Monday, April 20, 2015

easter 2015.

i love easter. it's easily my second favorite holiday. it's not quite Christmas & ranks slightly higher than cinco de mayo (yes, we celebrate mexico's independence. and kung hei fat choi, st. nick's day, kamehameha day, boy's day, girl's day, along with all the traditional holidays. coop is a festivity fanatic.) 

the best part of easter is cousins. with egg dying, egg hunts, & unlimited amounts of candy it's the perfect holiday for kids & definitely the more the merrier. for the past 12 years my easter has revolved around my nieces & nephews & then my own sons. before that easter was all about spending time with my cousins (yes, my auntie rosie is pretty rad & throws adult egg hunts with legit money rewards.) so although i miss my family every day of the year & more so during the holidays, no day pulls at my heart strings more than easter. that's why i'm extremely eternally grateful for our maui ohana. cooper has quality memories of his cousins but as far as mylo & tj are concerned these guys are just as much family as the distant relatives they only know through pictures & stories. in fact, while face timing family on easter i told mylo to come talk to his cousins. he took one look at the iPad screen & said, "dat not my tousins, mosiah & august my tousins." 

we began our easter celebrations with an egg hunt at kanaha. it was a full day of fun. there were classic kid games like tug-a-war, bunny hop races, & egg tosses while we waited for the whole crew to show up. then the moms took the kids on a beach walk to search for shells while the dads, ahem, the easter bunny hid the eggs. 

 after filling their baskets the kids died their shells, ate their candy lunch & spent the rest of the day in the ocean. it was perfect. that night we went upcountry to dye eggs with some friends & the boys spent the entire night running around their huge lot. it reminded me so much of my easter eves playing at my grandparents' with my cousins. 

we got home & had a little chat about the Savior, his resurrection, & the true meaning of easter. before bed we made sure to plant our jelly beans. sure enough the boys woke up to freshly sprouted lollipops & hidden dyed eggs around our backyard, & baskets full of goodies. i'm big on traditions. i love connecting the past with the future & i get excited over our routines. most of our traditions stem from my childhood but our easter brunch comes compliments of todd's nana. we have homemade bubble bread, bacon, eggs, & fruit salad. 

it only took them 20 minutes to recover all 100 eggs that bunny hid (minus the three some lady snagged while the kids were making their way down to the beach). they are quicker than i thought. mylo is easily excited but the beach egg hunt brought his excitement to a whole new level. it was so fun watching the boys happy faces & their joy with each discovered egg. we spent the rest of the day devouring massive amounts of candy & enjoying a little quality family time. i miss my nieces & nephews more than words can say but i am so grateful for my boys & the love we have from our hanai ohana. but mostly, i am grateful for a savior that gave the greatest sacrifice to prepare a way for me to live with my biological & hanai families forever. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

phillies #10.

after taking a three year hiatus coop finally got back on the diamond. it took him a few weeks to get back in to the game but his hard work payed off. somehow he was put on the all-star team with the kids that play year around year after year. so he started off a little self-conscious. but the coaches were amazing and taught not only great technique but great sportsmanship through their words & examples. the parents & other teammates were all so encouraging. it didn't take my shy guy long long to feel at home with this group. from this team that his favorite position was second base & his biggest hit was a triple. baseball doesn't come as naturally to coop as other sports. mostly, because it's slow pace allows more time for thinking and my over analyzing perfectionist does better when he doesn't have time to over think every move. he loved baseball but soccer & rugby still have his heart. 

to be totally honest, football is quickly taking over. he got his first football jersey (since strutting his dad's jerseys) today & he refuses to take it off. he is insisting on wearing it to sleep. all my boys got new jerseys & they are all equally obsessed with them but tj is definitely the most captivated by the game. i'd say he spends over half of his waking hours consumed by some sort of football activity. cooper's favorite team is the giants, tj loves the cowboys, & mylo is a true raider fan; but they all agree that todd watkins is there favorite player" in ever, ever, ever".

