Tag Archives: travel

Returning from Vacation: To Reality & Blogging

I’m finally getting back into the groove of life post vacation. And yes, it’s taken almost 4 days to get there.

Normally, I’d spend a whole post telling you about everything we did on our vacation, but this time, there’s not much to be said. We literally spent 4 days sitting around a pool. This was our first vacation (just Tim and I, not for alternative reasons) since we went to Hawai’i almost 4 years ago, and man, did we need it!

So, to make you just a tad jealous . . .here’s our trip to Cabo!

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A Lakeway Resort Family Getaway

This past weekend we were treated to a weekend getaway at Lakeway Resort and Spa in the Austin Hill Country. I’ll describe more about the actual resort in a Dallas Moms Blog post coming up this month, but I had to just share a few photos with you from our weekend before I forgot about all the fun we had!¬†

The resort was amazing! The rooms were beautiful and spacious; perfect for a trapped toddler. ūüėČ The room’s balcony was overlooking Lake Travis, and had a great view of the lake, wildlife, marina, and sunset.¬†



The resort was in the town of Lakeway which is about 20 miles southwest of Austin. It wasn’t too far from the city to enjoy quick trips into the Capital for some sightseeing, but the town of¬†Lakeway also has some great shopping and eating destinations.¬†

We actually got him to say “Cheese” for the camera!
The last time we’d been to Austin, Tim and I were celebrating our 1 year anniversary. We stayed at a B&B near Congress, and saw almost all the tourist attractions like the Bats under the bridge, the Capital building, 6th Street, and Zilker Botanical Gardens.¬†

This time around, it was much different.¬†Although we had a great setting for a perfect weekend, sometimes kids have plans of their own.¬†We had to¬†accommodate¬†for a teething toddler who didn’t want to be in the car and refused to nap. Instead of “seeing the sights,” we walked the resort grounds, visited the Zilker Park playground, and mostly relaxed on the balcony.¬†

I really wish we could have explored more of the city of Lakeway and utilized more of the resort’s fun features (like their Happy Hour with FREE drinks and awesome pools!), but with a toddler, we’ll take what we can get.¬†

I’m so glad that we got to visit because it’s definitely a destination I can see for our future when the Little Man gets a little older!¬†

Thirty by 30: No. 15

While in New York, we were able to fit in another one of my Thirty by 30 tasks. 
Have you heard of the Book of Mormon? No…not the actual Book of Mormon, but the play! It’s currently “the play” to go see in New York. It’s won 9 Tony Awards, and is sold out a year in advance. There’s currently only 4 ways to get tickets. 1) Purchase unsold tickets that range between $250-$350 a ticket. 2) Stand in the cancellation in hoping that someone will decide to return their tickets. 3) Enter the lottery. 4) Get in line 2-3 hours before a show and wait in the “standing only” tickets line.¬†


So, we decided to take our chances on the lottery,and we had three opportunities to win. The first chance, we messed up the time and arrived 20 after the lottery ended. 

Bummer. 

Our second and third chance, we arrived right on time, but still failed miserably. They had 22 tickets to give away, and almost 100 people showed up each time. Our odds were just not good. 

I’m so hoping this show goes on tour soon so we can see it in Dallas. I’m DESPERATE!¬†

But wait . . .I did say we cross the task off of my list. So what did we see? 

When we missed our opportunity the first time, we decided to head to TKTS and see another show. Earlier in the year, we’d caught a group called Traces perform on America’s Got Talent. They were incredible.¬†


We easily grabbed tickets to this performance at TKTS, and headed out for a date night! 

We grabbed dinner at a local Italian restaurant near the theater called Pete’s Tavern. It was a really cool location! It opened in 1864 as a small one roomed pup, survived through Prohibition as a speakeasy, and expanded later on into the slightly larger restaurant you see today. But as we ate, we sat near the original 19th century wall and in booths that could easily have been a century old.¬†
The theater was located downtown near 17th street, but once we arrived in side, I was especially surprised at how roomie the seats and lobby were! Most older theaters barely have room for your knees.  

