Though it is the middle of July, "summer" will be ending soon for us as Cory starts back at work again in a week. None the less, it has been a great summer with celebrations, traveling, and our all too treasured time at the beach.
Summer began with trips to the North Shore to hang out and play in the water. We also went with our friends to see Sesame Street Live--a real hit but the ultimate stimulation overload for Leif.
Leif loves to play on rocks and splash in the water!
Playing with best friend Sophia
This was followed up with a looooooooong flight from Honolulu to Fremont (via Minneapolis and Omaha) Nebraska to visit family, some of whom we haven't seen in nearly four years. We spent nearly three weeks in Nebraska and were able to do many great things.Leif was able to meet a couple of his wonderful grandmas, Aunties, Uncle, and cousins for the first time. Hanging out at Grandmas was great because we had many books to read, a little backyard "paradise" that was a close as one could get to feeling in paradise while being land-locked in the middle of the country, and water balloon fights with cousins.
Leif and Grandma reading together.
Chilling with a graham cracker in Grandmas backyard paradise.
Yeah!! Water balloon fight.
Cousin Jordan and his big muscles show Leif how to make a water balloon.
When we weren't hanging out at our home-base with Grandma and Grandpa or hanging with Grandma in her backyard paradise we had a lot of fun going to the local splash pad (perhaps the best thing in Fremont), the zoo in Omaha, the Omaha Children's museum, or to a local park that Cory also played at when he was growing up.
Grandma, Grandma, Cory, and Leif ready to roll.
Mama and Leif at the zoo
Mama and Leif playing at the splash pad
Leif loving the water
Frequently when Leif was asked where he wanted to go he would reply in that sweet voice of his, "beach." So, one day Grandpa and Grandma accompanied us to the local "beach" so that Leif could play in the sand. It worked but is not quite the same as Hawaii.
Grandpa and Leif playing in the sand.
The Bennett's at the "beach"
Leif and Mama on the swings at Clemmen's Park
The Omaha Children's museum must have felt like nirvana to Leif. One of their attractions included a ball room (literally) with many clear suctioned tubes that sucked and whisked balls to and fro, shooting them out in different areas, and then collecting many of them in a big holding bin in the ceiling that would proceed to dump the balls on the floor--like manna from heaven!
Ball heaven at the Omaha Children's museum
While we were there we also witnessed what was considered the storm of the decade. Amanda had never seen anything like this before and it had certainly been over a decade since Cory had either. There were in excess of 90 mile and hour winds, one inch hail, and rain so thick you couldn't see more than twenty yards from the tip of your nose. Entire fields with corn, knee to chest high, were stripped to barren soil. Many of homes in our area had damage in the tens of thousands of dollars and some communities and farms near by had their houses, barns, or grain silos destroyed. Some areas were without power for a week; we were only without power for a day and a half.
Watching the storm approach.
Playing "tall-tall tower" with Grandma
Hanging with cousin Nate was a blast!
What more can we say than..."DING!"
Near the end of vacation Cory's Dad challenged him to a round of golf even though it had been thirteen years since Cory touched a club. Needless to say "Grandpa" won, though not by much. Perhaps this is pay back for making Grandpa learn to surf.
Father and son golf tournament; we're the only participants, thus we won!!
Just yesterday we went to the 31st annual Prince Lot Hula festival at the Moanalua Gardens. This is a non-competitive festival showcasing different hula halaus across the islands. Amanda and Cory went their first year in Hawaii and have tried to get to it every year since. It is simply amazing and it held in one of the most beautiful places on the island. The enormous Monkey pod trees are worth seeing in and of themselves. Leif especially loved playing by these "tall, tall, trees."
Leif beneath the giant Monkey Pod trees.
Leif waiting as Kumu Hula Cazimero introduces his halau.
It has been a really great summer and Leif has been changing in so many ways. But, one thing remains. He is still the greatest joy in our lives and he continues to make us proud and bring smiles to our hearts.
So until we see you all again...aloha!
Cory, Amanda, and Leif