Thursday, October 6, 2016

We Can't Kill The Animals

This little boy loves pretty much all of God's creatures. Maybe excepting bot flies and naked mole rats. But certainly he includes black widows and snakes in his all-encompassing love.

Exhibit A

A couple months ago, we found our first bark scorpion in our house. Now, this is both a very common scorpion and the most venomous scorpion in North America, so we wanted to be sure the kids could identify it and avoid it and tell an adult if they found one. So we put it in a glass jar to show them in the morning. 

First thing the boy asks, "Can we put holes in the lid so he can breathe?"

I said, "Honey, we are just going to flush it. This one can't stay around, it could hurt the kids or the pets!"

His eyes widened in concern, "Mom!!! We can't kill it! It's an ANIMAL!"

"Sweetie, it can't stay around here. These are very poisonous and could hurt Bandit or S'mores or the kitties."

"Well....", he looks around and his eyes settle out the window, "We could set it free..."

He looks at me to gauge my reaction and seeing my face set to say no, hurriedly finishes his sentence with: 

" Mexico!!!"

Ok, son. I'll run it down first thing Monday morning.

Before we had a chance to get rid of the scorpion, Max's buddy Colton knocks the jar off the counter while climbing up to get a banana. 

It shatters.

The scorpion is MIA.


Three days later, Avril finds a dead bark scorpion in a nearby kitchen drawer. 

Exhibit B

A few weeks later, we discover a hoard of black widows around the outside walls of our house. So naturally, Dad and Roman decide to capture a couple, create a habitat and feed them live insects. Like flies, moths, crickets, roaches, other spiders... 

Meet Phoenix and Onyx, Roman's pet black widows. 

He brought them to school as a show and tell and almost cried every time the container got jostled- because he was worried they would get hurt.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Camping at Cochise Stronghold

When we moved to Hawai'i, we left all our camping gear in storage- and with fairly good reason. Camping in Hawai'i generally amounts to campgrounds or beach camping. Neither of these things is bad in and of themselves, per se, but neither is highly appealing to us. We are the people who go camping to Get Away From It All. Like, literally, IT ALL. No other people around, no amenities, and no visible pavement!

This is, by nature, a lot more work, but so much more adventuring and exploring and freedom is at hand!

So we decided to go find a good place to go camping. 

Guy did his research, picked an area that we HOPED wouldn't be high traffic in spite of the stereotypical Memorial Day weekend timing, we packed our gear and prepped some delicious tin foil dinners and off we went. 

Upon arriving at Cochise Stronghold, we found a few different levels of amenities/privacy. At the end of the road was a very convenient campground with grills and picnic tables and bathrooms and a lovely paved hike. In other words, hard pass. There were already about 3 campers about to become new best friends in the night ahead and we didn't want any part in that. 

So we backtracked to a dirt road that beckoned invitingly to our collectively enterprising souls and set off to find a more suitable location. 

We drove the dirt lane, seeing empty camping spot after empty camping spot, only recognizable as such by the fire pit and cleared dirt. The shorties alternately argued and cheered and voted on their favorites and we at last selected our ideal camping spot with all our requirements more or less met. 

However, no sooner had we gotten out and begun unloading the car than Xandri came careening back through the bushes (wait, back? When did she LEAVE?!), breathless with excitement and frantic for us to come and see what she had found. 

So while I continued to unload, Dad and the other minions charged off into the woods to see what on earth could have gotten her all worked up. Moments later, they all came charging back.

"Mom! Mom! You've GOT to come check this out! It's SOOO cool, we HAVE to camp over here!!!"

Dragging my feet, I followed my exuberant children down the hill away from the official campsite only to find THIS:  

Ok, so that may be a bit misleading. The set up part didn't happen QUITE that fast. But it was close. We hauled our gear and food and bags down into the valley and got to work. 

The kids helped take care of the dry leaf problem. 

I set up the tent and got our sleeping bags and other stuff arranged while these ones went foraging for big rocks and dry wood and kindling to build a fire pit and subsequent fire. I have never seen these people work so hard and fast and with so much excitement and so little complaint as when we are building FIRES. Little pyros. I don't know WHERE they get it.

Then it was time to make our dinner.

