hit it off like peas and carrots… meaning they talked each others ears off.

And look, they let Declan drive the boat!

Declan took control of one of the underwater cameras. I’ll spare you the photos of the floor and the walls.

Ahh, my boys.

Here is one of my fave pics from the trip. I just love it! And look! At our second stop, we got Declan in the water! He even put his face in with his snorkel mask and saw a puffer fish. He has yet to stop talking about it!

And here we are, back on dry land, walking down to Whaler’s Village for dinner. I was using the remote and auto-timer but apparently didn’t actually look through the view finder when setting the camera down.

While we were walking down to dinner, SANTA appeared offshore on an outrigger, being rowed by his elves! Declan was BESIDE himself. He followed us all the way down the beach.

Then Santa pulled up exactly at the restaurant we were going to. How’s that for timing? Santa asked Declan what he wanted for Christmas. Declan said, “I already told you.” Ha! Shows that impertinence is inherited! Santa said, “You will have to remind me, I have so much on my mind right now!” And then they hung loose.

When we went out to see the boat, Mama didn’t quite get “hang loose” right. Ah well, I tried.

We had dinner at The Hula Grill, which we were surprised to learn were the same people that owned Kimo’s. No wonder, we loved this place too.

I had the ubiquitous macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi, but it was pure bliss here.

After dinner, I tried to get more shots of the full moon. Oh well, goofy light paintings are fun too.

The boys relaxed in the hammocks while I played.

And here is the view from our hotel window. Across the way it says Mele Kalikimaka and also Hau’oli Makahikihou (Happy New Year!)

[Click any photo for a larger image]

Tomorrow: Christmas Eve.