Category Archives: Travel

Hawaii 2.0 (Part 1)

This past month has been one of the busiest and most exciting in a while. And that’s saying something coming from a woman who has spent the last year birthing her 7th baby, packing up and selling her beloved DIY home, then moving into her 2nd DIY home and living the last 5 months in a constantly evolving (code for: under construction) space.

But! None of that can quite trump the triple-threat that was traveling the first week in October, only to have Shaun leave on a work trip the very next morning after we got back, and then turning around and heading out on yet another trip just two days later. We’ve been home for a week now, but it doesn’t really feel like it. My days are all starting to blur together. Well, I don’t know about “starting.” That was a while ago. But continuing in an even more dizzying fashion. I’m ready for a dose of quiet and normal…says the girl who has 2 children with birthdays in November plus Thanksgiving, Christmas, and another 2 birthdays right around the corner. Yep. Quiet and normal should be exactly what it looks like around here. Heh.

ANYWAY, back to the travel. Do y’all remember back in the spring when everything was even more cray-cray than usual, and Shaun ended up with a work trip to Hawaii smack in the middle of our mad dash to get the house ready to sell? I remember.

He told me I was welcome to come with him, encouraged me to, even, but I just couldn’t wrap my brain around relaxing in Hawaii while there was so much work to be done at home. So, I passed. And I didn’t regret it…mostly.

So, imagine my delight when ANOTHER Hawaii work trip appeared on the radar. And my nice mama agreed to keep the oldest 6 kids. Shaun’s work trips are usually a bit up in the air for a pretty good period of time. Until they aren’t. Clients have been known to hem and haw about dates for a good four months and then suddenly need him out there in 2 weeks time. So, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go on this one either, depending on the timing.

Wouldn’t you know it, though, Honor and I not only got to go, but Shaun managed to schedule the trip for the week of my 35th birthday! I spent my birthday surfing and getting the most excruciating massage of my life. But more on that later.

I mentioned a while back that Hawaii isn’t really my jam, which, I realize, sounds nuts since it’s plenty of folks’ dream vacation. But Shaun, Della (at 2 months), and I went to Kauai years ago, and, while I enjoyed it, it didn’t blow me away.

Well, low expectations are a beautiful thing, let me tell you. I went into this trip thinking that it would be a welcome break from our construction zone of a home and looking forward to spending time with my husband not hashing out which stair railing to choose or whether or not we had actually ordered the knobs we couldn’t find for the upstairs doors but having pretty much zero other expectations. And you know what? I had an absolute blast.

First things first and what all the mamas want to know: how did Honor do on the flights? Pretty darn well. He’s a chill baby. His favorite pursuits are eating, smiling, and sleeping. So, I wasn’t too nervous, even though it was fully an 8 hour flight on the way there. I had my arsenal of tricks all ready and raring. And let me tell you: I used every one. The thing I had not anticipated is how HYPER my usually laidback baby would become upon entering a confined space full of strangers.

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Do not be fooled by his calm expression. This kid was FULL of energy.

He bounced.

He giggled.

He shrieked.

He fought sleep like it was a Nazgul intent on sucking the soul from his body.

But with Shaun’s and my tag-teaming it, we prevailed. Huzzah! And Hooray, God! Because, on the way there, we ended up getting an “extra” seat, which means they allowed us to bring Honor’s car seat on, which was awesome the two times we managed to wear him down enough to take a cat nap (him, not us…zzzzzzz). The lady checking for open seats was flabbergasted one was available, since it was supposed to be a packed flight with multiple standbys. She looked very confused as she told us that they had already settled everybody in the standby line, and the seat was ours but then responded to my, “Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!” with a big smile and an, “Amen.”

Once in Hawaii, we scouted out some grub pretty much the second we exited the airport. Newsflash: this will not be the post where I tell you all of the best Poke Bowl joints in Honolulu. As a general rule, I prefer to eat the authentic food of the place I’m visiting. But as another general rule, I do not care for raw fish. I did try it. But it did not wow me.

So, we settled on Thai food (it was pretty decent, especially for hungry folks fresh off a plane), then checked into our hotel, which was right across from Waikiki beach. Normally, we would have scouted out an Airbnb, but since Shaun’s work was paying for the nights when he was on the job, we decided to stick with a traditional hotel. And I’m glad we did. It just made things so much more relaxing to not have to worry about laundry and cleaning up after ourselves for once.

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The view from our hotel was not terrible

That night, we ventured for a quick walk on the beach and a longer stroll down the main thoroughfare where I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of ABC stores. If you’ve ever been to Honolulu, you’re nodding your head right now. ABC is a chain of convenience stores, and there is literally (and no, I’m not misusing that word right now) one every fifty feet. It’s bizarre to me that any population could sustain them all, but they were always buzzing with business whenever we ducked in for some necessary small thing.

