Best Of 2013

I was trying to come up with something clever to do for the New Year post.  Last year I did my year end awards and that was really fun but I think every other year would work best for that.  This year as I looked through our photos I knew I needed to do a month by month review post.  I had my new DSLR camera the whole time and captured some amazing shots that really sum up our year thus far.

One of our best days of the entire year!
We have not traveled as much this year as I had wanted to.  For many personal reasons we decided to slow down and try and put some roots down here in Hawaii.  It has been personally very challenging and I am not yet sure of where we will find ourselves by the end of 2014.  I guess we have to live it to find out..i'll keep you posted.

For now this is what 2013 looked like for us:

January 2013
We started the new year in Langkawi.  After exploring all we could we went back to Penang where we celebrated Thaipusam with some friends and had a visit from my sister in law.  We spent a lot of time in Penang off and on last year and this so as we knew our time in Asia was coming to a close we spent the first few months of the year doing all the things we knew we wouldn't want to have missed out on.

Highlights: Celebrating Thaipusam, having my sister in law visit Malaysia, exploring pretty much all of Langkawi's caves and waterfalls, and seeing bio luminescent plankton on a remote Langkawi beach.

February 2013
We also spent time in Penang, Malaysia in February.  We plotted our next move but knowing we were headed to both Australia and Hawaii meant we needed to get into savings mode.  We rented an apartment and settled down for a bit in order to save and relax.  The beginning of the month was filled with a huge celebration for Chinese New Year, both fun and educational.  By the end of the month we were welcoming our good friends and enjoying the sites in Penang!

~Penang has some of the best sunsets in the world~
Highlights: Celebrating Chinese New Year in a predominantly Chinese neighborhood, hanging out with new friends, relaxing, and enjoying yet again the amazing food Penang has to offer.

March 2013
March was a really fun month as our good friends from came to Penang and stayed with us.  We also got to celebrate the first family birthday of the year, my son Dylan turned 14!  No idea how that happened but we celebrated huge with both he and I getting Scuba certified and taking a trip with our instructor/friend to the Perhentian Islands to do our open water work.

Highlights: Scuba diving certification and realizing just how far out of my comfort zone I could push myself, viewing wild elephants in a remote area of Malaysia, and spending a month with good friends.

April 2013
April was our last month in Penang and although we was really happy to be leaving the Asian heat after 18 months in it, we were also a bit sad to go.  We kept busy hanging out with friends from Our Travel Lifestyle, hitting up the destinations that we had missed so far, and saying goodbye over and over to all the amazing places to eat in Penang...again.  We also got to enjoy Songkran, Thai New Year, perhaps the coolest festival we have ever been to.  Picture a gigantic water fight with 500 of your closest friends!  It was amazing!

The end of April saw us make a big jump to our 3rd continent, Australia.  I cannot say enough good things about our time there!  Exploring Sydney, camper rental, and 2 road trips one to the Blue Mountains and another down the coast to Jervis Bay!  It was fantastic and we are all waiting for the chance to head back.

Highlights: Stop off at the beautiful Kiama blowhole in Australia, exploring the Sydney Opera House, getting wet in Penang for the Thai New Year, and taking flight to Hawaii!

May 2013
We arrived on Oahu, the most populous of the Hawaiian islands on May 1st.  We started out in Waikiki, where we enjoyed exploring the city, taking small day trips and watching both Dylan and T, our 5 year old, surf Duke's beach!  After staying in Waikiki for 3 weeks we moved into our sublet where we stayed for 5 months.

Highlights: Driving around the entire island (for the first time), enjoying the view from Diamondhead, swimming with sea turtles, spotting our first whale, and watching my 14 year old teach my 5 year old to surf!

June 2013
June was another super relaxed month.  We had a car with our sublet so we were able to branch out and really explore.  We spent 4 days a week at the beach (several different ones) and 2 days a week hiking to various waterfalls.  At the end of the month my sister in law came to visit us again and it was really fun to show her around.

Highlights: Shark cage diving off the North Shore, family visit, and exploring the Sharkman cave!

July 2013
We spent July a lot like we did June.  Lots of beach time, surfing, diving, and celebrating my middle son's 10th birthday as well as 4th of July.  We also visited Pearl Harbor which was something I was really sad to have missed when I visited Oahu nearly 10 years ago.  It was a somber but beautiful day!