Before the show, the stage was completely lit, and a video feed was being displayed of the front lobby. It was great entertainment because several kids thought they were making silly faces into a tv screen next to the camera, and didn’t realize it was being fed into the theater.¬†

One of the most unique things about this performance is that they encouraged photography (no flash!) and video throughout the show. I loved that I could bring back pictures to show to people instead of trying to describe it. It’s one that’s really hard to describe!¬†

The show ended up being a lot different than we’d imagined. Imagine Cirque du Soleil without the clowns meets a poetry reading. Each of the “actors” presented themselves at the beginning of the show by performing an individual dance or acrobatic routine. They all also showed off their other talents including singing, playing instruments, working the German wheel, and gymnastics.¬†

Would you believe me if I said they jumped through the top hoop?!
This was a really interesting show to have seen, and I’m glad we did. I’m not sure I would have paid full ticket value, but for the $40 TKTS charged per ticket, it was definitely entertaining enough to feel like I got my money’s worth. Not to mention we were on the 6th row, so it felt a lot more intimate which is what I love about seeing shows in New York!¬†

If you happen to be traveling to New York, definitely check out the show! Just be aware that it officially closes on September 2nd, so your time is limited! 

If you live in Dallas, you’re in luck! Traces is actually going on tour, and one of their stops is the AT&T Performing Arts Center next summer as a part of the Lexus Broadway Series. They’ll be in town June 11-23rd, and from what I understand their show will be very similar to what we experienced; however, since every “actor” has different talents, you might see some acts and acrobatics that are even new to me!¬†

My Experience as a BlogHer Newbie

I’m not new to the blogging scene. As a matter of fact, I’ve been blogging since 2006, and that was way before it was “cool.” But for me, blogging has always been a way of journaling the story of my life and expressing my thoughts and emotions through writing; especially since we all know my verbal skills are lacking!

It’s only been recently that I thought I’d try and make something more of blogging. . . Enter Dallas Moms Blog. It’s become more than a hobby for me; I can definitely see myself writing for this site for a long time to come, which is why I’d decided to attend this year’s BlogHer conference in New York.¬†

I first discovered BlogHer when they began to recognize several of my blog posts on my personal site by featuring them on BlogHer Moms. (First in January, then again in April.) I’d been slightly participating in BlogHer up until that point, but really began to feel validated as a writer by being featured. This encouraged me to starting looking at my blog not just as a journal, but as a platform.¬†

The more I got involved in BlogHer, the more I realized I wanted to learn as much as possible about the world of blogging to attract more readers to my The T-Shirt Mama site and be able to write more interesting posts for Dallas Moms Blog. 

So, this past weekend, I found myself at my first BlogHer conference! 

For those of you who might not know what a BlogHer conference is or haven’t attended one before, this post is for you! I honestly searched the internet looking for all the helpful advice I could find before attending, and I still felt under prepared. Hopefully, this inside look will give you a better idea of what it’s like to attend a BlogHer conference, and give you some idea of whether or not you’d like to attend next year in Chicago!

Thursday
Being my first conference, I chose not to attend the Pathfinder Day. (To be honest, I’m still not quite sure what it is, but now that I have my BlogHer feet wet, I might attend next year to discover more.) ¬†Instead, I met up with Steph from City Moms Blog for lunch, and picked her brain on what to expect. And I’m so thankful I did because it really helped me understand what the sponsors were expecting from the bloggers.¬†

Thursday night I attended the Evening at the Expo. Imagine any Expo you’ve ever attended, and that’s Evening at the Expo. Sponsors and exhibitors are lined up in a large conference room (At BlogHer, it’s 4 large conference rooms), and they’re there to pitch to you. They want you to hear about their new products and offers hoping that you’ll help them promote. In exchange, you’re building relationships with them in hopes to build your “brand.”¬†
I spent almost an hour walking around and only made it through one floor of the Expo. And that was rushing! 

It was also at this Expo that I was able to grab my first BlogHer swag bag, and boy did it get filled! 

