Forty One

sup-beach-view nell-hat-on-beach rock-climbing sup-selfie nell-and-kiddos 41 single-wave abc-breakfast sup bike-ride

So, this is 41. Supposedly once you’re over 40, then you’re considered “over the hill”, right? Well maybe, maybe not. In my 20’s I did consider the 40’s as being “over the hill” and I had a picture in my head of what that would look and feel like. This is not at all what I expected. Man, am I glad.  I choose to make the most of every day.  I choose to do the things that make me feel alive. So, here’s to the 40’s. Bring it on!

*A special thanks to my three favorite people; Steve, Danica and Trey.  Steve made me feel special and let me do anything I wanted all weekend while he did my chores for me.  Trey went rock climbing with me and we had the best time.  Danica gave me the best present by coming home for the weekend to hang out with me.  To each of you… thank you for being you and thank you for being amazing.  You made me feel so very special. 



Ocean Magic

board-sky-view-small ocean-selfie-small pier-water-small  stand-up-ocean-view-smallboard-in-motion-small sup-beach-view-small water-cloud-view-small

For me, paddleboading can be a purely magical experience.  This week I got to experience one of those magical moments. The water was completely flat, glassy, crystal clear and calm, the ocean was filled with beautiful sea life, the wind was calm and the moon was full.  It was perfect!  I quickly remembered just how much I love paddleboarding and how grateful I am to live in a place where I can do things like this year round.

You see, two years ago (before my mom’s accident), I was out on the water every single week without fail.  Then life flipped upside down and I just never got back into the habit.  Well, I’m taking life by the horns and I’m changing that.  Doing fun active activities makes me feel better physically and emotionally. Paddleboarding is probably at the top of that activity list for me.  It makes me feel alive! Now I’m looking to add additional activities to this list; mountain bike trail riding and indoor rock climbing.  More to come on that.  In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying more time on the ocean.

A Soggy Hawaiian Bridal Shower

Photobooth - Earl Jo and KonaAdvice TableLei TablePhotobooth SetupPhotobooth - Frame Papa Nana and NellPool AreaEarl and Jo Hula Hooping Photobooth - Dee and Nell JoAnna the Hawaiian Photobooth - Frame Papa and Nell Photobooth - Jo & Nell Rings Group Photobooth - Frame Earl and Jo Kiss Through Frame Photobooth - Jo Face Megan Ball Hula Hoop Jeopardy Photobooth - Dee and Bringas Earl Sailor Hat - Jos Finger Photobooth - Frame Earl and Jo Letters

My brother is marrying the absolute sweetest girl in less than 50 days.  We are all so excited to have her become part of our family. To ensure that she felt super special, we pulled together a backyard Hawaiian themed surprise shower for her this past Sunday.  They will be going to Hawaii (Kauai and Maui) for their honeymoon so the theme was quite fitting.  In planning and crafting for weeks, I was super excited about how this shower was coming together; maybe a little too excited because typical Florida summer rain was quickly turning the party into a very soggy event.  We setup for hours only to have everything rained on multiple times; moving everything outside, then inside then outside again with the last move only being a matter of 10 minutes before the bride to was to show.  My sweet, sweet dad could see my devestation and was determined to get everything back outside and setup before the kick-off.  Surprisingly enough, the rain held off the rest of the day.  One table was soaked and the photobooth area was drenched but that didn’t seem to matter.  We all had a blast and it turned out to be a HUGE success!

Welcome to the family, JoAnna!  Based on my brother’s answers to the bridal jeopardy questions (and just generally speaking), he is incredibly blessed to have you in his life.  I am just so excited to be a part of this monumental time in your lives.  I can’t wait to share in many more.

P.S. – So excited to have my Dee (and her boyfriend) at the shower to not only celebrate with the bride and groom but to support me (even after having just moved back to college two days beforehand).  You’re amazing, Dee!  I don’t know what I’d do without you.

What Shall It Be?

nell and dee skipping kauai

What does a person need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? ”

― Sterling Hayden

Tropical Tuesday

Tropical Tuesday Main PicBeach ShackCurious BirdFishing in the KeysFlying into the WaterHanalei PierHawaiian HoneyKauai LighthouseLove on a VW BusPaddle Surfing Hanalei BayTurquoise Beach Shack

1 :: Beach house (Pinterest)
2 :: A curious bird
3::  The hubs fishing in the keys
4 :: My daughter going “all in” into the ocean
5 :: Saying goodbye to Kauai; last walk down Hanalei Bay Pier
6 :: Hawaiian Honey (Pinterest)
7 :: Kauai lighthouse
8 :: Love on a VW bus (Pinterest)
9 :: My brother and son paddle surfing Hanalei Bay
10 :: Tiny turquoise beach shack (Pinterest)

2013 Top 10 Highlights

When looking back and reflecting on everything that made up 2013, I have to say that it was one darn good year with milestones for the kids, for me and even two trips to Hawaii.  I am very thankful and very blessed for a wonderful year.  Check out my top 10 highlights.