Highlights: Diving Shark's Cove, 4th of July with family and fireworks, and realizing just how strong my sons and I are as we rappelled down a cliff to reach a beautiful waterfall.

August 2013
August was perhaps the best month of the whole year.  My nephew, whom we have missed terribly for the last few years, came out to Hawaii to visit us.  He stayed nearly the entire month and it was such an amazing reunion for all of us.  We played at all our favorite beaches, rode jet skis, frequented Wet and Wild, hiked to some amazing waterfalls jumping 50+ feet into the water below.

Highlights: Sandy's insane beach, hanging with monk seals and turtles, finding the lava tube, jumping at Waimea Beach, celebrating my little guy's 6th birthday, and simply getting to spend so much time with our cousin/nephew.

September 2013
In September we began to try and figure out where to head next.  As I knew time was closing in on our Oahu stay we were busy nearly everyday trying to see everything we had procrastinated on the past few months.  Dylan and I did a lot of kayaking, we all spent time enjoying the beaches, and had an amazing dolphin snorkeling adventure. 

Highlights:  Snorkeling with spinner dolphins, kayaking out to a sea bird sanctuary, watching the sunset at Pipe, and Byodo In temple!

October 2013
After leaving Oahu in the beginning of October we ended up on the Big Island of Hawaii, where we are still attempting to place roots and decide if this is a good spot for a long term base.  We had family visit again and we made the most of it by visiting some local amazing waterfalls, Hawaii Volcano National Park, and some of the beautiful Kona beaches.

We also got to celebrate Halloween for the first time in many, many years which was a thrill to my 2 youngest.  Sad to note that my oldest, Dylan, wanted nothing to do with trick or treating..where does the time go?!

Highlights: Visit from Aunt Heidi, seeing perhaps the most beautiful and vibrant rainbow we have ever seen, snorkeling Kopoho tide pools, watching eels feed, standing above an active volcano, climbing in lava tubes, trick or treating, and witnessing life emerge from the death that surrounds old lava fields.

November 2013
We spent November busy finding a house to rent near Pahoa, furnishing the house, and attempting to embrace the concept of putting down roots.  We also enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving and definitely enjoyed having our own kitchen to cook a big meal in. 

We also spent lots of time swimming the tide pools, visiting the new baby monk seal that was born on the other side of the island, and exploring the many layers of lava on the island!

Highlights: Thanksgiving and being able to cook a traditional meal, more snorkeling and lava tube exploring, and meeting Hawaii's newest monk seal baby....adorable!

December 2013
The year seemed to fly by!  As it came to a close we celebrated Christmas, snorkeled, dove, watched parades, explored Waipio valley and reviewed all the ways in which we feel gratitude and appreciation! 

Christmas was really exciting as we were able to do all the traditional things we missed so much during the holidays; making cookies, over decorating them, having a live tree, and finally getting that Xbox the kids have wanted for years.  It was a wonderful joy filled day!
Can you spot the eel??

Highlights: getting our live Christmas tree, decorating cookies, exploring Waipio valley, visiting the baby monk seal to see how its grown, and of course celebrating Christmas in our own home!  

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the year goes by and how where we start the year is vastly different from where we end it, both physically and emotionally.  I hope you had a year full of as much wonder, joy, and appreciation as we did!  Happy New Year!

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  1. Great family photos. We're following you to Oahu for a 3 month stay starting in February. I'll have to go back and find your Oahu blog posts. Happy (belated) New Year.

    1. I'll try and get caught up by then:) I have so many Oahu posts to write!

  2. Wow what a year! That was great catching up on what you did, I feel like I was there the whole time :)

  3. It looks like you had a wonderful year. It is good to just slow down and enjoy the moment. That said, you pack loads in too. I love Hawaii! We are going to scour your site for Southeast Asia tips. We should arrive there late July and are still trying to decide if we want to be completely mobile or plant ourselves in one spot and then take short trips from there. Maybe some sort of combo of that? Who knows where the wind will blow us.

    1. We like to explore no mater how long we stay in one place:) Maybe pick 2 or 3 base spots, may be able to see more that way! Don't skip Laos, that was one of our favorites!