We ended the night bringing a burger (which I highly recommend) from the Hideout at the Laylow back to the hotel and putting Honor down while we propped our eyelids open long enough to make it to a respectable bedtime. (Honolulu is five hours behind Texas).

Shaun didn’t have to be at work until Tuesday, so since we’d gotten in on Sunday afternoon, we had all of Monday to explore. We slept in yeah right…we were up and at ‘em by 6, thanks to Honor’s extremely confused body clock, but first dibs at our hotel’s custom omelet bar aaaaaalmost made up for it. Plus, Honor needed a nap like an hour later, so we got in a bit more shuteye after all.

The rest of the day was spent driving around the north end of the island…while it rained. Which sounds like a bummer. But it really wasn’t. We didn’t have a single thing we HAD to do, so instead, we wandered, taking breaks when we felt like it, trying out Korean barbecue (I’m a fan!), and doing a lot of talking and breathing. I can’t remember for the life of me what we had for dinner, but, since this isn’t strictly a guide to things to do and places to eat in Honolulu (and by “isn’t strictly,” I mean really not at all), I’m not going to stress about it.

Tuesday, Shaun had to work, so after our early morning omelets (yes, again), Honor and I headed back to the hotel room where we both napped (ah, the blissful, guiltless sleep of really, truly having nothing else you should be doing) and then headed out to explore. We spent the afternoon walking and eating and browsing the Anthropologie sale racks (confession: I bought a bathing suit on major clearance and don’t feel one bit of shame, since I immediately wore it multiple times throughout the rest of trip). At one point, Honor was a bit out of his mind with tiredness, so I plunked him in the stroller, plugged in my Audible book, and proceeded to walk for the next hour.

 

 

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The views on our walk were not awful either. Come to think of it, there weren’t too many bad views. ;)

The weather was perfection, with a bright smiling sun, breezy blue skies, and the tang of saltwater in the air. I could feel some of the tension that I’ve been carrying with me constantly for months starting to uncoil from my spine. Honor and I ended the afternoon chilling (literally) in the hotel pool until Shaun came home. I’m not really a pool girl, but that baby needed something that wasn’t sitting in a stroller to do once he woke up. And he is a w a t e r b u g.

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This shot is from our balcony patio, not the pool. But yay for clearance Anthro bathing suits and cute little pool mates.

Again with the dinner amnesia. I had intended to be more, um, intentional about cataloging our watering holes so that I could be a font of info for anyone planning to take a trip. But I had also intended to type this post up about 57 times over the last 2 weeks, so intentions clearly have little bearing on this situation. ANYhoo. We ate. It was probably pretty good. And then we went to bed.

It may sound kind of lame given the location, but one of the best parts of the trip was the complete and total lack of agenda. We are not obsessive schedulers, but we do tend to plan ahead a fair bit. This time, although we did have specific activities in mind, we put zero pressure on ourselves to accomplish them. And some of my favorite parts of the first part of the trip were spending evenings in the hotel snuggled up in bed in the dark with Shaun (because Honor was in a pack ‘n play in the same room), talking or watching episodes of Shark Tank or Chopped.

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I couldn’t resist with Honor’s beach outfit. He couldn’t resist the salt shaker. Hey, whatever distracts a tired baby

By Wednesday, though, we were rested and raring for something more active…but you’ll have to wait for just what that was until next time because I’ve recently switched to teaching early morning Body Pump classes, and my body has not adjusted yet, and I’m getting very sleevnb,mns

 

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The Vacation from the Wedding

If you read my Vail Wedding recap, you know that, while we had an absolute blast, it was a jam-packed week. Nothing wrong with that. But hauling 6 kids around to multiple events a day and missing bedtime 5 nights in a row definitely takes its toll.

Truth be told, after last year’s best-vacation-ever stay in Louisville, CO, we had already planned on making the drive again this year before we ever heard anything about the wedding. So, when we heard the dates, we decided to tack a little extended stay on the end–this time in Broomfield (also close to Boulder/Louisville/Denver).

Yet again, we managed to snag an adorable, reasonably priced, ideally situated Airbnb rental. I was sure we wouldn’t be able to top the placed we scored last year (or find anything at all; the pickings were slim this year), but this one–with its twin over full girls’ bunk bed, basement toy room, fenced in backyard + sandbox, and ample bed/bathrooms, was even better.

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{If the hand over the eyes is any indication, Evy was pretty embarrassed for the naked–and likely motion-sick–Ken doll that Theo is so gleefully toting}

I’m almost embarrassed to say how little we did during our five days there. But I can say this: we needed the rest. The kids were pretty exhausted after all of the wedding excitement, and I’m not too proud to admit that I was too.

