Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, Hawaii, Parenting, photography, travel

Playdate with My Youngest Granddaughter, Lily

Yesterday was a very fun day. My youngest granddaughter, Lily, her mother, and I went to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. I had spent quite a bit of time with my other grandchildren this summer, but this was Lily’s time. It was a day of surprises, delights, and laughter.

There was a butterfly room where a guide would let you have a butterfly for a few minutes. Lily was excited. One flew over and landed on my shoulder.

Lily Ruth gets her middle name from me! She is a joy to our family and very precious. God sent Lily to us and we have learned so much from her. Before she was born, I knew I loved her! I was present at the ultrasound on her mother when it was discovered that Lily had spina bifida. But, that little glitch has not stopped Lily from making a big impression on the world she lives in and all of us! She is 10 and loves school, singing, and playing with Barbies! She also is great at playing tennis, basketball, and giving her brother a hard time!!

Lily’s father and siblings are currently on a long excursion with Grandpa to his tiny islands of Tonga in the South Pacific. Tonga is not very wheelchair friendly, so she stayed behind with her mother. So, we made a playdate to have some fun together.

People can be very curious about Lily but she is used to it, so she isn’t bothered by it. I’m so glad because it was annoying to me!

The local aquarium is located in Draper, Utah, not too far from where I live. You can more about it at thelivingplanet.com We got there around 1:00 pm and stepped into a world of wild and amazing creatures. I had bought Lily a blue dolphin and she carried it around the whole time we were there. She named it “Bubbles”. 

A crabby crab! Looking for a fight!

As you walk in, there are several huge whales hanging from the ceiling! The aquarium is huge and has many passageways into different areas. The first corridor we went down was entitled Discover Utah. It was cool! There were land turtles and huge river fish. Some fish had humps on their backs. Utah has a few endangered fish that are in the aquarium. There were also ducks, salamanders, tarantulas, and other land animals. 

Pretty jellyfish, but watch out – the sting is very painful!

I enjoyed the jellyfish display (could stare at them forever)! A running commentary about the critters and sea life went along with “oohs” and “awws”, and a few shrieks and cringes. Lily told us what she had learned at school about invasive frogs in Australia and the traps they make there. 

By far, my favorite displays (along with Lily’s) was a huge two level tropical room where birds flew around you and it felt like we had stepped back in time and space to Hawaii! The air was moist and warm. There was a tiny little sloth fast asleep in a little pouch. So cute!

Lily, you are a star in my book!

Also, there was a great wall where you could peer into the undersea world with sharks and other sealife. It is awe inspiring. 

Another favorite was the penguin window. The penguins wobbled, walked on water (it seemed), and swam to our delight except for one big chubby penguin that looked as though he thought he was the king of the lot (too funny)!

Lily and I at the aquarium enjoying God’s creations

We got to see two movies in 4D. One was about the melting glaciers and global warming. The other was a cartoon of Ice Age (hilarious). As you watched, air would blow at the back of your head from the chair! Just when I got relaxed, it would blow again (stop)!

There is so much to see at the aquarium and we loved seeing the variety of creations that God has made. The whole time I was taking video on Marco Polo (it’s an app) and sending it to Lily’s family in Tonga so they could experience some of it too.

In one station you could touch the round coral and see the stingrays and starfish (they felt like velcro). Lily got to hold a starfish! Then she wanted to get out of her chair and touch the huge turtle on the floor.

Lily loving on the turtle!

At one time, I asked a guide where the place was you could watch the dolphins jump! Silly me, that was Sea Life Park in Hawaii where we often took our older grandchildren. Maybe they should have one here any way.

Here’s Lily with an anaconda much longer than herself (cringe)! She felt bad for some of the turtles that were not moving under the water. 

Lily acting brave by the anaconda!

The last place we went was a tunnel under the water where you could see huge sharks swimming overhead. I felt a bit vulnerable, but tried to act normal for all of our sakes.

As for wheelchair access, the place was great, but some of the exhibits blocked the few at wheelchair level. That was very unfortunate. 

All in all, we had a marvelous experience! Love you tons, Lily!

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Parenting

The King Has Arrived

Both sides of our family come from nobility. We are royal! This finally came to be manifest in our fifth grandchild. His name was James Ali’i (means “King” in Hawaiian). His parents were living in the mainland USA when he was born. He was a beautiful baby and has certainly lived up to his name. He is very handsome and bright despite his short stature.

The King, James Ali’i

When he was a newborn, he would not drink his milk very well. His father would rock him and try every way to get him to take his bottle, but without success. He became desperate and started feeding him ice cream. Now, if you ask him if he wants to eat ice cream, he will always say “no”!

James KeAli'i with his father
James KeAli’i with his father

Here is a watercolor I did after Ali’i joined the family. I try to create something for each of my grandchildren while they are young.

Watercolor by Ruth Kongaika . Showing Israel, Princess and Ali’i.
Baby carrier
travel

New Monarch in Tonga

You may or may not have heard that His Majesty, King George Tupou V, passed away on March 18, 2012. He had reigned over the kingdom of Tonga for six years following the death of his father, Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.

Since I lived in Tonga for several years, I try to keep up with what is going on in Tonga. My condolences and respect go to the Royal Family of Tonga. Right now plans are being made for the funeral of His Majesty. It is a somber time of mourning for all Tongans.

http://elayne001.hubpages.com/hub/King-of-Tonga-Passes-Away-and-Prince-Lavaka-to-Take-the-Throne

Cultures

My Visit to the King

My first official visit to the King, Taufa’ahau Tupou IV was in 1989. My husband had just been called as the new mission president over the small island kingdom of Tonga. Our mission office contacted the spokesperson for the King to arrange for an audience with His Majesty for us and for a group of our missionaries.

Our formal meeting would take place at His Majesty’s Royal Summer Cottage. In order for our party to have this audience with the King, we were expected to prepare a meal for him and his royal family. The food we prepared in response to the King’s request, included turkeys, ham, potato salad, and trifle (The King’s favorite dessert). We arrived with about twenty of our missionaries each carrying beautifully decorated offerings.

We entered the receiving area, and His Majesty sat nearby on a large throne flanked on both sides by his royal spokesmen. My husband had informed me that I would have to crawl in to the King on my hands and knees, and then kiss the King’s hand. Being from a democratic society, this tradition was very foreign to me, but wanting to be a good wife, I obeyed. Having worn nylons and a long dress, crawling on the large woven mat on the floor was a challenge, but I somehow managed to make it all the way across the floor to find myself at the King’s feet.

The King held his hand out towards me. My little hand was swallowed up in his humongous ring-fingered hand. I gave the back of his hand a kiss, and he lifted me up and looked into my face. It was considered bad manners in Tongan custom for me to look into his eyes, so I looked down. In his low booming voice, he asked me if the man behind me was my husband, and I replied that he was. He then asked me to sit down beside him on the floor while he greeted my husband and our missionaries. I was very nervous, but I enjoyed watching as each person in the party took their turn showing their honor and respect to the Tongan King.

Afterward, we proceeded with the program we had prepared which included reading scriptures from the Bible and singing hymns. It was a very enjoyable experience and one I will always remember. I realize what a rare experience it was.

 

http://hubpages.com/hub/My-Visit-to-the-King