1 :: My oldest turned sweet 16.
2 :: We went on our first trip to Hawaii visiting the island of Kauai thanks to my sweet parents.
3 :: Got a paddleboard racing sponsorship to become a team rider for a local surf board company.
4::  My youngest became a teenager.
5 :: My daughter went on her first mission trip to Haiti.
6 :: With the kids at my parents, the hubs and I enjoyed a motorcycle trip alone.
7 :: I was offered a promotion at work to lead the new technology team.
8 :: My daughter got her driver’s license and hit the streets for the first time by herself.
9 :: My husband and I started weekly date nights.
10 :: I met up with my parents on a trip to Maui.

1 - D is 16 2 & 3 Kauai & SUP Racing4 - Trey is a Teenager5 - D goes on first mssion Trip 6 & 7 Motorcycle trip & Promotion 8 & 9 D License & Date Nights 10 - Maui

Back to Racing

Paddleboard Lineup 560 Paddling into Shore 560
{I’m the one in the black & white Kauai hat}

I absolutely love paddleboarding. I mean, it really is my favorite (solitary) thing to do. A couple of years ago, I got into racing, but racing with a surfboard style board is pointless. You simply can’t keep up. This past summer I ran into a local board company (Bird Surfboards) owner who was looking to get into the SUP racing market and asked if I would be interested in starting a racing team for him. Of course I immediately said YES!

Well, I’ve been practicing on a race board now for a few months but it’s mainly been on flat water. This board is streamlined and fast which is awesome, but the downside is that the rounded hull makes it very topsy turvy and difficult to manage especially in choppy water. An open water Quicksilver race came to my local area this past weekend. I was reluctant to sign up because I hadn’t had much open water practice, but I did it anyway. Well, I was right. The water was fairly flat but still somewhat choppy. Not to toot my own horn here, but I never fall off my board. Well, I fell off my board 5 times during this 5K ! I was furious with myself; furious to the point of tears. But, hearing my husbands voice toward the middle of the race cheering me on (I didn’t expect him to come) made all the difference. I pushed on and finished with a 33:51 time, landing me in 4th place. Not too bad for a girl that fell 5 times.

Now off to more open water practice…

Hawaii Take Two

Maui Announcement
It’s official. Eight weeks from today I will be headed to Maui!  Just six months ago I had the privilege of going to Kauai.  My parents are so amazing.  I’ll be going to Maui with my mom, dad and brother.  This will be the first trip that we’ve taken just the four of us as adults.  I am beyond excited and feeling extremely blessed.

We plan on traveling the road to Hana, visiting the bamboo forest, doing some snorkeling, going to the red sand beach and the black sand beach.  If you have a suggestion on a spot I should visit, please leave me a comment.  I’d love to get your input!

Mahalo mom and dad!

The Trip of a Lifetime

Paddling NellHanalei Beach Nell & D Skipping Hanalei Beach Nell Earl and Trey w Boards Hanalei Concrete Wave Nell & Steve Hanalei Waterfall 2 Luau Blowing Shells Luau Colorful Tree D Nana under tree Napali Coast Nell & Steve Napali Coastline 3  Poipu Nell Paddling Trey Snorkeling Poipu Trey Model Queens Bath Current Sign Queens Bath Earls Jump Queens Bath South Drive Nana & Papa Waterfall Surfing Nell After Surfing Trey 6 Surfing Trey Thumbs Up Tunnels Beach Nell Tunnels Cave Nana Earl & Nell
Hanalei Nell Walking Down Pier Last Day 2
About a year ago, my mom and dad surprised us with an amazing gift. They have always wanted to take the entire family to Hawaii for vacation. Since my dad is nearing retirement, he wanted to fulfill this dream while finances allowed. What does this mean? My entire family; husband, daughter, son, mother, father and brother all went to Kauai, Hawaii for 9 days. The only summary I can conjure up is…it was the trip of a lifetime.

