Saturday, January 14, 2017

Firetrucks and Penguins

Happy Winter!

We have had a good winter here in KC this season, though we had hoped for more snow!  We celebrated Quinn's 4th Birthday on Saturday January 7th with an "all boys" party at the Fire Station in Mission, Kansas.

The party was really fun and it started with a tour of the station given by the firefighters who live there. They were really nice and also explained several important safety related things to the kids (for example how and why to call 9-1-1).  After the tour, we went to a Mexican restaurant next door for food, cookie cake and presents.

Quinn was really excited about his birthday especially because he got lots of LEGOS.  Quinn really loves LEGOS and he is really good at following the directions step-by-step to assemble really complex things.

Here is Quinn making a really cool firetruck that Papa Craig and Grandma Kim got for him.

Olivia and Quinn have been having a blast each Monday evening 'practicing' with the Little Penguins hockey team at the Carriage Club where we belong. This year's group of Little Penguins is really large which means we will have a great crop of hockey players coming up with our little ones too!

Jason and I both got skates and we've been taking them to the outdoor rink once a week or so this season during open ice time to practice our skating skills.  It's neat to see them improve each and every week.  Of course, the better they get at skating, the more fun they have with it (and so do mom and dad!).

Here's a picture of our Penguins all geared up and ready for action!

Each year at this time, though the weather might be dull and gloomy, I'm reminded why I do like the KC weather - because we generally do have four distinct seasons.  Spring is just a stones through away at this point and with it comes baseball (go Royals!).

Though we don't have season tickets this year, we will be going out to several games.  Here's a snap from last season when the person next to us caught a foul ball then gave it to us.

Signing off for now.  Stay warm and snuggley and we'll try to do the same!

Love, claire

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sun and Fun


The Cunningham family spent the last two weeks of 2016 in the Cook Islands! The trip was amazing, relaxing and so very memorable. We had so much bonding time as a family, and as a additional treat, my parents were able to join us for most of the trip so they got a lot of time with their grandkids too :)

During the weeks leading up to the trip, the kids were a bit stir crazy and maybe a bit over-excited in anticipation of the trip, being more fussy and argumentative than usual. But once we departed KC (considering the unexpected travel delays we encountered), they both turned in to model "travel citizens". Perfectly flexible for whatever we encountered and overall just a joy to be around. Jason and I are happy to point out to them how good they were being because it really does enable us to do more things like this without the strain and stress of worrying about the kids.
Excellent Travelers!
The Cook Islands is really a special place for families and people who love the ocean and South Pacific Island culture. It is not overly crowded with tourists. There is only one direct flight from Los Angeles to Rarotonga weekly, so American tourists only make up a fraction of the people who visit. The pace is slow, shopping and dining opportunities are relatively minimal which is fine by us. A significant percentage of travelers who visit come from Australia and New Zealand.

Here are a few stories from the trip;

1. Olivia fell in love with coconut on the trip! She now loves both the water and flesh of the coconut. From our place on the beach at the resort, she would hunt for a good coconut and then take it to the Beach Hut and then sweet talk one of the boys in to husking it for her. She would then drink the water and ask someone to cut the flesh into wedges which she would offer to folks along the beach, of course making new friends the whole time! Daddy also learned how to husk a coconut and apparently it's harder than it looks, especially if you don't have a sharp stick to work with!

2. Santa bought all of our airline tickets to the Cook Islands, but we thought he might bring another little something while we were over there, so Jason and Quinn made a Christmas tree out of the palm plant in our villa!

3. The kids played hard all day and in the evenings we usually let them have a special ice cream treat. Here's Quinn getting ice cream at the Muri Night Market which was a cool event that happens 2-3 times per week when local people prepare and sell home cooked meals to tourists and residents alike, kind of like a food truck festival but with mostly food tents instead.

4. We went to two Island Nights which were really cool. One was an over water show with fire dancers and the other was a cultural show in the mountain region which my Dad enjoyed in particular. Olivia and Mommy got our hair braided for one of the nights. Quinn was generally sacked out before the show ended!

5. The snorkeling was amazing, particularly in Aitutaki. We went there for two nights and spent a full day with a charter boat on the lagoon, snorkeling and exploring the lagoon. That day had to be the highlight of 2016 for me! Jason had his GoPro camera under water and got some cool shots but we don't have them available yet. We did upgrade our snorkel equipment in Rarotonga and I got a mask that is much more comfortable as a little Christmas present to myself. Olivia is an expert snorkeler now. Quinn has yet to try it but he has all of the gear when he's ready for action!

Best day of 2016!

Our villa in Aitutaki

Taken at a deserted island that we kayaked to

That's a BIG fish she's looking at!
6. Villa 100 at the Pacific Resorts in Rarotonga was our home base and the place was lovely. By the end of the trip, we did rename it the "Crab Shack" due to the encounters we had with various types of crabs in and around the Villa. My dad was awakened the first night he was there with a LARGE crab clawing at his shoulder in his bed - quite a wake up call, I'm sure!
View from back door of  the Crab Shack
The kids and Jason hunted for crabs on the beach each night using the little flashlights we got for them. I'm telling you the crabs they caught kept getting bigger and bigger. I would for sure not want to sleep on that beach at night because it is absolutely crawling with crabs and other critters! They made an environment for the crabs to keep in the room and every day or so we would release all of them and they would catch more that night.
This was like the one that woke my dad up!

It rained a few afternoons which was fine by us because we were able to read (I finished two books cover to cover!), do puzzles and other games. My dad taught me and the kids how to play chess, or as Quinn likes to call it, "chest".

After two weeks of sun, fun and the most enjoyable family time imaginable, we returned to Kansas City just minutes before the clock struck midnight on New Year's Day. What a way to bring 2016 to a close and start 2017 on a positive note.
Buggy Tour - we swam in a (cold) waterfall after this pic!

Thank you Cook Islands! We will be back someday!

Love always, Claire