Great Futures Start HERE

I’ve spent a lot of time lately preparing for the Great Futures Start HERE breakfast for the Boys & Girls Club – Windward Clubhouse. It is an amazing event where people in the community come to learn all about the clubhouse and the impact it has on the children that attend. I’m so thankful that I get to be involved in such an amazing organization. The video below shows a little bit about what we do “Behind the Blue Door”.

And We’re Back!

After a lovely (and mostly cold) couple of years in Chicago, Josh and I decided to move back to Hawaii in July. We were lucky enough that all of the stars aligned to make it happen — Josh got a job here, my company allowed me to keep my job working West Coast hours, we found a place to live and purchased it (site unseen..more to come on that in a later post) and coordinated a move across the ocean — all in a matter of a couple weeks.

It was an incredibly tough decision knowing we’d be leaving our families again and living so far away, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Our dream of moving back was actually becoming an reality!

Fast forward a few weeks….we moved out of our place in late June and into my mom’s house for a few weeks (temporary stop #1). Josh left in the beginning of July to start his job and I left a couple weeks later to meet him there. A few Airbnbs and hotels later, we finally closed on our place and moved in at the end of July.

After a few weeks of unpacking and getting settled, we finally feel like things are becoming “normal”. I’ve started volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club and this weekend we are planning on spending time with friends and going on a new hike. I won’t be blogging every day like I did the first time we lived here, but I’m planning on posting all of our adventures and any fun things we do so we can stay connected with our families and friends.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last several months. We couldn’t have pulled this move off without your love and support (and special shoutout to my mom and Tom who are babysitting Nola until she is done with quarantine and can fly over to meet us).

Volunteering a few weeks ago for BGCH. Started our morning with a monk seal sighting and some beautiful weather.

Oahu 2016

Only about four months late in posting this, but Josh and I went back to Hawaii for his spring break in March. After a long flight, we got some poke and then crashed.

The next day I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club. It was so wonderful to see how much the kids have grown and for them all to jump up to ask to be in my group for the field trip. Oh how I missed them! After a day full of volunteering, we headed to the Farmers’ Market for dinner.

Friday I was off for a day at the beach with the kids. Unfortunately it ended up being a rather rainy day so we headed back a bit early. After volunteering, we tried Uahai Island Grill for dinner (new place for us!).

On Saturday we met up with my dear friend Jenn in Diamond Head for some lunch and an açai bowl. We decided to drive around the island and dream about where we would live when we moved back on day. We finished the day with my favorite, shabu shabu!

Sunday we headed up to the North Shore to watch the waves. First stop, was Giovanni’s for shrimp. After stuffing ourselves, we sat on the beach and watched the waves and just relaxed. We tried Tokoname (recommended by our Airbnb hostess) for dinner — another new place for us!

Monday was my last day to volunteer and we spent it at the clubhouse doing crafts. Always so hard to say goodbye! For dinner, we met our friends Tia and Mark to catch up!

Tuesday I finally had some time to hike (and it was of course raining). To wait out the rain, we had Lanikai juice for breakfast and just relaxed. After being stuck inside, we ventured out for lunch at Buzz’s Lani Kai. It finally stopped raining, so we did a quick hike to Makapu’u Lighthouse. I’ve done this more times than I can count and it never gets old.

Wednesday we got to hike the Pāli Puka! This had been on our list when we lived there but we were never able to complete it. The views were absolutely gorgeous (helped that we had a perfect day as well). For lunch, we went to Kalapawai cafe in Kailua then home to shower for a night in Waikiki.

On our last full day, we hiked up to Lanikai pillboxes. It was SUPER hot and incredibly crowded. We treated ourselves to a poke bowl as a reward for lunch and went to hang out on the beach. We packed up to leave on Friday and then went to the Farmers’ Market for dinner to meet some friends.

On our last day, we packed up and checked out of our Airbnb. Our last meal was shabu shabu (of course).

And with that, another Hawaii trip in the books! A hui ho!

Oahu: Part 1

After much debate on where to take a trip, Josh and I decided to travel back to Hawaii…as that’s where we really wanted to be. What sealed the deal for us (especially me), was that the Windward Clubhouse for the Boys and Girls Club where I worked was having their grand opening for their new clubhouse…12 years in the making! I knew if I could possibly be there for that, I would never regret it. So we decided to book a 10 day trip to Oahu for some hiking, food and much needed volunteer time.

Our trip started with a 5:00 AM flight to Dallas to catch our connected to Honolulu. After 12 hours of flying, we landed around noon on Oahu. The first stop was checking in to our airbnb near Punchbowl. It was a great location (super close to where we used to live) so we felt like we were close to home. After that, we headed to Kailua for the clubhouse opening. It was so great to see my kids, my old coworkers and how incredible the new clubhouse looked. Many happy tears were shed!

After a few hours at the clubhouse, we headed back to Honolulu to have dinner at Shabu Shabu House. I was so excited that Josh documented my excitement waiting on my food. After dinner, we headed back to our airbnb and crashed! Successful first day back in Hawaii!

Excited for Shabu Shabu!

Excited for Shabu Shabu!

The next day, we woke up early and decided to grab breakfast at Cinnamon’s before I went to volunteer. We split one of their mac nut cinnamon rolls and an omelet. A great way to start the day!

After that, I spent the day at the clubhouse volunteering. Pictured below: some of my favorites painting their nails!


