Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Years Resolution?

(FYI this is a LONG post!)
There has been SO many exciting things we have been caught up in lately that we haven't had any time to update our blog. However, despite the previous statements written that we will be updating here weekly, in honor of our many "New Years Resolutions", we will be making sure weekly updates will be posted. So for a quick recap of the past year for the Petersen family:

In December 2009,
Chad and I took off for a much needed week in Hawaii! This is the view from our room in Maui! It looks really good right now hmmm....

We saw and did some really fun things:
 This fruit stand was on the way around the coast island tour and so we stopped and met this crazy guy that carried around a machete knife! He offered us fresh fruit and cut open the coconut Chad is holding right in front of us. We tried to leave as quickly and nicely as possible because we were just sure he was going to use his knife on us next!
 These are the amazingly beautiful waterfalls all along the drive. We just couldn't help but stop and admire the scenery everywhere.
 This one we had to hike to but it was so relaxing and peaceful there!
 This was on our way to ride the submarine and explore the ocean.
 Here is the submarine as we are getting ready to board it!
 These are the pictures under the water! They don't do justice to the intense colors that the fish were because the farther you go under water most color is lost. This was so cool because this is a ship that sunk there and the fish were living in it! It was just like I was watching a real live episode of The Little Mermaid!
 This was at the aquarium and I loved how you could walk through the tank and see cool sharks and fish!
 This was the view from our reserved cabana!
 While we were there in Hawaii an intense storm came the last day and brought with it record waves! They were amazing! They got up to 30 feet tall!
 Of course we went shopping and found some funny things like this t-shirt I thought was hilarious!
 Chad bought this cool watch and he bought me another diamond band to add to my wedding ring!
 Our adventures there were so awesome, but nothing we planned was more relaxing and fun than just sitting on the beach relaxing! 
Ignore the pleasant view of the albino man's crack though and you can see how fabulous it was!

We also flew my little brother Michael in to see us from BYU Hawaii where he was attending college that semester.

He was only there for a few days but we had a blast! He took a fun photo shoot of me and Chady:
 The new watch and ring!

 He threatened to throw me in the ocean! So I screamed!!!!!!
 1,2,3 JUMP!

 Dancing to the music at the restaurant behind us...
 The dip
 Kiss at Sunset
 WEEEE I'm flying!

 I guess I am twirling here?
 My handsome hubby! Chady I love you!
Thanks Mikey, you did great and we had fun with you too!

It was bittersweet to leave Hawaii, on one hand we would really miss the beauty and relaxation we had, but on the other we missed our little munchkins so bad it would be great to see their sweet faces again! That trip changed things for Chad and I, now we have decided that we have to take at least 1 trip a year alone from now on....I'm excited to see what's next!!! 

Once we got back my little brother had mentioned that he had a paper due that week and he wrote it on our visit. I included it below because it was so special to me and I was blown away by his talented writing!