Sunday, March 29, 2015

my lens.

it's months (8 to be exact) since i dusted off my big camera & took some quality shots. such a be honest, i completely forgot about it. that is, until coop & i were discussing his talents & dreams when he caught me off guard by asking me what my talents & my dreams are. ummm, total blank. it's been years since i thought about myself long enough to consider such things. i told him my biggest dream was to be a good mommy, but to a sensible 7 year old like coop that wasn't a good enough answer. he wants solid factual quantifiable answers. so after a few minutes of racking my brain i remembered that one of my long forgotten goals was to master my dslr. and there you have it! the reason for my new constant accessory. i' try to bring my camera along anytime i think i may have a few moments of down time. i still have a long long road ahead of me if i'm ever going to attain my lofty goal but there's no better place to start than the bottom, am i right? for now i'm just trying to keep off auto mode & figure out the overwhelmingly tricky settings. 

honestly, few things make me happier than pictures of my boys. i wish i could just truman show their entire lives. some days are sunshine & rainbows & others are just plain rough but when i look back at our photos  every smile, every tantrum, every tear, every moment seems down right perfect. i need to take more pictures. i don't want to miss any of it. so i hereby solemnly swear to capture it all (okay, maybe not all of it but definitely more.)

(waiting for cooper's baseball game to start with mylo, tj, & todd.)

(a typical lazy sunday afternoon at the beach with my men. soccer, football, sand castles, beach combing, & bbq.)

(scavenger hunt at ali'i kula lavender field & picking flowers at kula strawberry farm with our maui ohana. tj insisted on the biggest plant he could find, cooper got his favorite flower, a sunflower, & mylo simply wanted one small stemless blossom.)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

kaua'i with my guy.

todd & i went to kaua'i. yes, you read that right, just todd & i went to kaua'i. no kids. after 7.5 years of him trying to convince me i finally caved. and i'm glad i did. i missed my babies so much it hurt but there's nothing like a little alone time with the hubs & the ease of two adults traveling. it was a totally foreign experience, no carseats, no diapers, no whining (ok, maybe a few little complaints escaped during the final mile of our na pali hike). the boys stayed on maui with my parents & were totally spoiled with every single one of their favorite things. i swear, they were so busy having fun & being catered to that they didn't even miss us, well until the last day of our trip. true to his word, cooper was totally content with his new caregivers until day 4 when he had enough fun & just wanted his parents home. funny, because i felt the exact same way. we were at the airport extra early just to ensure nothing would interfere with our pending reunion with our boys.

every piece of kaua'i either met or exceeded our expectations. this was todd's first trip to kaua'i & the perfect way for him to complete his journey to all 6 of the main hawaiian islands (my 6th & final island was lana'i when we visited last summer). we love comparing the islands. we've been asked many times which island is our favorite, i think it's obvious…maui no ka oi. but every island is pretty incredible & offers it's own unique features. kaua'i is no exception. every town (except lihue) is full of character & charm. the aloha spirit is strong & dare i say, the people are even kinder than the citizens of maui (although i still think moloka'i lives up to it's name & is the friendliest isle). the grindz are so ono! every thing we ate was delicious. and every piece of the island is stunning. like, jaw droppig gorgeous. it was the perfect place to spend some quality time with my main squeeze. the entire trip was incredible but the best part was the quality one-on-one time with my honey. we were parents long before we were husband & wife so we skipped a honeymoon & we've never really taken the time to focus on each other. we are always so busy being mommy & daddy that we forget to be sara & todd. more so lately than ever before. between todd's work & school, my church callings, preschool assignments, & mom duties, cooper's school, rugby, ukulele, & baseball we spend every spare minute engaged in family time which leaves little energy left for todd & i. this trip was the perfect start to putting our marriage first.

