Friday, August 26, 2011

We are in Hawaii!!!

So finally I am going to post about our trip to Kauai, Hawaii. It was AMAZING!!! One of the very few places and trips I have ever been on that I really did not want to come home. I loved every second of it. And for those of you that know me really well, you know I have traveled quite a bit and have been so lucky to have seen many incredible places. But who doesn't LOVE Hawaii????

Jason, me, Dan, and Janie all flew to Kauai on Easter Sunday last April. We spent a week there on that island and had a blast together. We met Dan and Janie 2 years ago in Ann Arbor, MI when we moved there for Jason's fellowship. Dan was also finishing his fellowship in facial plastics as an E.N.T. doctor. We became great friends right away and will always love the time we get to spend with them!We stayed at the Marriott there in Kauai and it was gorgeous! Our room had balconies with direct views of the ocean. GORGEOUS! We slept each night with the doors open to the outside just to listen to the waves crashing. Loved it. So. Much.

While we were there we did some serious relaxing on the beach. We all read lots of books and sipped on diet coke. Hello, perfect. The beach that was for the hotel was so nice. Very secluded.On our first day there was a pretty big family all there and they had some boogie boards. After they were done with them they told us we could use them. So we decided to do some serious boarding. I FOR REALS almost broke my neck and back. And in the process straddled Dan. The current was freakishly strong and the tip of my board did a nose dive into the sand and I flipped over the top of it. Then the under current went crazy and I was drowning and seizing. (Not really, but I'm sure if anyone saw what was going on they might have thought that was the case). :) So I start trying to crawl back to the shore on my hands and knees, screaming over the waves that I can't move my back and "I can't breathe." Dan comes running to my rescue and the next wave took him down!!!! We both got tangled up in that mess and ending skidding to shore intertwined. Lovely. Sorry Janie. No hard feelings? But I will say, I was catching some pretty big waves. Growing up in San Diego taught me a thing or two. And just so we are clear about the strength of those waves, one day the waves ripped the bottoms of my bathing suit COMPLETELY off of me. Oh yeah, I'm sure I scarred several of the children playing peacefully on the shore. And probably some of the grown men as well. . . Yikes. And Janie's top had some problems staying put as well. Writing about these memories is making me laugh so hard.
We also rented some paddle boards and that was so fun. I was pretty nervous about standing up, but finally did it and loved it. Jason was of course perfect at it. He had a couple of good falls, but he was able to paddle all over and stay up forever. I never fell, but was very cautious. What if there were sharks way out where we were? Actually, I'm sure there were so let's not even talk about it. Freaky. Janie and I had a great time watching our husbands try to get up from the first outing. It's a lot easier than it looks and take some serious balance. Dan? He needs to work on his balance. :) Janie was also a natural.

We drover to the Grand Canyon of Hawaii and it was so beautiful. I couldn't believe that was on the island. There was a man at the top of a lookout while we drove through the Grand Canyon of Hawaii that had a guitar and was serenading people, singing, "This is Hawaii". It was hilarious. :) He was playing his guitar while repeating the same words over and over again. Uh yeah, we know where we are. One day while we were there we woke up at the CRACK of dawn and drove for about 1 hour to the North Shore where we watched the sunrise. It was really one of the most beautiful things I have seen. It happened so fast but really was breathtaking. We had to watch it from the back of the jeep we rented since the boys were in such a hurry to get to the hike. The sunsets were unbelievable too. What the heck with the sun on Hawaii? So, after we saw the sunrise we began our day of MAJOR hiking. I had no idea the hike I was about to participate on. Ummm, try 8 miles. And lots of it was steep and slippery from water falls. And crossing DEADLY rivers with tally marks showing the number of people that have died there from getting stuck in the current. I am a sissy, but Dan kept helping me across the random scary places and we all made it to the water fall. The water there in the mountain was FREEZING so I only put my toes in. Not even my whole foot. Burr. But Dan and Janie got all the way in and swam to where the falls hit the pool. Brave. Jason and I watched and cheered them on. Nice and warm. And then we had to hike back. All any of us wanted was a drink. Like dummies we each brought ONE bottle of water. We had some beef jerky and trail mix. . . and wasabi peas, but that wasn't enough. So out of pure motivation for something refreshing to drink, we did some serious hustling back to the car. It was 4 miles in and 4 miles out. And honestly some of the very prettiest, jaw dropping views I have ever seen. We were on the edge of the cliff, looking directly out to the ocean. We even saw whales right off the shore. I can't even describe how spectacular it was. Totally worth the sweat and pain of the hike. Totally worth it.We ate some delicious food, and not so delicious. One morning we went to a local place for breakfast and I don't actually know how to describe it. But how about this? Barf. Gag.We did get to eat at the Beach House, which is one of the worlds most romantic restaurants. And it was fantastic. We ate right on the water and watched the sunset and people surf. I could seriously get used to this life. Seriously.

