Baby Makapu’u Tide Pools

One of my absolute favorite places on Oahu is the Baby Makapu’u Tide Pools. They’re typically uncrowded, they’re crazy kid friendly, and we often see monk seals!

Despite having been here for a year, J hadn’t ever been with us and I really wanted him to experience them. So on a whim I asked him to come home early and go to the beach with us for he evening.

I packed up the kids and a beach dinner, and he actually came home on time!

I cannot describe how much joy it brings me to see my kiddos in the water and my husband happy, playing with them.

I so appreciate how hard he works so that this can be my normal daily life, and I don’t take for granted that he misses out on a lot because of it. So when he’s able to catch a break and enjoy time and connect with them, we all benefit.

I love this carefree, take it easy lifestyle. I didn’t anticipate loving Aloha life so much.

Molokai

10 years ago while I was living in England, I went through confirmation for the Catholic Church. I’d been baptized in it as a baby, but I hadn’t been raised in the church and I knew at that time that it was important to me that I was married in the church, and that my future children would be raised in it.

The father there, Father Peter, had a strong sense of camaraderie with Father Damien who was being canonized that year.

There were many liturgies that he gave surrounding Father Damien’s teachings. One evening during a Catholic Society meeting we watched a movie about Father Damien and all of his work, his life and ultimately his death, in Molokai.

Pretty much all people of faith, regardless of what that particular faith is, deeply intrigue me. I’m fascinated by people who can so easily believe in things they can’t see, and have such a strong calling to something that so many find unworthy. The idea of being so selfless, so giving, whilst expecting no worldly return is something I deeply strive of myself , although I know I could never be quite that humble and selfless.

Father Damien, now Saint Damien, really spoke to me. His entire story was fearless and giving; he literally left his world to give everything, including, eventually his life, for people who were viewed by the world at the time as the most repugnant of all. He loved those people, deservedly. He served them and gospeled to them, and lived with them as an equal.

Needless to say, visiting Molokai went on my bucket list.

I’m declaring my 30s the decade of “doing shit now” instead of sitting back and saying “well, one of these days…”

I’m a fortunate human; I’ve had so many worldly experiences and privileges in my life, and I take none of it for granted. But I also am the Queen of Procrastination and turning down opportunities out of fear of failure or imperfection.

Well, not anymore.

So I scheduled a trip to visit Molokai the weekend after I turned 30.

A friend offered to keep all of my kiddos, which made planning this trip to this particular island much easier.

Molokai is not a tourist hub like Maui or Oahu. Roughly 75,000 tourists visit each year, which is not many at all.

We found lodging via Air BnB and the only car rentals we could find were on Turo.

We took the tiniest little airplane into the tiniest little airport, and enjoyed the weekend on Molokai with just Bean in tow.

Having just one little girl was so easy. Just one car seat to lug; one kid to feed and change and put to bed. No screaming or fighting from tiny humans.

Even so, we spent most of our time missing our kiddos, and I realized that I’m still not super ready to leave Sweet M overnight without his momma or papa quite yet, even though he did stellar.

We arrived early Saturday morning and spent our time driving to the eastern most part of the island. Visiting chapels and beaches, and taking in the uninhabited beauty that is Molokai.

The beaches and lava rock were breathtaking. Molokai is definitely my island. I could have stayed there forever.

And the food?

There weren’t many options, obviously. But we found a tiny little joint way outta the way that was SO worth it that we went back for breakfast the next morning. And it was worth it the second time, too!

Because we had Bean with us we were not able to trek down and tour the historic Kalaupapa. Individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed. I knew this before we made plans for Molokai, and although I would have greatly enjoyed making the hike down, I’m glad we opted to take Bean with because I know I’m not ready to be without her for that long quite yet. She’s much too little and precious to not be with her momma or papa for more than 24 hours.

It didn’t prevent us from taking the small hike to look at the cliffs where it lays below though.

Then we hiked to the nearby Phallic Rock, because with a name like that who could resist? During this hike J and I also realized how terribly out of shape we’ve both gotten since moving to this island. Eep.

We spent the evening walking the beach near our Air BnB and talking about life and beauty and how, after 10 years of loving each other, we are still both happily here, doing this awesome thing and raising these amazing people, and loving pretty fiercely the whole set up of it all.

The next morning we went for breakfast and then we drove to the west side of the island. The town of Mauna Loa is called a “ghost town”, and the valley below is inhabited mostly by crazy rich non-locals. The beaches are grand.