Hawaii Life Lessons
By Michael Haleua
    I remember, a very intelligent and admirable man who once told me to start an interesting talk, paper, or lesson with a story...Now, all things considered I know this assignment is last minute(late, procrastinated, etcetera for all the other terribly lazy adjectives, but realities my life seems to block my potential with) , but it is this experience, or the combination of experiences that happened during this adventure that has truly left me with the “life lessons” I think I was supposed to leave Hawaii with.
This story begins with a text message from my sister. Jenni (Sister) and Chad (Brother-In-Law) were here in Hawaii, on Maui for a vacation and on Saturday they invited me to come and visit them. There were a few reasons that I hesitated to go: 1. Flying there is expensive, the roundtrip costs about $130 and if college has taught me anything, it has taught me to be monetarily conscientious. Every item I buy is broken down into an hours/cost ratio, and almost 17 hours of work (basically a full weeks work here) seemed a high price to pay with Christmas right around the corner. 2. In all honesty I have been putting very little effort into my studies, and if I had any hope of rescuing my grades I needed to put in some serious study and planning time. 3. I’m transferring to USU Winter Semester, and I leave December 16th (11 days away at the time) for home in Utah where my whole family lives. I’d only be there for a day and then come back; I’d see them soon anyways.  4. Perhaps the most important reason is that it was their vacation, I didn’t want to intrude,  I didn’t want to “rain on their parade” because of my recent cloudy moods: depressing, despairing, and the basic fearing the future, I don’t know what I want, who I want to be, or how to go about finding it, I know I want to be the best (my name is Ke Ali’I, meaning The Elite), the Elite at whatever it is I end up becoming, but honestly I don’t know if I’ve wasted too much time figuring that out already so I find a way to “distract” myself(moving somewhere new, reading, watching movies, video games, the general escapism) which works for a while, but then I just end up being worse off, wanting to be a jedi knight, the Princeps of Alera, Ryan, Master Chief, anyone but me. I become more disappointed in myself that I haven’t been my best, and I think most of all I’m scared that I don’t deserve to be a Champion of Light, Guardian of the Realm, given a second chance, or save the world— even if I long with my entire being to be consumed in adventure and victory…
Anyways, I had a multitude of reasons I shouldn’t go: money, school, waste, not really deserving a break. However, my sister kept on pushing me like she always does even after I left a sadly weak message telling them why I couldn’t go, and let me just put something straight I DID want to go, I wanted a break, I wanted to escape and ignore all the responsibilities I had. Exhibit ‘A’ for a very important lesson I’ve been learning for most of my life, after all the many excuses and reasons we all have to quit, stop trying, or ignore the tasks we all have, the complex “issue” of doing or not doing really is just a question about want and need. No one WANTS to write a ten page term paper, study for a huge econ final that determines your entire grade, or find the “lesson” out of a lonely and hard experience, but we are here to learn, we NEED to learn. In the end, the cliché statement, “you can’t run away from your problems” rings true as most clichés do, it is after all only a cliché if it’s stereotypical, overused, and proverbial, repeated ceaselessly, annoyingly and truly offering an important lesson. Therefore, this “proverb” made me guilty the entire time I was in Maui, and even my proficient escapist skills can never fully buffer a guilty conscience. You cannot escape your problems by running away, and when you inevitably do it doesn’t necessarily always get “worse” it just presses on your mind, never letting you truly enjoy life which often makes you avoid even more tasks and spiral into the “worse”, and to even more “flights” from happiness. Simply, when you have a problem, task, or NEED that needs to be met, fix it immediately and with all of your considerable ability and resources, finish it to the utmost and make it into something that strengthens you and would “make your Mom proud”, and finally find the desire, the WANT to meet the NEED. Let yourself find personal joy to fulfill a necessity, through a sense of accomplishment, a realization of your potential, or knowing that you do deserve joy when you do what you know is right. Well let me finish, or really start the story now…