For Newbies: Thursday night is your opportunity to scope everything out. Bring lots of business cards and expect your swag bag to be extremely heavy by the time you leave. Don’t feel the need to grab freebies that you won’t end up using, and pay careful attention to all the fliers. Many have offers on them which require you to just send a simple email, and you’ll have easy connections with the company.¬†

Friday & Saturday
Anyone is welcome, but BlogHer hosted a Newbie breakfast that I attended. The food was good, but the room was packed with people! I arrived about 10 minutes early to stand in line, and I wasn’t even near the beginning.¬†

I was thankful to have someone to sit by, but I quickly found that most people come on their own. I wasn’t alone in feeling alone!¬†

For Newbies: Don’t worry if you arrive slightly late to any of the meals. They don’t cut off the food until the end! But don’t be surprised if seats are hard to come by. For several meals, I walked out and found many conference-goers sitting on the floor and in the lobby. And don’t be afraid to sit by new people! That’s what you’re there for!¬†¬†

The rest of the day was spent in sessions. I attended several that would help me with both my personal blog and Dallas Moms Blog; including a brief review of HTML and how to effectively use Facebook & Twitter. 

Many of the more technical sessions were crammed with people, and if I didn’t arrive early, I found myself sitting on the floor. Even still, I found the speakers to be loud enough that it didn’t cause me to lose out on the session.¬†

In between sessions, and when I could find the time, I continued to rush through the Expo to try and build brand connections. I also made my way upstairs to the suites where several companies had set up shop. 

These were my favorite way of meeting people because it was typically a lot less crowded, and there was more time to visit and discuss any questions you had about products. 

Visiting with a dermatologist one-on-one about rosacea and other skin care questions. 

¬†Each suite did an amazing job decorating to fit their theme and brand! Hershey/Walmart turned their entire room into a camping ground complete with campfire and s’mores. Which (by the way) I’ve been craving ever since!¬†

Lunch time on Friday and Saturday was a unique experience! The Hilton did an amazing job ushering almost 5,000 bloggers through almost 8 buffet lines.

 It all seemed very unorganized and chaotic, but surprisingly we made it through really quickly, and even found a seat in time to hear. . .  Martha Stewart!

Martha was the keynote speaker on Friday, and did an amazing job of making the audience feel empowered by their use of the internet. She discussed her personal experience with using blogs, e-magazines, Facebook, and Twitter. She even revealed that Twitter is probably her favorite platform. 

Saturday was more of the same. Sessions and a keynote speech from Katie Couric. 

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the Voices of the Year ceremony after the session had ended. My pregnant body had given up on me by this point, and I had to force myself to head back to the hotel.¬†

For Newbies: Each day of the conference, I highly recommend not overwhelming yourself with feeling like you have to do everything! The most valuable part of the conference is the sessions. Plan those out first, then fill your time with the sponsors, Expo, and other off-campus activities. The more involved you get, the more overwhelmed you get! 

At one point on Saturday, I just accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to get every free object to be had. I wasn’t going to be able to attended every session. I also didn’t need to feel bad if I had to stop and rest instead of heading to a party.¬†

The Parties

Being that it was my first year, I felt honored to be invited by Hasbro to attend their sneak-peak party on Friday night. (Apparently it’s one of the parties to go to, and now I know why!)¬†Since it was the only one I was invited to, I wanted to make sure I attended.¬†

The first 300 people to arrive were given a swag bag, and I’m happy I arrived 30 minutes early because the line was already about 70 people deep.¬†¬†


Although standing in 90 degree NYC heat for thirty minutes wasn’t ideal, it was in line, that I met some great bloggers like¬†Rachel Marie Martin of Finding Joy¬†and Jenn Perry of¬†Daze of Adventure¬†who offered to let me hang with them since I was clearly alone. :)¬†

Being pregnant, I knew I couldn’t keep with them, so I ended up grabbing my glass of water, and finding a table where I had a great view of the party.¬†

I walked away with over $100 worth of Hasbro products (to put in the top of the closet until my son is old enough!) and some great memories! 

For Newbies: When attending parties, they expect you to participate and be a part of the fun. If you’re expecting to go and just show up for the free goodies, you’ve got another thing coming…they make you work for them! Pictures like these may even surface the next day. :)¬†

Overall, I had a great experience at BlogHer, and I don’t even feel like I fully participated. As you may already know, I cheated slightly by¬†bringing¬†my husband along just in case it wasn’t what I expected. But it was way more!

