Last week Elle ended her summer semester at BYU Provo and started anew on the island of Oahu smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 
She bid a sad goodbye to all the adventures and learning and new friends and more than a few sleepless-because-she-was-having-too-much-fun nights.  Part of those adventures she had up in Provo included tree climbing, a “hot tile,” hikes in the middle of the night, camping, “shooting the tube,” and oh so many more things we need a translation for and also that we don’t even know about. 

Along with all that adventurous fun, she got a little modeling side job at this place called “Called to Surf.”  Kind of a funny name, yes, but such a great store (we stopped by when we were in Provo this summer to check it out, I’d definitely recommend a stop-by for anyone who finds themselves in Provo).  It was funny because since she didn’t have a car she had to be pretty creative to get to work, but the store owner was confident she would figure it all out and she was right.
Check out their instagram at calledtosurf and scroll down to find a whole slew of pics of Elle.  

(They add new things all the time and since Elle isn’t there any more there you have to scroll a little to get back to her.)  
They also have stuff online and you can find Elle a bunch if you head over HERE.

Most importantly, that girl of ours studied her heart out for her classes and learned more than she bargained for.  All her learning was accompanied by some pretty sweet grades.  It was a semester I think that will go down in her record book as being the most fun she’s ever had.  
It was a pretty good how-do-you-do to college.
Which made for a sad goodbye.  Most of her good guy friends from up there (a few of them from her high school) are leaving to serve two-year missions within a couple months.  And most of the girls she hung out with up there are sticking around in Provo and many are thinking of missions themselves.  And when you don’t know when you’ll see someone you care about a lot again, if ever, that’s tough stuff I tell you.
Right as she was still wiping the tears away from saying goodbye she said hello to the beach and a slower lifestyle in Hawaii (at least so far).  If you’re going to bid farewell to something pretty grand, I figure a pretty good place to wallow in your “missing” is on a beach in Hawaii 🙂  She is excited for this next grand adventure that awaits but that doesn’t make the “missing” any less.  Especially when they are all gathering for farewells and good-byes while she’s thousands of miles across the ocean on a tiny little island.

But let’s back up to before the island for a minute.
It was cheaper to fly from the desert to Hawaii than it was to fly from Utah, so Elle came home late one night so we could leave all together the next morning. (Yes, Dave and I got to go take her over there:)  Dave booked her on a flight from Utah with a very unreliable airline (he didn’t realize how unreliable when he booked it) so she could come home to re-pack and get situated for a couple hours before we left early the next morning.
Lucy and I (as well as a couple neighbors) got busy on a welcome home banner for her.
There are some funny things surrounding that whole story like how Dave tracked the airplane for her flight all day and kept giving updates all day, and how it made my heart jump with every delay he announced, but she finally arrived home.
She was almost two hours late, but she got here.  Hallelujah!

(Yes I already posted that pic, but it serves a good purpose for story-telling here :).  …And I love it.

She arrived along with all her stuff my mom had gone to help her pack up earlier that day up in Utah…THANK YOU MOM!

I think by that time Elle was quite delirious with lack of sleep and finals-studying, she was so dang tired.  She hadn’t slept much that whole last week.
Let’s check that banner out a little closer because hey, Lucy worked for probably over an hour on those last few letters….
Elle hadn’t been home since we left for Europe on May 30th so she was pretty excited to be here.

By the time she arrived home it was so late, but a couple sweet friends who were still in town came by to say hi/bye…

We packed up all our stuff and before we knew it we were off bright and early the next morning.

This whole transferring process has been a little tricky since the dates don’t match up between these two universities Elle decided to attend.  I don’t know if it is intentional so that kids don’t do what she did, but with quite a lot of work and grit (and a little guidance from her mother) that girl did it.  I mentioned this a little before, but I want to remember how that girl worked with her teachers to take her finals early, and kept in touch with teachers in Hawaii to let them know she was still coming even though she was a week late.  So the Hawaii professors loaded her up with assignments  and projects she should be doing in the midst of her finals and goodbyes in Provo which was quite an undertaking.  Even when we finally arrived to her Hawaiian dorm and met her new roommate, the RA told her she though she may have been kicked out of that dorm since she showed up as a “no-show” the first week.  Luckily she had been in touch with her counselor and we got it all worked out.

Lots of complications like that, but it all worked out and we are both glad she is officially tucked in safe and caught up in her classes.

Here’s what her dorm looks like there:
And here’s her room:

(That’s at least her little corner…she shares with three other roommates she didn’t know before who seem pretty great.)

After we unpacked a little we met up with this great couple we had been looking forward to meeting my sister had introduced us to through the internet before we arrived:

They used to live near each other in Boston but have since moved to Hawaii, both work for BYU-H.  We fell in love with them right from the start, they are some of the kindest people ever.

That sure puts you at ease to know that your daughter has people who will look out for her when she’s so far away.

James (the husband) told us all about the amazing programs BYU-Hawaii has to help kids all over the world get an education through scholarships and another program called IWES (explained pretty wonderfully through “fromthemrs” in the last post’s comments…thank you!).  He goes all over the world to actually recruit kids who may otherwise never have the chance to get an education and bring it back to their own communities.  I love that.