I was obviously feeling somewhat lost and needed to change something, I couldn’t muster up the motivation to stay and work; so, I left and played. My sister said she would pay for my ticket, and I appropriately declined, she insisted, I relented.  I  promised to myself, One day, one day I WILL return every charity I’ve received ten-fold,  after all a lot of the time, most of the time they’re the only things that I survive on. I hurried and bought my ticket at 4pm for a flight at 9pm that night, thought about not buying a return ticket… but did with a return flight on Sunday at 8pm, thought maybe it would be nice to have some clothes and fresh sheets when I got back, so I threw in a few loads (most of my clothes) and mapped out my bus route to the airport on my phone. Being self-indulgent and mopy doesn’t provide the most productive atmosphere, thus laundry wasn’t high on my priority list and being able to plan a fairly independent journey  wasn’t exactly the easiest mindless task so I took these accomplishments as subtle improvements in my attitude. I was going to Maui after all! Exciting! However, the laundry decided to take almost two hours, the bus was leaving at 6:13pm and it was 6:05 when I had my laundry back in my room. I rushed and packed a change of clothes in my backpack and dashed to the bus stop, I made it to the bus stop, just barely, for the bus to arrive a minute later. Then began the long, torturous and painfully chilly hour and a half trek to the airport, I wasn’t fully prepared for how disastrous it would become.
The complication came from ignorance, a lack of what some would appropriately call “street smarts” and the unknown. Basically, all of these upcoming “roadblocks” were the result of the ominous act of a bus transfer. I think for any first-time bus-transferer it was normal to be worried, but I was confident in the powers of technology (my iPhone), the progress of civilization for helping others, and my own resourcefulness. And so, I got off the bus where my phone told me to at 7:20pm thinking to myself, right on schedule…and waited for ten minutes.  The transfer bus was supposed to arrive at 7:26pm so I wasn’t particularly worried about four minutes of delay. I waited another ten and then thought, traffic, holidays, average downtown delay. It was 7:50 when I finally thought, I missed it, wrong bus stop, can’t make it there without that bus, so I should try and refund the tickets and get back on the bus home before I get lost even more…NO! I refuse! I did everything right and I’m getting to my sister! so I got up and asked a random bus driver where Bus 19 was.
“Look at the sign,” he said, (pointing as he closed the door). I turned angrily, thinking, What sign?! I looked on a nearby pole and found a piece of paper with sharpie scribbled on it, reading:
How was I supposed to know that? I fumed. It was 7:55 and I started to panic a little, What else can I do? I have no idea where I am, I can’t take a bus, no random person is going to give me a ride… So I seethed out a few calming breaths— and turned to the movies, what do people do in a movie when they’re in New York rushing to the airport? They call a nice little yellow cab, tell him to fly and barely make it on the plane that’s right about to leave, but was waiting just for them, sure…only in the movies. I called a cab after googling a taxi service on my phone, explained my need for haste and called back a few times to figure out where I was supposed to stand, what the cab would look like, told them how to recognize me—I was nervous, and this was my last chance to make it.
The cab finally showed up at 8:20pm and we flew…stopping at red lights, accelerating at the speed of snails and challenging large semis for the on ramp lane where death flashed before my eyes punching the adrenaline already pumping through my veins into high gear. Altogether, a very Hollywood, and incredibly stirring ride. We arrived at the airport at 8:57pm, and throwing my visa card at the cabby like a ninja star as he deftly swept it up and slid home the $24 cab fare (ouch), I barreled in the front doors, politely asked a nice lady where interisland check in was.
I still remember, "Under the gates, next lobby," a magical phrase that left me thinking, why was that so easy when everything else had been so much of a struggle? I ran over and yelled, in my head CHECK ME IN, CHECK ME IN, but three people sat in front of a computer relaxed and lightly chatting about...isn't that delightful that there was that additional little irony... tick tock, tick tock, (8:58pm) they’re so relaxed, ready to go home and I, I was giddy as a dew drop trying to contain my need to run out and catch the plane on the tarmac. Finally, a man pulls me over to register one and I explain what happened (8:59pm) he looks at me gravely, I'm practically ready to burst, and he says...,"You missed your flight..." now there's something to be said about airplane flight, there at that moment when I was slapped down by cliché and humiliated by my lack of street knowledge I thought, no wonder some people hate to travel...
And yet, hope is ever watchful and ready if you give it a chance...the small Asian Polynesian Hawaiian man a few feet shorter than me, spewing out my demise, said, "We have another flight at 9:40 to Maui, Kahului..." I jumped, my eyes filled with hope for my lost spontaneous trip, saying, "Well perfect can we just switch my ticket then?" he continued, "Of course, it'll just be fifty dollars..."