A big THANK YOU to Stephanie who helped me so much this trip. Without her, I never would have known about the BlogHer Conference Planning Guide and all the other little tips she gave me a long the way. I also appreciate her letting me tag along as she presented City Moms Blog to potential sponsors. I learned so much, and I can’t WAIT to attend BlogHer ’13!¬†

For Newbies: 
My last few pieces of advice:

  • Apparently the internet never works correctly at BlogHer. If you bring your laptop to the sessions, and can’t log in within the first hour, don’t bother bringing your computer to a session again. It’s not worth the weight on your shoulder, and most of the sessions were posted online afterwards anyway. I just took notes!¬†
  • No joke. Pack a suitcase inside a suitecase. You’ll need it for all the extra items you bring home or you have the option of shipping.¬†
  • Speak up! When you sit down at a session, turn to the person to your left and then your right and introduce yourself. It’s the best way to meet new people, and discover weird coincidences!¬†
    • For example, at the Newbie breakfast a random stranger sat down next to me. She just happened to be rooming with Jenny (a fellow DMB writer!).¬†
    • Also, standing in line at the Hasbro party, I never would have known I was standing in front of the original author of “Dear Mom Letter”s who we just quoted on DMB.¬†
    • Or walking up to the Soda Stream station, I’d meet fellow Dallas blogger,¬†A Frugal Friend.
Will I see you at BlogHer ’13?

Thirty by 30: No 8

When I was making my Thirty by 30 list, I wanted to come up with some tasks that I knew I could easily complete if I just made the time and I also wanted to add some “to do’s” that would require some extra effort. My No. 8 definitely took some effort, but I’m so happy it’s crossed off!¬†

¬†A year ago, I kept telling Tim that I wanted to go to New York City on my 30th birthday. I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen, but I wanted to make sure it did. At the time, we hadn’t been on vacation since Hawai’i almost 2 years prior, and I thought NYC would be a great way to get away and celebrate!¬†

Sometime around January, I then decided that I wanted to attend the BlogHer ’12 convention and it just so happen to be in New York and within a few weeks of my and Tim’s 8 year anniversary. So. . .change of plans, instead of bugging him to go to NYC on my birthday, I now wanted to go for our anniversary, and now, I actually had an excuse as to why we HAD to go!¬†

Flash forward 7 months later, and we found ourselves repacking our bags after only being home a week from Maui¬†and jetsetting off to New York. It was a whirlwind “vacation” and ended up being nothing like I expected, but I am still so glad we went.¬†

First night in town and we were already craving John’s.
Good thing it’s the “city that never sleeps” because we didn’t arrive at the restaurant until almost 10pm.¬†
I’ll save my BlogHer experience for another post, and I’ll skip to the parts that mostly involved the city.

In between running around attending the conference, Tim and I tried to make time for some fun. We also padded an extra few days before and after BlogHer to get some time to do what we wanted to do. 

Oddly enough, there wasn’t much we hadn’t done, so we decided it would be new experience to be super cheesy tourists. And that’s what we did!¬†

One night we took a Harbor Cruise around Manhattan. We started down at the Chelsea piers and sailed to the Statue of Liberty on a 105′ schooner. ¬†To be honest, this sounded like a terrible idea to me: sitting on a boat for 2 hours just gazing into each others eyes and the skyline? Corny!¬†

But it actually ended up being better than that. There actually was a lot to see, and between talking to the crew and Tim, the trip went by really fast. 

The most moving moment for me was when we sailed past 1 World Trade Center. The last time we’d visited was New Years 2007, and they were still clearing away a lot of the rubble and getting the foundation in place. It was amazing to see the building almost complete again.¬†

1 World Trade Center
Empire State Building lit up for the Olympics.
The weather in New York was also VERY fickle. Before we left, I’d read that the high for the weekend was going to be in the mid-80’s, and it’d be mostly raining. The whole weekend, we were sweating and miserable because we’d apparently been misinformed. It was in the 90’s and humid beyond belief! Then as we were getting ready to leave, it seemed like a huge storm was rolling in. How do you plan when every time you turn around the weather’s changing?!¬†

To play it safe, we decided to do some indoor tours, and headed to Rockefeller Center. We actually did the NBC Studio Tour, but unfortunately, do to copyright¬†infringement¬†we weren’t allowed to take pictures. But we did see behind the scenes of Rock Center, Dr. Oz, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I was really hoping to see the set of Saturday Night Live; however, since it’s the summer, they were using the SNL studio for Olympics media and it “wouldn’t have been recognizable.”

