Saturday, December 20, 2014

New Phone

Lesley and I finally made the leap to a new phone plan. We have been with AT&T since 2001 and still paying the price of the original iPhone plan from 2007 (which was highway robbery of a monopoly). Now we are paying a much better rate and we both got new phones- yay!!!! Unfortunately, our old plan was canceled on Monday and our new phones did not arrive until Friday so we had a nice 5 days being phone less and Internet free. It was hard. Our new phones were very much worth the wait- I'm in love with my iPhone 6 Plus!! The screen is awesome and clear and big. The camera is sharp and has really fun tools (can you say slow-mo?!).
I have to thank my big brother for encouraging me and looking up plans for me, and today spending 2 hours helping me set up my new phone. I have the BEST brother ever!!!
This picture is Lesley with her new phone. She hasn't had a new phone in 5 years. Look at how happy she is!!

Happy Blogmas Day 20!!

It's hard to believe that Christmas is only 5 days away. This season has flown by (but that's probably because I'm not working retail this year, hooray!!!)!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Blogmas day 15!!

10 days to Christmas!!

Blogmas Day 14!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Company Christmas Party

Happy 12/13/14!!! Today was our company Christmas party and it was even better than anticipated (which is hard because my expectations were very high compared to the previous 2 years of VRx Christmas parties)! The food was amazing, the atmosphere was charming, and seeing all of my coworkers in a party setting was really fun.
> I love working for this fantastic company and I love how gracious our leaders are. They are always telling us how much they appreciate us and value our hard work which only makes us want to work even harder.
> What's even better is that I get to share these parties with my family since 3 of the 6 of us work for the same company. There is no one I'd like to eat a buffet with than Vickie and Cameron!

Happy Blogmas Day 13

Friday, December 12, 2014


I already enjoy The Piano Guys but add in David Archuleta, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Christmas and it's a slice of heaven. #heisthegift #sharethegift

Check out this video on YouTube:

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Happy Blogmas Day 12

We had such a great time at our lovely ward Christmas party, my last in a LDS singles ward. We had a yummy catered dinner at the Old Meeting House and I can easily say this is the best ward Christmas party I've ever been to. It was really great. Merry Christmas!!

Last day in Hawaii 2014

Day 8: Saturday, May 10, 2014
We got up around 8 and went to the pool for a few trips down the water slides and tour the lazy river. We had to check-out at 11 (sad face) so we took our bags to the car and went back to the swap meet at Aloha Stadium to get some last minute souvenirs and yo see if I could find the earrings that I lost at the secret beach. I am happy yo say I did find them but a lighter shade of coral and I got 3 more pairs to go with them. We also all bought candies fir our co-workers. 
We then went to Ramen Ya and got big bowls of Japanese ramen which is totally different than the top ramen I get at the store for like 50 cents. It was hot, filling, and delicious. 
We filled the rental car with gas at Costco and then headed back to Aulani. Since we still had our pool passes, we could use them and the resort for the rest of the day and they even have a special lounge where you can shower and get ready for your flight- Disney really thinks of everything. 
We decided to do the Menehune Adventure Trail which is like a magical scavenger hunt. We had a special iPad that gave us clues and took us all around the resort and made cool stuff happen, like a waterfall in the pool, or rocks turning into the island chain that is Hawaii. It took a few hours but we really fun. We then lounged by the pool, got one last shave ice (Haupia, Guava, Mango... Yum!!), went to the lounge, then headed to the airport around 8, with a brief stop at the ABC Store for a late night snack for the plane. 
Our flight was set to leave at 10 and we got there in plenty of time. It was an uncomfortable but oddly quick 5 hours to LAX. We had a very short layover and we got home to SLC at 10:30 am on Mother's Day.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hawaii, Last Day

