Have you ever had those days when you looked up and looked around you kept thinking that it must be a dream? That life really couldn't be this good? Have you ever had a moment when you had to pinch yourself you wanted to make sure you didn't miss a moment?
April was full of those moments. It seemed like the whole month was packed with moments I won't want to forget. Moments that I realized I was so blessed by God. That my Father in Heaven looks down on me "knows the thoughts and intents of my heart" and care for me deeper than I ever thought possible.
That was April... and it was awesome.
We have been dreaming of visiting Bali Indonesia ever since we arrived in Okinawa. We had heard from many families that it was a wonderful trip and so awesome and the best time of their life. At the beginning of this month we finally had the chance to go there.
Overall: Bali was a great vacation. It was a good mix of relaxation, culture and adventure. If you are visiting southeast Asia this is a great spot for families.
The good: The villas where you stay at are amazing! They are super cheap (less than 100$ a night). You can have you own villa, 3-4 bedrooms, kitchen, private pool, room service and quick access to all the fun hot spots around the island. Our kids were awake by 7 AM every day and in the pool by 7:10.
The bad: So many stray dogs. So many.... Like so many. The country is poor and sanitation is suspect. Don't drink water out of the tap only bottled water. There was trash everywhere including the ocean. Kennedy had to pick off some trash of herself while she was swimming.
I don't want to give you a travel log of every day and every detail of our trip. But here are my top five things we did and saw.
Pirates Bay Bali
Pirates Bay Bali is a family friendly restaurant with activities along with the meal. The kids were able to go on a treasure hunt, dress up like pirates, zip line, eat in a tree house and climb an obstacle course. I think this was our kids favorite thing they did. We were there for a total of about 3 hours and it was totally worth it. For the treasure hunt they had to find clues hidden within the grounds, a bottle in the ocean, rolled up maps and finally a treasure chest full of pirate pouches and coins.
Wee went to the monkey forest and the monkey temple. Both were good. The monkey forest we felt almost transported back in time to an Indiana Jones era. They monkey were so friendly and would steal hats, glasses and even teach inside your stroller to get things out. We saw the monkeys fight, swim and adopt a baby kitten.
Perhaps my wife’s favorite thing was living like royalty for a few days. At our last villa they had a staff there 24 hours a day that waited on us and did whatever you asked. They arranged massages and pedicures, whatever you needed. The kids would literally wake up in the morning and ask to swim. It wasn’t even 7 AM and they would be in their swimming suits. The first villas bought as 4 bags of native fruit. So yummy!
One of the truly unique things we saw here. I’ve never seen anything like it. The rice fields are awesome and beautiful green. They had like little toll booths where you had to pay a donations. Which was lame. It made us want to explore less and less. They nickel and dime the heck out of all the tourists. The fields were amazing and had a ton of steps. Climbing them with kids was kind of hard, but our kids were champs.
My personal time I took to go and watch the sunrise at the amazing temple. I sat on the edge of the lake and watched colors paint the sky for over an hour. I woke up at 4 AM and had to pay a private driver. This temple is unique and perhaps one of he most photographed of all locations in Bali. It did take me about 2 hours to get there from our villa. If you are a photographer - worth it. If you are a family with kids and have to drive 2 hours there and back... not worth it.
A 9 day trip to Bali really can't be summarized in any fashion. But all along the way I kept thinking of how grateful i am for what I have. To be from a country that is amazing. To have a good solid job. To have an amazing wife and kids who are willing to come on adventures with me to these countries that I will never again be able to visit. Here are some other random photos along the way.
Soccer Season Ends
The kids had their last game the day after we got back from Bali. McKay and Kennedy both have had a ton of fun this year. They had gained friendships and grown personally in their work ethics. Story about Kennedy. She has been playing forward all year long and has been putting herself right in front of the goal waiting for the perfect pass. Well Finally it came and she tapped the ball with one foot and then watched the ball trickle across the line for a goal. I think she stood and hopped up and down with her hands in the air for a full minute. Then the best player on the team came up and said good job to her. He had passed her the ball many times and finally she scored the goal. I was proud because she had fumbled the ball many times previously at the last second. Story about McKay. His team never lost all year. In the closest and most well fought game all year in he last quarter the opposing team scored the first goal of the game. McKay and his best friend Caleb turned on a switch and became angry focused. There was only like 3 minutes left on the game and these two little boys became possessed and took over. They scored two goals in the last minutes of the game to win. I had never seen McKay get focused intense like that. He usually is just so happy.
Easter has long been Linz's favorite holiday. She always goes all out and does a great job keeping the right spirit talking about Christ and the resurrection. One of the favorite things is when Linz makes resurrection rolls. We wrap up marshmallows in a roll and bake them. Then when it comes out of the oven and the marshmallow is gone!
We did easter egg hunting through my work. The boys were able to hunt eggs. But Kennedy had a soccer game at the exact time as the easter egg hunt. So she missed out.
Hayden doesn't really trust the easter bunny...
The perfect combination for play with our kids is water, little creatures and food. If we get all three together then you have a perfect day! One Saturday we took our kids to this newly finished park up in the northern part of Okinawa. It was a little stream flowing from a cute little waterfall. They found a salamander that they carried around for hours pretend it was their pet. Then we hiked around the forest and up to the waterfall itself. The kids were able to get wet and have a ton of fun. We brought food along and made a picnic of it. I was trying to pack Hayden up to the waterfall, slipped of a rock, split my toe open, broke my flip flop... At least I didn't drop Hayden or my camera in the water.
Sock Hop Dance
The local elementary school put on a school dance as a fundraiser. We went as a family. I love my wife for dressing all of us up and making us have a fun time. If I were in charge we wouldn't go to things like this because I'm not that fun. The kids were super cute. Hayden was adorable. Kennedy was stellar and McKay was awesome.
The kids danced for two hours straight. Kennedy found some friends and hopped around. Then McKay was a dancing machine. Perhaps one of the things my wife loves about McKay the most is his insatiable love of dancing. He tells us he wants to be a breakdancer when he grows up. He loves to watch videos of hip/hop dancers. Linz got out on the floor and danced with Hayden. There is no photographic proof of any dancing that I did. All in all it was a fun family night.
We try hard to instill in our kids a work ethic. That if they work hard they can achieve their dreams. We also try to help them realize that being part of a family is helping around the house. We make them have dishes night (yes even Hayden). They clean and vacuum their room. They have to dust and clean the appliances.
Hayden helped out Linz this week give a family home evening lesson. He taught about Noah and all of the animals that he saved. Kennedy wanted to know about family history and make a family tree so we talked about our parents and grandparents and told them stories and showed them pictures. I love these moments in our family.
Kennedy turns 8 on May 1. She decided that she wanted to get her ears pierced. This was a process to find a place. All that exists in Okinawa are tattoo parlors. So we had to find one that was willing to see kids. In the end we went to this place called Monsters Inc. Funny huh? The Lady that did it was great and Kennedy was super excited about it. She keeps stopping by the mirror every time she passes to look at them.
We also went on a huge group date with some amazing couples and dressed up as Mario Kart characters and drove go-carts around downtown Okinawa. It was awesome!
When I look back on this month I'm filled with gratitude for all I've been given. The Lord has blessed me beyond any of my wildest dreams. We only have more adventures in the future. More blessings to received. Most fun to have. More dreams to realize. More people to help. More lives to change. More happiness to be had.