Hawaii: A Family Vacation

For the past five years, I’ve spent pretty much every new year with my head down in work. I wanted this year to be different. A year ago, when I was freezing cold in Michigan holding a one month old baby in my arms and celebrating the new year, I texted my friend, Jess, and I told her that I wanted to spend the next new year somewhere warm. Jess had just celebrated the new year with a two week old baby, and we were both just crazy/sleep deprived/cold enough to decide that month that we would head off to Hawaii to celebrate the arrival of 2015 (although, admittedly, I almost chickened out, and I’m glad now that Jess talked me into it).

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Fast forward to December 29. After almost a year of planning, the six of us hopped on a plane in Chicago and headed west. We had a much needed stop in Phoenix, where we stretched our legs and grabbed some lunch before beginning the flight that I had been the most nervous about—six hours across the Pacific with two one year olds.

Zelda spent about half of the total airplane time sleeping (don’t be fooled by this peaceful photo—it just happens that it was easier to capture her when she was asleep than when she was bouncing around on Jeff and me).

I was counting down the final hours on the flight. I wasn’t feeling well, and our overtired baby did not seem interested in sleep, but we when touched down and I got a tiny little glimpse out the window at the water and the mountains in the distance, I knew we were in for something special in Kauai.

I woke up on the 30th feeling absolutely awful. I could hardly sit up, let alone hop around the island enjoying myself. Jeff drove me half an hour to urgent care, then half an hour back to wait the two hours for an opening, then back and forth again (I’m so grateful that Jess and Paul were there to watch Zelda). I had a fever of 103.2. They sent us to the pharmacy for Tamiflu, and after a good deal of sleep and a lost first day of vacation, I was back on my way to enjoying my vacation.

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We had planned a luau for New Years Eve at Smith’s Tropical Paradise. I wish we’d taken more time to take photos there, because it was an absolutely stunning garden with amazing views. We all had a great meal, then I got Zelda into her pajamas, thinking that I’d just put her in her stroller to sleep during the show after dark.

As it turned out, both girls were very much awake for the show, and they actually made the show 100% more entertaining. They were SO into it. Zelda pretty much danced from the beginning to the end, swaying back and forth to the music and jumping up and down on our laps while we rolled with laughter. At the end, both girls promptly passed out, and we headed back to the condo to take in our bonus hours of 2014.

Around 12:30 AM, power went out on the entire island, and around 12:35 AM, the loudest fire alarm I’ve ever heard went off in our condo. I grabbed Zelda and went outside, figuring that the power outage and the alarm were related, but it turned out someone had just thrown firecrackers in a trash can near a smoke detector.
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We spent the rest of the week in Kauai driving to different parts of the island to explore its beauty. We drove out to check out some of the gorgeous waterfalls, and just as we were hopping back in the car to decide whether it was worth it to drive to another waterfall on a different part of the island, we heard the lyrics, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls” play through the radio. I kind of loved that moment.
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This is what nap time looked like for a good part of the week in Kauai:
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Gracelyn loved playing in the sand. Zelda didn’t want a speck of sand to touch her.
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After Kauai, we flew out to Oahu for a nine hour layover (I left my camera in the rental car during this whirlwind layover, so all of these photos were on our phones). We headed straight to Pearl Harbor, then on to Diamond Head, where we backpacked the girls up the crater to see absolutely incredible views of Waikiki beach and downtown Honolulu below us. I’m so glad that we took the time to explore Oahu before heading on to spend the rest of the week on the big island.

Our experience on the big island felt completely different from Kauai. The terrain is different (Kauai is known as the garden island, while you can definitely tell that the big island has active volcanoes), and we stayed at a house with a big lanai (outdoor deck/living space) rather than a condo. The outdoor deck basically connected all of the major rooms, so we had to go outside to the deck to get from the bedrooms to the living room and kitchen area. But that view from the lanai—I could just sit and stare at it all day (and at times, I nearly did). There’s nothing like waking up and sipping coffee while watching whales and surfers from your outdoor living room.
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Hula girls, because…just because.
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The rest of the week was filled with an amazing boating experience to snorkel at an underwater state park (we took turn watching the girls while each couple took an excursion), walks to the water, surfing lessons, beach time, pool time and a little time for some family photos with each family down by the water.
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We made a point to drive out to see the volcano from a distance—we would have loved to hike in closer, but it’s not recommended that young children get close to it because of the gas that it puts off. I was a little skeptical at first, but it ended up being worth the two hour drive. And those stars! I’ve never seen so many stars.
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We used the whole wireless remote group photo trick with the MaxStone camera remote I got for Christmas from Jeff’s parents. This might be the first photo of all six of us together in history.
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I was grateful to be able to have my camera along with me to capture the special moments on vacation, although my iPhone definitely came in handy for the more action-packed moments where I didn’t have my full camera body and lens with me.

Hawaii gave us such a beautiful start to the new year—time to enjoy family and new experiences, and time to reflect from a peaceful place. I feel so energized heading into 2015, and I’m excited to share new plans for the business in the coming months. Stay tuned!
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