Today this girl right here turns EIGHTEEN.

Yes, I have another child who is just plain OLD.
And in Hawaii, because that’s where she is right now, they say “Hau’oli la hanau ie ‘oe” (just in case you didn’t know that, Elle:)  
How the heck did that whirlwind happen so fast??  She was just graduating and then so quickly finished her first summer semester in Provo, worked out a plan to take finals a week early from there so she could get to Hawaii, where she had been communicating with her Hawaii counselor and teachers so she could start there a week late.

Phew!  I’m not gonna lie, that was tough work.  And it stressed her out.  But she is now safely tucked into her Hawaiian dorm and caught up in good classes, making visits to the beach each day and exploring that gorgeous island.
And I think she’s going to survive.
Lots more to say on that tomorrow, but for today, we are celebrating the big day over here on the mainland, and trying to send our love over there to that far-away island any way we can.
So here are my top eighteen things I love about Elle as of today.
1)  She makes things fun.  Everything seems more vibrant when she’s around.  
2)  She has the confidence to stand on her own if she has to, and doesn’t give in to peer pressure.  Never has.
3)  Although she is disconnected from pressure or drama (she just doesn’t have the patience for it and seems to repel it), she is very connected with how people feel, looking out for the underdog and trying to be inclusive.  I think that’s a rare combination.
4)  She is quick to apologize.  For example, she’s been a little on-edge lately with all these changes which makes for a little huffiness to come out here or there, but you can be sure that within minutes she will send a text or call to say she’s sorry.
5)  She is humble.  I loved Max’s valentine’s note for her as part of our “family heart attack” before he left on his mission: “I love Elle for being humble even though she has a lot to brag about.”
6)  She is a hard worker.  When she puts her mind to something she does it, and does it well.
7)  She has an eye for beauty.  I love her angles and composition to capture beauty in her photography.
8)  I can trust her.  With anything.  A job, working hard, being kind, being honest, taking care of something, you name it, she will take care of it.
9)  Her sisters think she can walk on water.  They adore her and want to be just like her.  Here they are with her on her quick layover here before she took off for Hawaii:

Do you think they like her a little?  Check out Lucy’s face.  Love it.
10)  So it’s extra good that she makes good choices for them to follow.
11)  She’s an adventurer.  That’s why I think she’s going to love Hawaii so much, she’s always up for an adventure, and there are countless adventures that await her over there.
12)  She knows in whom to trust and rely on in a tough spot, she knows to look up. 
13)  She’s quirky.  She will come up with crazy sayings or talk in a funny accent and it’s kind of endearing.
14)  She enjoys simple.  Doesn’t make a fuss out of anything and doesn’t ever expect anything.  She’s so easy to please!  
15)  This girl isn’t a complainer.  It isn’t worth her time.  She doesn’t let things get to her and just bites the bullet to get things done.
16)  She is far from perfect (I know birthday posts that only accentuate the great stuff tend to make it feel that way), but she’s willing to work on her faults and make goals to improve any way she can.
17)  She’s a lot like her dad.  And that’s of course a good thing (I sure love that man), except for when it drives me crazy!
18)  She’s taller than me.  And I just like it:)
Happy Birthday Baby!  I hope you find a great place to float your cake over in Hawaii!  And get a surf lesson too!

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    1. You're right, that is a really interesting perspective. It sounds like she adores it and can't stand it all mixed together, maybe she was just trying to figure it all out. Maybe by now she has moved to a different college. Who knows.

      It's so interesting how a college decision can be so different from one person to another. For one person Hawaii may be the perfect fit, for another Georgetown, and yet another a local community college. Everyone has such different needs and goals and dreams so it's pretty awesome that there are so many different options out there.

      We just got back from dropping off Elle over there and it sure looks like a great place to go to college to me. Elle's dorm is great, there are people from 76 different countries there at this point which Elle is pretty excited about, and she has some pretty awesome classes. Her biggest class has 30 people in it (as opposed to the hundreds in some of my college classes both at BYU and at Boston University). Her smallest class has ten people. She has learned so much in one week!

      Of course there are pros and cons to every college/ university in the world. The key is to pick the best one for YOU and learn with all you've got from everything it offers.

      Happy Birthday Elle Belle! We are really missing you over here! We're going to "float" dinner in a little bit in honor of your cake floating tradition 🙂

    2. Aloha! BYU-H alumni here. 🙂 A lot of what that blogger shared, I would agree with, but I think it's been written with a lack of understanding of Polynesian culture in general and how things are in many parts of Hawaii. People think Hawaii=United States, but really it is like it's own country, with it's own customs and language. Some students may struggle with the things she pointed out, but I've never met one. All of my friends from BYU-H have positive commentary and we often say it was the best time of our lives.

      Yes, there's poverty.
      Yes, the healthcare is poor.
      Yes, most students don't have cars.
      Yes, most students don't care about going to sporting events. (I don't believe they are getting rid of sports because students don't attend games, I understand it's to allow funds to go elsewhere-like allowing for more island and Asian students.)

      Most of the international students are there to work, go to school, have some fun along the way, and return home to better their family's circumstances.

      When I arrived on campus (as a white-American) I cried when I saw my dorm. My door didn't open most of the the way because the door hit my bed, it was so tiny. I had to stand on my bed to let my roommate get out of the room. This type of room was so small it's since been made into a single room. When my RA saw me crying, she straightened me up really quickly when she said, "You're crying over this room and to most of these students this is a castle. They've never even had carpet or their own bed." From that point on BYU-H became the place that would positively change my life.

      The purpose of BYU-H is firstly to educate South Pacific and Asian students. These students participate in the IWES program where they work 20 hours a week (usually at the Polynesian Cultural Center) and in exchange, they receive an education, room and board, a trip home once during their four years and about $40 a month pocket money. (That money is usually spent on calling cards.) They graduate from college debt free! It's an amazing program and one that my husband participated in.

      Laie is very much like other South Pacific islands I've visited and as such, provides a great cultural experience. Roosters, chickens, and all!

      P.S. I'm happy to hear Elle is living in the hales! On campus vs. off campus living is so different there and her cultural experiences are going to be significant!

  1. Lucy's face is priceless in that picture Shawni! I'm so excited for Elle although I know you will miss her terribly (and the rest of the family will too!)

  2. Happy birthday Elle! One of my favorite BYU professors is now at BYU Hawaii and I highly recommend this classes! His name is Michael Murdock and he teaches history– his emphasis is China and his history of Modern China was so fascinating.

  3. Happy birthday Elle! One of my favorite BYU professors is now at BYU Hawaii and I highly recommend this classes! His name is Michael Murdock and he teaches history– his emphasis is China and his history of Modern China was so fascinating.

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