Even after late non-existent buses, even after ridiculous cab fare, even after missing my flight! I hate, despise and utterly LOATHE extra fees! So I whip out some plastic, get the ticket, tell my sister what happened, get through security...barely (that's another whole genre of stories) and get on my plane.
As I flew, I wrote on Facebook what had happened and my brother suggested something I’d always thought about doing, “With comments like that, you need to have a blog,” and especially after venting my frustration in my writing I felt like right after you cry, I had a complete emotional catharsis, a purge of emotion, clarity of thought, peace. I sat there thinking about how much I love to write, and just kept writing. I was rudely interrupted when a two-year-old leaned over her seat and continued to stare at me with the innocence and shining joy that radiates out of children that age, and I found that after a long time of staring blank and grey, I couldn’t stop smiling. I got off the plane, my sister drove up in a real car that takes people to faraway places really quickly, Jen got out and gave me a massive hug and I was positively filled up to the brim with relief,  it was more than I expected, home, family feels like that, comfortable, safe, and loving.
Chad turned when I got in and I flashed a huge grin, “Hi Chaddy! Ha it’s so great to see you, I’m so happy you guys convinced me to come!” he returned my smile with equal eagerness, “Me too! We’ve missed you like crazy,” right then I knew this was going to be a great vacation. The night continued with constant witty dialogue bouncing between the three of us, we stopped off at the grocery store, raced between the light posts in the parking lot and were chased out by THE funniest guard in a golf cart. I was sure he was going to chase us all the way to the hotel even if it took a few days.
    We arrived at the Westin and the valet opened our doors to an immaculate lobby with waterfalls and flamingos in the background. We took the elevator up to our room and ordered room service since it was too late to go out and find food. I slept better that night than any other night since I arrived in Hawaii.
    The next morning we woke up and had breakfast at a quaint little pizza place that actually had amazing bacon, egg and cheese croissants, French toast, and fresh sweet orange juice. We ate under the shade of a private casita and luxuriated in the sun afterward. We swam in the ocean and rode waves onto the beach. We ate fresh cut pineapple and rode water slides. We had lunch at the pizza place again, this time really getting pizza and after running around on the beach all day we shoveled it in. We went shopping around, and I took a bunch of pictures for Chad and Jen.
 A singular couple; my sister, a shimmering laughing beauty in white; my brother, a hilarious spontaneous knight resplendent in comfy sandals, manpris, and a crisp white shirt albeit both being a little crispy tomato red they’re so happy holding each other, laughing, remembering how much they love each other in every stare, every kiss. The sun couldn’t hope to match the loving glow they had, I just hope I captured those moments in their photos.  
After all this it was 7:10pm and my flight was at 8pm, we were 45 minutes away from the airport…so we raced there and pulled up at 7:45. Unfortunately, I still didn’t make the flight, but instead of paying another fifty dollars, they put me on standby for the next flight at 8:30. I hurriedly hugged my sister and said my “see you soons,” (I hate goodbyes, they’re entirely too long) and got on my plane back to school.
    The flight was pleasant, I read my favorite author’s final book in a series I grew up with (Jim Butcher’s First Lord’s Fury) and readied myself for public transportation. The bus ride home was again full of running, a missed transfer point, and ridiculously large amounts of a/c, but when I was on the verge of falling back into my black mood my Mother called. I told her all about my trip, and she told me how proud of me she is. She knew I had a lot of important school assignments left, but instead of pressuring me and telling me that I had to do my best she just said, “I know you, I know my son, and I know you can do this, you are an amazing person, writer, scholar, and have a bright and happy future waiting for you, I love you always and forever.”
    At the end of that day, after walking back to campus, and getting into bed, there was nothing wrong. Hope shines in those moments when your sister flies you to Maui, when your Mother calls you and tells you how great you are and that the future isn’t lonely or something to be scared of, when you know that regardless of every obstacle to block you, you have succeeded.  When my spirit was battered and lost my family supported me and loved me, I knew what I needed to do and…I’m doing it. Simple as that, don’t worry, be happy, just do it, and remember who loves you! I do! That’s all we need and I’ll never forget it.

