It's really hard to top a 17 day Australian road trip, and the only thing that can make saying good bye to that beautiful country a little easier is knowing that we're going to be saying hello to this one.
When Jason and I came to Fiji we knew we just had to bring the kids back and booked a reservation before we even left. We were so excited to share Navini, our little slice of paradise with the kids. First we took a 30 minute boat ride to the middle of nowhere as we watched the sun set. It was dark by the time we arrived but as we pulled up we could see the silhoutte of Grandma Judy waving excitedly on the shore. We knew saying our goodbyes couldn't happen at the end of our asphalt driveway. We needed a more fitting setting. We needed Fiji.
We ate a delicious dinner that Judy had ordered for us. We were impressed with how well she knew us and our particular food likes and dislikes. We were so excited to be there, and to be able to sleep in a regular bed. After a long day of travel we settled into our bungalow and fell asleep to the sound of waves crashing right outside our window. The next day we took a morning excursion to another island resort. The ride out there was much longer than we had anticipated and the resort made us appreciate our tiny little private island so much more. There were more people swimming in the hotel's pool then there were at the beautiful beaches. It was a little too crowded and touristy for our taste, we love the authentic experience we had at our island. But it was fun to see what else was out there.
This yacht belongs to the CEO of Google. Lifestyles of the rich and famous.
This is one of my favorite pictures. I mean, just look at that palm tree, it looks like it was photshopped in. Everything about this place looks like it was photoshopped.
The rest of the day involved snorkeling, kayaking, lounging, eating. Wash, rinse and repeat.
Watching them walk in those flippers is also my favorite. Cutest little penguin waddle.
I love Grandma Judy. She starts and ends her day with a swim in the ocean, and spends about 90% of the in between in the ocean as well. I want to be like her when I grow up. Except that I don't really like swimming in the ocean. But I want to adopt her adventurous spirit and endless source of energy.
Second time around and we're still not big fans of fresh coconuts. But they do make for the perfect prop for a picture in paradise. This time we brought our own straws.
I mean, I die. That walk. I literally die.
We found this huge lobster shell. Then Kylie dropped it on Jayden while he was snorkeling.
They had a traditional Fijian night where everyone was required to wear a sulu. These boys just about killed me with cuteness. Blurry picture and all.
Traditional food, kava ceremony, music and dancing. Loved exposing the kids to a different culture and traditions.
Jayden was always one of the first to get asked to dance, the girls couldn't resist his freckles and smile. He wouldn't let me take any pictures, so this is the closest I got. Everyone got up and danced, but no matter how many girls asked, Maddox and Ryder would only dance with me. I didn't mind.
Kylie and Jayden decided to take a small sip of kava (low tide). It's a ground up root that looks and tastes like muddy water and leaves your tongue and throat numb and tingly.
This is Kylie's reaction after one sip. Seriously, it must be an acquired taste.
Maddox became good buddies with Sikelly. I wish I would have gotten a picture with him. He was one of our favorite staff members the last time we were here (if we're being honest, they all are), he is so good with kids and would take the boys out crab hunting. He knows where to find the biggest ones and how to stroke the bottom of their shells to put them to sleep. Maddox was his little protege. He manhandled those beasts and didn't mind getting pinched every now and then.
The next day was much of the same. Which was exactly how we wanted it. After constantly being on the go for the past few weeks, it was so nice to just sit. The island is small enough that the kids can explore all over without ever worrying about them getting lost. They were in heaven playing in the water, finding reef sharks and exotic fish, catching geckos and crabs, collecting shells and getting lost in their imaginations. I couldn't ask for anything better.
He became the gecko whisperer. Whenever anyone else would hold one they would wiggle out an escape, but for Maddox they would sit in his hand hugging his thumb and so content as if they were under his spell.
The kids spent all day collecting geckos and creating habitats for them. Sikelly showed Maddox the best places to find them and he in particularly became quite attached to them. After spending hours in a bucket filled with twigs. rocks, bottle caps of water and the occasional bug dropped in for nutrition, his favorite gecko was looking a little lethargic. We convinced him that it was for the best to let him go be with his family in his own home. It was a tear filled good bye and he requested one last picture before parting ways. 'Tis better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all. And this boy is capable of so much love.
Just look at how clear that water is. After spending the last two years and the last few weeks in beach water as cold as ice, it was pure heaven to swim in that warm tropical water.
We'll call this one "boys and sticks". And it's one of my favorites because it perfectly captures this moment in time. Not just on this day, but in this period of life. Sticks, bare feet, wild hair, gritty sweat trickling down their temples and excited short breaths as they run to show me what treasure they just found...everything little boys are made of.
My little Mowgli. He wore that sulu every single day. I have never seen him more in his element then right here with the freedom to get lost in his imagination and become one with nature. Bear Grylls would be proud.
This day just so happened to be our 16th wedding anniversary. We celebrated our 15th anniversary here as well, and it's going to be awfully hard to top that the next year. So grateful for the chance I had to reflect on the past 16 years of our life together and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I couldn't think of a better place to celebrate then there on that beautiful island surrounded by the people I love. Life is good. Life is oh so good.