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It was such a wonderful, low key trip. I put a check on my bucket list and really got time to cherish and enjoy my husband’s company outside the hustle and bustle of our normal, every day lives. It was needed and so very appreciated. And I’m glad we got to do it somewhere so beautiful.

When J is out of town I typically have crazy insomnia. This time, it’s the opposite. I can hardly keep myself awake!

I have fallen asleep for the night before 8:30 pm since he left. I never sleep that early.

Of course this would be the case when I had completely stoked myself out that I would try to gently coax Bean back to sleep every other wake up or so without the boob. It’s crazy how a baby can go to falling asleep all on her own and sleeping in 4-5 hours stretches to…not. When she sleeps for a solid two hours these days I call it a miracle.

Oh well, she will get there when she gets there, just like all the others before her.

I’m really trying to cherish our time left on the island. Our movers come June 28th. Eep.

There is still a possibility that we will remain here for up to 6 months after that, but as of right now, there are no papers signed. So it’s not a thing until it is.

And then we head to Europe on the 4th of July for an epic adventure.

J and I had planned to return to Paris for our 10 year wedding anniversary back before we were even married. It’s where he proposed. It’s beautiful.

No, we aren’t at 10 years yet, we still have another year for that. But one of my dear friends is getting married in Germany in July so we bumped it all up a year.

There is still lots of planning to do, but the flights are all finalized – Germany, Spain, France, and England – so I’m feeling really good about it. And we don’t get a lot of time for all of us together, especially since living on Oahu where J is always working 10-12 hours days, so a whole month of us is sounding really awesome.

But for now we are loving this paradise we are so lucky to live in, and drinking up one another and this beautiful island.

Waikiki Brewing Co.

Now that Bean is past the newborn age, we are getting out and exploring more these days. Especially food for dinner. (Because did I mention that every one of my kids have had crazy fussy periods as newborns that lasted all evening and really made any evening activity or event impossible? No bueno.)

We are food people. J and I have literally planned trips around places we will stop to eat. We like food.

Today we made it over to the Waikiki Brewing Company.

We’ve driven passed it a thousand times and have commented we should go, but it took us this long to actually make it.

I will tell you, the parking is not exceptional. It’s very limited, which could make things pretty tricky during peak times. But literally right next door to it is a small garage with extra parking, though it does cost $5. In fairness, parking pretty much anywhere in Oahu, especially in Honolulu, is often less than ideal.

The waitstaff was fantastic and crazy friendly. They engaged my kiddos and were very attentive of our needs, happily moving some tables around to accommodate us since their large tables were all all ready occupied.

It was a kid-friendly place, which is pretty imperative for us as we typically have small people in tow. It was loud with music, lots of space to get their crazies out if needed (they actually didn’t this time!), and they had a Mrs. Pac Man arcade game available to play; and if I’d needed to send the big kids over with a stack of quarters I would have, but they were amazingly content the whole time.

Sweet M was particularly fond of checking out the brewery section where the giant bats were hard at working creating beer.

I will be honest, I am not a beer person. A few ales in England struck my fancy, and a warm cider in Belgium, but that’s it thus far. So while J and his cousin tried out beer samplers, I treated myself to a Maui Mai Tai. It was delicious, and apparently the beer wasn’t half bad either.

Also, the food was great. I didn’t get to taste a proper dinner as I’d had a large lunch, but I had the arugula and goat cheese salad and I ate ever last morsel. No joke. And some lovely older auntie came over and swooped my baby out of my arms and danced and loved on her so that I could eat said salad. Have I mentioned how much I adore the people in Hawaii? They’re all so loving and helpful and friendly. The way the world should be.

It was a fantastic dining experience and we will be returning customers for sure! We were so impressed with the Waikiki Brewing Company!

Paradise Cove

Luau’s aren’t just for tourists! We’ve had the fun opportunity to attend a few recently and they’re a definite must-do for tourists and locals alike.

Recently we ventured to Paradise Cove’s Luau with family, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

But I was in for a huge surprise by how fun it was! It wasn’t as hokey as I imagined. The entertainment was spectacular and the food delicious.

Located on the beautiful Ko’olina Lagoon beach, which was admittedly a bit of a trek from our Honolulu home during rush hour (so if you’re venturing over there from Honolulu/Kailua, I’d suggest giving yourself plenty of time or just going early and making a day of it at the beach beforehand), the views were utterly breathtaking. We couldn’t have asked for a better location!