One of the excursions we decided to go on was the boating tour. It was on a Navy Seal raft and was so awesome. There were only about 8 of us on the boat and it was all day. There were dolphins literally INCHES from our hands. They were every where. It was so exciting, getting all caught up in the moment. :) We got to snorkel after lunch and Jason and I swam right along side a HUGE turtle. We were both in shock of how huge it was. We saw several sea turtles while we were in the raft, out in the ocean, but swimming next to it was so different. Amazing. While we were out we we so lucky to see the last of the whales before they left for the season. There was a mom, dad and baby. We stayed and watched them for about 30 mins. And the baby was doing every trick it could think of. It was showing off for reals. I couldn't believe how close we got to them. Law says you have to stay at least 30 yards away, unless they approach you. But since we were on this little tiny raft, we didn't let them get any closer. :) It was so fun seeing the whales. The whole experience of the day was fabulous. I love being on the water.
We went to a luau one night and that was so fun. Janie and I just wanted the experience and so the boys of course agreed. TONS of food, and super entertainment. Speaking of, Dan got to go up on stage and do a special hula dance with a few others. I went ahead and volunteered him. I don't think he was thrilled, but did a great job twisting and hulaing. Jason knew better right when the announcer said he was going to get some people from the audience. He got right up and went to get more drinks. Dan didn't know who he was dealing with and sat calmly. So I got him! :) One for my hardest laughs. Dan is such a great sport and can always make everyone laugh. I love that about him.We also did some cliff diving, well almost all of us. Dan wussied out on this. But it was so fun! We all tried so hard to tempt Dan and tell him how much he would regret not jumping and how fun it was and how it was totally NOT scary and he only had to do it once. But he was firm and steadfast. Immovable. That says a lot about that man. :) I jumped within SECONDS of getting there. I had to. Otherwise I think I might have talked myself out of it. Jason was next. He too took a bit of persuasion. Jason made me laugh so hard because he kept getting close to the edge, backing away, and yelling towards me that he "wasn't ready" I stayed over on the other side of the pool of water once I climbed out to take pics of everyone else. He finally jumped and I got the video! Getting out was the hardest part. You had to climb up a mossy, slippery ladder that was attached to the side of a mountain and did not look very secure. I just got the shivers as I wrote about it. It was gross. But the rsuh of jumping was awesome!!! Janie braved up too after SEVERAL minutes and threats of being reay to go. She wanted to jump, but kept getting nervous. Then her honest husband PROMISED he would jump if Janie would. So being the trusting woman Janie is, she took a leap of faith and jump. Dan. . . has no guilt. :)

And that is about it. It proably seems like I was way too extensive in this post, but in truth, there is SO much I didn't put in. Kauai was a trip that I will never forget. Spending a week with Jason, and no kids was heaven sent. And then adding some of our best friends to the mix. . . . bliss!

We can't wait to go back. 2012?????

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus!

More like the tires on mommy's car go round and round! I always said I wouldn't be the mom that is driving all over the place, with my kids involved in so many things. But I take it back. With 5 kids, it's sort of hard not to be driving all over the place.
School started yesterday and it was so much fun getting all the kids ready and off to their first day. Jackson, Noah, and Ellie were all super excited to go and also a little nervous. It is a big change to go to all day school for Noah and Ellie, but they said they loved it and had so much fun. Jackson was hoping that his first day was only going to be 1 hour long like it was when he started 1st grade and they eased the kids into all day. :) Nice try.