I have an extreme affinity for the water.  I grew up near and on the water my entire life and now live near the Atlantic ocean.  The ocean is my happy place.  It lightens my heart, eases my stresses and gives me peace.  It’s also so much fun.  My favorite activity of all time is paddleboarding and I try to get out on the ocean every chance I get.  I’ve been told by many that Hawaii fits me perfectly and that I would love it immensely.  Well, they were right.

There was a cancelled flight, a lost day and an overnight layover in a cold city but none of that mattered.  All we wanted to do was get to the island.  I was privileged enough to sit on the side of the plane that had the island view as we approached Kauai.  I was immediately blown away.  I’ve seen pictures of Hawaii my entire life and have always thought that there is no way that it is truly that beautiful.  I assumed that the photos were all a bit embellished.  I was wrong.  The island looks like a real life postcard.  It really is just as pretty as the pictures; maybe even better.

Kauai is more rural and is called the garden island which fits perfectly because it is so green and plush.  It is exactly what you would expect a very tropical, rural Hawaii to be.  The weather is perfect; never too hot and never too cold.  None of the homes have heating or air conditioning and are built with many windows that crank open.  I loved going to sleep every night to the cool outside breeze and the sound of the ocean waves; and waking up to the ocean waves and the sound of birds chirping.  The island is a bit overrun by feral chickens and roosters.  Apparently, the roosters have the hang loose, anything goes mentality because they crowed at midnight, 2am, 4am; whenever they felt the urge.  It was a bit annoying at first since we slept with the window open, but we got used to it pretty quickly.

We stayed in a house that was located one house away from the water in Hanalei Bay.  My dad rented 5 paddleboards for the week which we used everyday, sometimes multiple times a day.  The first day we got there, we paddled up the Hanalei River to see the breath-taking views of the mountains with waterfalls.  I had a waterproof case on my iPhone specifically for this trip to take pictures.  Well, the phone was waterproof but not sink proof.  Of course I dropped it in one of the deepest parts of the river on that first paddle out so now my phone lives in the Pacific Ocean.  This was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to focus more on the scenery and my family.

It was the rainy season on the north side of the island so it rained almost everyday, but that didn’t stop us.  We did a ton of paddleboarding in the river, paddleboarding in the ocean and paddle surfing.  We went to see the Napali Coast via a muddy hike as there is no road to it.  The Napali Coast is where parts of the Jurassic Park movie was filmed.  It was made up of beautiful and colorful cliffs.  We did some snorkeling on a couple of different reefs where we saw some very bright and beautiful tropical fish as well as a large sea turtle.  One of the coolest places that we went was Queen’s Bath which is a lagoon/pool in the lava rock.  Getting there required another muddy and steep hike which was met with a sign that read, “Queen’s Bath Drownings 29. Unexpected large waves will knock you of the rocks and sweep you out to sea!” After walking past two of the pools, we can see why this sign was posted.  The waves were huge and the current swirled liked a whirlpool. At the end of the walk was a completely calm and enclosed pool with deep water and cliffs for jumping.  We came at low tide to ensure the waves weren’t breaking into the pool.  It was perfect!  We jumped and jumped and jumped for hours.  It was a blast. We also went to a traditional luau which was an amazing experience.  They cook a pig in the ground all day long.  Their cooking and seasoning method is call kalua pork.  They only season it with sea salt and their cooking method melts away all the fat.  It is by far the best meat I have ever put into my mouth.  They ended the night with dances from each of Hawaii’s ethnic influences.  Of course this included the hula.

Hawaii has the “hang loose” mentality which I had heard of many times in the past and have seen many people doing the sign with their hand; thumb and pinky raised.  Seeing that and experiencing it are two totally different things.  I have never felt more laid back and more at peace in my entire life.  I want to bottle it up and keep it with me always.  The feeling I have about this island simply cannot be put into words.  Yes, it truly is the place for me.  I felt at home immediately.  I’m planning to save my money and go back just as soon as I can.  In a few years when my kids are gone and off to college, my husband and I planned on selling everything and buying an RV to travel around the U.S.  Now we may have changed our plans.  Early retirement in Kauai?  Maybe so.

It’s Official

Yep, it’s official! My dad handed this to me last night and said, “Merry Christmas”. My amazing parents have purchased my dream vacation; a trip for my entire family to go to Hawaii! I am excited beyond words. I’ve never been to Hawaii and it is on my top three list of places that I’ve always wanted to go. I am a huge beach, ocean, scenery type of person. Everyone should be prepared for the fact that I may not come back home.

Best. Gift. Ever!