Forces of Nature: Volcanoes, Hurricanes, and One-Year-Olds

Boys and fire.  We brought our neighbor, Phil, along and sure were thankful for the extra hands!

Boys and fire. We brought our neighbor, Phil, along and sure were thankful for the extra hands!

A few weeks ago we took a camping trip to Volcano National Park.  I know I’ve posted about our adventures there before (here and here) but the great thing about active volcanoes is that they’re never the same!  Also, this time we had a One-Year-Old along and that makes for an entirely different kind of adventure. Active volcanoes and active toddlers are really a lot alike.  They both require constant monitoring.  But even under the closest of supervision there is really very little one can do to prepare for their next outburst.  You are simply at their mercy. Here on the Big Island our thoughts are all with the residents of Pahoa where an active lava flow has arrived at their back door and already destroyed some structures.  The flow started back in June and they’ve been able to predict it’s course pretty well but like a stubborn, determined child there’s nothing you can do to stop it from destroying whatever lies in it’s path.  It WILL have it’s own way.


Trouble’s brewing.

Anyway, about the camping trip;  Phil, Tom, and the boys brought tents but Gideon and I opted for the luxury of an A-frame with a real roof and bed and that’s about it.  Sometime during the rather rainy night a few more boys fled their soggy tent and joined us but little Sam was a real trooper and stayed cuddled up next to Dad till morning.  Besides puddles in the tents there were plenty more outside for Gideon to splash around in!

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And just as an aside, if for some reason you’re heading out on a camping trip and not a single store in town has hot-dog roasting sticks or wire hangers to make them out of here’s a tip:  a two-pack of fly swatters is only a buck.  Just clip the plastic part off and voila!

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Anyway, a couple weeks later with Hurricane Ana bearing down on our island we thought, “What better place to ride out a storm than the edge of a volcano?”  This time, Tom’s folks were able to score us accommodations at the Kilauea Military Camp.  Since schools were all canceled Tom had an extra day off so we left early to get ahead of the wind and rain.

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We hit the first outer band of Ana around South Point but by the time we got up to the park it was clear again.  Which was kind of funny because the whole National Park was closed because of the storm.  They let us through the gate anyway because we were the only ones silly enough not to have cancelled our reservations and we ended up having the whole Volcano to ourselves that entire day.

The lobby was all boarded up for the storm but they left us to fend for ourselves in a cottage.

The lobby was all boarded up for the storm but they left us to fend for ourselves in a cottage.

The rain hit that evening just as we were eating our microwaved dinner outside at the picnic table.

Road food.

Road food.

It didn’t stop until 36 hours later.  Rumor has it we got the most rain of any other place in Hawaii.  A good 12 inches at least.  But we had chosen our shelter well and for the first time in over three years enjoyed family time around a real live fireplace with actual fire in it.  We played games while Gideon ran off with the pieces, drank hot chocolate and generally enjoyed all the things you Main-Landers will get to experience for the next  6 months.  My hopelessly generous sister even sent a big box of pumpkin goodies to enjoy.  It was Fall in a box.

Pumpkin treats from my sister, vintage table-cloth from my mom, red bamboo vase hand-crafted  by Titus, and wild orchids from God.  Must be my birthday.

Pumpkin treats from my sister, vintage table-cloth from my mom, red bamboo vase hand-crafted by Titus, and wild orchids from The Creator Himself. Must be my birthday.

Our last day there, I rose at dawn to catch the last little bit of lava glow.  The rain was petering out and by mid-morning all was loveliness again.

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Toddlers are like hurricanes.  Completely unpredictable.  You can’t ever know for certain exactly where they will hit.  Or with what fury.  THIS time we were spared. Next time, who knows?


Friday Funnies





photoI’ve mentioned before how much my boys enjoy this silly joke book.  It’s the quickest and easiest way to get them into the “school zone” each morning.  Originally I had a joke picked out for the days I didn’t have a funny animal poem to read.  But it didn’t take long for them to declare that my animal poems weren’t really all that funny, so now they chant “Joke! Joke! Joke!” until I bring out this little book.  Now the joke of the day is the first thing on the agenda and sadly sometimes it’s the only thing they remember.

Since I haven’t required them to type up a “Friday’s Factoid” this year (we’ve been keeping better track of what they’re learning on paper), I thought it might be fun if they all shared one of their favorite jokes from some of the different animal families we’ve studied so far.

Family Canidae (A Dog Joke submitted by Joel)

A jogger stopped for a rest.  Sitting on a park bench next to an old man, he noticed a dog curled up under the bench.  “Does your dog bite?” he asked.  “Nope!” the old man said.  So the jogger reached under the bench to pat the dog and it nearly bit his hand off!  “I thought you said your dog didn’t bite!” he yelled at the old man.  “He doesn’t,” the old man replied.  “But that there ain’t my dog.”

Family Ursidae (A Bear Joke submitted by Titus)

Once upon a time there were three bears that lived in a cottage in the woods.  Coming back from a walk, Papa Bear noticed something unusual.  “Who’s been sleeping in my bed and left the covers all messed up?” he roared.  The baby bear ran into his own room.  “Who’s been sleeping in my bed and left the covers all messed up?” he squeaked.  Mother Bear walked in and said, “Will you two calm down?  I just haven’t had a chance to make them yet!”