Noah and Ellie had to be to school by 8:15am so we got the kids up by 7am, made pancakes for breakfast and got all ready for the big day. Right before we left we took a bunch of pictures and we were on our way. My dad came over to stay with Jackson, Carson and Kate while Jason and I dropped Noah and Ellie off at Challenger. Jackson's school doesn't start until 9am. Public. :) Just kidding.
After dropping Noah and Ellie off I came home and walked Jackson to school. We lined up by the 2nd grade doors and waited for his teacher to come. It was fun for Jackson to see some of the kids he didn't see all summer, and also fun for him to see his little posse. :) Such cute boys! I followed Jackson into the school, took a few pictures and left.
Dropping Noah off was the hardest part for me. I don't know why, but it was sad to see him become such a big boy. It's like it happened overnight for me. And he looked SO handsome in his uniform. All day school is the start of the next MANY years and I guess it was hard to accept that the time has come. But he needs more than I can do for him at home. And I couldn't be happier with Challenger and the way they teach and the outcomes we have experienced so far with just preschool. Next year it will be tough for me to have him go somewhere else. Noah has made a good little group of friends from school, and none of them live in the neighborhood. So it will be another big change for him next year. . . . but I have a long time before I have to worry about that! :) And bonus that he's a boy and the drama is nowhere near the same as it is for my daughter. :)Ellie loved loved loved her preschool. She gets to have the same teacher she had last year and absolutely adores Miss Sasha. So do I.

Jackson had his first soccer tournament last week. Four days full of soccer, and one day of football = one very tired little boy. But he begs for it. And I love watching him play. His soccer team won their first game and got killed their last two. Bummer. This week he has a soccer camp with the REAL team here in Salt Lake for the league he is playing on and he had a lot of fun last night at it. I love that he loves sports. The competitive side in me loves the thrills! :)

Noah had his first soccer game of the season too. He is still playing on a Rec and Ed team and we love it. His team is a bunch of Challenger boys and they are hilarious to watch. I do admit, I get a little out of control from the side lines. Yep, I'm "that mom".

So needless to say, yesterday was a big day here at the Smythe home. And also SO nice to only have 2 kids to take care of during the day. It felt so strange, and so wonderful. :) I took Carson and Kate to Cowabunga Bay with some friends and it was amazing how easy it was. :) Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are going to be a whole new world for me!!! And I can't wait. :)

So here's to a new year of wonderful memories and TONS of fun!!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So I lied.

(The top picture is of my kids at church. We had a couple minutes to spare so I thought I would actually get a picture of them looking dressed up.
The next picture is at the beach in San Diego our first night there for a bon fire)
I seriously thought I would get back into blogging. I wanted to. But I have to be realistic. I am too busy for it. So I decided to be practical and just do it little by little.

The last couple of months have been great. But also a little worrisome.

Kate was diagnosed with a blood disorder/disease called ITP. It is when your body thinks that its platelets are foreign and destroys them. We found this out because in the end of June Kate was covered in little tiny red dots. They looked like red freckles. I assumed it was a rash and called my neighbor that is a nurse to ask her what she thought it was. She ended up calling me back and asking me if Leukemia was contagious. I was stunned to say the least.I called my mom and said, "Mom, remember when I had leukemia? Did I have little red dots all over my body?"

She said, "Yes, petechiae. You were covered in them." (Petechiae are the red dots all over. They are little bruises from broken blood vessels).

I then told her Kate was covered in them too and I took her to see the Dr.

At the pediatrician, the Dr sent me straight over to get blood work done, thinking she may have leukemia. I was a wreck. My mom met me at Primary's and we did the necessary blood work. When we came home I began making a salad for a Relief Society function that night still hoping Kate was fine and nothing was wrong.

About 30 minutes later Jason called me and told me that he checked Kate's results and went to talk to the oncologist at the clinic that Jason works at. I knew it was bad that Jason would go and talk to the oncologist before calling me.