They had so many games for kids and adults alike to enjoy, and ample time for everyone to get as many turns as they wanted

The kids especially enjoyed their “boat ride” aka getting to ride in a Hawaiian outrigger canoe.

There were great little kiosks set up for purchasing Hawaiian delights if you so chose, but you also received lei’s upon arrival and won seashell necklaces at all the games, so little kids hoping for souvenirs can be easily appeased without spending a dime, which is really nice, too!

The show put on both before dinner and during dinner was outstanding! The kids were absolutely enthralled, which made staying out past bedtime an enjoyable experience (you know, with no meltdowns).

Plus, we were there before Christmas so everyone got to see Hawaiian Santa which was pretty fun, and my little nephew was absolutely mesmerized by Mrs. Hula Claus; we had to separatedm him and put him over on Grandma’s lap to keep him from gawking.

Miss H has all ready requested we attend a luau for her birthday she loved it that much!

Paradise Cove Luau really does take the cake for entertainment and beauty, and the food was delicious to boot! I would recommend this Luau tenfold for anyone wanting a family friendly Luau that is certain to give you a lot of bang for your buck!

Big Island: Day 6

We could have without a doubt spent another week on the Big Island and still not have done and seen everything we wanted. It is definitely an island that locals and tourists alike don’t want to miss out on.

Our last day on the island started out bright and early as we were staying at the Volcano all week and were starting out our last day whale watching on the Kona side.

We departed by 5am so we wouldn’t be late, as it’s an easy 2+ hour trek to the other side.

Our whale watching tour was with Ocean Sports who did an amazing job. I would definitely do another whale watching experience with them, or even other water activities.

You guys.

I saw WHALES.

Like up close and in person, beautiful, majestic, humpback whales.

Anyone who knows me well knows that whales are my favorite animal in the world.

They’re my spirit animal.

I’ve dreamt of seeing whales in the wild since I was a little girl.

Getting to see two from the shore only days prior was amazing. But this.

This was unbelievable.

They swam. They splashed. They danced.

We saw over 15 out in the bay just living life and putting on a show for us.

It was the most Ocean Sports had seen this entire season, and more than the captain said they often see in one day at any point during the season.

I’m telling you.

They knew I was coming.

This could have been all we saw and did on this vacation and I’d have been pleased as punch if we are being wholly honest.

It’s been on my bucket list most of my life, and this month I got to cross it off, along with running a marathon (more about that on a later day).

We had to catch our flight back to Oahu after this, but still, it was a full and wonderful day! I can’t wait to go back some day.

Big Island: Days 4 & 5

Wednesday it was rain.

All. Day. Rain.

But we still made the best of it.

We had a leisurely morning crawling out of bed and getting a start to our day. Then we headed into Hilo where they have their big Wednesday Farmer’s Market.

It was really cute with hundreds of vendors. And it was a true farmer’s market, not something set up for tourist.

I took exactly zero photos because I was too caught up in the moment, plus, rain. Lots of rain.

The boys both got Aloha outfits. Mr. B has been wanting an Aloha shirt to match Papa, and Sweet M wants everything B has, of course.

Then we grabbed some pork kabobs from a local food truck. It was a bit of a wait, but truthfully, so worth it. It was so tasty!

The we headed over to the Mokupapapa Discovery Center.

It was a super cute little place that had a 2500 gallon aquarium and talked about protecting the ocean. The kids really enjoyed it and it got us out of the rain!

Then we grabbed a smoothie treat to calm the hangries.

And we headed back for an early retirement because we were all exhausted.

Thursday we had another long morning getting ourselves together. Bean was all ready down for a nap by the time we made it to breakfast.

Then we headed north of Hilo to Botanical World for the day. Lush gardens. Tropical rain forest. So. Much. Beauty.

Plus, there were all my favorite people enjoying nature, and really, there is no better way to enjoy the outdoors than watching my kiddos love it so!

I have no idea what kind of spider this is, but it was wicked looking!

Jackfruit. M thought it was the best thing ever!

I am a huge fan of the rainbow eucalyptus trees! Nature definitely knows what it’s doing!

Gah! These are my two favorite girls in all the world. I’m so happy that they each have a sister. I can attest to how special sisters are in this world.

I love so much about J. Really, just about everything other than his snoring. And how when he explains something he repeats himself like 50 times until you want to tell him to just stop all ready. But really, he’s amazing. But watching him be Papa to our kids. That’s it. That’s what does it for me. I don’t think I will ever get over how amazing he is with those small people.