in true watkins form we spent every day cramming in every hike, beach, site, & eatary possible. we covered every side of the island in our short trip. luckily, we had a beautiful & comfortable hotel to crash at every night. i will forever be grateful to the marriott for their hot tub & pool side waiters. we biked the ke ala hele makalae trail. i love biking. it's really my thing. (but we live on a mountian & maui is the least bike friendlly island so getting on two wheels is  a rare treat.) we snorkeled at po'ipu. would you believe me if i told you that this was the first time todd & i snorkeled together? well, it was. and i much prefer snorkeling with him than without. we were shocked by how friendly the fish were (obviously, kaua'i doesn't have the same no-feed-the-fish policy that maui stands by.) on our first snorkel together i found a heart shaped coral. coincidence? i think not. oh & on our first hike, the maha'ulepu trail, we steered off the beaten path & randomly came across a heart shaped hole in the rock. definitely a sign from above. 

we bumped in to a few monk seals. there aren't many on maui so we really enjoyed scoping out the foreign species. we drove all the way to spouting horn & stopped at just about every beach along the way. my favorite was glass beach (no big surprise there-i'm a beach combing fool.) the surroundings are junky & the beach not so great but the sand is incredible. it's an entire beach made of tiny flecks of glass. it is truly phenomenal. 

we scoped out waimea canyon. definitely one of the most spectacular spots in all of hawai'i. the canyon is full of the most vibrant colors almost too beautiful to be true. we drove all the way to polihale to catch the sunset. another unforgettable moment. we had the entire place to ourselves. just imagine miles of golden sand & a glowing sunset with no one but your honey anywhere in site. it was magical. (while here i stumbled upon a honu nest which is another rare & rather lucky find.)

we stopped by the wailua & opaekaa falls, the waialeale (the wettest place on earth) lookout, a few of the heiaus along the wailua river, & the kilauea lighthouse. we checked out queen's bath & the secret beach lava pools but the waves were to high to enjoy either (just gives us something to come back to). we rented paddle boards (we wanted to kayak but neither of us had the patience for a 4 hour tour moving at a tourist pace) & went up the wailua river to the fern grotto & hiked up to secret falls, another one of kauai's many treasures. 

it was a true test of my upper body strength paddling the 3 miles down river against the winds. especially since we spent the whole day prior hiking 13 miles of the na pali coast. i can honestly say this was the most incredible place i've ever been. like ever. the views are breathtaking. and the trail is breathtaking too, but in a totally different way. imagine hiking thousands of feet up, just to hike thousands of feet down, just to hike another couple thousand up, again & again, for miles on end while navigating a wet narrow (i'm talking 12 inches in many parts) trail with sheer cliff in either direction & the only rest you have are the multiple river crossings. it was intense. both, physically demanding & emotionally gratifying. we planned to soak ourselves in the hanakoa falls but it was too cold for our thin skin. so we soaked up the beauty of the place instead. over the past decade todd & i have done a lot of things together, but this trumps them all. and what greater relationship builder then 8 hours of alone trecking through the great outdoors. 

i was most surprised by the quality of mexican food on kauai. best i've had in all of hawai'i nei. i may move there for this very reason. our favorite grindz were da crack, al pastor tacos, chicken in a barrel, puka dogs, & pink's creamery. all so ono. oh, & the shave ice at hee fat was pretty legit. it's no ululani's but their real fruit syrups were a close second to our family fave. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

christmas 2014

the holidays came & went in a bit of a blur this year. and i'll be honest, i was absolutely horrible at visually documenting all of it. i totally neglected to take any pictures on halloween or thanksgiving. and although, i did remember to take my camera out on Christmas i did not remember to actually use it. so i have a handful of low quality iphone 4 pictures & that is it. pathetic, i know. so i'll do my best to put in to words what i forgot to put on film. 