I hung up with him and the pediatrician called me and told me to go straight back to the hospital and re run the tests. She also told me that the oncologist would meet me there.

I was in a total state of shock. The Dr thought it was very possible that Kate had Leukemia. I was scared.

Her second blood results were even worse than the first. But luckily, the hematologist/oncologist thought Kate didn't have Leukemia, but did have ITP. So we started her on steroids and treated her aggressively for 3 weeks. Then we tapered them down and continued to draw her blood each week.

Kate relapsed after being off the steroids for 8 days. It was another scary moment for me to hear the Dr tell me the news. We were leaving for a family vacation to San Diego in a couple of hours and I thought I had better start cancelling our plans and making arrangements. Our original plan was to leave Kate at home with a babysitter, and Carson. Then we thought we would all be staying home. Then the hematologist called and told me to go on the trip. That we would do another round of steroids and if she still doesn't improve then we will go to the next option. Which is admitting Kate to the hospital.Today was Kate's first blood draw being off the steroids. Jason already checked her counts and she is great. Her count is 240,000. Perfect. When Kate was diagnosed her counts were at 3000. When she relapsed they were at 5000. Anything below 10,000 is at extremely high risk for spontaneous brain hemorrhaging and internal bleeding. It was a very stressful few weeks for me with having Kate at such a high risk for something so dangerous.

But I feel like my prayers were answered. As they always are. Why is it always so shocking to know my prayers were heard?

So for now, I will keep my fingers crossed and hope she stays right where she is. This is just something we will have to watch and keep our eyes open for. Eighty percent of people go into remission in 6 months, without ever relapsing. I really hope that Kate will follow suit.
Anyway, during these last several weeks I also was able to go to NYC and visit some of my best friends. Gina, an old friend from Pittsburgh was living in New Jersey for the summer so a few of us decided to make a trip out of it and go visit. It was Gina, Brooke, Libby and me. So fun!!!!
We went to eat some seriously yummy food, saw shows an shopped. We ended up seeing "Jersey Boys" and "Billy Elliot". I loved Jersey Boys, but didn't really like Billy Elliot. Probably because our seats were HORRIBLE!!! We got scammed. Live and learn I guess.:) But getting to eat at the Doughnut Plant a few different times made it all better. :) Oh how I miss those doughnuts.Then when I came home we left for San Diego the next week to have a fun family vacation with my entire family. Well, minus Carson and Ellie. And Ben, Jocelyn's husband. We ended up taking Kate because of her relapse. And Ellie decided on the last minute that she didn't want to come. I tried talking her into it and telling her how much we would all miss her, but there wasn't anything happening with that. So, she stayed home with the babysitter and had a wonderful time. She had play dates, went to the mountains to have smores with the babysitters family, and got to have movie night every night. I think she had more fun at home than if she came. :) San Diego was awesome. Kevin had Mitch and Nate for the summer and it was a blast. We went to the San Diego Zoo, the beach, swimming, shopping, out to eat, played catch, went to the beach for bon fires, took a tour of Poway, went to our old ward in Poway, the Mormon Battalion, Old Town Mexican food, La Jolla Shores Cover, and the list goes on. I loved it!!!!! And I especially loved getting to do something with my whole family. It was fabulous.
And now the summer is almost over and I can't believe it. Where did it go?!!!!! I'm sad to see it end, but also a little happy. I'm excited for a normal routine to come back into my life!!! I can't believe Jackson will be in second grade. WHAT?!My little Noah will be in Kindergarten. I still need to get him his uniform and figure all that stuff out for Challenger. I'm going to miss having him home every day. He makes me laugh so hard!
(Noah's last day of preschool at Challenger)
Ellie will be in preschool 3 days a week, all day. I think it will be perfect for her. She needs more to do. She's too smart and gets a little bored with following me around all day. Little Elle!(Ellie's last day of preschool at Challenger)
And now I am going to have some serious time for just Carson and Kate. I can't wait!!!! Talk about 2 of the funniest little kids EVER!Now I'm all caught up. Almost. Did I even attempt to talk about Hawaii? That's lame. It was the BEST vacation I have ever been on. I WILL post pictures. Maybe. :)