 After all that hard work and with some delicious ketchup I had about zero picky eaters on my hands as the crew dug in. 

Can't really blame them, though. 

We spent the evening laughing and talking and teasing and eating s'mores and actually got some ok sleep.

The next morning it was time to explore our new home. While Guy and I held down the tent, the scouts went out to see what there was to see. Which quickly became apparent that it was all VERY EXCITING. 

We were camping at the base of some cliffs, which meant there was a GLORIOUS arrangement of fallen boulders providing little nooks and crannies and climbing opportunities all over the place.

Now, for this next part of the story, you must understand a little background. Avril & Xandri are both obsessed with the Warriors series. If you aren't familiar with it, this is actually a rather comprehensive series about cat clans and cat warriors and all of the drama that goes along with that. I'm gonna go ahead and let you guess what happened next. 


Yep, you guessed it! They each picked cat names, created a clan, named it and arranged their societal construct and economic system, selected their lairs, fought for position of chief, claimed Leader Rock or some such thing and became extremely wary of the tall Two Legs who had finally ventured over to explore their territory. Hissing, spitting and clawing the air, the wild warrior kitties chased us away from their homes... until they found out we had Jolly Ranchers. Suddenly, they were much more amenable to our presence. 

At that point, it was game over. Us Two Legs were transformed and given kitty names. The bigger male Two Legs declined joining the clan and opted to be the crazy old cat shaman that ran his own clan and ... expanded... his personality to fulfill all the roles himself. 

The smaller female Two Legs' heart was softened by the adorable warrior kittens and she was immediately inducted into the clan in a ceremony under Leader Rock.

There may have been some howling and cat calling (I couldn't resist) involved.

She was then given the option to choose her new home, at which point she went exploring and was shown several nice properties available by the oh-so-helpful warrior-kitties-turned-realtors. 

We spent the next few hours climbing and warring and hissing and cuddling and eating warrior kitty treats and reading. Once we'd had our fill, it was with great remorse and growling tummies that we packed up our camping gear to go home. One last stop before our drive through the Dragoon mountain range was back at the amenity-filled campground where we had seen a nice paved nature walk with historical and botanical placards along the way. We tested our new knowledge and collective memory through the duration of the hike, identifying as many plants and trees as we could before loading back up to head home.

The drive home through the Dragoons was a post unto itself! Absolutely breathtaking and VERY adventurous.

All in all, the camping trip was a smashing success. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ringing in 2016 in Maui

This makes our 3rd annual New Year's with the Knerrs and we couldn't be happier about it! Maui, it turns out, is fairly awesome. It was a bit harder to get there this year than Kauai was last year, maybe because we're ON THE MAINLAND now #sadface. But well worth the extra effort all the same!

Our first adventure had us rappelling down waterfalls. Yeah, we did that. Cause that's how we roll. And it was every bit as cool as it sounds. 

We got all geared up in our awesomely dorky helmets- but I think we pulled them off quite well in any case. The vests were a pain, they fit some of us better than others (ahem, Long Tall).  

First waterfall was not insanely huge, but VERY cool and fun for us beginning rappellers. Nothing quite like trying to find your footing on a slippery cliff wall while leaning way back and trusting the equipment and your guides to not let you fall, bashing your broken body all the way down the rocky cliff while your face is pelted with cold water falling from said cliff ledge. I mean, I wasn't imagining that happening at all, I'm just saying in case some  people were. You know, cause I'm empathetic like that.

Matthias managed to leave behind some skin on our first test rappel- which was incredibly muddy since it was raining AS we were walking out to begin our adventure. Obviously, I was suitably impressed. My rule about fun is you're not having it unless SOMEONE gets hurt. Usually me, so I was ok with passing the torch this time. Also, *knock on wood* I'm getting better about being less klutzy when I do *fun* things. 

Victory selfie


Our next adventure in the trip had us doing two dives at different sites. The first was cool, lots of fish, some honu, cool coral... but the SECOND... Well shoot DANG! It is official, I am a mermaid at heart.

As we begin our descent Guy gives his shaka. We took all these on the GoPro, but several are screen captures from video, so the quality is not quite as high as the photos.