After we spent most of the day outdoors we grabbed some coffee (for me) and milkshakes (for everyone else) at an amazing little drive thru and then headed to see our last night of red lava (the picture does it zero justice).

And for our last day: whale watching!

Big Island: Days 2 & 3

I started the morning off freezing. That’s right, freezing my butt off. And no, this isn’t just because I’ve lived on an island for over six months and now bundle everybody up in 76° weather. There are heaters in our hotel. It does get cold here.

The girls and I all woke up with a nasty cold (also, can I add how much I still love being able to say girls? Plural.) Stuffy head, scratchy throat, drippy nose. Good times. Thanks, vog.

After we all took our sweet time getting ready, we grabbed a quick breakfast and then started our day.

Our first stop was the Jaggar Museum where we could see a large crater and some great steam vents. Inside, the kids and I read about the goddess Pele and her story of creating the volcanoes in Hawaii. (J tried to do work. I threatened to throw his phone in the crater. )

Then we headed into Hilo to Rainbow Falls, which is a part of the Waikulu River. They’re beautiful and breathtaking.

The kiddos played around in a nearby banyon tree, enjoying nature at its finest.

Then we headed up the road to the boiling pots of the Waikulu River. It was a really pretty spot and we likely would have walked down to enjoy the actual water if not for having the two tinies.

Then we were off for lunch. We stopped at Lucy’s Taqueria which was…meh. But I probably am an unfair judge when it comes to Mexican food because I compare it all to J’s and yeah, no one can beat that. But they did have an awesome little kid play area which kept my crazies occupied, so ultimately, I would recommend this restaurant to anyone with kids.

After lunch we visited the Mauna Loa macadamia farm, which is just as touristy as it sounds. But they offer free samples and self-guided tour of the factory process, so the kids were all quite intrigued and pleased.

Then we let the big kids play at a local playground while the babies slept and really, just like that our day was somehow over.

That night J slept on the couch with M because these full sized beds are for the bees. Needless to say, Bean and I slept great, as did Sweet M, but J…not so much.

We walked over to the local Java cafe the next morning and grabbed a coffee before hitting up the breakfast joint (their coffee is surprisingly terrible. Like, I actually threw away my coffee the day before and that never happens).

Once we had fed and mostly happy kids we headed to the Thurston Lava Tubes.

I cannot describe how magnificent this island is or how wondrous the volcano area is. It’s just so blaringly obvious how the world is just so much bigger and more powerful than any of us mere humans.

After leaving the lava tube we walked back through the fern forest to our parking area. The forest was gorgeous and lush. And full of lions, hehe!

Then we hiked, in the rain, down the Kilauea Iki trail and into the giant crater. It was like being in another world, walking amongst an earth of dried lava and minimal green growth and several steam pockets. What an awe invoking experience.

By the time we made it back up the slippery trail to the top, M was demanding “yummy yummy!” Which is how he tells us he is hungry, ha.

So we hit up a little local joint outside the volcano park, and then proceeded to drive through the park and take on the vastness and beauty of it by car while the babies slept.

Okay, and then I fell asleep in the car too so J parked it and took the big kids out to venture through some more steam vents while the babies and I snoozed. In fairness, I have a 3-month-old and a 22-month-old. And traveling is exhausting.

I’ve been wanting to check out the Volcano Winery since we got here and I saw it on the map, so we headed over there once I woke up.

J and I are each wearing a babe and a gentleman commented, “Wow, you’ve got your hands full and you still are able to drink wine.”

I just chuckled and said, “They’re probably the reason we find time to drink wine.”

I mean, let’s be honest. I’ve drank more wine since becoming a parent. Then again, I had my first baby when I was 21. So… Causation or correlation?

Anyway, the guava-grape wine was delicious and we got some to take home.

We grabbed dinner at a local place not far from where were staying called Lava Rock Cafe. It was super yummy. And then we headed back to the hotel to get everyone put to bed, later than we prefer, so we can prepare for another busy day tomorrow.

Big Island: Day 1

Oh boy, I have no idea how my droopy eyelids are still open. Today started out shortly before 4:30am, and it’s not like I awoke after a nice, long, restful sleep, what with a darling 3 month old and all.

But the H1 was so sparse by the time we hit the road at 5:30am to catch our early flight to the Big Island, that if that was the normal traffic around here I’d be tempted to stay on Oahu forever. Alas.

