Warning:  this is a lot of pictures.  Just saying.  But I want them all in the same spot.
Last year when Max was off at college I aligned my thinking with someone or other who told me that there’s some kind of scientific reasoning about how long a mother can go without hugging her child (explained back HERE).  
And that time frame is not very long.  
And that her sisters may just shrivel up and die if they don’t see that kid either.  Oh and her dad…he needs to see his daughter too!
And the whole world is a better place when there is a reuniting.  
HA!  Now I’m just making up stuff.
But man alive we’ve been missing our college girl, and decided we better get over and visit her for Spring Break.  
We figured she knows that island like nobody’s business (I love how she just spits out those long Hawaiian names of every place and every highway like she’s a local) and we were dying to share all her excitement about it.
So we packed up and went to that island of hers.  These girls got their sister back for a week:
And I got my mother’s hug that I so desperately needed:
(…as many as I could get, actually 🙂
That island that daughter of ours calls home is quite magical I must say.

But let’s back up for a sec. to when we arrived.

You know that anticipation when you just can hardly wait for something?  That’s how we all felt.  Dave found an airbnb for us to stay in and when we told Elle where it was she laughed.

Because it was just a few doors down from the new apartment she just moved in to.

How perfect is that?

We got there late at night, hurried and put our stuff in our place and walked down the street to find where Elle was.

The temperature was perfect in the dark as we walked, the night wind blowing gently us in the direction of that college girl of ours.  She suddenly jumped out of the shadows with a roar to give us bear hugs, and we were all smiles and love and excitement in that little circle of the night.

Here these reunited girls are checking out her bedroom…

 …that she shares with these three great girls:

(They had just returned from a really tough hike…I wish I could have joined them for that one!)

Oh boy Lucy was sure ready to soak up that sister of hers!

Elle slept over at our place and this is the view we woke up to:

Wow that place is gorgeous.

Elle has the same view from her place, lucky girl, but is also infested with cockroaches, which she’s braving like a champion:)

I woke up to Lucy and Claire already awake on the deck below, the slanting sun lighting up their crazy morning hair, springing to life in the humidity, making them appear to have halos.

It was a beautiful morning.

 We headed for a quick breakfast…

…and then dropped Elle off at her class, and swung by her old dorm to show the girls her old stomping grounds.

They decided they better do the same pose Elle and her friends did for their Christmas card:


Elle was our tour guide after that.  We headed to SANDY BEACH down on the southeast part of the island…

…and then to LIGHTHOUSE HIKE near the same area.

Most of us spotted whales as we walked up.

I say “most of us” because everyone was so dang excited about getting a glimpse of those things, yet I always looked a little too late, gosh dang it!  I need to get busy wearing my glasses.

I LOVE things like this to describe the shapes and textures and beauty back and forth with Lucy who may not get to see things like this forever.

Pictures cannot do this place justice, that coast is just so incredibly gorgeous with the rocks jutting out into that piercing blue.

I think this picture is funny because Lucy actually gave this hike an “F.”

She was hot and tired, but Dave joked that he was sure that “F” stood for “FUN,” which made Lucy smile too.

Love this family of mine.

After that we headed to another hike.

Yes we are kind of hike-crazy but that’s what Elle does most over there and we wanted to experience as much of it as we could.

This hike was called MANAWILI and it was a grand adventure.

It was one that we will always remember, and the one that Lucy told us all on the way to the airport when we were leaving that that was her favorite memory we made.      

As we drove to get there the clouds were sinking closer to the green riveted volcanic mountains ahead and it started to sprinkle.  There was a little worry mixed in with the anticipation.  Dave, always the careful one, trying to make sure this was a good idea with his cast-the-worries-out-and-change-them-in-for-adventure wife.  But we parked and Elle led us up through a little shortcut she knew, sure and confident, the wet foliage cooling us off as we slipped past it to the wider path.

There was one really slippy spot we had a group effort to help Lucy up on where we were all laughing our guts out, and on to pure beauty all around, Dave and Elle each holding one of Lucy’s hands to guide her through the deep veins of the earth stretched across the path with deep rivets washed out by the rain.

We took gigantic stairs and climbed over boulders, through a river, everyone guiding Lucy’s every move.

And we made it to the waterfall in delight just as the light started to fade.

It’s hard to explain the exhilaration we each held in our hearts jumping off that thing, a little worry about getting back mixed in with so much excitement, Dave making sure everyone had a chance to jump who wanted and testing the depth for us all.

An adventure for sure.

We jumped off and gloried in the beauty of that place and then headed back.

…as the sky gathered more and more darkness and one by one we turned on our phone flashlights to guide the way, maneuvering through pitch darkness at the end, but in such high spirits that despite the difficulty of the journey, I felt like our hearts could fly.

We were all bursting with adventure and were so proud of Lucy.  Grace and I got to be the ones to be on either side of her on the way down while the others all held the flashlights, and we got back to our waiting car, emerging triumphant and sloshing with wet shoes, and covered in mud.

That’s what memories are made of.

Lucy gave that hike an “A+” because “it was all dark and we were just all helping each other.”

We had one of Elle’s roommates over for cards that night (the others couldn’t make it).  I love how much my little girls think all those big girls are complete rockstars.

The next day we headed to our favorite beach: WAIMEA BAY

…with a stop at the Elephant Thai food truck on the North Shore first.