So, we vegged. We played board games.

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{We eventually had to resort to a “virtual” Life game spinner on Shaun’s phone for the twins, since the real deal kept getting wrenched off of the board}

We took naps. We ordered takeout. And we played an inordinate amount of a very addictive, very silly internet game called slither.io. We are not a video or phone game family (I literally didn’t have a single game on my phone before I downloaded this one), but we made up for a fair bit of “lost time” that week.

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ANYhoo, lest you think that all we did was stare at our phone/tablet screens (the boys do not have phones and had to take turns playing on the 1 tablet we brought, and the girls were downstairs playing with the “new” dolls for hours on end), I would like to point out that we did get out of the house and enjoy the local culture a time a two–starting with the Broomfield Farmer’s Market.

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It was a fairly small operation, but it boasted of being the ONLY volunteer run farmer’s market in…(insert large geographical area that I don’t recall). I didn’t really know what that meant until I realized that they had several booths for kids, including one with giant bubble wands and another with several carnival-style games that were completely free.

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{Apparently, Nola considered bubble-blowing a tackle sport}

PLUS! They held a zucchini-mobile race for the kids (complete with free zucchini + stick-on wheels) with a $20 first prize.

We went in a little dubious and left an hour and 1/2 later full (from the yummy street truck food) and happy (even though we didn’t win the zucchini race).

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{I hope that you are genuinely impressed with our fake excited expression at the prospect of sharing a giant shave ice sno-cone}

Another night, we attended a free Family Movie Night at the Broomfield Auditorium, and yet another afternoon, we watched the mighty Mudslinger–a trick pig from a traveling show called Top Hogs–do amazing feats like…using his snout to lower a ring so he could walk through it when he was supposed to have jumped through it from a decent height (played for laughs…it was cute).

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That show also featured Bullet, the rescue dog, who did a good portion of one routine in reverse at rather frantic speeds, which, weirdly, was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

Shaun and I even managed to get a date night in, since the people who owned the house–sweet Christians who had a special needs daughter–had left trusted babysitter recommendations.

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We headed down to Pearl Street in Boulder and ate at an incredible restaurant called Riffs Urban Fare. Maybe this sounds like a superfluous detail, but our waitress was FANTASTIC. She was so attentive, knowledgeable, friendly, and cheerful that it definitely made the whole thing a bit more of an “experience.”  (Plus, the food was amazing).

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Holy wow. I’m getting hungry just staring at this yumminess.

After dinner, we waddled wandered down the promenade, peering in cute shop windows, and then circled back to sit on a bench, where we sat and talked for over an hour. More and more, I find myself cherishing moments of rest like these over activity. I’m pretty sure that’s a sign of aging. And I’m pretty sure I’m fine with that.

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{In case you haven’t noticed yet, Theo has quite the personality on him; apparently, end-of-trip donuts get him jazzed. Me too, T. Meeee too}

Oh, and just because…

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{This kid just makes life fun. That is all}

Friday morning, I managed to sneak away to Boulder again for a solo shopping trip to Anthro and LOFT (where I found a dress for $4.88–HOLLA).

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Happily ensconced in the giant Anthro sale room.broomfield15

{This one came home with me. The cropped bell bottom overalls from above…did not}

Oh, and somewhere during the week, I attended two separate BODYCOMBAT+GRIT combos at a local gym, which, despite being exactly what I teach in Texas, felt considerably harder than usual (mayyyybe due to elevation, although I had been in CO plenty long enough to adjust, so most likely just due to my epic levels of slug-worthy couch-surfing + wedding burnout).

We capped off our trip with a visit to my Uncle Kris’s and Aunt Marilyn’s house (just outside of Denver), where they treated us to “Tacos in a Bag.”

Basically, you set out taco fixin’s + a bunch of mini-bags of Doritos (they used Nacho Cheese), and then you add spoonfuls of taco add-ins to the chip bags, shake them up, and eat them straight from the bag with a spoon.

It’s entertaining and quite tasty.

Note to all 8-year-old boys: there is no need to shake the bags so viciously that all of the (rather messy) contents eventually shoot out the wrong end of the bag, which pops open from sheer exhaustion/abuse. Not that that happened or anything.

The 18 hour drive home (to which I contributed a whopping six hours of wheel-time. Bless you, husband) was a bit of a beast, but we made it.

And there you have it, folks. One of the least eventful, and therefore most relaxing, vacations on the books to date.

Am I a total geezer for preferring low key family vacations? Maybe. Am I okay with that? Definitely.

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