Hawaii, Day 7

Day 7: Friday, May 9, 2014
Today was our last full day in Hawaii- sad face. But I kept thinking: don't frown because it's over, smile that it happened.
I got up early and was the first person to get a wristband for the pool. Then I took a walk around the lagoon to get some great early morning pictures of the beach and Aulani. Les and Val met me at the lazy river around 9 and then we swam, rode water slides, swam, napped, went to a pool party with Mikey, Minnie, and Goofy, and swam some more. I tried their shave ice one more time and was very specific about what/how I wanted it and it was much better, not Matsumoto's or Waiola good but much better than it was before. 
We got back to the room around 3:30 and we all got ready to go to the Paradise Cove Luau. This was a highlight of the trip for me. The luau was just down the road from Aulani so we walked there and got there just in time for the doors to open at 5 pm. They had stations where you could make lei bracelets, flower/banana leaf crowns and bracelets, get a Polynesian tattoo, play games, and throw spears. Spear throwing was a lot harder than it looked but I was able to hit the target on my first try (even most of the men couldn't do it) and Cam hit the bullseye on his first throw but it bounced off. He stuck the bullseye on his second try and Vickie got the whole thing on video- yay Cameron!!! We took a canoe ride too and took pictures of the only sunset we saw in Hawaii. Our tickets came with two free cocktails but they had several non-alcoholic drinks available- the best being Piña Coladas. So delicious!!! 
The dinner buffet started at 7 and it was delicious. I actually ate some fish (still don't like it but I keep trying), but the kalua pork was super flavorful and the fried chicken was crispy. Desserts were almost gone by the time I got to it but the chocolate cake actually tasted like chocolate and I really enjoyed the vanilla and chocolate pudding. The Haupia could've tasted more like coconut but it was still alright. 
After dinner there was this great hula show even though I couldn't see very well with this giant man sitting down the table who blocked my view. They even threw in some Samoan fire knife throwing and Tahitian drum dancing. It was a really fun show.
We walked back to Aulani and I promptly got ready for bed and fell right asleep and forgot to journal so I am writing this the very next morning, right when I woke up at 8 AM

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Hawaii, Day 6

Day 6: Thursday, May 8, 2014
Today was a busy day. We woke up around 7, went to the pool around 8, came back to the room at 10 and we were out the door to Pearl Harbor at 11. We got a wee bit lost but got there in the perfect time for our reserved tour at 12:30 (Mahalo Vickie!!). This was my second visit to the USS Arizona Memorial and it still a powerful monument; I nearly cried three times. I wonder how the Japanese see the event of Pearl Harbor: tragedy or victory? There were a lot of Japanese tourist smiling and taking pictures. 
While I was looking at all the names in the Shrine Room, a woman leaned over to me and said something about the needless loss of life and that got me thinking about how much loss war brings. Sure, the over 1,000 men that died in the Arizona is tragic but that is just a small percentage of all the soldiers that died in WWII and then think about all the men and women that have died in all modern wars (WWI, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan) - it's all tragic and yet wars will always happen.
Then we headed over to Diamond Head State Park and we hiked to the summit of the crater. It was tough but not impossible- the reviews on the internet said it was an advanced hike but I guess since we come from the hiking Capitol of the world it was actually quite enjoyable. The trail is concrete most of the way and there is a few stairs but not a 1/2 a mile staircase like one review said. You have to remember that reviews are just one person's opinion and experience. The top gave us a gorgeous panoramic view of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. The hike took us a little under 2 hours but we spent a lot of time at the summit.
After the hike, I googled "shave ice Honolulu" avid we found Wailoa Shave Ice. It was perfectly priced, variety of sizes, great texture, and the flavors were house made. Love it!!
We got back to the hotel around 7 and went to the Starlit Huey Hula Show. We could've seen the show from our own balcony but we decided to go down and sit an a mat and watch the show with everyone else. If was fun. There was a brief dance party that brought back major vibes of DCL Deck Parties!! 
Then we went back to the ABC Store across the street and got dinner and picked up a few items for breakfast/lunch for tomorrow. 
This is the latest I've stayed up this whole trip. It is 11:07 pm here which means it is 3 AM back home (almost time for me or wake up for work at 4:30!!). I'm gonna be hurting Monday morning when I go back to work- agh--