i opted to keep christmas low key this year. mostly, due to the fact that my energy was totally burned out after our trip to california, tj's birthday, school projects, & being a temporarily single mom while todd crammed for finals. tj & mylo didn't seem to mind one bit. coop, on the other hand, was constantly reminding me of all the forgotten festivities. i did make sure to fulfill his every holiday wish & squeeze in our annual traditions. we made gingerbread houses, scoped out the local christmas lights, watched santa paddle in on a double-hull canoe, visited the lahaina banyan tree in all its lit up wonder, devoured plenty frozen hot chocolate, wrote letters to & made cookies for santa, tracked santa on his trek to maui (which, did you know hawai'i is his last stop according to norad. personally, i think the guy in red gets a little exhausted from all the holiday hustle & bustle ends on hawai'i so he can stick around for a little rest & relaxation. we searched for him around island but we decided he was most likely on moloka'i to avoid all the paparazzi.), grilled christmas dinner on the beach, made sandmen & sand angels, & we baked, a lot, this year we added toffee & peppermint bark to our holiday treat list. every year we do an advent calendar. i've switched it up, sometimes, the boys open little doors to retrieve pieces of chocolate, sometimes they get a new book each day of december, one year they opened little bags with treats & toys. this year, as christmas approached, i noticed there was a little too me-me-me & not enough awareness of others. so our advent calendar involved reading a story about Jesus each day & checking off a list. and for the 12 days of Christmas we did a 12 days of service. this was definitely the most time consuming of our holiday activities & the most rewarding.  early in the month coop & i made a list of 12 acts of service we would do for others as Christmas approached. some days the boys were not at all in to it & i was literally dragging them along. other times they were thoughtfully involved & so happy to serve. i don't know how effective this was for the boys but it was definitely the approach i needed to get my heart in the right place. this is a permanent addition to our Christmas traditions.

i guess all my attempts to keep them grounded through Christmas were totally foiled when i went a little overboard on the presents (due to my lack of planning & delayed shipping times). but i did remind them, multiple times, that they were spoiled this year & they shouldn't expect that many gifts ever again. this was the first year that all three of my boys were really in to Christmas. and i mean really. every thing was new to mylo. it was like he had never seen any of it & every thing was the coolest thing he had every seen. like Christmas lights. he couldn't get enough. and he was obsessed with santa. in fact, mylo has decided that he wants to be santa when he grows up. we made countless visits to the mall to spy the fat guy. but, despite all his amazement, mylo would not come in to contact with his hero. he regressed in to his shy shell every time santa looked his way. i kept most of their presents wrapped at the top of my closet until Christmas morning because i doubted mylo's self-control. but as packages for the boys started rolling in i opted to test putting a few presents under the tree. total mistake. twice i caught mylo curled up under a blanket right in front of the tree quietly opening presents. trouble-maker, i tell you. mylo & tj were very pleased with the constant flow of fresh goodies. they got very good at sneaking sweets whenever my back was turned. tj was really in to the elf on the shelf. he was the first one to spot hoku each morning. and this was the first year he picked out & paid for gifts for his brothers. he was very excited to share in the gift giving. cooper loves it all. from putting up the christmas tree to taking it down he is completely in to the all Christmas has to offer. although, like every seven year old, opening presents is the highlight of his holidays. he's been gift giving for years but every year his favorite gift to give is mine. he always makes me something full of love & thought that just makes my heart melt. this year it was a hand drawn calendar that hangs proudly above my desk.

i feel so blessed to have these boys in my life. every day i am grateful to our Lord & Heavenly Father for trusting me with such sweet spirits. being their mother is the second most incredible gift i have ever been given (first, being the atonement). and i strive every day to fulfill my responsibility to lead, guide, comfort, love, nurture, nourish, strengthen, & cherish my beautiful sons. i am also so tremendously grateful for my dear friends & family. like the beautiful & extremely talented alta bills that sketched our family picture featured on the front of our Christmas cards this year. mahalo to you, all. i hope this holiday season was full of happiness, peace, & aloha.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

california 2014

we booked some spontaneous (is spontaneous still applicable when most everything we do is last minute?) flights & took off to california last month. the trip was just too good to pass up. the nflpa takes pretty good care of their retired players. they payed for todd's flight, our hotel, rental car, & room service, all on the condition that todd do some work outs, visit a dietician, & get treatment (aka massages) not far from where he's from. and the timing was impeccable. my parents, my sister, & her family already had their plans booked to be in san diego at the exact same time. basically, it was a win all around.