Family Felidae (A Cat Joke submitted by Sam)

A man once applied for a job as a circus lion tamer.  The ringmaster asked if he had any experience, and the man said, “Why yes.  My father was one of the most famous lion tamers in the world and he taught me everything he knew.”  “Really?” said the ringmaster.  “Did he teach you how to make a lion jump through a flaming hoop?”  “Yes, he did,” the man replied.  “And did he teach you how to have six lions form a pyramid?”  “Yes, he did” the man replied.  Impressed, the ring ringmaster went for the biggest question in the lion-taming world.  “Have you ever stuck your head in a lion’s mouth?”  “Just once,” the man replied. The ringmaster asked, “Why only once?”  And the man said, “I was looking for my father.”

Family Macropodidae (A Kangaroo Joke submitted by Nate)

The zookeepers started work one morning and noticed the kangaroo had escaped from its enclosure.  They rounded it up and erected a ten-foot fence around the enclosure.  The next morning the kangaroo was hopping around the zoo again.  They put it back in its enclosure and built the fence up to twenty feet.  The next morning the kangaroo was hopping around the zoo again.  And once again the zookeepers put it back in its enclosure then raised the fence to forty feet.  The kangaroo and its friend watched the workmen pack up their tools, and the friend said, “I wonder how high they’re gonna go with that.”  “I don’t care,” the kangaroo said. “Just so long as they keep leaving the gate unlocked!”

Hmmmm…  Makes me wonder how often I might be missing the obviously easier solution…

Oh, and we can’t leave out Gideon.  He doesn’t get jokes but he thinks the goldfish is hilarious.

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There is absolutely such a thing as having too much fun.  Since my last post we got so busy with fun activities that my body and mind finally collapsed into an exhausted heap.  My little meltdown happened to coincide with Ironman week and quite possibly the most epic meltdown by a professional athlete I have ever witnessed.   The fatigue set in sometime during our camping trip to Volcano which was marked by no sleep for me and the start of a series of fevers that passed through the boys which of course resulted in more sleepless nights for me.  The boys all happened to be well-enough to compete the day of the Ironkids mini-triathalon which is about as crazy as kids sporting events should legally be allowed to be.  It’s not timed and there are no places since all age-groups/distances have the same start and finish however, the fact that the majority of the young competitors are the children of the actual Ironman competitors makes this particular competition, well, extremely competitive.  For some reason, our boys love these races.  I find them stressful, chaotic, and exhausting which is probably exactly why our boys love these races.

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This is just the kick off for the real Ironman race which consists of over 2000 uber-athletes swimming 2.5 miles, then biking 120 miles before topping their morning off with a full marathon.  The race starts at 6:30 AM and they have until mid-night to finish but the professionals are usually done by lunch time, which is usually right when we’re all worn out just from watching.  It really is an amazing display of physical strength and endurance.  If only these athletes could exercise the same kind of self-discipline in their private lives.  Unfortunately the morning after the race there was a huge blow up between a neighboring Ironman and his Ironlady which resulted in her $10,000 bike being smashed into pieces, her Dad being pummeled, and a very large diamond ring being tossed back at it’s giver.  Oh yeah, and then about midnight there were the suitcases being thrown down the stairs and 2 front tires being flattened on the rental car.  I believe in the sporting world, this kind of premature and permanent loss of momentum is called “bonking.”

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See the beautiful white bell tower in the background?  That’s our nearly 200-year-old church where our dear Kahu David has been faithfully preaching The Word, most recently from the first part of the book of Revelation.  Here’s an excerpt from chapter 3 and the words to the Church at Philadelphia:  “I know your works…I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name…Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world…I am coming soon.  Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.  The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.”  What a beautiful picture of the Bride of Christ!  Our little church represents just a piece of that “patient endurance.”  Since it’s founding by some brave-hearted New England missionaries at the appeal of some very determined Hawaiians, this church has witnessed the rise and fall of kingdoms, the expansion of empires, the empowering and subjugation of peoples, the burning and rebuilding of pagan temples and their idols.  It has withstood hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.  And yet those lava walls still house the continual praises of the people in this community.  The walls themselves will crumble, but be it ever our prayer that His people here will “hold fast.”  And be it ever our prayer that our marriages and our families will “hold fast.”



I want my family to have an Ironman finish.  Lord grant us the “patient endurance”  to “hold fast” and “conquer” the incredible odds stacked against families like ours.  Only His Sustaining Power will prevent us from a big-time “bonk.”

That mini-bonk I experienced last week?  Probably the result of “over-biking.”  I guess that’s what happens when a triathlete expends too much energy on the bike section and doesn’t have enough left for the 26 mile run.  I put so much energy into the fun extra stuff I just didn’t have any left for the day to day demands.  Gotta learn to pace myself!  Oh, and I need to learn to “slow down through the aid-stations” and take advantage of available nutrition and hydration which was the much talked about key to this year’s victories.  But oh, do the miles seem to stretch on and on between those roadside run-thrus!  Thank the Lord for those dear people that He has placed strategically along the way to hand out a cup of encouragement or a bit of spiritual nourishment to us Moms!  You just might prevent a bonk!