What You Learn From a Hawaiian Vacation With a Toddler…

Yesterday for #throwbackthursday I was reminiscing about our family’s New Year holiday in Kona, Hawaii.  Mumbles and I had been to Kona two years ago (see here), just a month before finding out we were expecting.  My gosh, what a different trip that was!  We knew Hawaii wouldn’t be as relaxing or laid back dealing with a walking/newly running toddler but we were so in love with the idea of revisiting our favorite beaches and getting away together as a family that it all just seemed like a big adventure. Here are my top takeaways from our trip:

  1. Toddlers like to eat sand.
    A lot a lot alotalotalot of sand. A few people cautioned us before our trip that Declan would likely put a pinch or two in his mouth before figuring out it was gross.  Well, the kid LOVED sand. Gobbled it up by the handful. Maybe because it’s super salty? Seriously, I cannot get the sound of him crunching on mouthfuls of sand out of my ears.
    This slays me — he’s like “hey, ladies, come check out this awesome sand I have. I share!”
  2. Toddlers are mischievous.
    We found a great oceanfront, newly renovated condo on VRBO, which gave us room to spread out and all the comforts of a home – a nice master bathroom for us, a tub for Declan, separate bedrooms, easy access to get in and out, a parking space for our rental car…but it wasn’t babyproofed. Believe it or not, we went to Target (side note: now that I know Kona has a Target, I could totally live there. I wasn’t so sure before, but this sealed it.) and bought cabinet locks because we were just so sick of him finding his way into drawers and cupboards to pull out all their contents. Plus, you can only say “no” to the same action about eight hundred times before you officially go bonkers. This is the condo we rented, and as you can see per my glowing review, we’d totally recommend it to a friend. And we’d love to go back.
  3. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you’ll sleep:
    • The sound of ocean waves crashing is super romantic for couples. The sound of ocean waves crashing is super scary for babies. Like I said: we were right on the water. A few nights were stormy and the boom of the waves hitting the shore was loud. Too loud, apparently.  That kid would.not.sleep.
    • It was really nice not to have to lug our pack n play on the plane since the condo owner had one all ready for us, but Declan really hates pack n plays. He never liked his so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that it would be hard to get him to sleep in one while there. One morning, I chatted up another mama who had a stroller with a phone number and BABY’S AWAY scrawled on it.  She gushed that it is one of her favorite things that she wished she’d known about sooner — it’s a baby gear rental company. So smart! You call and make arrangements for all the gear you’ll need while on a trip: a stroller, carseat, crib, high chair, toys! They deliver and set it all up before you arrive and then come pick it up after you leave so you can enjoy your vacation time. Genius. It would totally be worthwhile for us to rent a crib on our next getaway.
  4. Know where the coffee is.
    Lucky for us, this little coffee shop was just a two minute walk from our condo, so each morning when Declan woke up for the 8th time (but this time ready to play at 5 a.m.!) we’d either entertain him in the condo for a bit or pack him up in the stroller and head out for a walk down Ali’i Drive knowing we could quickly get a caffeine fix from this spot.  My favorite is the coconut “haupia” latte. Mmmm…so good!  Plus, chasing a toddler through the sand all day is tiring. Take a coffee to go, too.  TRUST.
  5. Really inconvenient things will happen.
    Your baby will scream on the red eye. You’ll forget your razor. Your baby thinks it’s funny to close the rental car trunk with the keys inside and you’re stranded at a state park that closes in an hour with no wallet or phone because they’re in the trunk, and you’re in a bathing suit in the sun with that same baby who has eaten nothing but sand and salt water and needs a nap and a diaper change and probably more sunscreen BUT IT IS ALL LOCKED IN THE TRUNK. Praise God for the kind honeymooners who parked across the road from us leaving at that exact moment – a nurse and a detective, bless them – who drove an anxiety-ridden, sand- and sunscreen-covered mom to the rental car place and back for nothing but a heartfelt thank you and a promise of good karma in 2015. I mean, seriously, those people are angels. I literally threw a $100 bill at them so they could enjoy a nice honeymoon dinner but they absolutely refused. It was insanely generous and I just want to hug them and give them all of Oprah’s favorite things.
  6. Really amazing things will happen.
    This is probably going to seem so lame but I just know that we made memories on that trip that I’ll treasure forever. Declan became obsessed with birds while we were there and he would run in the sand for hours chasing birds, waving at them and saying hi. My heart breaks just thinking about it because it was so precious and made us both smile and laugh and roll our eyes. Another thing I fondly recall is a conversation with Mumbles about whether this will become a family tradition for us. Like, I wonder if Declan will grow up telling his classmates in a very nonchalant, matter-of-fact way that his family goes to Hawaii every year. It was so surreal to be thinking that far ahead but Mumbles and I both really love how relaxed we are while there — the slow pace, all the walking, the good food and meaningful conversations we have. I’m already looking forward to going back.
  7. The last day of vacation is always the best.
    It’s to tempt you to stay or at the very least, to plan your return. We found an awesome secluded beach with white sand, gentle waves, and tons of sea turtles. And we practically had the place to ourselves. It was the first time Declan napped while we were at the beach, too, which was ahhh-mazing. We found a shady spot under a tree to put him in his carseat while Mumbles laid down on the sand to just rest and relax and I freely frolicked in the water and looked for pretty shells.