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Hawaii, Day 5

Day 5: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
We stayed all day at Aulani. This part of the island is totally a different ecosystem than the North Shore. It is much dryer, the mountains are brown and not lush covered, and even the air has less humidity. 
We started the day early by going to Sunrise Yoga on the beach at 7 am. The beginning and the end of the class were great but the middle part got a little to advanced for a total novice. It was still fun and an energizing way to start the day.
After the hour yoga class, I went and got a wrist band for the pool. Each day you have to get a new color wrist band which is Aulani's way of making sure only guest of the resort use the pool. There are 3 different hotels and a whole community of condos that share Ko'Olina and they are all surprisingly close together. 
We spent ALL day, from 8 AM to 5 PM at the pool and beach. Les and I took a hula class during the 11 o'clock hour while the rest of the Dawsons went snorkeling at Rainbow Reef. I got a shave ice (for $3.75!!) and it was easily the worst one I have ever had, and I've had a lot in my life!! Maybe it's b/c I was so looking forward to shave ice and we just had Mosumotos a few days ago, but this was the same price as them but the quality so different. All the food here is super expensive and it is so easy to just go across the street for much better prices.
We all showered and the walked across the street for dinner at Island Market (an ABC Store) where they have souvenirs, groceries, a deli, and a grill. It was very delicious and interesting; we'll go back. There was a whole bunch of restaurants, cafés, and shops. It is the perfect spot for retail to service all theses guests of the 3 resorts and all the condos.
We came back to the hotel and listened to a Hawaiian storyteller around a fire pit. I love listening to stories. The Ancient Hawaiians had an oral tradition and language so storytelling, song, and hula were ways that they recorded/passed down their history. 

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Hawaii, Day 4

Day 4: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
We spent most of our day at Kualoha Ranch where we took the ranch and film set tour and saw where they filmed scenes from Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, and the TV show Lost. We drove in a windowless bus through the most gorgeous, untouched landscape. Then we went to a "Secret Island" and played on the beach all afternoon. We went kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and simply laid in a hammock. It was blissful but not my favorite beach, well not like the beautiful, pristine beach we went to yesterday. Then we took the trip across the island to Aulani. The traffic was awful and we were hungry so we decided to stop for dinner hoping the traffic would thin out by the time we were done. We stopped at a strip-mall when I saw a Thai restaurant (Thai food is one of my favorites). In the same strip-mall was a traditional Hawaiian diner so Les, Val, and Cam got food there, Vickie went to the Subway in the same strip-mall, and I got spicy yellow curry with chicken. It was HOT but delicious nonetheless. The was a shop called "Sweet Temptations" so we naturally had to stop in :) we got some shave ice (good but not great) but then realized half the store was a casino!! It had slot machines and other "games" that first made it look like an arcade but then I saw the sign "no one under 21 allowed to play games". Oh the fun things you discover on vacation, right?
We got to Aulani around 6:30/6:45 pm. We did self-parking and walked our luggage to the lobby. We were greeted with gorgeous, fragrant leis and fruit infused water. It was Devine!!! I felt a little out of place walking in to this stunning hotel with such a wonderful welcome in my grubby beach clothes and bandana wrapped head. This greeting really needed a better outfit! Lol
We got to our room at 7 pm on the dot and we watched the sun set from our partial ocean view balcony. This room is spectacular!! Les and I are sleeping on the pull-out couch which is quite comfy (I'm laying on it as I write this post), and the other Dawsons are in the bed. It's a tight fit for all 5 of us but it's still really nice. So much of this place, so far, reminds me DCL in that there is a daily newsletter formatted very similarly to the DCL, and the bathroom products are the same as DCL but with Aulani packaging. If Aulani was all-inclusive, I bet it would be just like a cruise except you're on land. 
I took a shower ( so good!! ) and got in my jammies while everyone else went to the pool- I am just too exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open to unpack. 

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Hawaii, Day 3

Day 3: Monday, May 5, 2014
If yesterday was the "S" day, then today is the "P" day. We got Pancakes at Papa Ole's, went to the Polynesian Cultural Center (better known as the PCC), ate Pork and Poi at a luau, and had Perfect seats (2nd row!!!) for the show "Ha, Breath of Life". It was a busy but wonderful day! Les, Val, and I got a mini beach break Kokololio Beach Park after Papa Ole's when Cam and Vickie had to go back to our condo to get the tickets for the PCC. The beach was practically empty and we had a great time taking pictures. We weren't prepared for a beach trip so we could only get our feet in the water even though this was the most perfect beach I have ever been to, EVER. 
I love the PCC- there is just such a great spirit in the place and in the people. My favorite "islands" we visited were Hawaii where we learned about the history of hula and Tahiti where we saw a traditional marriage ceremony. It was sweet when they had the couples in the audience re-new their vows and Cam and Vickie did it. Awe... 
Sadly, Lesley lost her trusted fan at the PCC. It was a cheap orange floral one with lace trim that I brought back from the Philipeans in 2006. I still can't believe she has had it, and used it, for 7 years. We went to the lost and found and it wasn't there but she was able to leave an address so they might find it and send it to her. 