Matthias displays his glorious find... SO many treasures to find!

I found two as well- the biggest, coolest wana shells I've found EVER naturally and I left them in the rental car. I was sick over that for days. Still am, if we're being honest.

WHITE TIP REEF SHARK!!!!! Look at this guy, he is so chill. He literally did not move from this spot while we swam around him oohing and aahing in giddy scuba diver delight. Also my first shark encounter in the open ocean (aka not in a shark cage).

Just about to dive down through this arch... see all those fish in there? That never got old, swimming down through all the arches and wreckage and exploring tons of crazy formations. Ariel's Grotto, I tell you what.

Found this guy hiding as we swam through said arches... just chillin in the deep. There is something so absolutely thrilling about joining these creatures in their natural habitat, seeing what they do down here unda da sea.

Camas about to dive deeper down to explore the coral. I cherish the fact that we are able to vacation with these two. It is nonstop fun and great conversation- except when underwater, then it's fun only.

Diving through another cool arch finds still more little fishies hiding just behind the lip.

Group shot! Honu joined for this one and brought a couple buddies with. We thanked him after and got his autograph.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Back to School! (Finally)

Six weeks.

That's how much school the littles missed during the course of our move.

So their first day of school was a random Wednesday in late Sept and they may or may not have had such things as pencils, paper, backpacks, etc.... (Ok, here's my dirty little secret... This picture was their second day of school. Shhhh...)

But they got there. Nervous, uncertain, apprehensive, but they got there. I wondered how they'd all do thru the day. Xandri had a field trip to start off with.

When I left after dropping them off, Roman had been surrounded by about 6 little boys, 2-3 of whom claimed knowing him from church (so glad we went that Sunday!); Avril was deep in conversation with another girl walking down the soccer field; Xandri was hugging herself in the field trip bus line looking lonely and scared and worried.... My heart broke a little bit for that one! So naturally I was a bit worried about their day.

When they got home on the bus though, they were all smiles, full of energy and excitement and stories about their day and new friends. I loved hearing it (all at once lol) and was so relieved to hear what a good day and what new friends they made. I think living in a military town will be a good experience for them!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Three Baby Mice

We're working on respecting other's space and property. You know, like not walking into someone's house and immediately looking behind all closed doors and opening up all their cupboards to see all their stuff. Or in this case going through the big basement room and looking through Uncle Nic's stuff. 

On the other hand, this behavior may have its pros. They managed to find 3 baby mice- which I'm sure Nic is delighted to be without. 

Well, technically they found 6... but only 3 were still squeaking upon discovery. The others received a quick and painless garbage can burial. 

Grandpa wasn't really a fan of them if we're being honest. His vote was to kill em all- pronto! My sweet little animal activists were too delighted by their cuteness of course, so we made them a little cardboard graham cracker box house with grass inside for them to nest in. Then we gave them some rice and some leftover oatmeal, which they chowed down on. I even carved a little mouse water bowl out of a watermelon rind. Yep, we pulled out all the stops for Baby Mouse Hotel. 

I even promised them we could take them home and keep them as pets. 

I figured they likely wouldn't survive that long. 

They were totally enamored. Always checking on them, oo-ing and ah-ing every time they moved or ate or blinked or snuggled up with each other. They were pretty darn cute.

Unfortunately while we were playing with them outside, one scrambled around Xandri's hand and fell- pretty far and hard- to land on the sidewalk. It lay and twitched for a bit, but seemed to recover a little. We put him back in the box and tried to nurse him a bit. 

He did well with his siblings... but then they escaped (they were outside at the time, don't worry Grandpa) and he was on his own. The next morning we found him- he didn't make it thru the night. 

The kids were fairly upset... but they also moved on pretty quickly. They were happy to have played with them and happy that they were safely away from that mean Grandpa who wanted them dead! So all's well that ends well I guess... We'll see how long we last without adopting some other creature(s)!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunset Beach Bunkers

One thing I'm loving about staying on North Shore right now is staying on North Shore! It's seriously my favorite part of the island (ok, who are we kidding, all the parts are my favorite parts), but less accessible for us than most. You know, like make it a special weekend trip sorta thing. Maybe that has more to do with how slacktastic we've gotten about traveling though... I mean, really, it's a 45 min drive. 