 We ran into some friends from home:

And boogie boarded while waiting for Elle to meet us after class (Dave went back to get her).

Oh man I love him.

We ate shave ice:

And the big girls and I took off to watch the sunset at SUNSET PILLBOX HIKE:

…while Dave opted to stay back with Lucy to do a little work and watch the sunset with Lucy at SUNSET BEACH.

I loved running with these girls, scrambling through all that beauty to get to the top.

Grace wasn’t in a picture mood, but at least we got her bun:)

As we basked in all that beauty, Dave sent us this picture on our group family text:

Oh man, one of my very favorites.

We ended with Seven Brothers:

…and card games again, this time with one of our favorite friends from back home and her husband…cutest couple ever.

 I’m so incredibly grateful for the good role models these girls of mine have to look up to!

I woke up to these girls playing cards with that gorgeous backdrop, and Lucy explaining to Claire about the spiritual symbolism in the movie Moana.

For reals.

Lucy was explaining that sometimes God waits to answer our prayers, just like He did to Moana in the cave when she banged on the drum.  She just had to be patient.

That girl has a mind like no other.

Claire did a little ukulele after I tried a little yoga on the porch (yes, she actually brought her ukulele with us:

…and we had a couple of Elle’s roommates over for breakfast but only got this picture after they left.
We spent the morning at Turtle Bay while Elle was in class:

 Tried to find her at a little modeling job she had to do (with no luck):

 Got Bonzai Bowls that were delicious (above).

…and jumped on a trampoline out in the middle of the water at POUNDERS BEACH.

 I love watching these girls follow their dad like little ducklings.

One more beach (that I cannot remember the name of) to see if we could surf for a little bit.

 A bunch of Elle’s friends were there catching the waves.

 …so these kids borrowed their surf boards and took off for a little bit.

 …while Lu and I hung…

…and Claire waited patiently watching for when they would wave for her to come join them for her turn.

 I wish I could have captured her excitement when she got the wave 🙂

 Oh man.

Lu and I could only see little dots out there, but they came back with the biggest smiles and Dave proclaimed them to be pretty great little learners.

I think that was Claire and Grace’s highlight of the trip.  They were glowing.
Our last morning on Oahu was my favorite.
Words cannot describe how much I loved getting to take my girls to the temple early morning (Dave stayed back with Lu), and how thick the air was with love for these girls of mine.

As I looked at them all dressed in white across from me I couldn’t stop my tears!  I was just so very filled with gratitude for them and the choices they make and the good they do and that I get to be their mother.

 …and then a guy who looked like a pretty freshly returned missionary…who was 6’7″ happened to be the one who was helping us in there.

My mind and heart were just swimming with emotion and gratitude.  So much love for these girls and their 6’7″ year old brother who I missed and loved so much at that same moment.

It was kind of a sacred motherhood moment that I will always remember.

We came back and worked a little on Elle’s sketches she was turning in:

 Then these two and I scrambled up CROUCHING LION real quick:

 (Dave and Lu were both a little “hiked out” by then.)

We went back and met Dave and Lu who had been swimming with at Turtle at TEMPLE BEACH.

We took Elle and her friends out for some Bonzai Bowls…

 …filled up their fridge at the grocery store, and packed up (with Elle) to head to Maui to visit my brother.

How I love that island of Oahu and the memories it holds for our family.


  1. My husband and I just visited Oahu in January – we stayed at our friend's house that is 1/2 a mile from Sunset Beach. It was neat to see your pictures to remind me of all the fun we had. When we did the lighthouse hike, it was under renovation, so we weren't able to walk up to it, but the view from the top of that hike was absolutely gorgeous. 🙂

  2. SO much fun!! I've done all of those hikes and they're all wonderful! Next time you go (or just tell Elle), you must go to Cinnamon's and get the red velvet pancakes. They're worth the inevitable long wait you'll have to get a table.

  3. Such beautiful pictures – looks magical! I was wondering if you'd mind sharing where you get your girls modest but fun swimsuits? I have a 13 year old daughter, very similar in build to your Grace, and she likes a one piece (compared to her friends who wear very skimpy two piece suits) but she doesn't want to look "old" or "frumpy" haha! It's so hard to find cute, modest suits for teenagers! Thanks so much!

  4. So fun!! I love you that you got to do this while Elle lived there. It's so fun to have a "local" show you around 🙂 I laughed out loud at the part where Lu gave the hike and "F". She is too funny! Love her and your family so much!! XX

  5. The beach in question is Castle beach. I was born and raised in Laie and go home quite a bit throughout the year. I always love hearing about people who love our little town. It sure is a special place!

    Also, to answer the first question, yes we really do walk around bear feet all the time. In fact a lot of elementary kids go to school without slippers and it is totally normal. When I am racing, I always take my shoes off because I swear I'm faster bare feet (Ha!). When we are there my kids never know where their shoes are because it's just pointless — unless we're going into the city (town) and I force them to wear slippers so they look somewhat civilized and not like caged animals from the country.

  6. HI! I was wondering if you take all these AMAZING photos on your trips with your cell phone? Or do you bring your DSLR camera with you? I love following you and your family. You are such an inspiration and a mother I want to be like! 🙂 Thank you for being you!

  7. I was wondering if I could get the information or contact info for the specific airbnb that you stayed at? We are planning our first trip there in October. It looks amazing! (stephaa@hotmail.com)

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