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Happy Blogmas, Day 11

I love the lights on Temple Square!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hawaii, Day 2

Day 2: Sunday, May 4, 2014
May the Fourth Be With You!! Today was brought to you by the letter "S": 
Swap meet!! We first went to the swap meet at Aloha Stadium. We got there around 8:20 AM and didn't leave until 11. It was a big circle of booths that surrounded the stadium and each booth had something different to offer. I went in looking for earrings (shell or coral) and I've been curious of traditional Hawaiian quilting since I saw classes at Mormon Handicraft when I worked at Repartee. I am happy to say I found both- yay!! Lesley found an adorable mumu which works great as a nightgown.
Shopping!! Then we went to Target- Valie needed a decongestant.
Surfing!! Then we went back to the condo to change then we headed to Heliwea for Val, Cam, and Vickie's surf lesson. Lesley and I stayed on the beach and tried to take pictures of them surfing. We all had a lot of fun. 
Shave Ice!! After the afternoon at the beach, we went to Matsumoto's for the best shave ice in the world. It is SO delicious!!! I got a small strawberry, pineapple, coconut with ice cream on the bottom. 
Shrimp Scampi!! After we finished our awesome shave ice, we headed south toward Laie and went to Giovanni's Shrimp Shack. Yum!!!! We came here when we last came in 2002 and was a cherish memory. It was just as good this time too. Lesley and I shared shrimp scampi and lemon butter. Scampi is the best but I truly enjoyed the lemon butter. 
Swimming!! When we got back to the condo, Valerie really wanted to go to the pool and try out her new snorkel gear so we headed to the pool by our condo. It was a great way to end the day!! 
Now we're all in our jammies and watching the Avengers while we upload the pictures to our iPads and update Facebook and Instagram. 

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Hawaii, Day 1

Day 1: Saturday, May 3, 2014
We left super early this morning when Cameron and Vickie picked us up at our apartment at 4:15 AM. Cam drove down to City Creek and parked his car in his reserved spot. We then called a cab who met us on the corner of Main Street and South Temple to take us to the airport. Our flight to San Francisco was un-eventful as was our layover. We boarded a 777 jet to Honolulu but had to wait an hour after we boarded (there was an issue with back-up to the back-up radio/ satellite phone). I was so tired from waking up at 3 AM that I just slept through the whole delay. 
We arrived around 2:30 pm, got our rental car, and headed to Costco. I love a good Costco but this Costco was amazing!! It has fresh pineapple for $2.99 (we bought 5!!). We bought other fresh foods for breakfast, salad, and a rotisserie chicken for dinner tonight. Then we made our way across the island to the North Shore and our rented condo at Turtle Bay (64 West). We unloaded the car and prepared dinner. Vickie cut up one pineapple and we all devoured it- so tasty- bursting with flavor and juice. After dinner, Val really wanted to go to the beach even though the sun had already set. The beach is kind of a walk from the condo but worth it to stick our feet in the sand. We walked home, nearly zombies by now from waking up so early. We are trying to go to bed (it's currently 8:50 pm) and Lesley and Val see a gecko on the wall (the three of us are sleeping in the loft of the condo) and Les is trying not to freak out like the last time we were in Hawaii in 2002. I think she is doing really well managing her fears and phobias. Val always helps Les get over her fears. 

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30th Birthday Luau, blurry video


30th Birthday Luau, photos 7,8, and 9

Family dinner!!

30th Birthday Luau, photos 5&6

Vickie's amazing cupcakes!!

30th Birthday Luau, photo 4

We had such a fun time at our Luau birthday party at the cabin over Memorial Day weekend 2014. I'm so lucky to have a wonderful, fun family. We had Hawaiian Haystacks for dinner and Vickie made the most delicious pineapple coconut cupcakes that were to die for delicious. My family made turning the big 30 rather enjoyable!!

30th Birthday Luau, photo 3

Blogmas Day 10!!

We are in to double digits already!! December is flying by!! Did you know that this is the warmest start to the month of December in Salt Lake City since 1939?! I saw it on Facebook so it must be true (wink!).
In other news, I'll probably jinx it by saying it out loud but... I feel like my pre-mono self today and didn't have to fake my energy or attitude. I'm sure I'll have a relapse in a day or so but today has given me lots of hope to believe I'm nearing the end of this awful mono journey.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Happy Blogmas Day 9!!!