Afterwards, we headed up almost 70 floors to the Top of the Rock. 

If you’re ever in New York…I know the Empire State Building is the “thing to do,” but consider Top of the Rock instead! Having done both, I can say Top of the Rock was the better deal! We had ZERO lines to wait in, and were able to go straight to the top. Once we walked off the elevator, we had the option of staying at the observation deck on the 68th floor which was fully enclosed (which had it actually rained would have been a lifesaver.), or head up to the 69th floor which was open with a glass¬†partition, or to the very top 70th floor which was literally the top of the building and completely open except for a waist high railing.¬†

Top of the Rock and NBC Studio Tours was probably the best part of the trip! We just had a great time wandering around the city, and taking advantage of the air conditioning. 


I also continued the tradition of taking my unborn child to New York. It just so happened that August 2010 was the last time I’d visited the City and it was while I was pregnant with my first.¬†

Maybe we’ll make it a tradition with the 3rd too!¬†

How to: Sight See In New York Without Really Trying

This past weekend was my 5th time to visit the Big Apple, and I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like I’ve seen most of the tourist attractions. Within my first two visits, I’d dragged my family through subways, long walks across the numbered blocks, and up and down the island of Manhattan¬†trying to cross off all the points-of-interest on my list; from the Statue of Liberty in the Harbor to the famous “Restaurant” as seen on Seinfeld.¬†

Statue of Liberty
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Rockafeller Center
Ellis Island
Central Park
Times Square
Museum of Natural History
Canal Street
5th Avenue
Brooklyn Bridge

I can officially say that if I died tomorrow, I feel confident that I’ve seen New York.¬†

By your third or fourth trip, the novelty of seeing the more touristy sights sort of wears away. I no longer come to the city with a long list of things I must do. (My list mostly now consists of restaurants to try.) But I have to say, the city still amazes me and I can’t help but still get a little “star struck” with each visit.¬†

This trip, we never went further north than 63rd Street or further south than 23rd, and in that time I couldn’t believe all that I ran into.¬†With every turn of the corner, a visual surprise was waiting!
Ed Sullivan Theater
59th & Broadway
Rockefeller Center & Ice Rink (In the Summer)
51st & 5th
NBC Studios / 30 Rock
49th & 6th
The Original Soupman
55th & 8th
Oops! You caught me taking a little break in Central Park from all the walking! 
Bad Boy Entertainment
55th & Broadway
Radio City Music Hall
50th & 6th
Times Square
47th & Broadway
Who knows? 
You might even run into your favorite characters!
(Or your child’s favorite characters and you feel the need to pay $1¬†
to send them a picture of Mommy with them!)

If you’re planning a visit to New York and you’re worried you won’t find the time to fit everything in, remember this piece of advice: Plan your trip around the larger points of interest and don’t worry about all the little places in between.¬†Believe it or not, they’ll find you before you feel the need to go searching for them!¬†

What are your favorite things to see in New York City? 

#BlogHer12: Here I Come!

Well, Maui is officially in the books which means it’s time to begin thinking about our next trip coming up on Wednesday!¬†

After spending the last year stalking BlogHer conference attendees, this year I made the decision to go! It’s being held in one of my all-time favorite cities and since I’m taking my husband with me, I thought even if the conference is a fail, at least we can make a vacation out of it.¬†

So, here we are. 1 week away, and I’m starting to get really excited.¬†

This morning, I sat down and began to plan my conference schedule. BlogHer is organized in a similar fashion to other conferences with breakaway sessions and keynote speakers. For two days, I’ll be sitting in hotel suites and conference rooms with 4,000 other bloggers listening to experienced speakers on topics that range from the personal to the technical.¬†

On Friday, I’ll be attending a Newbie Breakfast where I’ll get to meet other new conference attendees (like myself). I’ve already discovered a few people through friends of friends that I’m excited to get to meet in person. Afterwards, my weekend will look a little like this:¬†


One of the biggest draw to BlogHer conferences are the swag bags and parties! Thursday night I’ll be hanging at the Hilton and meeting potential blog sponsors with an event called “Evening at the Expo.” Then on Friday, I’ve been invited to attend a private party with Hasbro! I’m a little disappointed because I’m awarded free drink tickets to the events. . . but since I won’t be using them if anyone would like my tickets, please let me know!