After a day of volunteering, Josh and I headed to the Kailua Farmers’ Market to grab dinner. It was delicious as always!

After the Farmers’ Market, we headed back and crashed for the day!

On Friday, we woke up and went to Lanikai juice in Kailua for an açai bowl. I was so very happy!



After breakfast, it was another full day of volunteering for me. It was a rainy day, so not much going on outdoors! Our plan was to hike Koko Head in the evening, but we got rained out. Instead, we decided to go to Soul de Cuba for dinner! We both ordered Fricase de Pollo.

Pretty good start to our first few days in Hawaii! More to come!

Hawaii: A Year In Review

I’m not even sure how to begin this last post…

When I made the decision to move to Hawaii, there were a lot of things that factored into my decision – seeing where my relationship with Josh would go, needing to feel like I was giving back and doing my part to (as cliche as this sounds) make the world a better place, and learning to let go and not necessarily have a plan for every single second of my life. Not only was this past year a success in achieving those goals, but it far exceeded any expectations I could have ever dreamed of.

First, I learned many things about myself that I didn’t necessarily even think about before moving. For example, I knew I took pride in my job and felt strongly about giving 110% at every aspect of it. I also knew that it contributed to my overall confidence in myself. But what I didn’t realize is how MUCH confidence I drew from having a successful career. Leaving a great job at a company where I felt valued and loved was definitely a leap that I was not fully prepared for mentally, even though I thought I was. By taking this step and a break from my traditional career, I learned that it was necessary for me to find confidence in myself in other ways. This has continued to be a struggle for me throughout the year, but I feel like I have overcome needing a successful job in my life to make me feel complete. Moving forward, a successful job and a growing career will be an amazing added bonus in my life, but not play SUCH a large part in defining who I am. Looking forward, I believe this will be important in grounding me and staying true to the person I want to be.

Second, I decided to tackle one of my greatest fears in life: the ocean. Since I was little, I have been afraid to even wade into the ocean off the beach. I started small by sticking my feet in the water and then slowly spending more time by the ocean on the beach. The turning point: we had a field trip this summer to Hanauma Bay with the kids to go snorkeling. This was the first time I had been snorkeling in about ten years (both times previously I completely panicked and had to get out of the water). My kids wanted me to go snorkeling so badly that they practically drug me into the water in a group, promising me that I would be ok because they would be with me the whole time (one of them even holding my hand). It was then that I realized, surrounded by eight year olds, that this was a fear I could probably overcome. So after a few more snorkeling trips, swimming in the ocean and just getting comfortable in the water, I decided it was time for the ultimate test: getting my PADI Open Water Diver certification. It was one of the best things I have done and I cannot wait for my next dive! If you had told me a year ago that I would be certified to scuba dive, I would have responded that you were completely insane.

As for the things I wanted to focus on for the year, finding a job where I could feel like I was making a difference was one of the first things I started working on when I moved. Finding my job at the Windward Boys and Girls Club was one of the biggest blessings I have ever received in my life. I could not even begin to put into words what those children did for my soul. They taught me so many things – from telling me how to pronounce words in the Hawaiian language, to reminding me to be thankful that I grew up with a loving family who encouraged and believed in me, and most importantly teaching me that I had more patience than I ever thought possible :). My heart breaks leaving them, but I know they have the most amazing people there to support them!

Learning to let go and not have a plan may have turned out to be the biggest challenge of all. Dating someone in the military ensures that you are never able to have a plan for anything. When I moved, I thought Josh and I had a tentative plan of heading back to the mainland together in December to see where our lives would take us next. However, that all changed with one email in July informing Josh that he would be staying in the Marines for an additional six months. And on top of that, he came home the next day to tell me they decided he would be deploying in November. I still struggle with not having a plan for everything, but it has been VERY good for me to learn that even without a plan things will work out and be ok. However, I am realistic enough to know that this will forever be a struggle of mine.

And finally, my relationship with Josh. I really do not know where to begin with that! We have experienced more adventure in a year than many relationships do in a lifetime! We traveled to all of the Hawaiian islands that you can visit, experiencing multiple things that I didn’t even know were possible. To name a few: standing three feet away from flowing lava, being in a cage surrounded by sharks, being a couple of yards from humpback whales on a boat that they could easily capsize in seconds, multiple encounters with dolphins in their natural environment, snorkeling at too many places to count, riding donkeys down an incredibly high sea cliff, viewing a million waterfalls, too many breathtaking sunrises and sunsets to count, horseback riding down to a crater floor, driving on countless narrow one-lane roads with multiple hairpin turns, hiking to our hearts’ content, off-roading adventures and hundreds of stunning views that instantly make you silently in awe. I cannot imagine anyone else I would have wanted to experience the year with. On top of all of that, getting engaged in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. When I moved here, I had an idea that Josh was a pretty wonderful person that I’d want to keep around for awhile, but I wanted to make sure. Turns out, I was correct. It has been a year of many challenges and a lot of growth in our relationship, but this year has given us a pretty solid foundation for whatever life throws at us!

This has been the fastest year of my life and it is hard to imagine leaving such a special place. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and believed in my adventure: family, old and new friends, coworkers from multiple jobs and of course, Josh.


Gunstock Ranch

Today, we went on a field trip to Gunstock Ranch on the North Shore for fall break. We had a blast hiking, watching the kids swim and leading them around on the horses!