But back to my point- I've always felt like there's too much to do up on North Shore that you simply can't do a day trip and consider yourself fulfilled. So there are tons of little things this week that I've always wanted to just BE up here to do... like random hikes for example.

This bunker hike was seriously cool- and the kids were, for the most part, troopers. Avril was having a rough time, she wasn't feeling well. Hence her presence in ONE picture here and that unknowingly and unwillingly!

The kids loved exploring the graffittied out bunker and were so excited to check everything out that they kept getting upset that Dad wasn't being interesting (he was on the phone taking care of moving business)

but they still managed to be plenty interesting themselves, of course. Starting with "Mom, take a picture of me!"

which turned into "Xandri, take a picture of us!"

After we thoroughly explored the bunker, we went outside to check out the crazy cool landscape- these boulders are seriously rad. Like, seriously. 

So the kids wanted to climb on them, which turned into posing. Xandri kept just standing there, not smiling. I finally showed her the pictures and said, "Xandri, is that really what you want your pictures to look like?!" 

She said, "Mom! How do you expect me to look all serious when I'm smiling?!" 


She wanted to have a TOUGH and SERIOUS shot- ergo, she was doing it on purpose- but not due to bad attitude lol. So I gave her some coaching in power posing and the serious face and I think we got what she wanted. She's so darn cute though! That's definitely a handicap when one is going for toughness.

Unless you're this guy. He's somehow managed to harness cuteness and toughness all in the same look.... my heart melts at the same time I take a step back, "Whoa, Mister, calm down... no need to get angry, sir!"

This rock formation- two large boulders resting together and creating the space below them- was claimed by Max as his home. If I were a badger I'd seriously find somewhere else to nest. 

Dad finally got off the phone and to prove to Xandri that he was adventurous and interesting began being adventurous and interesting. Wish I'd gotten a clear shot of her face in this shot, but suffice it to say all was forgiven. 

Xandri found her 'home'- definitely made me curious about our predecessors, I'll say that much!

This was the part where Max got HANGRY. The fact that we failed to bring water bottles (I will absolve myself on this point- I did instruct the kids to bring some... but like most children their age, they suffer from selective hearing. 

This was the part where I realized it really was time to start heading back. Derek and the Middles had ranged on, exploring to their adventurous little hearts' content and these two were completely falling apart. It was definitely time to start meandering back down the trail.

We headed down the trail, slowly.... and when the others realized we were leaving they freaked out and ran to catch up- which I'd known they would do- and after fielding their accusations of abandonment, I offered Derek proof of α and Ω's (you know, the Bookends) plight.... which he then took a photo of... which, naturally, needed another photo outside that. Cause that's just the way we roll. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's Time to Say Goodbye

We are gonna miss this gorgeous island when we move.

Yes, it's official. This is the official announcement of our impending departure from this lovely isle. It has been our home for 5 glorious years and is deeply a part of us- the people, the climate, the trees, the ocean, the hikes, the beaches... everything about this paradise has found a place in our hearts. I am so grateful for the chance we've had to raise our kids here for 5 years. 

So many good and diverse people, experiences and places- I really couldn't ask for a better place to call home. I will take forever going through all the millions (ok, maybe thousands. It seems like millions!) of pictures we've taken to document our experiences- D is definitely a bit miffed I've dropped the ball so severely on blogging! 

But come August, on we go to another new adventure, a new chapter in our lives. I'm glad it's Arizona, though- although it's ocean-less, it's still warm and will ease us gently back into seasons (the city we're moving to is at a higher elevation- about 10-15 degrees cooler than the rest of the state!). It'll be a different experience- one that I personally am hoping includes a pool and a giant Jacuzzi tub in the master bath! Oh and a dishwasher certainly wouldn't go amiss...

But no worries Hawai'i. 

We'll be back.

Girl got some AIR!

Went from kitty to dragon to puffer fish... dragon pictured here

Honing his boogie boarding skills

We don't have snowballs. We have sandballs. 

Buried alive

Transformation into snickerdoodle complete


Happiest mummy I've ever seen revitalized

Gonna spend as much time here as possible before we fly!