Our family landed back in the states early this morning after 33 hours of travel including airtime, lengthy layovers, and transport to and from airports.   I am hoping they feel the long trek was worth the trip, because I know for me it was and will continue to be a highlight of our time here in Fiji.  As I previously mentioned, when they arrived we spent a few hours in Nadi, and then moved onto our next location for 5 days.  We stayed in the MOST AMAZING villa in Maui Bay along the coral coast of Fiji.   It was stunning.   The owners and staff greeted us upon arrival, sang a welcome song and placed shell necklaces around our necks.   They made the most delicious lovo (traditional Fijian meal cooked in an underground oven) that Warren's family pushed themselves to get through...not because it wasn't tasty, but because jet lag was setting in.   The rest of the week was filled with waterfall treks, walks along the beach, kayak and paddle board rides, a trip to the Eco-Park, a birthday celebration, and a bonfire on the beach coupled with a cava ceremony by the staff.   It was truly perfect!  
       The villa also had a resident masseuse who gave massages upstairs on the private balcony overlooking the ocean.    Needless to say, everyone loved that!   The kids ADORED Josh, the activities guy.  He came and got them nearly every day for walks on the beach, scavenger hunts, sac races, and crab races.   It helped that he gave them a lollipop every day and carried Zoe for an hour on a treacherous  hike.   I am constantly reminded how great Fijians are with children.   All of these activities were just part of the villa amenities.  It was awesome!   When we left, they all sang us the traditional Fijian goodbye.  I truly hope to come back to this place while we are in Fiji.    

The pier right down the beach from the villa

Josh brought the kids coconuts... one of Zoe's faves and mine too!

The Lomani Wai staff with the kids on bonfire/cava ceremony night

Andie pretended she was one of the staff for the week.  She danced whenever they sang and helped out with the cava ceremony.  It was awesome to watch her be so free. 

The kids learned a Fijian dance too. 

Full moon for bonfire. 

I was obsessed with the fact that the pool was literally a step outside of our room.  If I opened our door, I would step into the pool and right beyond that was the ocean.   Here I am in the bedroom taking a picture of me in the mirror with the ocean behind me.   I am such a dork....

Eco-Park adventure
Zoe was totally freaked out by touching the animals
Andie, not so much. She loved it!
Cool snak
They got to feed the baby turtles by holding dead fish.  The guide told them not to touch the water because it was unsafe.  He then gave them a big bowl of soapy water for all of them to wash their hands in.  It was pretty gross....but kids liked it. 

Watching the cousins together was so incredible.  These kids love each other so much and hardly ever fight.    


Hammock view

Annual family shot on the beach.   

The owner, Francis suggest we take one in front of the villa too.   

Grandparent shot/Photo bomb

Happy Grandparents

Hall family

I think this one may be a framer.

After the villa we all drove to Suva for a few days at our house.   We went to the GPH for happy hour and went to a fun Japanese dinner on Friday night.   On Saturday, July 4, Kate and I started the day with a good long run, followed by a small gathering at the Holiday Inn put on by the American Women's Association.   It was a rare sunny day in Suva so that was nice.    Saturday night, our good Aussie friends had us over for a July 4 dinner.  They were so thoughtful, having all 10 of us over and even preparing quizzes focused on American history, politics, and pop culture.   The night ended in fireworks so we Americans got our July 4 firework fix!  I loved having the family and friends mix.... made life here feel a bit more real.  On Sunday we went to Colo-i-Suva, the rain forest for a rainy hike.   The kids loved swinging off of the rope into the water, even though it nearly gave me a heart attack when Zoe fell off...just clearing the rocks....  I don't know if we will do that again.   Unfortunately, I don't have pictures, but I am sure some of the family have a few that they will hopefully pass on.     

This is what 10 people's stuff looks like in our house.  

GPH Happy hour.  Usually the cousins pair off with the cousin closest to their age.  I love when I see them connect with the cousin that they do not typically gravitate towards.  How cute is this?

Always love the sunset at the GPH.

The kids loved the cake at the AWA July 4 Celebration.  One problem, upon seeing the cake Zoe said, "Mom I want to have a piece of the Fiji flag cake!"  Oops...time for more American education.  

The view from our friend's house where we spent July 4.  Not too shabby.  

Friends gathering.

The flags presented when we walked into the house.   They made the holiday a lesson for their kids.   Pretty cool. 
These sweet girls were obsessed with "twin power" the whole vacation.  They dressed the same as often as they could!
Kate and I accidentally had twin power as well for the hike.  Colin and Andie also had their own special twin power since Colin lost one of his top teeth while here, (The tooth fairy delivered in Fijian currency) so now they both have two front teeth missing.  

Personal firework display.

On Monday we headed to the Shangri-La, the resort that we went to when we first arrived in Fiji.   It was fun to go back and reflect upon the differences in my feelings in January and now about being in Fiji.  I can say it feels much more like home now.  This resort is a HUGE resort with something like 800 rooms.   The best part by far about this family resort is the kids ADORE being there.  They have a kids' club that the kids enjoyed, disco night for the kids, and movies on the beach at night where you can drop the kids off and go do as you please.    Happy kids makes for happy adults.   It was a great way to spend the last few days with the family.   While we were at the resort, sadly I heard about the tragic death of a friend here in Suva, so I had a hard time letting go of the grief...but ultimately, it really helped me feel grateful to be surrounded by the love of family and squeeze each family member a bit tighter when we said goodbye.

Drive to resort.   Two happy kiddos. 

Kids' Club.  No grown-ups allowed!  (OK!)

Zoe's selfies.

looking for fish

Polynesian Dance Night.   Photo op with fire dancers.  Once again, Andie wants to be a fire dancer when she grows up.  Yikes. 

Warren getting a beauty treatment. 

silly faces

No big deal....two talking heads...

kids' club....adults at adult only pool....

another dance night


Maybe a little too tight!

Overall, it was all I could ask for and more.  I am so thankful to Warren's family for making the long, long journey.  I now feel like the distance is a bit closer.   Cannot wait until next time!