Dave and I mixed tucking Elle into her dorm and helping her feel situated with a little late wedding anniversary celebration by ourselves.  We knew Elle would be better off without us hovering over her too much so we let her be most of the time, but got to do a few things together first.  On Sunday she went to her own new student ward there (which sounds like a great one) and Dave and I went to church with some friends, Rusty and Melanie, who used to live in the desert and now live right across from the Polynesian Cultural Center (right next to BYU-Hawaii).

I had to take a picture of their view from the hallway of the church:

Wow, right?

I also had to take a picture of how my cup of water looked at lunch.

Humidity is pretty awesome.

We helped Elle get going on some of her assignments.  She’s doing a web design class which I wish I could take with her.  We sat and tried to figure out html code for a little bit…

…and then went to join our friends for an afternoon sail.  
This is Melanie:

They live life in such a cool way and we loved catching up with them.  They remind me of my brother a little bit since they travel around and do home schooling…and have even converted a car to greasel just like my brother does.  That above picture is taken from their back porch.

For reals, they live there.  Is that cool or what?

A while back they invested in a sailboat which they have taken out on multiple-day cruises with their four kids.  They are adventurers.

Three of those girls in this picture below go to BYU-Hawaii.

One is Rusty & Melanie’s daughter who is a freshman like Elle.  The other two are living with Rusty and Melanie until their apartment becomes available so it was so nice for Elle to get to know all three of them…especially since two of them have the same major Elle is thinking of doing (graphic design).
It was a gorgeous evening riding over those huge ocean swells, talking and watching the sun sink.

Rusty and Dave even caught a fish off the back (and Rusty fried it up for dinner later).

We were hoping to see some sharks (this is right where we did our cage shark dive last Christmas with the whole family back HERE).  No luck that night, darn it.  
We went back to Rusty and Melanie’s for home-made pizza.  Man, those guys took great care of us.
As Elle got submerged into her new life and classes, Dave and I got a few days for a long “Date.”
We ate delicious fresh food…

And laid out talking on this beach all afternoon one day:

That is Waimea Bay, our favorite beach ever as a family when we visited last Christmas.  There were HUGE waves back then, but this time of year it was flat as a pancake.

We did that rock jump up there and got burned to a crisp in that beautiful Hawaiian sun as we talked through life and the world.

We went on the Crouching Lion hike we tried to find and failed at Christmas.

This time we found the trailhead, but we actually took the wrong fork in the road and hiked up WAY higher through a lot of mud behind the actual Crouching Lion hike.

It was one of the most gorgeous hikes I’ve ever been on.

And I took probably 87 pictures to try to remember it.


Hikes sure give you a gorgeous vantage point.

See that little point in the middle of the picture below?

That is the Crouching Lion hike.

Some day I’ll go back and do it with Elle (who has already done it herself with some friends there) but I was so glad we did the higher one this day.

We just kept climbing higher and higher.

See how tiny that Crouching Lion point looks below us?

Going down wasn’t nearly as exhilarating as going up…

We took the wrong route and got caught in a lot of mud, slipping all over the place (it was very steep).

And slipping in mud isn’t the most fun thing, especially for Dave who just got new shoes that weren’t cooperating very well for hiking.

But we made it out alive and headed to paddle board at Rusty and Melanie’s.

We just walked down these steps with their boards:

…and headed through the reef off to the left below to head out to some big waves.

Rusty and Melanie are pros at that stuff, but Dave and I have some work to do!  I wish I could have taken pictures out there.  The sky was a little hazy against the green shore-line as you looked in and the ocean was blue as could be heading out to the horizon.

Amidst other things, we got to get in a quick visit with this cute girl our family fell in love with when Max dated her a little bit his senior year.

She has lived in Hawaii for a while now and is another person who will be looking out for Elle over there…SO grateful!  We wished we could have met her new husband but he was in class when we finally got together.

We visited the beautiful temple there right next to campus:

…and laughed one afternoon when we were delivered this HUGE amount of fish and chips at lunch.


We explored the beaches right next to where Elle lives.  This one is called Castle Beach:

…which is great for surfing.

And this one is Pounders, literally right across from campus:

…great for body-boarding.

I LOVED how the waves would crash up against those craggy cliffs and spray up all their white foamy mist.

The last day we grabbed Elle after one of her classes and took her to get a smoothie with us before we left.  This is the only picture I got of us together there, but this was right before we found a quiet spot for a special Father’s Blessing.

Dave always gives the kids special Father’s blessings as the school year begins each year, and I must say this was probably the most beautiful setting yet.  And I don’t know if it was because I was extra anxiously nervous to leave this girl there, but the words he spoke may have been the most beautiful yet to my mother’s heart as well.

So this is now Elle’s home:

And she sure seems to be taking advantage of all it has to offer so far.

She has tiny classes and at lest a few outstanding professors and has gone on hikes and figured out at least part of the bus system and how to get around with no car in the short week she has been there. She has so many adventures awaiting her.