Anyway, we decided this year to go on a proper family vacation as our Christmas gift to one another. A whole lot of undivided togetherness. We may be rethinking the brilliance of this, ha. But we haven’t had a legitimate family vacation since I was pregnant with Sweet M, so it was time. Yes, we’ve travelled a ton, but it’s all been work-related or to visit loved ones – fun, of course, but not a family vacation.

Anyway, we chose the Big Island because J has been here and it’s super close and there is just so much to do and see. I’m going to need to be able to drink a lot more before ever traveling far with Sweet M again after flying to Oahu from the mainland. Kidding, just kidding. Maybe.

Anyway, it was a our first flight all together as a family of six, so that was cool. And the flight was short enough that no one lost their minds. B may or may not have been devastated that I didn’t allow him to bring any electronics on this trip. As I said, a whole lot of togetherness.

Our first line of business, after acquiring our rental vehicle, was acquiring breakfast. We went to a local joint we were pointed to, and out of kindness I won’t mention their name. The food was so-so but the service was awful. Fortunately I was hungry enough to let it go.

The kids were acting kind of cray-cray so J and I agreed to just enjoy the day doing and seeing the things we really wanted to do and they’d just have to pull it together. Not our normal kid show.

So we headed south in the direction of where we were staying and first hit up Captain Cook’s Monument. The kids weren’t terribly impressed but they at least indulged me by getting out of the car with me while J stayed with the sleeping babies.

Then we were off to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, where the kids were given scavenger hunt sheets with various Hawaiian words and definitions, and snippets of photos to find and match with the words.

We ventured through the historic sites and enjoyed the beautiful coastline.

And sea turtles!

The kids were absolutely enthralled with the lava rock beach. Miss H caught a hermit crab and retreated to the sweet serene of herself being one with nature, while Sweet M explored the shallow puddles and Mr. B acted the ninja, jumping from rock to rock.

There was so much history and culture and richness to be explored here. If it weren’t for our rumbling tummies and being a bit hot (it was the desert side!), I could have spent a lot more time there.

We stopped for gas and snacks before heading further toward our destination.

J decided to detour to the southern most peak of the island, which is also the most southern point of the United States.

As we drove nearer to the water I saw what looked like a white wave in the distance. The water was fairly calm and I didn’t think it was a wave, but I also didn’t want to make assumptions only to be let down.

But oh my goodness was I right!

A whale!!!

I saw it surface and go back under. The second J parked I grabbed Bean and hightailed it to the whale, leaving the others behind.

I stood on the shore all alone, feeding my baby, watching two whales surface over and over again. And then I witnessed the famous whale tail from the water.

It will go down as one of the most peaceful, beautiful moments of my life. The feelings of being in the presence of one of the greatest creatures in the world, oh my goodness. It’s indescribable.

I cannot wait to go whale watching and be even closer. Such beauty. Such power. Such grace.

By this time we were starving, having missed lunch all together as it was now passed 5pm (the Big Island is, um, big). So we loaded up our crazies and finally stopped at a little restaurant on our way, still, to our lodging.

The food was fairly decent, the waitstaff friendly, and the weather beautiful.

By the time we finally made it to the Volcano where we are staying all the kiddos were out so J drove further down the road so I could get out and see the amazing lava and the red glow that fills the sky here.

It’s been a long, beautiful, eventful day. I am so, so thankful for this life I lead.

Snow Fest at Bellows

We packed the kids up yesterday and headed over to one of our favorite beaches – Bellows! On base they were having a snow fest and the idea of 12 tons of snow was definitely alluring!

The kids were so excited to see “snow” and have a few snowball fights.

Sweet M wasn’t too impressed. Mostly, he was just happy to have his shovel. And happy to get away from the snow. (I feel ya, kid).

He was thrilled with the cookies and hot cocoa though! I mean, what kid doesn’t love a hot cocoa bar with an array of toppings? Even Momma got excited to see dark chocolate curls, because, dark chocolate. Life doesn’t get better than that.

We also took a stroll on the beach, where the wind was mighty and the waves were fierce. But it felt like, dare I say it? Home. This place is really feeling like home.

The Snow Fest was super crowded, but the kids had a blast. No one wanted to spend time in the long line to see Santa Claus, so instead they stood next to the blow-up Santa so Momma could snap a festive shot.

(Mr. B does have proper fitting sweaters. He just insists on wearing Sweet M’s.)

Bean slept through the whole event. It was a short, but fun little fest that we will for sure attend again next year if we are around!

I can’t wait to see what other fun events are around the island to get us prepped for celebrating a mele kalikimaka!