If you’re interested in “attending” BlogHer 2012 with me, you can get all the latest news by following me on Twitter or Liking me on Facebook!¬†

Come talk to me at BlogHer '12

Hawai’i: Lessons Learned

With our second trip to Hawai’i over and done, I can look back with a little reflection and experience. Having been to 3 of the Islands, I can say that Hawai’i is truly one of the more beautiful places I’ve been, and look forward to one day returning to experience Kauai and Lanai. But until then, there’s a few things I’ve learned that I hope to remember when (and if) we’re able to vacation back to Hawai’i.¬†

Lesson #1: The Reality of Traveling with Children



Looking back on this vacation, I learned a lot about my new life as a parent and setting expectations. I wish I could say that the trip went so much better than we expected, but it pretty much matched what I thought would happen.


Originally when we were planning our family vacation, it was decided we’d try something big and exotic since it would be the last time it would be¬†convenient¬†for the whole family to travel together. Ideas of foreign countries were thrown around, and we were smart enough to veto taking a toddler out of the country for common parenting and traveling fears, but when Tim and I suggested Hawai’i almost 8 months ago, we had no idea how enormous an undertaking even staying in the US would be.¬†


I had visions in my head of laying on the beach while the Little Man sat \next to me running his fingers through the sand and playing with toys. Relaxing by the water and occasionally running along as the tide came in and out getting our feet wet. 

HA! HA! HA! 

Instead, we had a child who screamed every time he saw water and wasn’t able to go running in head first. With or without a lifejacket, clothing or no clothing, he was going to get in that water even if mommy and daddy had to go running in after him. And that relaxing on the beach…wasn’t going to happen with a toddler around. Our vacation was work; 24/7.¬†


Now that we’re home and on firm ground, we’re able to look back and are happy we made the trip as a whole family since we know how important it is to spend time together. And we’re DEFINITELY glad we attempted Hawai’i with grandparents because we can only imagine how much of a surprise it would have been if we’d gone alone.¬†But. . .


For 7 years, we traveled as a couple to destinations around the world. 2 weeks in Germany. Long weekends in Mexico. Car trips up and down the East Coast. Couple trips to Vegas. But never have we vacationed with a child in tow, and after this trip, it will probably be some time before we choose to do it again. 

As we talked on our way home from Hana, Tim and I decided on two things: 
1) Our next vacation will NOT involve children, and
 2) no more traveling across three or more time zones with children. 

Lesson #2: Hawai’i is expensive!

I knew from our first trip that everything is just more expensive in Hawai’i due to the cost of importing goods and supply and demand. After all, it’s a vacation destination so hotels will cost more and restaurants charge more. I remember at one of our “nicer” restaurants on The Big Island, I paid almost $25 for an Applebee’s quality steak. If you plan on eating out a lot when you’re there, you can expect those prices to add up quickly. Not to mention if you rent a car expect to pay almost $4.20 for a gallon of gas! Since most of Hawai’i is seen from the road this too can get expensive.¬†

This time around we rented a home and tried to prepare our own meals as much as possible. What we didn’t expect were the grocery prices to be inflated too. Throughout the trip we had to change our mind on dishes several times due to cost.¬†

For example, if you’re planning on heating up some queso expect to pay as much as $8 for a block of¬†Velveeta. Making hot dogs? Try $4.50 for a regular can of Wolf Brand Chili.¬†

Oddly enough, bananas grow on trees all throughout the island, but if you go to the store and purchase Dole brand bananas, you’ll pay as much as $1.50 a pound!¬†

Lesson #3: Fresh is always better.
Renting a house created all new experiences for me such as being able to take advantage of the land. The homeowners used the back of their property to grow fruit trees, and as renters we were able to pick as much as we wanted. At any point if we wanted fresh limes, all we had to do was walk out back and pick from among a dozen lime trees. Dragon fruit, papaya, bananas and guava grew throughout the neighborhood. Passion fruit vines and pineapple were just a pick away if you knew where to look. Want coconut milk? With a little effort (and a sharp, sharp knife) you can pull one from a tree and crack one open. 