It’s hard to express my feelings leaving her there but this picture kind of depicts my mood as we left.

No matter how many perks and amazing things a college campus has to offer, it’s hard to leave your daughter there.

I know she will thrive and love and learn and grow.

But we will sure miss her.

On our way to the airport Dave and I actually hit the Thai food truck my mouth has been watering for ever since we tried to go there and it was closed at Christmas.  And tried again the beginning of this trip, closed again.

Third time was a charm and it was a perfect way to end those days we had together…at twilight with little candles glowing on our table and perfect equilibrium air around us, with Dave at my side, happy and content with a little melancholy mixed in.

As we left Elle with her new “beginning” back in Hawaii we headed home to our own new “beginning” at home:

Life with three kids.

We had some babysitter problems while we were gone (our babysitter got shingles of all things!) so everything was kind of mismatched and scrambled.  But those three girls of ours fared great with so much help from neighbors and family (thanks guys!).  We got home on a red-eye so things were a little blurry for a couple days, but first thing I had to go surprise Lucy at lunch at school since I was so anxious to give her a hug.

(I don’t think the older girls in Junior High and High school would have appreciated the lunch snuggles quite as much, although they claimed they would, and it was a pretty joyous reunion with all.)

And since then we are all off to new beginnings.  The end of an era with so many kids at home going every-which direction on to a new reality here with these three girls of ours.

New classes, new family theme for the year, new things learned in Taiwan for Max, new everything for Elle in Hawaii, new lessons to learn and schedules to solidify.

Here we go!

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  1. Wow! I love reading your posts and seeing how you handle all the wonderful crazy kids bring to our lives. Good luck to Elle and you at home finding your new normal. Thanks for letting us all follow along!

  2. By saying you're not sure how long she'll be tbere, do you mean she may transfer to BYU? Also is it uncommon for girls to go on missions? It seems like it's expected for boys and an option for girls? Thanks!

    1. Oh I should clarify that up there in the post, she has no plans of leaving…they have a great graphics arts program she's excited about. But she is thinking about a mission and study abroad at some point in her college career so who knows where this road will lead.

      You're right, for boys missions are more the norm, but It is becoming more and more common for girls to go as well.

  3. What a great post! You wrote beautifully about the many transitions in your life. I'm guessing you and Dave are really going to enjoy this time focusing on your 3 girls at home as well a cheering on your "big kids" from afar.

    While I'm sure Elle is enjoying beautiful HI I can imagine that going from Provo to BYU-H; especially in light of how disappointed she was when she first found out she's not going to BYU would be very tough. Seems unnecessarily difficult; like a tease of what she wanted to very much but cannot have. At least not yet…. sounds like transferring is already something one her mind.

    Also, I'm very surprised that that someone Max dated his senior year is already married? I hope she continues her own education; you mentioned her husband is attending classes but nothing about what she is up to.

  4. I don't know if your sister Saren knew George and Tatiayna Lukov (from Plovdiv) when she was a missionary in BG, but George is a Professor at BYUH. I think he's in the biology dept. If Elle ever runs across him, she should mention the connection.

  5. My Uncle and Aunt both teach at BYUH. Chad and Cynthia Compton. He teaches in the communications dept and I believe is the chair. She teaches history. I'm sure Elle will thrive.

  6. So happy to see this! After that wild week with no sleep at the end, this seems so soothing and beautiful, although I'm sure there were many issues to work out after arriving a week late. We loved our little interchanges with Elle at the end. She is going to have an incredible year because she knows how to gather up the grit when needed and how to relax when it's not! Love that girl!

  7. It looks like such a beautiful place to go to school I feel like I'd never wanna leave 🙂 It looks like she has a lot of people looking out for her so at least she's not going there with not a single soul she knows. Good luck Elle (P.S. I have that same striped skirt you are wearing when you are with that couple) 🙂

  8. I love your blog and wish I could be half the
    Mom you are. You are such an inspiration to me. Elle is so beautiful and looks like she had a blast down at byu. She actually worked and modeled along side my sweet little SIL Maddie while she was there. Maddie talked to me about her a few times saying she was the sweetest and they got to be good friends. I just connected the dots that it was Elle. Hope she has a great time in Hawaii.

    I love reading about your life and the things I have learned from you on how to be a mom has help me in more ways than one. I think you are amazing. Thanks for sharing so many personal thoughts and your way of life. It's so inspiring.

  9. Having lived in Utah county for a while now, I'm pretty sure Elle took an Allegiant flight back home to AZ. I haven't been on a single flight with them that hasn't been delayed AT LEAST 3 hours. With a 3 year old and 1 year old, you can imagine how much we've grown to dislike them- so I totally feel for Elle trying to get home! Loved the post (and really every post on your blog). My sister is heading up to BYU-H in November and reading this makes me SO excited for her!

  10. That's the same church we attended growing up there in Laie. I miss that place so much! My hubby and I are heading there at the end of the month. Anything you want us to bring Elle?

  11. I just stumbled upon your blog this morning! I live in Hawaii, but more toward Haleiwa. That Elephant Thai food truck is one of my favorites on the entire island 🙂

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