Isn't my little brother amazing?!!! I just love him to pieces!

moving on....

later in December:

It was Emma's 6th Birthday right when we got home from Hawaii so I took in GIANT pink cupcakes to her at school to share!

Then after school we took her to go see Santa! Chase wanted nothing to do with him though!
 Then we took her to dinner at Texas Roadhouse! Don't ask what I was doing in this pic.
 Emma was so excited all day!
Here she is riding the Birthday horse saddle!
 We took her to Jumping Jacks for her party the next day and it was CRAZY! There were so many little kids there!
She made this excited face a lot that day!
 She sprayed silly string and thought it was the greatest thing ever, however some kids that got sprayed did not think it was as funny!
 More pink cupcakes!
 The gift opening got so overwhelming for her she finally just had to take a break from opening presents!

 Some of the girls going down the slide together!
It was chaos but she loved every minute of it and that is what I do it for, my little princess Emma!

Dance recital time
 Taylor and the rest of her class
 Emma and her class
 The little ladies and their beautiful bouquets!
Emma is always ready for a camera!
 Daddy and his little girls!
Mommy and my princesses!

Christmas at School..
 I did their hair like Cindy-Loo-Whoo, but by the end of the day it was falling out...shoulda used more hairspray!!!
 It didn't help that I tried to take a pic with them looking straight into the sun!
 At the school party they had bounce-houses in the gym!
 Chase was my helper by holding open the door for everyone, what a gentleman!
 As they came back from the gym to the classs they turned in their polar express tickets to be punched and board our train!
 We lined up the chairs in rows with an isle as a walkway and served them hot cocoa and donuts as they watched The Polar Express!
 After the movie and treats were finished we had a white elephant gift exchange while I read a story, they passed the gifts.
Then we finished up by making a cute photo ornament as a gift to their parents! Being Emma's room mom is so much fun!

Petersen Family Party at Robyn's new house
 Chase eating/playing in his new firetruck! I just love how it's hanging out of his mouth! ha ha ha
 Chad taking his nephew Travis' bike for a spin...
 The Parents Linda & Gary

 Later that night we got home and sprinkled reindeer food out on the lawn before going to bed on Christmas Eve...

 Haleua Family Party at G-ma & G-pas house
 We went and had a huge breakfast with the Haleua's and it was soooo yummy! Dad you are the best cook ever!
 Mikey got his ps3 so he could jam with Chady!
 Emma got Lu-lu the cuddling kitty and was so excited can you tell??!!
But I think Chase may have loved that cat more than Emma as you can see here...
 Taylor got her Baby Alive! She loves babies.
 Chad being dramatic and goofy as he opens his gifts of jazz paraphernalia!

 The whole party attendees (except dad who is taking the pic)

Chase makes the funniest faces!

Sunday after Christmas...

Interesting poses kids!
 My Christmas present last year... a new custom white tahoe! I desperately needed a new car for my sanity! Packing my 3 kids into a Hummer was no longer an option!
 Chad picked the red baseball stitching for the seats! So cool!
 We had a total of 5 tv's in that car! It was pure bliss and silence on road trips!
 I also got a pink revolver for Christmas to carry in my purse just in case and I got my concealed weapons permit. I hardly ever "pack heat" though! haha

We had to make a quick run to Costco before the New Year and just look what all 4 of my kids did! I swear I can't take them anywhere! Ha ha ha


 I got Chad a cool rifle so we took our guns out shooting the next morning...
 Our niece Demi even shot some guns!
 My brother Chris brought his colt 45 handgun too!
 I shot his gun but it had quite a bit more power than my cute pink gun does!
 We went down to Mesquite that night to visit Chad's grandparents!
 They are so cute together!

New Years Eve!
 We took the kids to the First Night celebration in town
 Then we HAD to go Ice skating!
My kids did surprisingly well!

After the ice skating we watched the clock count down to midnight and saw the cool fireworks before heading home and welcoming 2010. 
This is the end of December 2009 (now you believe us when we say we are BUSY!) Now in order to break up this post so it's not too long we will just make 4 more posts of 3 months each to get you caught up on our past year!
To continue to the rest of our update click on OLDER POSTS and it will take you to the next post titled cont'd #2