Fruits grew as organic as you can get and for this reason they tasted better too! Our neighbors sold fresh pineapple each day, and I’ve never had one that tasted so sweet. We were picking limes by the dozens and they were as green and plump as I’ve ever seen in the store.¬†

After this trip, I’m slowly starting to become convinced that buying fresh, organic produce is the way to go!¬†

Lesson #4: Toddlers + Airplanes = Crying Parents

Now, I know a lot of you have probably had great experiences with babies and toddlers on an airplane, but you have to admit, no matter how successful the flight actually ends up being, there’s still moments of panic and worry! This happened to me on the way. The flight was relatively calm for both legs and went as smoothly as possible; however it didn’t stop me from nearly having a panic attack before boarding.¬†


You just naturally assume people are going to judge you and become annoyed with you for having a little one. And you never want to be “those” parents!

I wish I could say the flight home went just as smoothly, but it was a disaster! The first leg wore us out just simply by trying to entertain him for 5 1/2 hours, and by the time we landed in Seattle at 9:30pm, we didn’t have much energy left. We could also tell by the way he reacted the last hour of the flight, he was done too.

Then everything that could possibly go wrong did. From a dirty diaper 5 minutes before boarding to throwing up milk and an hour of crying (him, not me!) uncontrollably in the terminal right up until we boarded. As we sat in our seats, we’d already been identified as the couple with the out of control child, and one passenger even told us so. I was doing everything I could to hold back tears, and had he started crying one more time, my poor husband would have to be trying to console two people on that plane. Fortunately, it was right after take off around midnight that he passed out for the rest of the trip home.¬†

So. . .that was our family vacation to Maui, Hawai’i!¬†
And I promise not to post about it anymore! 

If you missed any of it (and are really bored), 
you can go back and read about our week in order: 

Thanks for letting me take you with us on our adventure!

Hawai’i: Road to Hana

Okay people…I’m going to keep it real for you in this post.¬†

This was probably my least favorite part of our trip. 

I know. I know.

I hate saying this because I will admit it was absolutely beautiful and had this vacation involved adults only, it would have changed my entire perspective. 

However…

The Road to Hana is challenging all by itself, 
and when you add a 16 month old and pregnant lady to the mix, 
you’re asking for trouble.¬†
via

A little background: The Road to Hana is a 68 mile drive along the coast of Maui’s North Shore and connects the towns of Kahului to Hana. According to wikipedia, “although HńĀna is only about 52 miles from Kahului, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive when no stops are made as the highway is very winding and narrow and passes over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from just east of Kahului to HńĀna.”

We began our journey around 8:30am, and had to drive about 45 minutes from Lahaina to Kahului to start the Road to Hana. Once Hana Highway started your suggested speed drops down to 15 mph and the winding starts. 

Remember that fact about the number of curves? It was on mile 3.5 of Hana Highway that Tim had to pull over and let me throw up on the side of the road. And that was after taking a Dramamine! 

Along the way, we saw many sights like the one below. For those of you who haven’t been to Maui, it’s not exactly what you might imagine. Most of the island isn’t lush, green rainforests with perfect white sand beaches. It’s actually very rocky and what sandy beaches you do find are somewhat murky. The Road to Hana is where you’ll find your¬†picaresque¬†images of Hawai’i; which is why so many choose to make the trip despite the car sickness.¬†

If you ever attempt the Road to Hana, I highly suggest you bring a guide book with you! As wikipedia mentioned, it’s a 2 1/2 hour drive to go the 68 miles WITHOUT stopping. If you choose to stop, which you will, you’ll want to know exactly where to stop for the best sights. Otherwise you could literally spend days pulling over and walking.¬†

Our first stop was to see a large waterfall. There were many that you could see from along the road, but this was the largest one and it required getting out of the car. 

Many stops require a hike through narrow paths. 

By noon, we’d made it about 20 miles, and the Little Man was starting to get upset. He almost never has a problem falling asleep in the carseat until you want him to fall asleep in the carseat. Then it’s not going to happen.¬†
This was probably the last happy shot we got of him in the car the rest of the day.  