the boys loved it. we tried to keep the trip a secret but coop is just too smart. he was on to us from the get go. when we finally spilt the beans he was not too surprised, but still very excited. tj was confused about the whole thing. it took about a week of being on california before he finally realized it wasn't just another hawaiian island. the flight over was easy peasy. mylo slept in my arms most of the way & the older two were happily occupied by handheld technology. 

other than a day trip to anaheim we spent the first week & a half in carlsbad. you should have seen the boys faces when we pulled up to our hotel & legoland was next door. i doubt they have ever been that excited before. we picked up season passes & spent just about every day bouncing between the hotel pools & the park. ti's favorites were the dragon ride, & building & racing cars. coop loved the dragon ride, & the incredible designs in miniland. mylo loved the lost kingdom ride, & the boat ride. they were all completely ecstatic to come face-to-face with snow. they've asked about the freezing phenomena for months, years even & couldn't wait to experience it for themselves. i opted to sit that part out since the high 60's weather was enough cold for me. i am still amazed with how well my boys  handled the southern california winter. i was so worried but obviously their skin is much thicker than mine.  

 staying in a hotel is probably my favorite part of vacationing. no cooking or cleaning? throw in a couple of pools & other amenities & i am so there. i may have to fight my germophob fears a little when watching my toddler roll around the hallway floor or sit bare bum in the hotel room chair. but what does it kill 'em makes 'em stronger, right?

i won't lie, i was a little shocked with how beautiful the california beaches were. i mean, don't get me wrong, they've got nothin on maui. like, not even close. but they were gorgeous in a totally different admire-from-a-distance kind of way. (heaven knows, i wasn't about to get hypothermia by jumping in that frigid water.) the boys were so excited when we showed up to the beach. they were literally mad when i told them i didn't bring their swim shorts-well, until they stuck their toes in & realized just how cold the water was. then they were more than happy to keep to the sand.

other than binging on mexican food & in-n-out, the highlight of our trip was family. we spent the last week bunking up with todd's grandparents, my parents, & a couple nieces & nephews. the boys were surrounded by so much love, they could barely handle it. cooper spent most the week touring the city with grama, papa, & jameson getting spoiled every step of the way. tj & mylo were obsessed with   kam, rylie, "auntie kam's mom," & uncle scott. they made some lasting memories that the boys still refer back to on the daily (like never, & which hand). my favorite part was getting a little quality time with my niece & nephews that made the journey to see us. i was beyond excited to watch my nephew, kam, play in a soccer tournament. he is such an amazing athlete & so much fun to watch. 

we had the unique experience of spending thanksgiving with my family & todd's family all together. which means, my dad's mashed potatoes, my mom's rolls, nana's creamed corn, nana's stuffing, & a couple julian's pies. it was everything our hearts & stomachs could wish for. we also got to celebrate nana's 82nd birthday with the lady we all so love & admire. 

it was real california. but this island girl is happy to be home. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

watkins 2014.

every year we take family photos. some years we have a photographer. some years we don't. this year i couldn't get todd to agree to a pre-specified time & date for the photos so it became a last minute, do-it-ourselves thing. basically, one sunday afternoon i asked, "when are we going to take our pictures?" todd said, "how about now?" & thirty minutes later we were pulling up to the maui tropical plantation ready to go. thanks to our rebel, tripod, & my very basic photoshop skills we were able to pull off these treasures. 10 points to anyone who can figure out which picture ti's head was edited in to the frame. the location was perfect. just a few miles from our hale & the kids were in heaven feeding the ducks while todd went through a lot of trial & error on the camera settings. this place has a special spot in our hearts. since it's nearby we often stop by for fresh fruits, they are my go to for papaya & mango. we also love to wonder the grounds, feeding ducks, & checking out what's growing. this is also where the little boys & i were for playgroup when a random photographer started taking pictures & asking questions, & one week later our photo showed up on the front page of the maui news. also, this is the home of the infamous "mean duck," mighty my's archenemy.