Aloha From Hawaii | Days 3 & 4

Jun 24, 2015

After a relatively low key Sunday and Monday in Hawaii, Tuesday was Pearl Harbour day. We knew it would be on the draining side as it was lots of time on a tour bus not to mention the fact that we would be visiting an extremely emotional place. Bruce and I spent a lot of time talking about how we wanted to handle going to Pearl Harbour with our crew of small children. At one point, we even discussed going to the USS Arizona Memorial in shifts and not taking the wee ones over there at all. But ultimately, we decided that it was important for our children to see the Arizona, even if they could not fully comprehend the significance of it.

We started to prep them for Pearl Harbour before we did most of our other trip preparations. We talked about what had happened at Pearl Harbour and why it was important for us to go there. We checked out a childrens book on the topic from the library which Sunshine read bits and pieces of, then sharing what she had learned with the rest of us. I think our prep work helped a lot. The kiddos were absolutely amazing at Pearl Harbour. I am still absolutely blown away when I think about how well behaved they were. They showed such reverence and respect throughout the entire visitors center as well as when we went to the actual USS Arizona Memorial. They sat quietly through the video depicting the events of that dreadful day and sweet Beebs shed some tears as she watched. She asked a lot of questions as her young mind tried to piece everything together and I was beyond speechless when, after arriving home from Hawaii, Beebs shared some thoughts about Pearl Harbour with our preschool class. Her words were "You guys, we didn't even laugh when we were there. It's a special place. Lots of people died there, so we didn't even laugh." It was very touching for me to hear her recount our visit to Pearl Harbour as experienced through 5 year old eyes.

While at the USS Arizona Memorial, I didn't feel right taking photos. I saw people around me treating it as you would any tourist attraction- smiling and posing for photos. While it is great that they were capturing those moments and memories, I myself did not feel comfortable with those sorts of photos. Instead, I just soaked in the reverence of where we stood. I did snap a couple of photos to help the kiddos remember a few significant things about the memorial. I took one of the wall engraved with the names of each serviceman killed in the attack on Pearl Harbour and another one of the oil that is still coming to the surface from the sunken Arizona. 

One thing I found so interesting at the USS Arizona Memorial is that even the survivors of Pearl Harbour have the option to be entombed with their fallen comrades. When a survivor dies, they can be cremated and then a special dive team takes their remains down and put them into the sunken ship. I just thought that was really incredible and what an honour to be a part of the dive team that performs that task. 

After touring Pearl Harbour we headed to the USS Missouri. The spirit there was much more upbeat and we took lots of photos. We did a little guided tour and the girls ate up all the information they were being taught. Sunshine asked so many insightful questions. Our tour guide pulled us aside after the fact and said Sunshine had the makings of a history major. She couldn't believe that she was only 7 (almost 8!) years old and was so interested in all that was being shared with her. 

We really wish we'd had more time at the USS Missouri. We would have liked to have climbed to the top of the ship and spent more time reading all the information posted throughout the different areas. One thing I found so fascinating about the Mighty Mo was the set up of the ship's interior. It truly was a small (though large!) floating city. There were sleeping quarters, a dining room and industrial kitchen as well as places to hang out and relax, but there was also a post office and a bakery and a butcher. There were so many areas that I had never even contemplated a need for on a battle ship. It was really neat to see, especially when we were able to share with the girls that their Great Grandpa Noel had worked on a similar type of ship during his years in the Navy. We all really enjoyed our day at Pearl Harbour. And even as we returned to the hotel and enjoyed our first true Hawaiian shave ice, the girls were continuing to talk about the things they'd seen and learned, asking more insightful questions as they processed the intense history they had encountered that day. And the entire day just wore Man Cub out. Not only did he fall asleep on the bus ride back to our hotel, he also conked out on the floor after we returned from shave ice. It was a great day all around. I was and still am blown away by the maturity they all showed during that day of our trip. It was more than I had hoped for. I have the best wee ones! 

Wednesday was the day I had most looked forward to, though it sadly did not go as I had hoped. We rented a car and headed to the north shore area to go to the temple. I don't know why I thought that Bruce and I would be able to attend the temple together... not with three children who would need entertaining while we went in. I sat outside and attempted to enjoy the visitors center with the kiddos while Bruce and his dad did a session. All was fine until Beebs had a meltdown that ended up with us sitting in the car while we waited for them. When they came out, I knew I couldn't even almost ask Tom to sit with them while Bruce and I went in, so I had to go to the temple by myself which was so not what I wanted. I really wanted to enjoy the Lai'e temple with Bruce. Pregnancy hormones got the best of me and I sat on the steps of the temple crying for a good 45 minutes before I could compose myself enough to go in. Not my finest hour, but I'm chalking it up to all the hormones with a dash of exhaustion from traveling and all the excitement of our first few days.

Eventually, I did work up the gumption to let go of what I had wanted so badly and go in by myself. I ended up thoroughly enjoying my time spent in the temple. While I was inside, Bruce and his dad got the kiddos fed and Bruce made sure the kiddos touched the temple and he even took a photo of them doing so. When I was done, I took some time to do Sunshine's baptism/8th birthday photos on the temple grounds. It was the middle of the day so lighting was less than ideal, but I got some beautiful shots of my beautiful baby girl. I still can't believe just how grown up she has become. I call her my baby girl, but she is so far from it. She's hardly even a little girl anymore... she's maturing so quickly, it almost breaks my heart. 

After the photos, we piled back into the car and headed farther north. We hit up a little market area where there were some food trucks including Giovanni's shrimp truck which I had heard so much about. Beebs and I split some lemon butter shrimp and shrimp scampi. The girls also got a shave ice and I enjoyed an ice cold coconut. And I truly was the only one who enjoyed it... everyone else thought it was gross. But at least they were all willing to give it a try. 

The market area also had some fun little shops where Beebs and Sunshine each got a hand carved necklaces (turtle for Sunshine, dolphin for Beebs). Sunshine also bought a purse made out of a coconut. I got my souvenir from the trip- a family protection tiki man who now hangs in my living room. There was also a fresh fruit stand that had the most amazing pineapple I've ever eaten. I miss all the fresh pineapple in Hawaii. I'd move there right now, just to be able to enjoy that every day. 

After eating and shopping, we headed out to find a beach, hopefully with turtles. And guess what we found!? Basking turtles. It was incredible to see them just lying on the shore, sunbathing. Bruce kept telling the girls- "I hope you know how special this is! You are {almost} 8 and 5 and you are seeing sea turtles in the wild. I'm 31 and this is the first time I'm seeing something like this." We may or may not have said that to our girls a lot on the trip. We wanted them to realize just how special an experience this entire vacation was. They got to do and see things that many 8 and 5 year olds do not get to experience.

As we walked back to our car to head home, Man Cub picked me a hibiscus flower. He was so proud of himself when he presented it to me. There are no words to describe how much I love that little guy! It was the prettiest flower and I wish I could have kept it forever... so I took a picture of it to remind myself. I just wish I could've gotten a picture of his big grin as he handed it to me.

Despite it's rocky start, Wednesday was a wonderful day and I'm grateful for the opportunity that Bruce and I had to serve in the temple while in Hawaii. Even if it wasn't together. And the wee ones were able to add another "touched temple" to their list. It may not have gone as planned but it was still one of my most favourite days in Hawaii. 

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