Our second stop was around 11:30am at an Arboretum in the middle of the forest. I say “Arboretum,” but it was more a trail with signs along the way naming the different types of flora and fauna.¬†
It was here that we saw the Rainbow Trees. I’ve honestly never heard of them before, but it’s probably not something common to Texas. It’s a Eucalyptus who’s bark thickens and thins to create this rainbow pattern of blues, greens, purples, and orangish tones.¬†

Near 2pm, we found ourselves at the Black Sand Beach. Unlike the one we experienced on The Big Island, this one was more of a tourist spot. It was in the middle of a state park, and there wasn’t much to it.¬†


One thing that was really interesting about it was that it wasn’t sand at all. As you walk into the water, the ground changes from large black river rocks to black pebbles to black stones no larger than about 2 millimeters. It made for a completely different texture as you walked through it.¬†


The Little Man could have cared less what he walking on. All he cared about was that he was back in the water! 

By the time the rest of the group was ready to move on, it was obvious to Tim and I that it was time for us to go our¬†separate¬†ways and head on back. Our backseat passenger still hadn’t napped, and with it taking us almost 5 hours to reach the halfway point, we knew it was going to take at least 2 hours to get home; which put us pulling in around 6pm.¬†


So, the rest of the group continued on to see the actual town of Hana, the Red Sand Beach, and 7 Sacred Pools, while we started our journey home. 


We made it back in just over 2 1/2 hours; only having to stop twice to allow my stomach to settle. Fortunately, we had a more pleasant drive as the Little Man couldn’t handle anymore and finally crashed and slept the entire way home.¬†


This gave Tim and I time alone for the first time on our vacation to talk and laugh and just be together. 


At one of our stops near Paia, we caught a glipse of the North Shore’s famous winds. I got out of the car to take some pictures of some windsurfers and sail surfers only to have my camera almost blown out of my hands. Had we been in Texas we would have been seeking shelter, but in Maui it’s the norm!¬†

Have you taken the Road to Hana? 
What were your impressions?

Hawai’i: Old Lahaina Luau

One of the events I was most looking forward to on our Hawai’ian vacation was the Old Lahaina Luau. When Tim and I went to The Island of Hawai’i (The Big Island) a few years ago, we made a last minute decision to see the Kona Village Luau. We weren’t really sure what to expect, and it honestly sounded so cheesy and touristy to do, but on the Big Island, there’s not much to do after dark, so the Luau it was!¬†

In the end, we were so happy we went! Think Las Vegas show meets all you can eat Hawai’ian buffet. We enjoyed it so much that we decided Tim’s whole family needed to see it this time around too. And once again, we weren’t disappointed.¬†

Behind the scenes: I wish I could have taken more pictures of the evening, but with a 16 month old it was pretty difficult to stop and take pictures. As a family, we took turns taking care of him and walking him around, so I snapped what I could while my hands were free. 
Before the show, we were encouraged to take pictures of the sunset and view the pig being removed from the fire pit. We used this time to walk around with the Little Man and keep him entertained before the show. 
The view from our table.
We sat traditionally on the ground.
Best view in the house and great idea in theory, but a little uncomfortable after a few hours!
Hula dancers entertaining the crowd before the start of the show. 

The luau is presented as a narrated story of how the Hawai’ian island people came to be. The story teller takes the audience through the history of the Hawai’ian islands from the legend of Pele (the goddess of fire and volcanoes) to the Christians missionaries and the banning of the hula to a full circle moment for the Hawai’ians¬†embracing¬†their culture.¬†

Hula dancers modeling old Hawai’ian customs and religious dancing.¬†

Along with the price of the Luau, they provide an open bar complete with Mai Tai’s and other fun fruity cocktails. Plus, an all-you-can-eat buffet with traditional Hawai’ian entrees like steamed pork wrapped in luau leaf, chicken long rice, chicken marinated with guava sauce and pineapples, warm sweet potatoes, crab salad, taro salad, and Lomi-Lomi salmon.¬†

At the end of the meal, our server brought out this tray of deliciousness. We could have ordered as many desserts as we wanted, but I think I would have eaten a whole second tray by myself. 

The desert was amazing!
From the center out: Lilikoi or Passion Fruit cream with dark chocolate shell, macadamia nut crusted brownies,  coconut haupia, and macadamia nut tarts