Have you had any memorable trips lately? Where is your happy place?


Orcas Island

Recently Mumbles and I took a long weekend getaway to Orcas Island – it’s one of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, north of Seattle. This was our third time visiting and our first time with Declan. It was also our first time flying with baby and though just a short flight and quite uneventful, I did manage to knock some guy in the head with my diaper bag and Declan yanked a nice lady’s hair (really hard) as we were walking slowly down the center aisle to get to our seats. Luckily, most everyone was really gracious and couldn’t help but excuse our little guy with his charming smile and baby blues.

Orcas Island is a special place for us – we have a fondness for the water and it’s an extraordinary location where mountains meet ocean, you can hike in the forest, walk to waterfalls, kayak in the ocean, swim in a lake, dine on fresh seafood, breathe crisp fresh air, marvel at the beauty of nature, and disconnect from busy city/work life. And lucky for us, we have family that live there giving us good reason to visit!


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Happy Place

Do you have a happy place?

Mumbles and I are fortunate to share the same one: Lake Havasu. We spent our early dating days driving across the desert talking, laughing and falling in love, not to mention countless hours on the lake lounging, swimming, wakeboarding, and hanging out with friends and family. In the middle of our fifth summer together, he even proposed on the lake! I’m so thankful we have a getaway that’s special to both of us and holds significant meaning in our love story.


Do you have a happy place? Where is it?

P.S. The photo above was taken from the front porch of my parents’ house. My favorite view!

Study Abroad


BFOTB & I in our apartment before a big night out in the ciudad.

Whenever we can, BFOTB & I love to tell people we lived in Spain. It’s true. We did. We studied intensive Spanish at the University of Barcelona in the summer of 2006 and lived in a corner apartment with stellar views (and noisy traffic) of Diagonal near one of the most amazing places in the world: La Sagrada Familia.  The days we spent at the beach, the miles we walked exploring the city, the nights dancing, the wine we toasted with, the shopping, the laughing, the most tan we ever were (her in much grander fashion than I). — if there are glory days we’ll tell of, these are them.

I often reminisce about our adventures in Spain and think of how lucky I am to have such a memorable experience shared with my best friend.  That’s probably why I couldn’t help but donate some cash to two girls who showed up on my doorstep a few weeks ago asking for help in getting to London. Or wherever they were going.  The conversation lasted maybe 5 minutes and it went something like this:

Girls: We’re communications majors.

Me: So was I.

Girls: Wow, really? What do you do?

Me: I work in Marketing and Communications.

Girls: Really! Wow, no one ever does what they major in.

Girl 1: I want to be a writer.

Girl 2: I want to be a sports broadcaster.

Girl 1: We can’t find internships.

Girl 2: We’re scared we won’t find jobs.

Girls: We want to study abroad.

With this, I happily told the tale of my best friend and I gallivanting in Spain together and I could see the hope in their eyes. I’m young, I graduated from a Cal State too, I had internships, I’m employed, I’m married, I have a dog (that’s barking at them), and I own the house they’re standing in front of.  Wow. Sometimes we get caught up in wanting more and worrying about what’s next that we forget to enjoy where we are and what we have.  I let that lesson wash through me, got out my wallet and handed over some cash like I was unfolding a map.  I hope they use it. I hope they get there. I hope they travel and study abroad. I hope they enjoy it like I did.


Holiday in Hawaii

Mumbles and I have just returned from a lovely holiday getaway in Hawaii. Perfectly timed, it was right after my birthday and now we’re back for all the fun family festivities. The last time we were in Hawaii we did a cruise to all the islands with just an afternoon to enjoy excursions, tours and sightseeing, plus a few extra days in Waikiki. We were eager for a week of lounging and quality time together and were lucky enough to stay at a friend’s family home in Kona. Just what we needed to recharge!


Do you spend the holidays at home or take a trip to get away and celebrate the end of the year?