Honolulu: November 3-13, 2017.
When you have kids on a school schedule, it's really hard to attend important events during the school year (outside of breaks).. especially if you pay for a school. My cousin was getting married in Honolulu, Hawaii during Veteran's Day weekend.
Florida to Hawaii requires a 5 hour flight, a layover, and another 5 hour flight. 3 days is not enough to travel with kids. Also, I never want to go to my home away from home for less than a week.. it's not enough time to spend with family.. it's not enough time to explore. But then I got a bad case of FOMO. Family wedding = need to be there. Especially because I love their family very much.
There was no way Nathaniel could take off of middle school for 10 days, so Olivia and I were off to Honolulu on our own. I'm so very thankful that she's a great traveling companion. She slept for a good chunk of the flights and she just has a very great attitude about flying.
I managed to pack all of our things in my expandable Longchamp tote and a backpack. I also brought along her stroller. The stroller helps me get around the airport, particularly when she falls asleep. I never check anything in unless it's completely necessary. It's just a hassle I like to skip. I carry everything with me. A lightweight stroller that fits in the overhead bins + packing light help a great deal.
We landed and rented a car from Avis. The car they gave me was dinged up and scratched up all over. There was dirt in the interior as well. I've noticed Honolulu is notorious for bunked up rental cars (it's always so clean everywhere else). It was late evening and I was dealing with a potential traffic jam due to Trump landing in Honolulu that same day. After traveling so many hours with a kid, I wanted to be in and out so I just took the car thinking I'd switch it out over the weekend. I called customer service the morning after and they told me I could bring it back and switch it with no problem. I decided it wasn't worth the hassle. I'm okay with a dinged up car so long as a live roach isn't crawling and that I wouldn't get charged from the already present damages. That was a mistake. Toward the end of my trip, turns out there had been a live roach in the car. That seems to be a thing for Honolulu rental cars too (last year, my sister's rental had dead roaches in it). Gross, gross, gross.
When I got to my cousin's house that night, his son had a sign posted on his door for me. Sweetest nephew ever! He was attempting to convince me to stay in his room and recited all of the amenities. He had a bench for me to do my makeup in front of the mirror. He cleared his computer desk so I could put whatever I wanted in it. He made his bed so we'd be comfortable. He had a lamp on his bedside table if we needed it. He had an inflatable seat for Olivia to lounge it. He really turned around the first night's Avis fiasco with his hospitality.
I wanted to do something special for Olivia this time. To spend some quality mommy and me time. She had been begging to go to the beach since we arrived, so I thought a vacation within a vacation would really make her trip. I booked a few days at Marriott in Ko'Olina.
We've stayed here once before and I remember the view being amazing and Ko'Olina is my favorite beach for children (there are a few lagoons). I booked an ocean view room, but upon arrival, the receptionist told me it's never guaranteed. I went up to the room they had ready for us and I was so disappointed. I called down to the front desk and asked to speak to the manager because nowhere in my booking did it say a view wasn't guaranteed. Another receptionist was able to fix that error for us. I wouldn't have booked Marriott in the first place if there was no view.
While the grounds are nice, the food on site sucks. Badly. The hotel has a convenience store.. one night, I opted for cup-o-noodles.
Olivia really had the time of her life with access to the pool and the beach every day. She picked out a heart sand bucket and sprinkled donut goggles from the gift shop. She was a happy girl and I'm so glad I did this for her.
Wedding weekend was approaching and our next stay was at The Modern Honolulu; the same hotel where the wedding reception was taking place. This is a beautiful hotel, but a little congested. It was a busy weekend for them. My cousin ordered 5 glasses of tea via room service and that took a few hours.
I love weddings because it means a family reunion. I spent a lot of my childhood with my mom's side. A lot of my cousins and I are around the same age. It's great seeing how everyone has grown and how their families have grown. The best part is giving our children the opportunity to know each other as well. Olivia has a great memory and she still talks about all of her experiences with any and all of the kids.
We usually end our trips visiting Valley of the Temple; the resting place of my maternal grandparents. Olivia also loves feeding the koi fish and the birds here.
We had another lovely trip to Hawaii, but I was excited (and nervous) about heading home. I already booked a red-eye flight home hoping it would ease any potential jet lag for her. A week or so before our trip, I get an email requesting Olivia for her first "job." The issue: it was for the day we arrived home. Right after the airport. I addressed my concerns with the head of the project and we both agreed to play it by ear and see how she handled the flight + how her temperament may be upon arrival. My girl did FABULOUS. She was a pro. I'm not allowed to talk about any details regarding the project, but she recently received that first paycheck and it's going straight to her savings. Proud mama!